SALINAS, California – May 2, 2015 – Doran Racing’s Nissan 370Zs qualified fifth and seventh Friday night for Saturday’s 2.5-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The field is extremely tight. The Camaro that got the pole turned the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in 1:35.765, but the top eight cars in the Grand Sport class were within 1 second of that effort.
Nick McMillen of Salem, Ore., qualified the Doran Racing #41 in fifth place with a time of 1:36.172 on his third lap of the six he turned in the qualifying session. He’ll start his Nissan 370Z in the race and then turn it over to co-driver Steven Doherty of Plainfield, Ill., who is making his first start in this class. McMillen, who is also a rookie and is making his first start ever at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, qualified just four-tenths of a second off the pole and just one-tenth of a second off third place.
Brad Jaeger of Charlottesville, Va., posted a good time of 1:36.602 on his third lap too, but then he improved on it on his fifth and final lap in the qualifying session with a 1:36.334. He’ll start seventh in the #14 and then turn it over to his co-driver, B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati. Jaeger’s time was only five-tenths of a second off the pole.
Both of the Lebanon, Ohio-based team’s Nissan 370Zs advertise Nissan’s popular GT Academy program, which grooms gamers to be professional race car drivers. McMillen and Doherty are past GT Academy champions.
The #41 was fourth in the first practice session with a time of 1:36.700, and 12th in the second practice session with a 1:38.043.
The #14 was sixth in the first practice session with a 1:36.987, and tenth in the second practice session with a 1:37.606.
Saturday’s race is slated to begin at 1 p.m. local time, or 4 p.m. Eastern. Live coverage will be available on IMSA.com. The race will be televised on Fox Sports 1 at 9 a.m. Eastern on May 17.
Additional information is available on DoranRacing.com and the team’s Facebook page.
Driver post-qualifying quotes follow:
Brad Jaeger: “Our car is good. I think I got the most I could out of the tires during qualifying. We’re just a few tenths off. It’s going to be a good race tomorrow. I think I was about five-tenths of a second off the pole, and Nick was just a tenth of a second off third. It’s really close.
“The weather was perfect today, but there’s a cold front coming in. We’ll have to see how it goes tomorrow.
“The Nissan 370Z has had some great results here at Laguna. We’re not starting quite as far up as we wanted, but we’ll keep digging. I think the Z will be fine in the race; we just need to keep it clean and be there at the end.”
Nick McMillen: “Things have been going well. We were pretty quick in practice, so we were pretty confident about our qualifying set-up. In the second practice session we worked on our race set-up.
“When I went out for qualifying the #158 Mustang was in front of me, so I let him get ahead a little so I’d have a clear track. I tried to get a decent first lap in, and then I tried to go faster. The second flying lap was really pretty clean. A Mustang had knocked some sand onto the track, but I was able to get a good lap in on that second flying lap.
“Tomorrow’s race should be good. If we can keep it clean, we’ll be OK. We were pretty quick in the second practice session when a lot of the teams were working on their race set-up.
“The Corkscrew is fun but it’s definitely tricky. I didn’t realize how blind it was, but it was fun!”