A few late adds have come into the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen entry list for this weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race. Here’s a quick recap:
Martin Plowman and David Cheng join Doug Bielefeld in the No. 88 BAR1 Motorsports entry in PC. Plowman makes his second start for the team (Sebring), Cheng his first. “Martin Plowman leads our team as our pro driver for this event,” said team owner Brian Alder. “Martin did a great job at Sebring, as lead driver in our primary car, and was running some of the fastest lap times of all the PC cars toward the end of the race. We are anxious to show what we can do here at the Glen.”
Guy Cosmo is back on board with Marsh Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP, alongside Boris Said and Eric Curran. “I’ve raced anything with wheels there and I can’t wait to get back. It’s always a great weekend and I’m lucky to have a lot of family and friends who always come out for the six-hour,” said New York native Cosmo, who is also working on the new First Gear Project crowd funded motorsports projects initiative.
Mike Hedlund joins Performance Tech Motorsports’ No. 38 PC entry with David Ostella. “He did a great job at COTA (in testing),” said team manager Brent O’Neill. “He’s a solid guy who drives a clean race. He’s driven in Ferrari, GRAND-AM and has done some Porsche GTD. He’s got a lot of experience and is just a good guy. We circled back around with him this season and were able to put something together. It’ll be great to have him, and I think he’ll get along well with David (Ostella).”
Marco Bonanomi, one of the factory drivers who raced an Audi R18 e-tron quattros in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be with Fall-Line Motorsports’ No. 46 Audi R8 Ultra in GTD with Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman.
Brett Sandberg saddles up with Flying Lizard Motorsports in the team’s No. 45 Audi R8 Ultra in GTD, alongside Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache. “I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity to drive alongside Spencer and Nelson in this historic 6-hour race. Watkins Glen has always been one of my favorite tracks, almost a home track for me,” said Sandberg.
Brandon Davis joins Scuderia Corsa’s lineup in the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in GTD, alongside Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal.
After a month break, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, with two of its series tacking the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama.
Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires have double-headers this weekend, with Pro Mazda returning to Barber after not running there last year.
The season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was a tale of two completely different stories, with two different winners – Pato O’Ward and Santi Urrutia – and more than a fair bit of chaos for Indy Lights, while Pro Mazda saw Rinus Veekay sweep the weekend.
Talking points for both series heading into Barber are below.
Santi Urrutia displayed great patience at St. Petersburg, finishing second in Race 1 and winning Race 2 after rivals like O’Ward and Colton Herta faltered. However, Barber has not been one of his better tracks, with finishes of 11th, 15th, and 13th in three of his four Indy Lights starts. Yet, he did win Race 2 at Barber 2016, so he has had success there before, and he will be one of the favorites heading into the weekend.
Pato O’Ward looks poised to be a title contender in 2018 and will look to avenge a somewhat disappointing outing at St. Petersburg. O’Ward had the speed to sweep the weekend, winning Race 1 handily and dominating Race 2, but a mistake late in the race saw him overshoot Turn 4 and briefly stall before he could rejoin, relegating him to seventh. If O’Ward can show the pace he showed at St. Pete, he might end up being the man to beat.
Colton Herta will look to rebound from a St. Pete weekend in which he flashed the speed that caught everyone’s attention last year, but also committed the same mistakes that ultimately prevented him from taking a championship. After finishing third in Race 1, Herta crashed while chasing then leader O’Ward in Race 2. Herta won Race 2 at Barber last year, and getting another win this weekend, along with staying mistake free, would go a long way to erasing his problems from St. Pete.
Aaron Telitz is also looking to rebound after a down weekend, as his St. Petersburg weekend lasted all of two corners across both races – he won the Pole for Race 1, but crashed in Race 2 qualifying, and the Belardi Auto Racing team could not repair the car to allow him to race. After the team borrowed a chassis from Carlin for Race 2, Telitz get collected with Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni right off the start, and he crashed again, this time in Turn 2. Telitz finished on the podium at Barber in 2016, the year he won the Pro Mazda championship, and he’ll look for more of the same this weekend.
Rinus Veekay had a perfect weekend to open the Pro Mazda season. The Juncos Racing driver outdueled Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson for the Race 1 victory, and then ran away with Race 2 to complete the weekend sweep. Veekay was expected to be a title contender after moving up to Pro Mazda in 2018, and if he can repeat his St. Pete performance, then he may leave Barber as the heavy favorite in the championship.
Not to be forgotten, Parker Thompson sits second in the Pro Mazda title chase, and looks to avenge losing out to Veekay in St. Pete Race 1, and then fading somewhat to finish fifth in Race 2. Thompson was the only driver to regularly challenge Veekay and Oliver Askew in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, and he and Exclusive Autosport have adapted nicely to the new Tatuus PM-18. If they can show the same form at Barber, and then finish the job with at least one trip to Victory Lane, then it could set the stage for another titanic Pro Mazda championship fight.
Last year’s USF2000 champion Oliver Askew had a quiet weekend in St. Pete, finishing fifth and sixth in the two races. He swept the Barber races in USF2000 last year, and will need a similar performance to vault himself forward from his current place of sixth in the standings.
Carlos Cunha and David Malukas head to Barber third and fourth in the championship after solid St. Pete weekends – Cunha had finishes of fourth and third, while Malukas had finishes of seventh and second. Neither was necessarily looked at as a title combatant entering 2018, but repeat performances in Barber could vault them into title contention.