Bleekemolen’s qualifying heroics, two bizarre races have hit ALMS at Baltimore

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Baltimore has been the site of two of the most abnormal race weekends in American Le Mans Series history.

In 2011, Jeroen Bleekemolen pulled off the above feat during GTC class qualifying. The Dutchman lost a tire on his Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, but then picked it up and put it back in the passenger’s seat. He looped around to his pit box, the team reattached the tire and Bleekemolen promptly stuck the car on pole! Never mind that Bleekemolen and co-driver Tim Pappas won the race, because that was what was known for.

Additional 2011 surprises came in the form of the overall and GT class winners. Dyson Racing’s older, second Lola Mazda coupe, driven by the unheralded pair of Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane took the P1 and overall win. Meanwhile in GT, Team Falken Tire won its first race in dry conditions and second of that season with Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

A year ago, mixed weather conditions and more than a dozen cars on the lead lap between four of the five classes also made for a jumbled final finishing order. Level 5 Motorsports took the overall win the P2 class HPD ARX-03b, co-driven by Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. The second Dyson Lola Mazda won again in P1 with another pair of lesser known drivers, Eric Lux and Michael Marsal, although they finished 13th overall.

Falken repeated in GT with Sellers and Henzler; that team seeks a three-peat of victories this season.

The two oddities have meant the pre-eminent prototype team and GT class tire – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in P1 and Michelin in GT, respectively – have yet to visit victory lane at Baltimore (Michelin has supplied control tires to the PC class the last two years, but does not consider those official victories).

Expect those to change this weekend, with Michelin rubber on nine of the 11 GT class entries (excluding Falken and the West/AJR/Boardwalk Ferrari, which runs on Yokohamas), and with only one other P1 car entered besides Muscle Milk. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith return to action in Dyson’s No. 16 Lola Mazda for the first time since Lime Rock this weekend. Muscle Milk has Lucas Luhr back in his usual car after his first IndyCar start in Sonoma last weekend.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.