GRAND-AM gets back to work at Watkins Glen

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With the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the rear view mirror, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series contingent has made its way to venerable Watkins Glen International for one of its longer races of the year.

Saturday morning rains brought an early end to qualifying for tomorrow’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, which serves as the second of the three-round North American Endurance Championship within the Rolex Series. The NAEC is made up of the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, this weekend’s six-hour romp through the Glen, and the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix on Friday, July 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As a result of the aforementioned rain, points leaders Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor – drivers of the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Prototype – will start on the pole in the Daytona Prototype class as DP qualifying was scratched outright. However, the GT and GX classes were able to get their sessions in.

Robin Liddell put the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro on pole in GT with a time of 1 minute, 52.583 seconds around the 3.4-mile road course. He and teammate John Edwards had a three-race win streak in GT snapped at GRAND-AM’s most recent outing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course before the Le Mans break.

As for the GX side, Sylvain Tremblay secured pole there with a time of 1 minute, 58.478 seconds in the No. 70 Speedsource Mazda6.

This weekend’s race could prove to break the current logjam in both the DP and GT class standings. In DP, the Angelelli-Taylor combo heads into the Glen just one point ahead of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette) and two points ahead of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow (No. 2 Starworks Ford/Riley). A note for open-wheel fans: The Dalziel-Popow duo will be joined by IndyCar’s Sebastien Bourdais this weekend in New York state.

The GT battle is just as tight with Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally and John Potter (No. 44 Porsche) up two markers over Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia. The aforementioned Stevenson Motorsports team sits third at 11 points out, certainly within striking distance.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.