In just her second season of prototype racing, Courtney Crone is gaining attention. Enough so that she’s been named a finalist for the second IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.
The 21-year-old American looks to build on her resume for that quarter-million-dollar award toward an IMSA ride in 2023 when she races this weekend in the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Virginia International Raceway. Crone is paired with Terry Olson in the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 for Sunday’s 90-minute race featuring Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) cars.
“I love VIR, and I’m super excited going into this weekend,” Crone said. “I had a good run there last year, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Jr III Ligier handles around the track. It turned into one of my favorite racetracks very quickly last year. With the elevation (changes) and speed of the track, it gives it a really old-school feel that I love.”
Crone’s primary racing experience came in midgets and junior open-wheel cars before she joined the Prototype Challenge last year. Teamed with Jason Rabe, her best finish was ninth place.
Crone surpassed that in her first race of 2022, when she and Olson finished fifth in the opener at Daytona International Speedway. Last time out at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July, Crone and Ari Balogh finished sixth. She sits eighth in the series standings with two races remaining but is a mere 80 points away from third place.
The Californian believes she and Olson can close the gap in the standings this weekend at VIR.
“I’m stoked that Terry will be back in the car with me, and it will be good to get back to our regular championship hunt. I think we’ll be in a good position to get a good result this weekend.”
Olson agreed, adding that a recent test at VIR boosted expectations.
“One of the biggest challenges of VIR is staying out of trouble,” Olson said. “As always, my goal is to run fast and clean. Courtney had some great laps at VIR last year, so I am very excited to be co-driving with her. As we saw in testing, Jr III brings its ‘A’ game to VIR, so I expect our cars to be competitive.”
Tonis Kasemets has won two of the first three Prototype Challenge races this season in the No. 60 Wulver Racing Ligier and takes a 110-point lead into VIR over Memo Gidley and Alexander Koreiba, co-drivers of the No. 23 AL Autosport with JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08. Eighteen cars are entered.
Practice and qualifying are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The race streams live on Peacock at 8:40 a.m. ET Sunday.