Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire

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After a wet and wild ride at Daytona, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are heading for New England this weekend with a stop at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The low-banked, sweeping corners of the “Magic Mile” makes passing relatively difficult; as such, the matter of gaining and keeping track position is critical to success here. Expect to keep track of varying pit/fuel strategies among the teams, especially late in the running.

Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 could also give us a bit of a glimpse into the Chase this fall, as New Hampshire hosts the second race of NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Round 19 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

NEW HAMPSHIRE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Two wins, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.0, sixth-best
· 233 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.704 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,352 Laps in the Top 15 (70.3%), 12th-most
· 452 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Three wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 13.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best
· 187 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 920 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.559 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,380 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9%), 11th-most
· 516 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 14.0, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 93.1, seventh-best
· 206 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.532 mph, 12th-fastest
· 3,465 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most
· 480 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· Seven top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.7
· Average Running Position of 11.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, fifth-best
· 236 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,002 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.860 mph, fourth-fastest
· 3,976 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), fourth-most
· 568 Quality Passes, third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 10.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.4
· Driver Rating of 109.2, second-best
· Series-high 433 Fastest Laps Run
· 893 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 125.062 mph
· Series-high 4,804 Laps in the Top 15 (89.5%)
· Series-high 618 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.0
· Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.9, fourth-best
· 284 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.821 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,547 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4%), seventh-most
· 526 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 13.0, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.1, 11th-best
· 156 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 904 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.568 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,430 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), ninth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.2
· Average Running Position of 9.7, third-best
· Driver Rating of 105.8, third-best
· 430 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 938 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.866 mph, third-fastest
· 4,453 Laps in the Top 15 (82.9%), second-most
· 602 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips / Shark Week Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 17.0
· Driver Rating of 92.4, 10th-best
· 331 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 948 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.697 mph, seventh-fastest
· 3,411 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), 10th-most
· 487 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 13.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.5, ninth-best
· 158 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.537 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,935 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), fifth-most
· 456 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.9
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.0
· 408 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.972 mph, second-fastest
· 4,182 Laps in the Top 15 (82.5%), third-most
· 535 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Chase Grid (After 18 of 26 regular season races)
1. Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 596 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2 wins, 624 points
3. Brad Keselowski, 2 wins, 586 points
4. Joey Logano, 2 wins, 546 points
5. Carl Edwards, 2 wins, 543 points
6. Kevin Harvick, 2 wins, 514 points
7. Jeff Gordon, 1 win, 651 points (Points Leader)
8. Kyle Busch, 1 win, 524 points
9. Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 493 points
10. Aric Almirola, 1 win, 452 points
11. Kurt Busch, 1 win, 422 points
12. Matt Kenseth, no wins, 580 points
13. Ryan Newman, no wins, 534 points
14. Paul Menard, no wins, 516 points
15. Clint Bowyer, no wins, 509 points
16. Austin Dillon, no wins, 494 points

17. Greg Biffle, no wins, 490 points
18. Brian Vickers, no wins, 484 points
19. Kyle Larson, no wins, 482 points
20. Kasey Kahne, no wins, 482 points

source:

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 19 of 36 (07-13-14)
Track Size: 1.058-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 1 degree
Banking/Backstretch: 1 degree
Frontstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Race Length: 301 laps / 318.46 miles

Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire
Tony Stewart……………………….. 111.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 109.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 105.8
Denny Hamlin………………………. 102.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 97.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.0
Kyle Busch…………………………… 93.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 92.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 91.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Brad Keselowski, Ford, 135.922 mph, 28.022 secs., 07-12-13
2013 race winner: Bryan Vickers, Toyota, 98.735 mph, (03:14:10), 07-14-13
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 136.497 mph, 27.904 secs., 09-20-13
Track race record: Jeff Burton, Ford, 117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97

New Hampshire Motor Speedway History
· Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989.
· The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
· Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since.
· 150 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; 122 in more than one.
· Four drivers have competed in all 38 races at New Hampshire: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek.
· Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph.
· 18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010).
· Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days).
· 23 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four.
· Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep).
· Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
· Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Ford with 11 and Toyota with four.
· Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99)
· Five of the 38 (13.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011.
· The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire.
· Eight of the 38 (21%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place.
· 20 of the 38 (52.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Nine of the 38 (23.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire was 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999.
· Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with 17 each.
· Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.042.
· Denny Hamlin leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 9.000.
· All 15 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance.
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without a win at 29.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second.
· 16 of the 30 NSCS races scored by electronic scoring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have had a Margin of Victory less than a second.
· Two of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2006 (300/308) and 2013 (301/302).
· Four of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was June 28, 2009 – the race was called on Lap 273, 28 circuits shy of the 301 scheduled laps.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway four times: 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009.
· Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (7/11/93), and Joey Logano (9/14/08).
· Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
· Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (9/19/99), Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano (6/28/09).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at New Hampshire with 1,352 laps led in 38 starts.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

source:

NASCAR in New Hampshire
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in New Hampshire, all at NHMS. Additionally, NHMS has hosted 27 Nationwide and 16 Truck Series races.
· 15 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as New Hampshire; Jamie Aube is the only one of the 15 to record a victory in NASCAR national series competition. Aube won July 12, 1987 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME; it was his only start that season.

IMSA: Pre-Mazda Raceway notes roundup

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Lots of notes from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and a number of other of its series going into the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round this weekend, the America’s Tire 250. The renamed event is the headliner for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

CONTINENTAL’S BEGINNING OF THE END

The releases from Continental Tire and IMSA about their impending divorce, coming at the end of 2018, are linked here. Here’s a further explanation into Continental Tire’s process from Travis Roffler, director of marketing of Continental Tire the Americas.

Both Continental and Michelin have coexisted nicely in IMSA over the last several years and it’ll be interesting to see if the dynamic changes from here, with Michelin set to take over as IMSA’s official tire from 2019.

STEVENSON’S NEARING THE END

Shortly after the race at VIRginia International Raceway was news Stevenson Motorsports would shut down its IMSA team at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Its Audi R8 LMS and Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R will be available for other teams after Road Atlanta.

“After 15 years of racing professionally, the difficult decision to remove ourselves from motorsports competition is nothing less than heart-felt,” said Team Owner Johnny Stevenson. “We regret to inform you all that we are ceasing racing operations following the close of the 2017 season in all classes and series. But, we find it is time to move on. We thank you for all your friendships, respect, help, and of course the successful competition you all have provided throughout those years. We will miss you all at the track. Hopefully we can finish on a real high note at Road Atlanta.”

It’s a tough blow for the series, as the family operation led by Johnny Stevenson wracked up wins and championships along the way. Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis share the team’s No. 57 Audi and Matt Bell and Robin Liddell share the team’s No. 57 Camaro GT4.R.

MAZDA COMPLETES FIRST RT24-P TEST WITH JOEST

Mazda Motorsports’ first run with Joest Racing took place this week, at Hockenheim in Germany. Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez were the two official Mazda drivers undertaking the testing.

A couple photos are below with the car, based on the Riley Multimatic chassis but now with Multimatic having undertaken the next round of development work in tandem with Joest Racing, making its paces.

PENSKE ACURA DOES FURTHER RUNNING AT SEBRING

It’s not just Mazda testing its prototype, but also Acura, with its new ARX-05 running at Sebring on Monday. Video footage from Fans Of The 12 Hours was provided to Sportscar365, and that’s linked below.

Helio Castroneves told USA Today Sports’ Brant James at Sonoma that he’d be testing the car on Monday. Castroneves’ future has not been formally confirmed by Team Penske, but the rumors he’ll be transferred over to the prototype program away from Penske’s fourth IndyCar have been percolating over the summer months.

DALZIEL, JVO CONFIRMED BACK WITH ESM

Photo: Patron ESM

In addition to Pipo Derani, confirmed on August 15, two other Tequila Patron ESM veterans will be back in the team’s Nissan Onroak DPis next season. Johannes van Overbeek will continue with the team for his ninth straight year, sharing the No. 22 car with Derani, with that news confirmed on Sept. 5. Ryan Dalziel was confirmed back on Monday, Sept. 18, in the No. 2 car, which he’ll share with Scott Sharp.

“Tequila Patrón ESM is beyond excited to welcome Ryan back in 2018 for his 5th year with the team,” said Sharp. “We picked Ryan because we felt we was one of the fastest guys out there, and that hasn’t changed.  He’s a great teammate, super hungry to win, and seldom makes mistakes. He’s the complete package!”

The team sought to have Brendon Hartley for a full season effort next season but with the New Zealander poised for an IndyCar bow with Chip Ganassi Racing, that option now is off the table. He will join Dalziel and Sharp as third driver in the No. 2 car for Motul Petit Le Mans this year, with Bruno Senna third driver in the No. 22 car alongside Derani and “JVO.”

PORSCHE BRINGS BACK TANDY, BAMBER FOR PLM

Nick Tandy was part of the Porsche 911 RSR’s famous overall win at the rain-soaked 2015 Petit Le Mans with Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz, as Pilet won that year’s GT Le Mans class championship. Earl Bamber won the pole for that race. Together, the two of them were part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans-overall winning lineup with Nico Hulkenberg in the third Porsche 919 Hybrid that year. And now Tandy (No. 911) and Bamber (No. 912) will be back at Motul Petit Le Mans this year as third drivers for both cars.

We’re delighted to welcome two good old acquaintances to the Porsche GT Team for this classic,” said Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “They won Le Mans outright and are very excited to be racing the new 911 RSR for the first time, particularly after playing a key role in its development.

“We couldn’t wish for better support in the fight for the prestigious North American Endurance Cup, which will be decided at Petit Le Mans.”

HINDMAN IN FOR PLM WITH PMR

Add the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 to the list of vehicles Trent Hindman’s driven this year. The 2014 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS champion races full-time in both that (with Bodymotion Racing) and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America (with Prestige Performance) this season and impressed in a one-off fill-in role at VIRginia International Raceway for Ben Keating alongside Jeroen Bleekemolen. Now he’ll join Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow for Motul Petit Le Mans in the Lamborghini, marking his step up from the Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo car into a Huracán GT3.

PLA SET FOR MAZDA RACEWAY DEBUT

There aren’t many U.S. circuits Olivier Pla hasn’t visited, but the rapid Frenchman will make his first voyage to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson alongside Jose Gutierrez. Gutierrez has track experience there from his Mazda Road to Indy days in Pro Mazda.

“It will be the first time for me at Laguna Seca, so I just cannot wait to race at this place,” Pla said. “I have heard a lot about the Corkscrew and how fast turn nine is, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge of racing at a new track. I will have to learn the track quickly and make sure the car balance is okay, but I think this place should be very good for our car.”

GAVIN’S CAREER MEMORIES

Courtesy of Mobil 1 The Grid, here’s a highlight video of Oliver Gavin’s career, largely with Corvette Racing. The lanky Englishman has been a staple with Corvette Racing since the early 2000s.

SHANK, BMW RAHAL LATEST NEW LIVERIES

More new liveries head to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend. Michael Shank Racing ditches its all-red and all-blue liveries run at Road America and VIR for literally no success for a golden brown and all-black cars this weekend. Shank won this race in Prototype last year with Ozz Negri and John Pew driving, and Shank also has the Motul Petit Le Mans win to defend as well courtesy of Negri, Pew and Pla.

BMW Team RLL will split its liveries on its pair of BMW M6 GTLMs. The team’s No. 24 car for John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk goes all-black this weekend while Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims’ No. 25 car stays all-white.

MANN, HOLBROOK BACK; FREIBERG SIDELINED

While Pippa Mann and Shea Holbrook will be back in action for Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America racing this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Prestige Performance, another talented female driver in Ashley Freiberg got late news Wednesday she won’t be driving with DAC Motorsports. She posted thoughts on her Twitter page and will be in attendance at Monterey regardless, looking for her next opportunity.

NEXT STEPS FOR TWO PC TEAMS?

Official confirmation from both teams are forthcoming but since VIR both Brent O’Neill (Performance Tech Motorsports) and Brian Alder (BAR1 Motorsports) have expressed interest in their next steps as an outfit, after the Prototype Challenge class concludes. O’Neill told RACER his team is exploring running a Ligier JS P217 chassis next year while Alder told Sportscar365 his is looking at an Oreca 07 chassis. Performance Tech has won the first seven races of 2017 in PC this year while BAR1 has fielded two cars in every event, but failed to topple Performance Tech on track.

TRANSFORMERS ENTRY?

Ian Dawson, an off-and-on sports car entrant who most recently ran the Libra Racing Radical prototype team a few years ago, announced plans to enter back into IMSA with a yet undecided LMP2 chassis and a partnership with Transformers, to create the D3+Transformers Racing Team. The team said to expect its driver line-up and other information to be announced at Petit Le Mans.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with D3 and the Dawson family to be part of this exciting racing program,” said Tom Warner, senior vice president, Transformers franchise. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to be more than meets the eye and connect Transformers with families and fans of all ages. We are excited to team up with a first-class racing team and series with a brand that has a natural fit for cars and fans of all ages.”

“From the minute we met the Hasbro people, we knew this was the partner we were looking for to introduce D3 to the world through their immensely popular Transformers line,” Ian Dawson, CEO of D3. “I have been working on giving new opportunities to young drivers and engineers who are looking for a way to progress their talents in motorsport and with Simon’s commercial awareness and interest in the business we developed a vision.”

Mann, Holbrook back for second run in Lamborghini ST this week

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini
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Pippa Mann and Shea Holbrook will return to action for their second start as teammates in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America championship this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, following a debut that was good for both friends and their partners last month at Road America.

Key to this deal, which will see the pair share the No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in the Am class, is the debut of the Driven2SaveLives campaign in the IMSA paddock. Mann has teamed up with Donor Network West, Holbrook and BUBBA burger for the IMSA paddock.

This campaign hopes to register IMSA fans to become donors in honor of the late Justin Wilson and Bryan Clauson at this weekend’s races.

In addition to showcasing their support with on-car branding, Mann, Holbrook and BUBBA burger are partnering throughout the weekend with Donor Network West to help drive on-site registration of race fans as organ, tissue and eye donors.

These efforts will be highlighted through a “Got the Dot” autograph session sponsored by BUBBA burger, with Mann and Holbrook at the Donor Network West booth on Saturday, September 23rd. Over the race weekend, fans will also be able to register to win a pair of autographed driving gloves worn by Mann.

The two races are 10:20 a.m. Saturday and 11:25 a.m. Sunday, both times PT, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Mann scored a class podium co-driving with Dion von Moltke at Watkins Glen, and she and Holbrook were both close to the podium first time out at Road America. Holbrook has Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track experience from her time in Pirelli World Challenge. This will mark the first weekend in four race weekends this year where Mann has had the same co-driver for a second weekend, which should build continuity and confidence for both drivers.

Further information about organ transplants and the autograph session are linked below.

FACTS:
*    More than 118,000 people nationwide are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.
*    In the U.S., another person is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
*    Each day, 22 people on average in the U.S. die because a donated organ wasn’t made available in time.
*    Approximately 90 percent of Americans support organ donation, yet only 50 percent are registered.
*    You can register to become an organ, tissue and eye donor here.

AUTOGRAPH SESSION/DONOR REGISTRATION EVENT:
*    Location: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, likely at the Donor Network West booth
*    Date: Saturday September 23rd
*    Time: 12.35 – 1.35 during lunch break for on track activity
*    Event Goal: To encourage sign up of race fans as organ and tissue donors on site with at the race track as part of the Driven2SaveLives campaign’s racing activation.

Continental Tire looking ahead to ‘new adventures’ from 2019

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The fact Continental Tire’s tenure in IMSA will end after 2018 comes as a bit of a surprise to the sports car world, following a prolonged period of negotiation to extend its role into 2019 and beyond following its initial five-year contract.

IMSA has announced Michelin for the new contract in 2019 and beyond in a multi-year agreement. Both Continental and Michelin have been within the same top-level series – either the American Le Mans Series or IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – since 2013.

Continental was the PC class single supplier in 2013 and from 2014 in the merged championship, the single supplier for the Prototype, PC and GT Daytona classes, while Michelin raced in GT Le Mans, the series’ lone class for open tire competition.

“We are extremely grateful for the role Continental Tire played in helping to grow our racing platforms throughout our partnership dating back to 2010,” Scott Atherton, IMSA President, said in a release. “Continental has been an outstanding partner and was instrumental in elevating the status of the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge to new heights. We extend heartfelt appreciation to our friends at Continental for their unwavering support.”

Continental, throughout its tenure, had sought to activate and promote sports car racing heavily. Continental served as title sponsor of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and a race sponsor at numerous tracks, notably at Road America and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Some of the areas where it invested off-track was with using some IMSA drivers to develop a new street tire, podcasts featuring IMSA drivers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, veteran IMSA driver Ryan Eversley with “Dinner with Racers” podcast co-creator Sean Heckman, its at-track displays and in other areas of marketing. It also supports IMSA Radio and its Continental Tire pit lane team.

On-track, the company responded without fail to numerous customer requests and made changes to either its constructions or compounds of tires as the series evolved.

This included working through the merger period as the top level Prototype class combined both Daytona Prototype and LMP2-spec machinery through 2016, before the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and LMP2 2017-spec cars came in this year and saw Continental create a new Prototype class tire.

It’s with all those elements in the backdrop that IMSA’s decision and the waiting to announce this news comes as a shock to the system at Continental, but also something they feel they can bounce back from.

Travis Roffler, director of marketing of Continental Tire the Americas, explained the process behind the decision and where Continental Tire goes from here.

“We were informed a few weeks ago. I’d say we’ve been in active negotiations for most of this year talking to them about it and getting more information about what they were looking for,” Roffler told NBC Sports.

“We were given a framework or target to shoot for. We believe we gave a very fair response to that proposal, including a significant increase to our current investment level, which I can tell you throughout our entire contract we always outspent our contractual obligations. This was a step above our current spend.

“Our investment has been there to have the huge display at every race, engage with the fan base, and go through some challenging years of sports car racing, switching from DPs to P2s to DPis, going through when car counts dropped, we stuck through it.

“It was disappointing to go through that and now feel there was a good alignment moving forward… before getting ousted.”

Photo courtesy of IMSA

While disappointed with IMSA’s decision, Roffler hailed Simon Hodgson, IMSA Vice President, Competition, for his transparency and dialogue throughout the process.

“In a spec series you’re never going to satisfy every team, because one team, make, model, or competitor feels another one is getting a better deal,” Roffler said.

“Simon has been wonderful to work with and great in letting us improve development of the tire, whereas in the past… (IMSA) wasn’t so receptive. We felt in a good place.

“But this announcement… we’d been involved in the timing. We’ve been sitting on it, knowing you were getting a divorce and waiting to announce it until the last minute. It’s been a challenge to say the least.”

Continental has given quite a lot to sports car racing over the years and following its acquisition of Hoosier Racing Tires last October, is still confident of moving into other areas in motorsports. Therein lies the challenge and the next opportunity, which Roffler said the company will embrace with open arms.

“With the purchase of Hoosier Racing Tire, we’re invested in motorsports globally. We look globally to grow,” he said.

“We’ll continue to develop on platforms like GT3, which is a global platform. That might look strange, given we’re being escorted out of IMSA. But that platform lives globally in other series around the world. So we’ll look to move that platform forward in other series going forward.”

Roffler was heavily concerned about the Continental Tire staff who have sunk a lot of time and investment into tire design and production, and their jobs. But he’s thankful for what they’ve accomplished in IMSA as they look forward to their next motorsports opportunity.

“It’s bittersweet at this point,” he admitted. “This entire team have dumped a lot of heart and soul into this program and as I said before, lived through some lean years. We were touted the merger would be a ‘holy grail’ but it took two-three years to get there. Our whole model was challenged, but we stuck through it. We were determined to do what we could do for our consumers, and move the needle.

“The first renewal came up and we kind of got the legs kicked out from underneath on this first one. It’s a shock to the program.

“But we’re tough. We’ll get over this, dust ourselves off, we have ’18 still in front of us, and we’ll be looking forward to the new adventures in ’19 and beyond.

“The big man says every time a door shuts, another one opens. I full well believe that we’ll find something even better.”

2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship/Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring/Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, FL USA/Saturday 18 March 2017/Continental tire/World Copyright: Michael L. Levitt/LAT Images

Continental out; Michelin in for IMSA from 2019

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its two primary Challenge series, what are now called the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series, will have a new tire manufacturer partner from 2019 as Michelin replaces Continental.

Respective releases from both Continental and IMSA about the change are below. NBC Sports will have more to follow on this story later.

2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship/Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring/Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, FL USA/Saturday 18 March 2017/Continental tire/World Copyright: Michael L. Levitt/LAT Images

At the end of their International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) contract term in 2018, Continental Tire’s sponsorship of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Prototype Challenge series‘ will come to an end. After submitting a proposal for a multi-year extension, that included a significant increase in investment, IMSA has chosen not to extend the partnership. Continental Tire will remain a partner through the 2018 season and supply tires for those series’.

Over the past eight years, Continental Tire and IMSA/GRAND-AM have enjoyed a great partnership. Since 2010, Continental Tire made a considerable investment to develop and produce race tires that fit IMSA’s specifications. In addition, Continental Tire has invested substantially to help grow sports car racing in the U.S. with a focus on fans through various marketing activities.

“We are extremely proud of the contributions we’ve made to sports car racing in the U.S.,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing of Continental Tire the Americas. “We worked diligently to continue our support of IMSA, and the growth of the sport, and are disappointed in IMSA‘s decision to go a different direction. We remain committed to making the 2018 IMSA season a fantastic year for the fans, drivers, and all the teams.“

Roffler continued, “The relationships we’ve built over the years are many, and we thank everyone for their continued support of the Continental Tire brand. We also want to thank the fans. Without you, there would be no racing.“

7-10 August, 2014, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec Canada/Michelin tire and Porsche wheel/©2014, Scott R LePage/LAT Photo USA

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced that Michelin will become the “Official Tire of IMSA” in its premier series – the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its two major Challenge series – beginning in 2019.

The multi-year agreement calls for Michelin tires to be on every Prototype (P) and GT Daytona (GTD) race car competing in the WeatherTech Championship in addition to its continued participation in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The GTLM class will continue to be open to multiple tire manufacturers.

The 2019 IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge will feature the Grand Sport (GS) class for cars built to international GT4 specifications and Touring Car for TCR-spec race cars. The IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, featuring LMP3 race cars, also will ride on Michelins.

“The significance of this expanded partnership with Michelin, one of the world’s most recognized premium brands, cannot be overstated,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “IMSA has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Michelin, and we are proud to confirm this long-term agreement. Our expanded partnership with Michelin – which also enjoys strong relationships with many of our participating automotive manufacturers – will be a catalyst for accelerating the growth of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA as a whole.

“We are extremely grateful for the role Continental Tire played in helping to grow our racing platforms throughout our partnership dating back to 2010,” Atherton added. “Continental has been an outstanding partner and was instrumental in elevating the status of the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge to new heights. We extend heartfelt appreciation to our friends at Continental for their unwavering support.”

As the “Official Tire of IMSA,” the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin SportsCar Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge, Michelin also becomes the entitlement partner of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup beginning in 2019. The four-round competition recognizes top competitors in each class in the four WeatherTech Championship major endurance races. The Cup consists of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International, and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

“We are tremendously pleased by today’s announcement,” said Scott Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Michelin North America. “The continued growth and success of the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA’s related series provides a great platform for us to engage performance enthusiasts and showcase our MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport family of ultra-high performance tires.

“Michelin does not enter into long-term collaborations lightly or solely for our own benefit,” Clark added. “We are committed to IMSA, the competitors and fans to help continue the growth and success of the series on and off the track. This is a tremendous opportunity to work together to grow the sport. We are enthusiastic and eager to make our MICHELIN tires available to the entire field beginning in 2019.”