TUDOR named entitlement partner for United SportsCar in five-year deal

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United SportsCar Racing has a new name and a new title sponsor. The renamed TUDOR United SportsCar Championship was revealed today at NASCAR Chase Media Day in Chicago. The official series release is below: 

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today that TUDOR — an innovative and retro-chic brand — has been named entitlement partner for the next five years of what now will be known as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The IMSA announcement this morning precedes TUDOR’s official U.S. launch this evening during New York Fashion Week.

“The 2014 season will feature the rebirth and revitalization of sports car racing in North America, and therefore it’s the ideal time to introduce a premium watch brand like TUDOR to our U.S. fans and partners, as well as further solidify our relationship with the international motorsports community,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “This is a natural progression of the fantastic relationship we’ve cherished for decades with our partners at Rolex.

“In TUDOR, we have an optimal match for the Championship, as its brand attributes align with ours, specifically its Grantour collection that was created for sports car aficionados.”

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship extends ties of the prestigious Swiss watchmaking market to premier U.S. sports car racing dating back to 1959, when NASCAR Founder and IMSA Co-Founder Bill France Sr. and Rolex formed their initial relationship. Rolex will continue to serve as Title Sponsor of the annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Official Timepiece at Sebring International Raceway and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

“For years TUDOR has been inspired by motorsports,” said TUDOR Brand Manager Russell Kelly. “This new partnership between TUDOR and IMSA allows us to elevate our commitment to sports car racing. This is the perfect alignment between partners dedicated to performance and precision.”

In 1926, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered “The Tudor” brand and established Montres Tudor SA in 1946. From 2009 to 2011, TUDOR had a partnership with Porsche Motorsports as Timing Partner, and two years later, it began its collaboration with Ducati as global Timing Partner. Its affiliation with the FIA World Endurance Championship — which includes a race in Austin, Texas, alongside the American Le Mans Series race later this month —commenced this year.

“Not only do TUDOR’s brand attributes of performance, prestige and elegance align with the nature and character of endurance sports car racing, but clearly, we are the only form of motorsport in which the race length is determined by time, not distance,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Based on our mutual strengths, a watch and timing partner is a superb match for our series. We’re pleased that TUDOR recognizes that our passionate fans are absolutely the right clientele for them.”

The inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will debut next January with the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona. The complete 2014 schedule will be announced at a later date.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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