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NHRA: Courtney Force to run Taylor Swift album livery in Pomona

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Courtney Force has unveiled a special livery to her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS for this weekend’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season finale at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

And she’ll be hoping her reaction time will be feeling 0.022.

Force today revealed, in partnership with Big Machine Records, a Taylor Swift livery in advance of her new album, “Reputation,” which is released on Friday, November 10.

“I’ve had an incredible experience working with our partners Advance Auto Parts and Big Machine Records this season and am honored to drive the special Taylor Swift reputation Funny Car for our final race in Pomona,” Force said. “My team and I are always playing her songs to get in the zone and prepare to battle it out against the boys on race day. I hope to finish out our season on a high note while promoting Taylor’s album release at over 330 mph and hopefully celebrating in the winner’s circle with my team on Sunday.”

“Having Taylor’s reputation album art on Courtney’s car for the NHRA championship weekend, which also happens to coincide with the Nov. 10 release is the perfect match of two game-changers who are truly the best of the best,” added Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Label Group President and CEO.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time T-Swift and racing have been intertwined.

Swift performed her lone major concert of 2016 at that year’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

Meanwhile in 2015, Tony Kanaan ran the No. 10 Taylor Swift Big Machine Records Chevrolet at the Verizon IndyCar Series race in Detroit. Swift was performing in Detroit that weekend.

Tony Kanaan in 2015. Photo: IndyCar

As for Force, she enters this weekend in third place at 125 points behind John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight, who leads the Funny Car standings. Ron Capps is second and just 15 back as he searches for his second straight title.

Force is yet to win a final round this year but has used a mix of consistency and No. 1 qualifying runs – including a four-in-a-row run earlier this year – to stay in the championship hunt. She’d need to win this race and hope for quite a bit of bad luck hitting Hight and Capps early in the eliminations to overcome the deficit.

“Even though we haven’t gotten a win yet this season, at least we’re being consistent,” Force said. “And I think that’s the most important thing. You can definitely win a championship with a consistent car, rather than just having a fling and one great run, or a killer record run. Not having consistency won’t get you anywhere. I’m really proud of my guys. So far this season, having a consistent race car is what we need.”

“I think everyone going into the final race wants to get that win. Obviously, we’ve been right there, been in multiple final rounds. Like I said, we’ve had a consistent race car all year, but have yet to get in the winner’s circle. But at least we’ve made a lot of great strides this entire year, learned a lot, and found that consistency that we were kind of missing last year. We would love to finish off the season on a high note and take home that win. We were close at Vegas, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going into Pomona, and it’s going to be a great race and a lot of exciting things are going to happen.”

IMSA: Heavy news week leading into Thanksgiving holiday

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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After the weekend and before the Thanksgiving holiday this week, IMSA has rolled out a number of announcements itself, while IMSA could be set for further announcements in the weeks to come starting next week.

Here’s a roundup:

QUALIFYING AT ROAR SET FOR PIT POSITIONS, GARAGES AT ROLEX 24

Here are key notes from IMSA’s Monday release about how Sunday at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 will take on a greater significance:

  • The pit boxes and garages each team will use during the Rolex 24 will now be allocated based on fastest qualifying times set during Sunday’s third and final day of the Roar. Each of the three WeatherTech Championship classes – Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – will have a 15-minute qualifying session on Sunday, Jan. 7.
  • The fastest-qualifying Prototype will receive the first pit box on pit lane starting at pit-in and also will be assigned to the first garage in the Prototype section of the WeatherTech Championship garage. The fastest GTD car will receive the second pit box on pit lane and the first garage in the GTD section, with the fastest GTLM car receiving the third pit box and the first garage in the GTLM section.
  • New for 2018 – P and GTLM will pit together under a full course yellow. Therefore, to give class separation in the pits, P and GTLM teams are assigned pit boxes to ensure they are separated by a GTD Team.

This, coupled with the addition of the first IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda one-hour, 45-minute race with two drivers, will make this a more shaken up Roar.

REGS, REGS, GET YOUR REGS

IMSA has released the Sporting and Technical Regulations for 2018 this week. The aforementioned note about P and GTLM teams pitting together is a change from P and Prototype Challenge (PC) class cars pitting together, with GTLM and GTD together as it was this year.

Restart procedures changed will see P cars moved to the lead ahead of GT cars; this created confusion at times throughout 2017 as sometimes another class leader in PC, GTLM or GTD had been the first car behind a pace car.

Each team will be limited to one car change in-season only, subject to “force majeure.”

On the off chance a driver is racing in two cars, his or her maximum drive time will be counted cumulatively between the two cars.

There are other tweaks, of course, but most are largely procedural or within the fine print.

RATINGS REVEALED

The good news with IMSA going down from four classes to three for 2018 is that only one designated pro-am class remains in the form of GT Daytona, which requires at least one Silver (or Bronze) full-season driver alongside the designated pro. Those sneaky “Super Silvers” remain an invaluable asset for using his or her results to their benefit.

The FIA released the initial driver ratings for 2018 this week with a few changes, some young pros going up from Silver to Gold and others getting their request to get downgraded from Gold to Silver approved. Drivers have a couple weeks to appeal if they so desire.

Here’s your friendly reminder of what drivers can be in what GTD cars for the first two races at Daytona and Sebring:

  • Daytona (5 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) or five (5) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.
  • Sebring (4 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.

MAZDA KEEPS ON TESTING, CLOSES ON ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Los Angeles Auto Show, held after Thanksgiving, is a likely landing spot for Mazda Team Joest to reveal, officially, its revised “Evo” version of the Mazda RT24-P and its driver lineup for the 2018 season. While most of the Prototype class lineups (DPi and LMP2-spec cars) have been revealed, Mazda’s has been an exception. In the interim, not long after its Daytona test late last month, they’ve also been testing at Sebring.

FROM SPACE CENTER TO DOWN UNDER

Jordan Taylor undertook testing of a different kind not long ago at, of all places, the Kennedy Space Center. One of this year’s Prototype class champions was undertaking a straight line test in his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Taylor being Taylor, the moment couldn’t pass without him winning at social media (see third tweet).

Taylor goes from down a long runway to down under, visiting his first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race this weekend at its season finale in Newcastle.

‘MAKING OF A CHAMPION’ PIECES ROLL OUT

The fourth installment of IMSA’s “making of a champion” series highlights Jordan Taylor, who co-drove with brother Ricky to the Prototype class championship this year. These two are part of four done by IMSA so far, along with Pato O’Ward (PC) and Christina Nielsen (GTD). More should follow in the coming weeks.

SPEAKING OF CHAMPS, HINDMAN, AGOSTINI, PRESTIGE WIN LAMBORGHINI WORLD FINAL

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final was held last weekend at the Imola circuit in Italy and the American Prestige Performance team won the World Final overall, with co-drivers Trent Hindman and Riccardo Agostini.

The World Final brings together teams from North America, Europe and Asia that campaign the spec Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in Super Trofeo regional competition. Hindman and Agostini got the weekend off on the right foot by winning the North American championship first, then followed it up at the World Final itself to topple all other domestic and international entries.

You might remember we profiled Hindman last month, as the 22-year-old’s star in the sports car world is clearly on the rise.

Somehow, someway, at the end of the day today we received the title 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champions. Race 2 was not perfect and much more nerve racking than we would have hoped but fortunately in the end the job was done. I am honored to be sharing this with @rickyagostini as well as the entire @prestigeperfctr @waynetaylorracing team and I thank them for their incredible effort all year. With this result, we are the first ever American team to win the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Championship overall. 3/4 overall wins along with the Super Trofeo North America and World titles marks the end of a successful 2017 campaign. Back to reality tomorrow. Thank you all for following us along on this incredible journey.

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