California Curtain Call: IMSA Closes West-Coast Swing In Mother's Day Clash at Laguna Seca

Following Cadillac's dominant victory at Long Beach, the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship heads north to Laguna Seca with Cadillac looking to sweep the West-Coast Stretch.
Sahlens Six Hours at the Glen, June 2023
Sahlens Six Hours at the Glen, June 2023 / Brian Cleary/GettyImages

IMSA brings a loaded weekend to Laguna Seca following two light weeks for the racing body, featuring four of IMSA's eight major series.

Prior to the running of the Motul Course De Monterey powered by Hyundai N, IMSA will feature the third round of the Michelin Pilot Challenge, the fifth & sixth round of the Mazda MX-5 Cup and the second round of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series.

In terms of entries, there isn't a whole lot of changes or new teams on the grid for this weekend. However, IMSA does a bit of throwback weekend of sorts with some special liveries for teams signifying major milestones in the Team(s)/Manufacturer(s) history.

Coming into the weekend the big story will be to see if Cadillac can double-up in Cali' before heading to the Midwest, looking to score its second straight victory, but it may come with a bit of a challenge.

Looking Back at Long Beach

Before jumping into previewing the upcoming race at Laguna Seca, Long Beach help set up for what should be a compelling weekend in amongst the three classes.

While GTD Pro was not present on the grid for the recent California weekend, we did see a familiar entry score the top podium in GTD that usually is competing in the upper GT class.

The #89 Vasser Sullivan Lexus put together a stellar run all weekend and while the driver combos aren't going to be what they were at Long Beach, we will still see both GTD Pro & GTD entries in their respective classes, both showcasing what should be strong contenders.

The big story coming off of the Long Beach weekend was the dominance of Cadillac.

While Porsche, and to an extent BMW, held their pace to the Caddies, both the #31 Whelen Racing Cadillac and the #01 Cadillac Racing entries were on another level.

The #01 Cadillac Racing Chip Ganassi pairing of Sebastian Bourdais and Regner van der Zande were very quick and in a race that saw a one tyre set strategy for the team, they have so much momentum heading into tomorrow's race.

Attack The Track?

The approach to the track will be the key for this weekend once we arrive to race time for the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

While the layout of the track remains untouched, the new surface has seemed to create a much more slicker surface which may result in more of a timely period to warm up the Michelin tires.

Fortunately for the IWSC classes, there has been a lot of racing happening throughout the weekend, with series wrapping up races prior to tomorrow's headline race, so hopefully the track will be up to temp but that could play a huge part in the Round 4 clash.

Overall, Cadillac coming into tomorrow has been so strong on this California trip.

Following a podium-win in the GTP class, Cadillac delivered its fourth straight pole position, Chip Ganassi nabbing its first of the 2024 campaign.

Even though the #31 Whelen Cadillac entry (Jack Aitken/Pipo Derani) had secured the first three poles of the current campaign, the team still takes the second of the two front row spots, capturing a Cadillac sweep.

Beyond the dominance of Cadillac in GTPs, Corvette finally its first true successes this season, capturing its first podium with the #4 Pratt Miller entry (Tommy Milner/Nicky Catsburg) in GTD Pro.

Wayne Taylor Racing also found a bit of a rebound after a dreadful Long Beach weekend in the GTPs with their GTD Lamborghini #45 entry (Danny Formal/Kyle Marcelli).

It really will be though a weekend of pace & strategy.

This is the first true full-timed sprit race, baring the IndyCar/IMSA weekend races such as Long Beach & Detroit, so their will be more time to test different ideas out but feeling the new surface out in race conditions will be intriguing to watch.

Final Thoughts

Overall, looking at the weekend, things hopefully should go off without a hitch, but be careful in the race early.

This race feels like a first lap incident race given the new track surface and the temperament of warming these Michelins, but hopefully that doesn't turn out to be the case.

For IMSA, this is the first fixed track that will feature the sprint format here in 2024 and it should really be a great track for flow.

It will be especially important to stay the line and not mess up the groove but given the size of the field that is easier said than done.

It should be a very compelling Mother's Day special in Laguna before the series heads to Detroit for its second & final street course of the 2024 season.