NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill is a wonderful hodgepodge of drivers, cars and teams for a year-end gathering of a seemingly no rules – or limited rules – endurance race in Willows, Calif.
I say this as someone who’s talked to drivers who have competed in the Thunderhill, yet not gone myself. It’s something I’d like to do at some point.
With the entry list out, here’s a number of the interesting cars, drivers and lineups running in this year’s race. The full team, car and class and driver entry lists are linked in this sentence.
- TOYO Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports, No. 45 Audi R8 LMS, Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Dion von Moltke, Mike Hedlund
- TOYO Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports 2, No. 74 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Tommy Sadler, Andy Wilzoch, Charlie Hayes, Will Owen
- JFC Racing, No. 52 Wolf GB08MJ-K20, Ryan Eversley, Al Unser Jr., Miles Jackson, Todd Harris
- CLP Motorsports, No. 14 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4, Marc Miller, Tyler McQuarrie, Tom Dyer, Tanner Foust, Pat O’Keefe
- ONE Motorsports/Desert West, No. 67 Radical SR3, Sean Rayhall, John Falb, Todd Slusher, Jesse Menczer
- ONE Motorsports/Crowd Strike, No. 44 Radical SR3, George Kurtz, Jeff Shafer, Dave House, Paul LaHaye, Kenton Koch
- Patent It!, No. 19 Panoz GTS, Davy Jones, Paul Edwards, Chuck Hemmingson, Anthony Lisa, Steven Lisa
- Ryno Racing Team 1, No. 5 Ginetta G57, Colin Braun, Ryan Carpenter, Parker Chase, Colton Herta, Bryan Herta
- Roadshagger Racing 2016, No. 61 BMW M3, Gavin Ernstone, Jon Morley, Thomas Merrill
- THRW Honda Racing 2, No. 20 Honda Civic, Chad Gilsinger, Brian Shanfield, Matthew Staal, Douglas Chan, Michael Tsay
- 2016 – HPD Honda Racing 2, No. 93 Honda Civic, James Nazarian, Jeff Barrow, Tom O’Gorman, Shea Holbrook
- El Diablo Motorsports, No. 30 BMW 325, James Clay, Lance Boicelli, Cameron Evans, Dale Sievwright, James Colborn, Charles Postins
- El Dorado Motorsports 2016, No. 22 Honda Prelude, Mike Lock, Carl Young, Tom Lepper, Nathan Pope
- Fantasy Junction with Winding Road Racing, No. 15 Riley Daytona Prototype, Spencer Trenery, Robert Gewirtz, Darrell Anderson, Mark Drennan
- Strom Motorsports 2, No. 68 BMW 330Ci, Dan Clarke, Vic Pizzino, Mark Mitchell, Harold Petit
- 2016 Trim-Tex, No. 9 Mazda MX-5, Joe Koenig, Josh Bilicki, Keil Zornow, Cameron Cassels
- MAZDA USA #55, No. 55 Global MX-5 Cup, Taz Harvey, Richard Fisher, Scott Clark, CJ Wilson
- MAZDA USA #70, No. 70 Global MX-5 Cup, Spencer Brockman, Mark Abouzeid, Liam Dwyer, Stevan McAleer
- RDR, No. 34 Mazda RX-8, Robert Davis, Joel Miller, Dennis Holloway, Jeremy Barnes
Belardi Auto Racing, which currently fields entries for Aaron Telitz, Santi Urrutia, and Shelby Blackstock in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, announced on Tuesday that USAC standout Chad Boat, son of former Verizon IndyCar Series race winner Billy Boat, will make his Indy Lights debut with the Brian Belardi led-outfit. Boat will contest the July 9 race at Iowa Speedway, a track he has previously raced on in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and will return for the August 26 event at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“We’re extremely pleased to announce the addition of Chad Boat to our stable of drivers for the Iowa and Gateway Indy Lights oval races this summer,” team owner Brian Belardi detailed. “It’s exciting to have a second-generation driver running with us, and we’re certainly looking forward to getting Chad on track in Iowa.”
The younger Boat has become a star in his own right in USAC, winning Rookie of the Year honors in both the USAC National Midget and Sprint car divisions. The 25-year-old will pilot the No. 84 entry, with sponsorship from Pristine Auction.
“I grew up watching my dad race Indy cars, so having the opportunity to run Indy Lights this year is absolutely surreal,” said Boat. “I have to thank Belardi Auto Racing for giving me a shot behind the wheel of the No. 84 Dallara, as well as Pristine Auction for their continued support in my racing career. I can’t wait to get to Iowa Speedway.”
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Pirelli has confirmed all 20 Formula 1 drivers’ tire picks for next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with most opting to stack up on ultra-softs.
As it does for every grand prix, Pirelli will bring three compounds to Austria next week, electing for the softest possible combination of ultra-soft, super-soft and soft tires.
In the regular pre-race release of each driver’s tire picks, Pirelli revealed that Force India, McLaren and Red Bull have gone down the most aggressive routes, stacking up on the ultra-soft tire.
Title contenders Mercedes and Ferrari have gone down a more conservative route, favoring additional sets of the super-soft compound.
Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will take seven sets of ultra-softs to Spielberg, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will have eight sets at their disposal through the weekend.
Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing faced a roller coaster of a race during the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday.
He was a rocket off the initial start, jumping from sixth on the grid up to fourth exiting turn 1, but was almost immediately ordered to surrender a position for blocking. He quickly slipped back to sixth, and then began plummeting down the order as he battled an oversteer condition that saw his car chew through its rear tires more quickly than others.
Forced to abandon the planned three-stop strategy, he and the No. 15 Gehl Honda team switched to a four-stop plan that saw him drop well outside the top ten at times.
However, they kept plugging away and rebounded nicely in the second half of the race to eventually finish in eighth. While he would have liked to finish higher up the order, Rahal knows that he and the team got everything they could out of it.
“The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy,” Rahal revealed post-race. “We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend.”
The eighth-place finish keeps Rahal in the championship hunt. Rahal now sits seventh in the standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Josef Newgarden and 72 behind championship leader Scott Dixon.
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Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones has made waves in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a string of solid performances that belie his rookie status.
And Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America was no different.
The 22-year-old battled an oversteering car most of the weekend at Road America, and had to navigate a little carnage late in the race as Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both fell through the field with front wing problems.
However, Jones weathered all storms to finish an impressive seventh, his fifth finish inside the top 10 this year, and his best finish since his third place at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade MotorOil.
“It was a really tough race,” Jones said of the effort. “We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up.
“Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”
The seventh-place run sees Jones maintain his position in the top ten in the championship. He currently sits tenth in the standings, three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton.
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