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Everything you need to know about Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville

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After three and four-wide speedway antics at Fontana, the Sprint Cup Series returns to its fender-rubbin’ roots this weekend at NASCAR’s oldest track, the half-mile “paperclip” known as Martinsville Speedway.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important numbers and notes you need to know going into this coming weekend’s STP 500 – Round 6 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Four top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.182 mph, seventh-fastest
· 5,803 Laps in the Top 15 (72.2%), eighth-most
· 512 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Eight top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 13.2, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 97.0, sixth-best
· 402 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.292 mph, fourth-fastest
· 6,323 Laps in the Top 15 (70.0%), fifth-most
· 578 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)
· 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.9, fourth-best
· 455 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Series-high 1,042 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.288 mph, fifth-fastest
· 6,963 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), third-most
· 619 Quality Passes, third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet)
· Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles
· Average finish of 6.8
· Average Running Position of 6.2, second-best
· Driver Rating of 121.1, second-best
· Series-high 1,029 Fastest Laps Run
· 857 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.640 mph, second-fastest
· 8,167 Laps in the Top 15 (90.4%), second-most
· Series-high 660 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.1
· Average Running Position of 8.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 111.4, third-best
· 572 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.421 mph, third-fastest
· 6,609 Laps in the Top 15 (82.3%), fourth-most
· 560 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 13.8, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.9, eighth-best
· 220 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 869 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.074 mph, eighth-fastest
· 5,947 Laps in the Top 15 (65.8%), seventh-most
· 510 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Eight wins, 17 top fives, 21 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 5.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 5.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 124.0
· 954 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.652 mph
· Series-high 8,333 Laps in the Top 15 (92.2%)
· 647 Quality Passes, second-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· One top five, five top 10s
· Average finish of 10.4
· Average Running Position of 13.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.2, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.071 mph, ninth-fastest

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet)
· One top five, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best
· 854 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 90.964 mph, 11th-fastest
· 4,817 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), 12th-most
· 386 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet)
· One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 15.2, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.4, 11th-best
· 142 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 938 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· 5,058 Laps in the Top 15 (56.0%), 10th-most
· 478 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 11.1, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.5, fifth-best
· 376 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.200 mph, sixth-fastest
· 6,113 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), sixth-most
· 417 Quality Passes, 11th-most

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Martinsville Speedway Data

Season Race #: 6 of 36 (03-30-14)
Track Size: 0.526-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 12 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 12 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 0 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 0 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 800 feet
Backstretch Length: 800 feet
Race Length: 500 laps / 263 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 124.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 121.1
Denny Hamlin………………………. 111.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 98.9
Tony Stewart…………………………. 98.5
Kyle Busch…………………………… 97.0
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 93.8
Kevin Harvick………………………… 92.9
Brad Keselowski……………………. 89.2
Ryan Newman……………………….. 87.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet – 98.400 mph, 19.244 secs., 04-05-13

2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet – 72.066 mph, (03:38:58), 04-07-13

Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin, Toyota – 99.595 mph, 19.013 secs., 10-25-13

Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 09-22-96

Martinsville Speedway History

· Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States.
· The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949.
· The track was paved in 1955.
· The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956.
· Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.

Martinsville Speedway Notebook

· There have been 130 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.
· 593 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 374 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 42.
· Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949.
· 57 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.
· 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway. Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004).
· Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days).
· 47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway, led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each.
· 23 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only four active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four) and Tony Stewart (three).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21.
· 21 of 130 races (16.1%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010).
· The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position.
· 36 of the 130 (27.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place.
· 95 of the 130 (73%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 130 (3.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002.
· Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days).
· Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days).
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with four, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with three.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 17.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson (21).
· Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.238. Ryan Newman is the only other active driver with an average starting position at Martinsville in the top-10 (9.417).
· Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.333), Jeff Gordon (6.833) and Denny Hamlin (8.125).
· There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway: fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515).
· Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (42).
· Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway.
· Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway.
· 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway. Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965.
· All 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three).
· Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Four drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway: Mark Martin (12); Bobby Labonte (18), Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20).
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
· Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins:

  • No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999)
  • No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep)
  • No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993).
  • No. 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04)
  • No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13)
  • No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013)
  • No. 3 – Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95)

NASCAR in Virginia

· There have been 282 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia: Martinsville 130, Richmond International Raceway 115, South Boston 10, Langley Field (Hampton) 9, Old Dominion (Manassas) 7, Southside (Richmond) 4, Starkey (Roanoke) 2, Norfolk 2, Princess Anne (Norfolk) 1.
· 169 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia.
· 19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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2017 MotoGP calendar tweaked as German GP changes date

VALENCIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 13:  The MotoGP riders start from the grid during the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Valencia - Race at Ricardo Tormo Circuit on November 13, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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The calendar for the 2017 MotoGP season has been subject to a minor tweak following a date change for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

The provisional schedule for next year was released back in September, with 18 rounds listed in a similar fashion to the 2016 calendar.

The biggest change for 2017 was the removal of the back-to-back round between the races in Argentina and Austin, Texas, with many encountering travel difficulties en route from Termas de Rio Hondo.

In an updated schedule released by MotoGP on Wednesday, the German Grand Prix has now been brought forward by one week to create a longer summer break.

The race at the Sachsenring in Saxony will now take place on July 2, going back-to-back with the TT Assen race in the Netherlands and create a month’s gap to the next race in the Czech Republic.

The date of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas remains unchanged, taking place on April 23.

2017 MotoGP provisional calendar

1. Qatar – March 26
2. Argentina – April 9
3. USA – April 23
4. Spain – May 7
5. France – May 21
6. Italy – June 4
7. Catalunya – June 11
8. Netherlands – June 25
9. Germany – July 2
10. Czech Republic – August 6
11. Austria – August 13
12. Great Britain – August 27
13. San Marino – September 10
14. Aragon – September 24
15. Japan – October 15
16. Australia – October 22
17. Malaysia – October 29
18. Valencia – November 12

New Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18 revealed at PRI Show

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The new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18 car has been revealed today the PRI Show in Indianapolis. See the release below for more information; we’ll have more to come later on NBCSports.com.

The middle rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, will gain a significant upgrade in 2018 with the introduction of the brand-new Tatuus PM-18. The prototype car was unveiled today during the annual Performance Racing Industry Show at the Indianapolis Convention Center by Dan Andersen, Owner/CEO of Andersen Promotions, John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, and Chris Pantani, Director of Event Marketing and Motorsports for Cooper Tires.

The PM-18 represents the completion of an entire overhaul of all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy, which offers scholarships at every step to assist drivers in progressing all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. It follows the introduction of the Dallara IL-15 to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Tatuus USF-17 to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The PM-18 will replace the venerable Elan Pro Mazda chassis which was introduced in 2004 and provided the basis for a long list of talented young drivers, including Marco Andretti, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Graham Rahal, to make their way toward the pinnacle of the sport.

For cost-effectiveness, the PM-18 shares the same carbon and aluminum honeycomb monocoque chassis as the USF-17, which made an impressive debut during the recent Mazda Road to Indy Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit and will form the basis of the USF2000 series beginning next season. The car meets all current FIA safety standards, including side-impact panels, front and rear impact structures, HANS compliant IndyCar head restraint, front and rear wheel tethers, upgraded uprights and front bulkhead structure for USA-specific oval racing. The initial order of 35 USF-17 cars has sold out.

“We are very excited to unveil the next generation Pro Mazda chassis,” said Andersen. “Scot Elkins [Project Manager and Race Director Pro Mazda and USF2000] and Tatuus have done a great job in augmenting the USF-17 base car to provide everything drivers on the second step of the ladder need to continue their career development. We currently plan to begin prototype testing in March of next year, with the first shipment of cars delivered to teams in June to allow for a summer test program. With the success of the USF-17, I can’t wait to see this car on track.”

Enhancements over the USF-17 include more sophisticated aerodynamics with an adjustable dual-element rear wing and single-plane carbon fiber front wing with adjustable flaps and Pro Mazda-specific front and rear endplates; larger American Racing forged Technomesh monoblock alloy wheels with Cooper Tires (13″x10″ fronts and 13″x12″ rears); and a 275 HP 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-PM18A motor developed by Elite Engines, utilizing a fly-by-wire throttle system and Cosworth SQ6 engine management system. The power will be delivered via a Sadev SL82 sixspeed sequential transmission and limited-slip differential.

“It’s a pretty good next step based on all the work that we have done so far,” said Elkins. “We know that the performance level is going to be a lot higher than the USF2000 car and the aero is going to be more like the Indy Lights car which fits within the ladder quite well. It will allow drivers to transition to the next step much easier. We obviously have more horsepower and more aero than the USF2000 car, which was the entire intention, and we are excited about it.”

The PM-18 will be the series’ standard for at least the next five years.

“We talk frequently about the global growth of the Mazda Road to Indy program, and having topline, modern race cars on each step of the MRTI ladder increases the likelihood of seeing the finest young drivers in the world at each step,” said Doonan. “We also talk about providing value for our teams and drivers, and the PM-18 is a wonderful example of an affordable race car that is safe and fast. We’ve already seen the huge interest in the new USF2000 car for next year, and we expect much the same for the Pro Mazda series in 2018.”

With the PM-18 in the spotlight when prototype testing begins, there are an array of incentives for drivers to experience this vital step during the 2017 transitional year. The champion’s Mazda scholarship to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018 has been increased by $200,000 bringing the total award to $790,300. The champion will also receive a Cooper Tires Tire Award valued at $75,000 and a series entry award valued at $24,000. Year-end prizes will total over $1.1M.

Additional enhancements include a one-day Indy Lights test for each of the top-three finishers in the championship and a new Pro Mazda Rookie of the Year Mazda Car Award which features a new Mazda street car of choice to the winning driver.

“The new look of the PM-18 is amazing,” stated Pantani. “With the launch of the IL-15 and the recent introduction of the USF-17, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tire is now completely revitalized. Cooper Tire is proud to be associated with every step of the only dedicated driver development program that leads directly to a seat in an Indy car.”

Mercedes places tongue-in-cheek advert in magazine looking for new F1 driver

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates with his second place trophy after securing the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Mercedes continued its search for Nico Rosberg’s replacement ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season by placing a tongue-in-cheek advert in Autosport magazine on Thursday.

Rosberg announced last Friday that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect, having won his maiden F1 world title just five days earlier in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes held its first internal meeting on Monday as it considers replacements for Rosberg, with a number of options on offer to the German marque.

However, on the off-chance that any interested F1 drivers are flicking through the classifieds in the prestigious Autosport magazine, Mercedes has filed an advert calling for interest in its available seat.

The advert specifies that interested candidates must be “self-motivated with a strong desire for success and a commitment to teamwork”, while “possession of an FIA Super Licence will be an advantage”.

Job benefits include a generous bonus, life assurance, private medical cover and access to Mercedes’ company car lease scheme – oh, not to mention the chance to drive the best car on the F1 grid.

With no contact details offered, you can be sure that this is a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” situation…

Sarrazin rounds out stacked Rebellion Racing lineup at Daytona

Photo: Rebellion Racing
Photo: Rebellion Racing
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Imagine taking the reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship champion from Porsche, the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship and reigning FIA Formula E champion from Toyota, a multiple-time Petit Le Mans winner from Rebellion Racing, then pair them with Toyota’s longest active driver in the FIA WEC, and put them all in one car.

And in that one car, you have a ridiculously stacked lineup that Rebellion Racing is putting together in its Oreca 07 for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Stephane Sarrazin has been confirmed today as the fourth driver alongside Neel Jani, Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi in a thoroughly impressive lineup for the Bart Hayden-run operation, which makes its return to the U.S. starting with next year’s Rolex 24 as part of a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup lineup. Jani and Heidfeld have raced together with Rebellion in the past and Daytona marks its reunion.

“After our success in the American Le Mans Series races in 2012 and 2013, we always wanted to find a way back to competing in the USA,” Hayden said when the team announced its U.S. return. “We are very excited to be able to return with a new prototype and to race in the North American Endurance Cup in 2017.  Reuniting Nick with Neel and adding Seb gives us a top line driver line-up and signals our intention which is to compete at the highest level and hopefully to win again in the USA.”

The Prototype class field at the Rolex 24 should be well north of 12 entries – perhaps 15 or more – and most of them will have pretty impressive lineups for the debut of the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) format along with the new-for-2017-spec LMP2 cars.