- 27 April 2017
Alton, VA - David Grant, in the No. 29 Swift 016/Mazda from Polestar, led the season-opening Atlantic Championship Series practice session on Thursday morning at VIR. Grant is coming off a 2016 that saw him close the season with a win at the same track, with the 2012 Series Champion getting up to speed over brother and teammate Keith Grant. Series newcomer Peter Portante was third-quick for K-Hill Motorsports.
"Other than kart races, I have not been on the track since the end of last season at VIR. My biggest challenge is getting up to speed after being out of the car for over six months," said Grant, who is expecting to be a title contender over the 14-race, seven-weekend season.
Practice got going after a two-and-a-half hour delay, with the track pushing back scheduled activities to allow run off areas to continue draining after heavy rainfall earlier in the week.
Keith Grant was second fastest, as the 2015 Series Champion also got up to speed quickly in the No. 40 Polestar entry. Grant's focus is on a solid qualifying position.
"It is important at VIR to qualify on the pole in order to win here," he said.
Portante, runner up in last year's F1600 Championship, was third quick during his first-ever flying laps in an Atlantic car as he runs the No. 74 Swift 016/Mazda in competition this weekend.
It was also an encouraging debut for Spencer Brockman, fourth quick in the opening practice in the newly combined Swift 014/Mazda.
Comprent's Chris Ash rounded out the top five at a track that brought him podium results in 2016 as he returns for his third season of Atlantic Championship action in the No. 67 machine.
He was followed by Jenna Grillo, another K-Hill Motorsports driver making her Atlantic debut after competing in Formula Race Promotion's F2000 Series in 2016.
Richard Zober was seventh quick in the 30-minute session.
"The goals for VIR are to run every session to reduce laps times, I had a very inconsistent season last year and getting more laps should help with improved results," said Zober.
2016 Atlantic Challenge Champion Bob Corliss was eighth in the No. 17 Robert Talbott Swift 014/Toyota.
Corliss said his goal for the season was to improve in all areas.
"Better physical and mental preparation and focus, and I also want to work on racecraft and better management of all race-related assets," Corliss noted.
Mike Jacques and Lee Alexander completed the top ten.