Haven’t followed NASCAR’s “Silly Season”? Time to catch up

1 Comment

Ryan Newman’s jump to Richard Childress Racing marks the latest driver move in what has been an extremely active ‘Silly Season’ throughout the Sprint Cup garage. And it’s not over yet.

With Newman’s move to RCR, the focus now appears to shift to Furniture Row Racing, which will need a new driver in the No. 78 for 2014.

Also, we’re still waiting on official confirmation for Austin Dillon, who is expected to move up to the Cup level in another RCR entry.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look back at what’s gone down so far in regards to ‘Silly Season’ – even though we’ll all probably still need a spotter’s guide at Daytona next February:

2014 Team: No. 4, Stewart-Haas Racing

After running for RCR for his entire Sprint Cup career, Harvick announced in July that both himself and main sponsor Budweiser will move over to Stewart-Haas starting next year. For SHR, that meant the departure of Newman, with team co-owner Tony Stewart saying at New Hampshire that his team didn’t have the capability of expanding to a fourth car. But soon enough, that would change…

2014 Team: No. 55, Michael Waltrip Racing (full-time)

For several seasons, MWR had been splitting the No. 55 between Vickers, Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. But when the team decided to seek out a full-time driver for the car, Vickers became a prime candidate. His victory at New Hampshire this summer basically sealed the deal, and a short time later, he was officially welcomed back to full-time Cup racing in a multi-year deal that will see him be the sole wheelman of the No. 55.

2014 Team: No. 00, Stewart-Haas Racing

While Stewart was initially recovering from a season-ending sprint car crash early last month, his SHR partner, Gene Haas, made a bold play for Busch, who was in the midst of trying to get the single-car Furniture Row Racing into the Chase at the time (he would). It took Haas some convincing for Stewart to go along with a fourth program, as the three-time Sprint Cup champion was worried about the expansion’s timing. But ultimately, Haas got his man; he’ll fund Busch’s program out of his pocket, with his machine tool business, Haas Automation, serving as The Outlaw’s main sponsor.

2014 Team: No. 42, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

One of the most heralded young guns in a long time, the 21-year-old Larson was going to be a Cup driver sooner or later. EGR has opted for sooner, bringing him in to replace veteran Juan Pablo Montoya next season in the No. 42 car. There’s no question that the California native is super-talented, but there have been quibbles about whether or not he’s truly ready to face the big boys. For his part, Larson is confident that he can do just that. He’ll need the attitude.

2014 Team: No. 47, JTG Daugherty Racing

After serving as a part-timer in multiple disciplines this year such as NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide and the IZOD IndyCar Series, ‘Dinger will make his own return to full-time Cup racing next year. While some open-wheel fans may not have been happy about the ex-Champ Car star deciding to keep running in stock cars, it’s still a well-deserved second chance for him after he was suspended, then released from Penske Racing last summer.

2014 Team: No. 31, Richard Childress Racing

The Brickyard 400 champion has officially found a new home. Newman will replace the departing Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Caterpillar-backed machine next season after a five-year run with Stewart-Haas. Up to this afternoon’s announcement, rumors had been swirling for weeks about Newman and RCR joining forces.

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans