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Jul 25, 2014 - 03:44 PM
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Front-Row Start for ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen
Posted by: newsla on Jul 25, 2014 - 03:43 PM
Sports Cars
Front-Row Start for ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in Viper GT3-R Indy Debut


The No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R of drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will start on the front row of an IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship grid for the third time in the last four races after qualifying second for today’s Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.

 

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Round 9 of the 2014 IMSA TUDOR Championship, the featured 2-3/4-hour Indy race can be seen live today on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. EDT/2:30 p.m. PDT.

Bleekemolen turned a top lap time 1:26.149 (101.921 mph) that was just short of the GT Daytona (GTD) class pole on the 2.439-mile Indy road course. Thursday’s front-row run followed a pole one race ago at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – where Keating and Bleekemolen went on to win the first IMSA TUDOR Championship race for ViperExchange.com – and another second-place qualifying effort two races prior to that at Belle Isle Detroit.

“We are very excited to be on the front row,” said Keating, who will be the starting driver in today’s race. “Quite frankly, it was unexpected. I’m not quite sure, but there were several cars that went faster in the second practice than they did in qualifying, so you’ve got to wonder what exactly is going on there.”

The 33 ViperExchange.com team has grabbed three front row starting berths in the last four races and qualified third at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen one race after Detroit.

“We had a pretty good qualifying,” Bleekemolen said. “The car has been good so far this race, we knew we had a shot at the pole, we are within a tenth of a second, we can’t be unhappy with that. It’s a shame to miss out on the pole, of course, but the car is running great lately and I am sure we have a good chance for the race too. It’s so competitive that nowadays the starting position can make the difference, so it is important to do well in qualifying.”

Both Keating and Bleekemolen have previous experience on the Indy road course, but the modified chicane section that now makes up the final turns just before the front straight is new for all competitors this weekend.

“Jeroen did a great job in qualifying and it’s always great to start a race in the first row,” Keating said. I’m excited about the race. The new track configuration helps our car, actually, just hurts our car a lot less than it did last year. Our car is down on top speed, and this way you’re not on the banking pushing for top speed the way it was configured the last couple of years. We expect to have a good race”

Brickyard Grand Prix race day starts with a 15-minute warm-up session at 2 p.m. EDT with the race scheduled to go green at 5:45 p.m. EDT.

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