Some Thoughts on the Rolex 24

Photo: Nigel Cook/News-Journal

It was an all star race and it lived up to tis billing. This was a very good 24 hour race. It seemed as if every class had battles going on, several for the entire race. 807 laps completed with 10 caution periods is a substatntial lap count.

Want to win the Rolex 24? Join Wayne Taylor Racing. Yesterday’s win was the team’s third straight and fourth in five years. Taylor switched from Cadillac to Acura, hired a new pair of drivers, and still won.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to IMSA fell seven minutes short. The Cadillac was strong the entire race and had little problem charging to the front after pit stops and a drive through penalty. A cut tire with seven minutes left derailed the whole race for the team. They finished fifth.

Spencer Pigot and Oliver Askew had to get a lot of satisfaction winning the LMP3 class. Both drivers lost their Indycar rides in 2020. I hope their victory enhances their opportunity for an Indianapolis 500 entry.

Disappointed for Rinus Veekay. The Dragonspeed entry dropped out of the race after just 53 laps. He didn’t even get in the car.

Zach Veach’s bid for a good showing did not go well. His GTD Lexus had a host of issues and finished 13th in class, 64 laps behind the class winner.

One of the best stories of the was the GTD winner.Winward Racing, is a new entry stepping up from the Michelin Pilot series . A tremendous effort to come into the class with the biggest car count and several long time teams and win.

It is sad to see the end of the GTLM class. The Rolex 24 probably marked the highest number of entries for the soon to be extinct group. The Corvettes are the only full time entries. Their 1-2 finish in the class is a hollow victory. This class usually is the most fun to watch at the Rolex with close racing in cars fans can identify with. I understand that economics probably forced the decision, but I will miss this group.

Indycar Drivers Have Mixed Results

Alexander rossi and Helio Castroneves drove for the winning Wayne Taylor Racing Acura. Castroneves follows his 2020 IMSA championship with his first win at the Rolex24.

Rossi and Castroneves become the 14th and 15th Indianapolis 500 winners to also win the Rolex24.

Other Indycar drivers results:

Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi DPi) 5th overall

Sebastien Bourdais (JDC Miller DPi) 7th in class

Simon Pagenaud, Jimmie Johnson (Action Express DPi) 2nd overall

Juan Pablo Monoya (Shank DPi) 4th overall

J. R. Hildebrand (Audi GTD) 15th in class

Colton Herta (BMW GTD) 6th in class

NBC Coverage- Meh

I hope race coverage on NBC doesn’t indicate the kind of coverage we can expect for Indycar this season. I thought it was not their best effort.

There were lots of interviews with Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. To be fair, Indycar drivers were interviewed as well, but Johnson and Elliott got more screen time than all the Indycar drivers combined. I respect what Jimmie Johnson is doing after a successful NASCAR career, taking a huge leap to Indycar and sports cars, but the coverage of him was excessive. Even after the race, he was the only runner-up driver who got an interview.

I felt the extensive focus on him slighted the full time drivers in the series, who work hard for probably little reward.

I understand that the prototypes are the big stars, but a little more time could have been spent covering the other classes. There was a great story with the winners of GTD which got only passing mentions.

Coyne, Rick Ware Racing Complete Full Time Grid

A release from Dale Coyne Racing this morning. This is the last full time car for 2021. Tomorrow I will set the grid as it stands, including the part time entries.

Plainfield, Illinois & Mooresville, North Carolina (Friday, January 29, 2021) – Dale Coyne Racing announced today that it is entering into a collaboration with Rick Ware Racing for its No. 51 and No. 52 entries for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

The team, which will run under the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR banner, will field the No. 51 car (previously the No.19 and No. 55 cars) as a full season entry alongside its sister No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan entry.

The team further plans to run the No. 52 car at the Indianapolis 500 as a third entry under the DCR stable. Additionally, the No. 52 car is set to do a selection of other races that are yet to be determined.

“We were introduced to Rick Ware at last year’s Indy 500 where he ran James Davison in our third entry,” reported Dale Coyne. “It was interesting to see how similar his efforts in NASCAR Cup and IMSA were to ours. We have talked ever since that event and we are excited to welcome Rick Ware Racing into our family at DCR.”

The primary sponsor of the No. 51 car will be announced in the coming month with the driver of that season-long entry expected to be announced next week.

“I met Dale last year through our Indy efforts with David Byrd and struck up a friendship with him and his team,” commented Rick Ware. “I have thought a long time about expanding into IndyCar from our efforts in NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and IMSA, so this collaboration, was an easy and logical step. We look forward to a competitive 2021 and beyond together.”

Dale Coyne Racing enters its 38th year of competing in American open-wheel racing. Team Owner Dale Coyne, a Midwestern entrepreneur who designed and built Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL, is known for taking on young drivers and mentoring them in the early stages of their careers. The team has claimed multiple victories, most notably, winning back-back races at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the past few years.

Rick Ware, a former driver himself and owner of Rick Ware Racing, made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 1990 and spent the next decade racing in series such as ARCA and the Busch Series (now known as Xfinity Series) before turning to full time team owner duties. Rick Ware Racing (RWR) currently fields four charters in the NASCAR Cup Series; No. 15, 51, 52 and 53. Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, RWR has competed within NASCAR’s top touring series since 2000. Over the past 20 years, RWR has competed in the Super Trofeo Series, IMSA, Asian Le Mans Series, ARCA and several other smaller series.

Circle City Raceway Plans Variety of Racing in First Season

Circle City Raceway has released their schedule for 2021. The season runs from May through October and features a John Andretti Memorial Double benefit race for Race4Riley June 9. The evening features USAC midgets and non-winged sprint cars. Late models, winged sprinters, and demolition derbies are also on the schedule. For more information, visit circlecityraceway.com

Rolex 24 is America’s True All Star Race

The Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off the major league racing season in the United States. Stars from Indycar and NASCAR join the stars of the sports car world to make it the one true All Star race in North America. The entry list features drivers with a combined 12 Indycar titles, and seven Indianapolis 500 wins; drivers with a combined eight NASCAR Series titles, and of course several IMSA champions. When the regulations change to allow the LMDh car in a couple years, the stars from the European endurance circuit may also participate.

49 cars are slated to start the race. A 50th entry, Black Swan Racing withdrew due to COVID-19 issues. For 2021, a new class LMP 3 has been added. This is mainly an amateur class of prototypes. The GTLM class, which has been a fun group to watch, is fading from the series. Corvette is the only full time team. The six entries this weekend is likely the largest field this class will see this season. I’m sad toi see this clas disappear.

GTLM consisted of technology driven sports cars that looked like cars someone could buy if money were no object. Fans could identify with them. There will be a larger group of GTD cars next year, based on the European GT3 model.

New Teams; Same Drivers

Team Penske Acura is no more. Instead, the Acuras are split into teams, Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, who drove for Penske, have stuck with Acura, although as endurance drivers only. Castroneves will drive for Taylor and Montoya for Shank.

Chip Ganassi Racing has assumed the Cadillac entry that Wayne Taylor Racing had last year. he has brought Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson from his Indycar team to serve as the endurance only drivers.

A Revised Schedule

The race gets under way at 3:40 pm Saturday, the second new start time in as many years. Sunset is around 6 pm Saturday, so there will be just about two and a half hours of daylight before the 13 hours of night racing begins. NBC will cover the entire race across its various platforms.

The weather forecast is great for the race. Mild temperatures with a low of 53 degree Saturday night. By Rolex standards, that is balmy. Highs are 67 degrees Saturday and 75 degrees Sunday. The race has moved back one week this year, which may be a factor in the improved forecast.

Indycar Drivers

Indycar drivers are in every category except GTLM. Here is a list by category and car number.

LMP1

01 Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson

5 Sebastien Bourdais

10 Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves

48 Simon Pagenaud, Jimmie Johnson

60 Juan Pablo Montoya

LMP2

81 Rinus VeeKay, Ben Hanley

LMP3

74 Oliver Askew, Spencer Pigot

GTD

12 Zach Veach

42 J. R. Hildebrand

96 Colton Herta ? (Herta was on the original entry list, but was not on yesterday’s final entry list; he is still on the spotter’s guide)

Entry List

Find the entry list at the following link:

https://www.motorsport.com/imsa/news/rolex-24-hours-entry-list/4995537/

Jones, Coyne, Hope to Pick Up Where They Left Off

“As I told Ed when we were talking about all this,we both have unfinished business,” Dale Coyne began the press conference. Ed Jones reiterated the phrase a minute later. Jones rejoins Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan for the 2021 season. Jones had a strong rookie season with Coyne in 2017, including a third p[lace finish in the Indianapolis 500.

Jones was hopeful of returning to Indycar, and he and Coyne had maintained a good relationship since Jones left the team for Chip Ganassi racing.

“After the year out, I knew I really wanted to be back in INDYCAR. I was talking to Dale, seeing what we could figure out. . . As Dale said, we’ve had a great relationship. I know a lot of the guys at the team already. Having that extra partnership of Vasser Sullivan, continuing their success, is something I’m really excited to get going with.”

Jimmy Vasser is looking forward to having Jones on the team. Vasser noted his consistency, adding, “…he’s a finisher, and he’s consistent.I think also he gives us a chance to fight for the Indy 500. Three starts, third and a sixth. In my opinion, should have been Rookie of the Year at the 500, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.”

After a disappointing 2019 season in Indycar, Jones had signed on to run the DTM series in Germany for 2020. The COVID pandemic ended that plan. Jones began to think about getting back to Indycar.

“Yeah, so for me there was many options indifferent categories to race in this year. The way 2019went for me was really disappointing, my last year in INDYCAR at the moment. It bugged me. I knew it didn’t reflect what level I could compete at. There’s a lot of young guys in there doing well, and I beat most of them in junior categories, things like that. I know what level I’m at. I know it didn’t reflect that. I knew I needed to get back to INDYCAR, prove what I can do.”

Jones spent some time last year taking online courses from MIT on artificial intelligence and digital business management. He thinks some knowledge he obtained can apply to racing but Jones is also looking beyond huis current career.

“On one thing with the data, it’s something you can use into motorsport, maybe not from a driver perspective, but with data on handling how you use testing the car and things like that. Through simulation, as well.It’s something which can be beneficial in the future, and something which maybe isn’t really important for me now,but something I could use in times to come.”

Jones doesn’t think the aeroscreen will be a huge adjustment and he is looking forward to running the ovals.

“I feel like I’ve always been strong on ovals, short ovals especially. To be honest, if I could race INDYCAR ovals every weekend, that would be my dream thing (smiling). It’s something which I love to do. Although the windscreen is different, it’s just one of the things you’ve got to get used to. I changed from old aerokits to the new aerokit. It’s not a problem. Just something you have to adapt to and it won’t be an issue.”

Coyne said that the team hopes to announce its second driver next week and begin testing in February.

Ed Jones Returns to Coyne

This is the week of Indycar homecomings. yesterday, James Hinchcliffe came back full time to Andretti Autosport. Today, Ed Jones returns to Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan as the driver of car 18, with Seal Master sponsorship.

Jones began his Indycar career with Coyne in 2017 after winning the 2016 Indy lights championship. He finished 14th in points, highlighted by a third place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Jones earned Indycar Rookie of the Year.

The following year Jones joined Chip Ganassi Racing. He had two podium finishes and was 13th in points. In 2019 he drove the road courses and the Indianapolis 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing. He finished 13th in the 500 after starting fourth.

Jones was scheduled to drive i the DTM series in 2020, but COVID derailed those plans.

More on this story later today.

Hinchcliffe Full Time with Andretti; Genesys to Sponsor 10 Races

Photo: Karl Zemlin, Indycar

James Hinchcliffe returns to Andretti Autosport and the Indycar grid full time as the team announced their fourth full time car for the 2021 NTT Indycar series campaign. Genesys will sponsor the 29 car for 10 races for Hinchcliffe in 2021. Sponsors for the other seven races will be named in the coming weeks

.Hinchcliffe drove for Andretti from 2012-2014 after a year at Newman-Haas. After five years at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Hinchcliffe lost his ride after the 2019 season. He ran three races for Andretti with Genesys sponsorship in 2020 and ran three races for Andretti late in the year replacing Zach Veach. His best finish was seventh in the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe won three races in 2013 for Andretti and he has six career wins.

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Hinchcliffe spent part of 2020 as part of the NBC broadcast team at aces where he wasn’t driving.

The Indianapolis 500 and Hinchcliffe have a love hate relationship. A grisly accident in post qualifying practice nearly cost the Canadian driver his life. he returned the following year to win the pole for the 100th running oif the race. In 2018 he failed to qualify. Hinchcliffe returned to the 500 field in 2019, finishing 11th after starting 32nd.

Peacock Replaces NBC Gold

Photo: Indycar

Well, that didn’t take long. Fans who purchased NBC Gold received an email today regarding the switch to Peacock. Indycar sent the follow release regarding the change.

From Indycar:

NBC, NBCSN To Broadcast All 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series Races

Peacock Premium becomes the new streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES coverage beginning with the 2021 season. NBC Sports’ exclusive streaming coverage will move from NBC Sports Gold’s “IndyCar Pass,” to Peacock Premium, which is available for $4.99 per month.

Peacock Premium will provide fans in the U.S. with live coverage of 2021 INDYCAR qualifying and practice sessions as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of INDYCAR races in 2021. Peacock Premium will surround the 105th Indianapolis 500 with exclusive practice and qualifying coverage, as well as ancillary content.

“Peacock Premium will offer NTT INDYCAR SERIES fans in-demand track action at tremendous value,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “Alongside NBC Sports, we’re providing comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifications throughout our season, while also connecting to a larger platform with a world-class roster of programming.”

INDYCAR on Peacock Premium will also feature INDYCAR archival and library content, and other motorsports shoulder programming.

As previously announced, all 2021 INDYCAR races, along with select additional race weekend sessions, will be broadcast on either NBC or NBCSN.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season starts Sunday, April 18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

INDYCAR will join a robust library of live sports on Peacock Premium. Highlights of Peacock Premium’s live sports offerings include Premier League, a Sunday NFL Wild Card playoff game, U.S. Open golf, U.S. Women’s Open golf, and upcoming Olympics and Paralympics coverage, plus the Peacock Originals “Lost Speedways,” hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and “In Deep with Ryan Lochte.”

Viewers can sign up for Peacock at peacocktv.com. Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; and VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.

Sports Business Journal Says Indycar Pass Moving to Peacock

The following Tweet from Sports Business Journal confirms something I discussed this morning.

From earlier:

N B C-ya?

https://thepitwindow.blog/2021/01/23/n-b-c-ya/

Follow the link to read the full story. i assume those who purchased Gold last year will receive a notice as to how to proceed.

Sports Business Journal@sbjsbd#BREAKING: Sources say @IndyCar is among the list of sports properties NBC Sports will be transitioning to Peacock Premium, with IndyCar Pass set to move to the streaming service later this year (@A_S12). Free to read: https://sbjsbd.biz/2Y7MVJm