Race Preview: Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR

The MINI JCW Team is at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for the 8th round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC). VIR is famous for it’s picturesque views as the track winds through the hills of Virginia. The team will be looking to rebound from a heartbreaking finish at Road America in which a podium finish slipped away on the last lap.

Drivers

The team will have a mix of new and recurring drivers for this event. The tandem of Mat Pombo and Derek Jones will continue to drive the #73 JCW, while Ramin Abdolvahabi will be joined by returning driver Tyler Stone. The #37 features a shakeup this week. Ethan Low, who was in the car for the first 7 events of the season is out. He has been replaced this week by MINI newcomer Austin Mack. Mark Pombo will be his co-driver.

Overhead shot of VIR
Overhead shot of VIR

Virginia International Raceway

VIR is a beautiful 3.27 mile track located in southern Virginia. Originally opened in 1954 the track features 17 turns and numerous elevation changes. VIR is a fan favorite track for these reasons and more. Car and Driver listed VIR among the top six road courses in America.

Practice and Qualifying

The team as a whole struggled throughout practice and Qualifying for the Oak Tree Grand Prix. The #73 JCW was the top MINI in all of the sessions. The #73 finished practice one in 14th and followed it up with a 20th place effort in practice 2. Jones turned up the heat for qualifying, as he often does, and ran a lap of 2:06.410 to earn the 12th starting position. Jones was limited in qualifying laps due to issues with the car. IMSA radio announcers indicated that the #73 and #52 had been experiencing over-heating issues all day.

The #52 and #37 MINIs were qualified by Abdolvahabi and Mack respectively. Mack will start the race in 17th place with Abdolvahabi not far behind in 25th.

Race and Broadcast Times

The Oak Tree Grand Prix will start at 1:55 PM EST on Saturday August 26th. You can watch the race streamed live on IMSA.tv or on the IMSA mobile app. If you can’t watch it live you can catch the TV broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). The FS1 broadcast will be Sunday September 4th at 10:00 AM EST.

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