Photo courtesy of IMSA

Gavin, Milner cap off banner season for Corvette Racing with title

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Pretty much everything that could go right did for Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and the Corvette Racing team in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

The duo won their second driving title as a pair, having also done so in 2012 in the American Le Mans Series’ GT class.

Chevrolet won the GT Le Mans manufacturer’s championship (its 11th as a brand), Corvette Racing won the team title and then all three entities won their respective titles in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

“We’ve done it all!” Gavin, co-driver of the No. 4 Corvette C7.R exclaimed after another podium finish in Saturday night’s Petit Le Mans to cap off the campaign.

It was the No. 4 car’s seventh podium finish of the year and perhaps the most surprising after a weekend pace deficit – however slightly – to the rival Ford GT from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, which ultimately won the day.

They duo even survived their third driver Marcel Fassler running into a sign, not for the first time this year, which has become an inadvertent good luck charm.

“It was a bit of a roller coaster race for us,” Gavin explained. “It was something where we had our mind on winning the championship and the way everything turned out with 67 (the Ford of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe), and that got taken care of, so we had to switch to win the race!

“Yeah he did,” Gavin added of Fassler hitting a sign in Turn 1. “But that’s a good luck charm! At Sebring he hit a sign and we won… and Daytona he blew the stop sign at the end of the pit lane. So that’s kind of a standard thing for Marcel.

“It was tough and aggressive out there. Traffic was crazy and wild at times. But it was an immensely enjoyable day. Ultimately we came away winning the championship, so my second one with Tommy and it’s pretty special.”

Milner then served to look back at the year at large. The seven podiums featured four wins – each of them special.

Gavin delivered one of the all-time greatest finishes in sports car history in the season opener when he edged the sister car driven by Antonio Garcia by just 0.034 of a second, a Rolex 24 at Daytona record.

Then the trio followed it up for the team’s second consecutive “36 Hours of Florida” sweep by winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

In July at Lime Rock Park, Gavin brought home the 100th win for the Corvette Racing program, for a team that has won races stretching back more than 15 years.

And then two weeks later in the next race at Road America, Milner put in the comeback of his life to launch from fifth to first in the final laps to steal a shock win there, and one that hugely swung the momentum of the GTLM championship for the year as Ford had dominated the midsummer stretch.

“You look at the year, and we ticked the big boxes – you always want to win Daytona and Sebring. But Le Mans was a bit of a low point,” Milner said.

“Still, at that point, we were still at 99 wins for the team, and it’s one of those things we didn’t talk about it much. But deep down – whether it was me and Olly, Jan (Magnussen) or Antonio, we wanted to be in the car to get the 100th.

“It was one of the craziest races in my life at Elkhart Lake to get the win there. I compare it to as a kid playing baseball, in the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded and you hit the home run. That’s the best way to compare it.”

The Corvette team won five races out of 11 in class, with the Garcia/Magnussen car having won at VIRginia International Raceway.

That led the class as Ford won three times, Porsche twice, and Ferrari once. BMW was the only full-season manufacturer in GTLM that did not get on the scoreboard.

It was a banner year with only the Le Mans disappointment – Ford and Ferrari had the field covered on pace and the dreaded Balance of Performance – serving as a downside compared to the rest of the year.

“Road Atlanta was like a lot of races this year, where it just worked out in our favor,” Milner said.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/