Tagliani, Tracy Join GRAND-AM Field
By: John Singler on August 15, 2012 | 3:07 P.M. EST
Tagliani will open Saturday’s Montreal 200 in the No. 8 Ford-powered Riley then hand the wheel over to Ryan Dalziel, before climbing into the team’s No. 2 entry to finish the race for Alex Popow. (Photo: Brian Cleary)
Tagliani joins Starworks Motorsport in its bid for a third straight victory in Daytona Prototype. He’ll open Saturday’s Montreal 200 in the No. 8 Ford-powered Riley then hand the wheel over to Ryan Dalziel, before climbing into the team’s No. 2 entry to finish the race for Alex Popow.
“It will be my first opportunity to drive a DP car,” Tagliani said. “I asked a bunch of questions and I’ve looked at the schedule. There’s quite a bit of track time to get used to it.”
Indeed, there’ll be three hours of practice around the 2.7-mile circuit on the Isle of Notre Dame before teams qualify Friday afternoon. And like Tagliani, Tracy – a veteran of open-wheel competition – will also be getting some on-the-job training this weekend. He’ll share the wheel in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with David Donohue.
“I haven’t driven the new-style cars, so this is a great opportunity for me to get in a current-spec car and (run) a Corvette motor,” Tracy said. “This is a chance to open the door for next year and try to do the best job I can.”
Tagliani has aligned himself with the hottest team in the GRAND-AM Series. Starworks Motorsports has won the DP class in the last two races, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen International. The last team to win three in a row was the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, who put six straight victories together to end the 2010 season and open the 2011 campaign.
“(Sebastien) Bourdais was not able to make Montreal because he’s testing in Sonoma with pretty much every other team in IndyCar,” Tagliani said. “I’m not making that test, so I was available.”
Bourdais co-drove with Popow in the victory at Indianapolis. Last weekend, it was Dalziel sharing the top of the post-race podium with Lucas Luhr, giving Starworks its second straight win.
Tagliani also is entered in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 200 Nationwide Series race, driving a Turner Motorsports Chevrolet and hoping to improve on his second-place finish of a year ago.
“I have pretty high hopes, but you never know,” said Tagliani, who ran second to Marcos Ambrose in the 2011 round at Montreal. “More and more, the NASCAR guys are learning the track. Their cars are driving like they want them to and they’re very competitive on road courses.”
Unlike Tagliani, Tracy will focus only on the GRAND-AM race this weekend.
“We talked to a couple teams but when this (Action Express) deal came up a couple weeks ago, I decided to put all my focus into the GRAND-AM race and not dilute the weekend jumping from one car to another.”
There are nine DP entries for the Montreal race including the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette of defending winners Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. Heading into the final three races of the season, Pruett and Rojas lead Dalziel by just six points in their bid for a third straight championship.
GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams will open practice Thursday afternoon at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and qualify Friday at 4 p.m. (ET). Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of Saturday’s Montreal 200 beginning at 11 a.m., with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.