Starworks’ Dalziel and Popow take GRAND-AM Brickyard GP

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For the second straight year, Starworks Motorsport came out on top at the Brickyard Grand Prix as drivers Ryan Dalziel (pictured, right) and Alex Popow (pictured, left) drove the No. 2 BMW/Riley to victory on Friday evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With nine and a half minutes left in the three-hour race around the 2.53-mile IMS road course, Dalziel took the lead for good after Formula One and IndyCar veteran Rubens Barrichello was forced to pit the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford/Dallara for a splash of fuel (he and co-driver Doug Peterson eventually settled for fifth). Dalziel went on to a 3.438-second victory over Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley.

The win also puts Dalziel and Popow on top of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Daytona Prototype class standings. They now lead by ten points, 229-219, over the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing duo of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who took third place this evening.

“This is what we needed – five races to go, we had to start winning races,” Dalziel told MRN Radio after the win. “…We’ll see how the next four go, but today’s a good day.”

Pruett and Memo Rojas’ runner-up finish was enough to give themselves the North American Endurance Championship DP title, which nets them a $100,000 bonus prize. In addition to today’s race, the NAEC included the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

The NAEC crown should be a boost to the Ganassi camp after what’s been an up-and-down year so far for their full-time regulars Pruett and Rojas, the defending DP class champions in the Rolex Series.

“For us to come back after some pretty ugly races and win the North American Endurance Championship is huge for us,” Pruett told MRN. “We’re just gonna see if we can keep on going.”

In the GT class, Jeff Segal and Indy 500 veteran Max Papis earned top honors in the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia, ahead of the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of John Edwards and Robin Liddell. Like Pruett and Rojas in DP, the second-place showing from Edwards and Liddell was enough for them to lock up the NAEC GT crown.

Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long brought home the GX class win in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda, but runner-up Dr. Jim Norman (No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche) clinched the NAEC GX title.

Reigning Indy 500 champ Tony Kanaan finished ninth with co-driver Joey Hand in the No. 02 Ganassi BMW/Riley, which made him tops among the three drivers in the field that have competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year. A.J. Allmendinger was 10th for Michael Shank Racing, and Sebastien Bourdais was 11th for 8Star Motorsports.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?