A Title for Helio at Last

It appeared to be over almost before it had begun. Helio Castroneves watched helplessly from the pit stand as Ricky Taylor had trouble leaving the pits after the Penske Acura’s first pit stop 45 minutes into the 12 Hours of Sebring. A boost issue forced the car back to the garage and cost them 11 laps on track. They would need help to win the IMSA Weather Tech championship. The help came from an unlikely source.

Wayne Taylor Racing, starting the day two points behind the Team Penske duo, looked to be in a solid position to overtake the season leaders. A collision between Scott Dixon, in the Taylor Cadillac and Oliver Jarvis in one of the Mazdas, forced dixon to pit. The team needed to replace the radiator, putting them five laps behind. While still ahead of the Penske car, the Taylor entry couldn’t make up enough positions to gain the three points they needed for the lead.

With the focus on the two cars, the Action Express entry was now in a position to jump into the series championship. hey were well underway until the 10th hour, when Pipo Derani tangled with Juan Pablo Montoya in the other Team Penske car. Derani received a drive through penalty, ending the title hopes for Action Express.

Thus Helio Castroneves, in his final race for team Penske, finally won a title for the Captain. Castroneves had finished second seven times in Indycar for Penske despite three Indianapolis 500 victories and 30 race wins overall. Castroneves begins a new Indycar chapter in 2021 when he drives in six races for Meyer Shank Racing.

Helio’s perseverance in pursuing a championship is admirable. he put in a lot of hard work. It took a little longer than he hoped to finally realize one of his goals.

Indycar Well Represented at Sebring

Indycar drivers and team owners had a good day and night at Sebring. In addition to Castroneves winning the season championship for team Penske, Ryan Hunter-Reay drove for the winning Mazda entry, and Simon Pagenaud was a part of the Team Penske Acura entry which finished second. Two time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya also drove the runner-up car.

Meyer Shank Racing won the season championship in the GTD class with drivers Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry, edging Wright Motorsports by two points. meyer Shank will move to the DPi class next season, taking over one of the Acura entries. Will Castroneves be a part of this venture too?

The Michael Shank Acura, winner of the IMSA Weather Tech GTD title

Other Indycar drivers- Sebastien Bourdais finished fifth overall in his final full time ride. Bourdais will pilot the number14 for A. J. Foyt racing in Indycar in 2021.

Colton Herta ended the night fourth in class driving for RLL.

Sebring- A Race With Many Lasts Could Produce a First

Team Penske could end their time in IMSA with a championship

The Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, delayed from March, is on for Saturday. Normally the second race of the IMSA Weather Tech Championship, the oddities of 2020 have conspired to make it the last race of the season. Thirty-one cars in four classes will take the green just after 10 am Saturday morning.

This race might play out differently than the race would have at its normal spot in the schedule. In the spring, the race occurs just after the return of Daylight Savings Time. The race is run in just a bit more than two hours in darkness. This weekend, teams and drivers will contend with slightly less than half the race run after sunset, which is around 5:32 pm Saturday. Strange things happen at Sebring after dark, which will make the second half of the race interesting.

IMSA Farewells

Sebring will be the final race for the Team Penske Acuras in the DPi class and the Porsche 911s in the GTLM class. The Porsche team has been a popular mainstay in the IMSA series for a long time.

This weekend also sees some drivers leaving the series. Oliver Gavin is running his final race as a full time drive with the GTLM Corvette. Renger van der Zende and Ryan Briscoe take their final stints in Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac. Taylor will switch to one of the Acura cars next year.

Helio’s First Title?

Helio Castroneves could win his first major series title. He and teammate Ricky Taylor lead the Wayne Taylor team of Briscoe and van der Zende by just two points heading into this weekend’s finale.

Castroneves, who finished second four times in his Indycar career, will have to fend off a familiar nemesis to secure his championship. Six time Indycar champion Scott Dixon is the third driver for Wayne Taylor Racing. Dixon edged Castroneves for the Indycar title in 2008 and 2013.

Castroneves signed with Meyer Shank Racing to run six races in Indycar in 2021, and he is likley to be the extra driver in the endurance races for Shank next season. Shank assumes control of the second Acura prototype in 2021.

Should Castroneves take the championship, at certain Indycar races the grid could feature an IMSA champion, a seven time NASCAR champion(jimmkie Johnson), a three time Australian Supercar Champion (Scott McLaughlin), a four time Indycar champion(Sebastien Bourdais), and Dixon, the newly crowned six time Indycar titlist.

Indycar Drivers in the Field

Several Indycar drivers, current and former, will be driving this weekend, most of them in the Prototype class. By car number-

5- Bourdais

6- Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud

7- Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi

10- Briscoe

55- Ryan Hunter- Reay

25- Colton Herta (GTLM BMW for Rahal)

Coverage begins on NBCSN at 10 am, switches to NBC from 3-6, then ends on NBCSN at 6.

Mazda Leads Day 1 at Roar

Today’s IMSA Weather Tech Championship Schedule:

10:30-11:35 Practice

11:50-12:05 GTLM Qualifying

12:15-12:30 DPi Qualifying

2:45-3:45 Practice

Just like last year, Mazda Team Joest led most practice sessions at the first day of the Roar before the 24. In last night’s final practice Oliver Jarvis in the number 77 Mazda DPi had the quick time of 1:34.753. Ryan Hunter-Reay was 0.445 seconds behind in the 55 team car.

Harrison Newey led  the LMP2 class in the number 81 Dragonspeed entry with a 1:37.372 lap.  GTLM was a Porsche sweep. :

Laurens Vanthoor led in the 912 with a 1:43.513 time, followed by the 911 Porsche driven by Fred Makowecki.

Lamborghini took the top three spots in GTLM, led by Franck Perera in the number 11 GRT Grasser Orange Huracan.

Kirkwood Wins Prototype Challenge

Road to Indy Driver Kyle Kirkwood won the Prototype Challenge race yesterday. The race was run in rainy conditions as a storm hit the track just before the race began. Krikwood, who drive in Indy Lights this year, has won nearly 50% of his races since 2018.

GTD, LMP2 Qualifying

In qualifying for pit and garage stall selections, Frankie Montecalvo led the GTD class. Montecalvo drives the number 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan LexusRC-F GT3.

Ben Keating had the fastest time in the LMP2 sessioin, driving the number 52ORECA Gibson for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.

Notes

It was odd seeing Jordan Taylor in a Corvette driving suit.

The Roar crowd seems to get bigger every year.

Saw Sebastien Bourdais with a wrench in hand working on his DPi car.

Today will be cool with temperatures in the 50s.

The smaller numbers of cars was quite noticeable in the qualifying sessions yesterday.

 

Roar Before the 24- Lots of Changes for Full Timers and Indycar Drivers

The Roar Before the 24 began today with a totally different look for the IMSA Weather Tech field. Several full time drivers are with new teams. As a result, some of the Indycar regulars who serve as the extra drivers needed for the endurance races are also in new situations. The most notable Indycar drivers to switch are Scott Dixon, who will drive for Wayne Taylor Racing this year after Chip Ganassi’s Ford GTLM program ended after 2019.

The majority of drivers who participated in the NTT Indycar Series in 2019 are in the DPi class. Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud are in Team Penske Acuras. Rossi is in car number 6 and Pagenaud in car 7. Dixon will drive in the 10 car. Ryan Hunter-Reay is with the number 55 Mazda. Matheus Leist, who at present does not a ride in Indycar for this year, is driving the endurance races for JDC-Miller in car 85.

Colton Herta returns to defend his GTLM win in the 2019 Rolex 24 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan in the number 25 BMW.

Part time Indycar drivers running this weekend at Ben Hanley with Dragonspeed in the 81 LMP2 entry and James Davison the number 2 Multimatic Riley, also in LMP2.

Katherine Legge returns on an all female team, but not with Henricher/MSR. She will drive the 19 GTD car for GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser. The Lamboghini Hurracan will be very competitive.

Go to the link to view the full entry list:

Click to access 2020_iwsc_roar_official_entrylist.pdf

 

Things Will Seem Weird

There are things about the Roar that will look strange. Wayne Taylor Racing will not have a driver named Taylor.  It was hard enough last year getting used to Ricky Taylor in the Penske Acura. Now we also need to adjust to his brother Jordan in a Corvette GTLM.

I will miss the Ganassi Ford GTLMs. I loved the look of the car and its distinctive sound. I’m glad that their regular drivers have found other rides.

Normally watching Sebastien Bourdais in the endurance races is no big deal, but it’s difficult to realize that the number 5 Cadillac will be his home for the season. I hope he can find something for the Indianapolis 500.

I hope the smaller field, just 40 cars this year, can see more entries starting next season. I understand it’s economics, but sad to see the numbers going down. Some of the shorter races may see even smaller grids.

The Schedule

Saturday, January 4

7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Garages Open
7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Scout Days Open Garage inside the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship garage
7:30 AM
Infield & UNOH Fanzone open
7:30 AM – 8:15 AM
Scout Days Start/Finish Line Track Walk
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM
DIS Tours available – Purchase at Daytona Ticket and Tours building
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Scout Days fishing available on Lake Lloyd
8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Pick up sheet to earn Scout Days Unit Excellence Ribbon at the GEICO Campgrounds information booth
8:45 AM – 9:00 AM
IMSA Prototype Challenge qualifying
8:45 AM
Scout Days STEMWERX Wind Tunnel activity signups at UNOH Fanzone Main Stage (limited spots available)
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Rolex 24 At DAYTONA trophy photos in Gatorade Victory Lane
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Scout Days Tram Track/Venue Tours departing from Tram Plaza
9:00 AM – 9:20 AM
Michelin Tire Workshop in Pilot Challenge Paddock
9:15 AM – 10:00 AM
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice session #3
10:00 AM
Scout Days STEMWERX Wind Tunnel activity (must sign-up in advance)
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM
IMSA WeatherTech Championship practice session #3
10:15 AM – 11:00 AM
Autograph Session: IMSA Prototype Challenge drivers under FPL Solar Patio in UNOH Fanzone
10:30 AM
Guided IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Garage Tour Sign-Ups (limited spots available, UNOH Fanzone Main Stage)
11:20 AM – 12:00 PM
IMSA Prototype Challenge Pre-Race Access/Grid Walk
12:15 PM – 3:15 PM
Race – IMSA Prototype Challenge At DAYTONA (3 Hours)
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM
Driver Panel: AIM Vasser Sullivan in Driver Meeting Room
1:30 PM
Guided IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Garage Tour (limited spots available, sign-up begins at 10:30 AM at UNOH Fanzone Main Stage)
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Fan Forum: “Women in Motorsports” in Driver Meeting Room
2:00 PM
Scout Days STEMWERX Wind Tunnel activity (must sign-up in advance)
3:15 PM
Celebrate with the IMSA Prototype Challenge Winners at Gatorade Victory Lane
3:30 PM
Guided WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Garage Tour Sign-Ups (limited spots available, sign-up begins at 3:30 PM at UNOH Fanzone Main Stage)
3:35 PM – 4:05 PM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #4
4:15 PM – 4:30 PM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying (GTD)
4:40 PM – 4:55 PM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying (LMP2)
5:00 PM
Scout Days STEMWERX Wind Tunnel activity (must sign-up in advance)
5:10 PM – 5:55 PM
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice session #4
5:30 PM
Guided WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Garage Tour (limited spots available, sign-up begins at 3:30 PM at UNOH Fanzone Main Stage)
5:55 PM – 6:15 PM
Michelin Tire Workshop in Pilot Challenge Paddock
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #5
8:30 PM
Scout Days movie showing inside the UNOH Fanzone
Sunday, January 5th
7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Garages Open
7:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Scout Days Open Garage inside the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship garage
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
IMSA Pinewood Derby at DAYTONA on UNOH Fanzone Stage
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM
DIS Tours available – Purchase at Daytona Ticket and Tours building
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Scout Days fishing available on Lake Lloyd
9:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Scout Days Unit of Excellence Ribbons awarded at GEICO Campgrounds information booth
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice session #5
9:00 AM – 3:45 PM
Infield & UNOH Fanzone open
10:30 AM – 11:35 AM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #6
11:50 AM – 12:05 PM
IMSA WeatherTech Championship qualifying (GTLM)
12:15 PM – 12:30 PM
IMSA WeatherTech Championship qualifying (DPi)
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice session #6
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #7
4:00 PM
Event concludes