An American sports car feast is ahead at Austin this weekend

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Sports car racing fans should flock to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas this weekend, for a joint weekend of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.

The FIA WEC headlines the weekend for its lone North American stop of 2013, with a six-hour race to be held Sunday afternoon. Late Saturday, the ALMS makes its first trip to the circuit for a two-hour, 45-minute race.

Some news and notes for the weekend to follow:

ALMS

  • The much-hyped DeltaWing Coupe makes its race debut after its first test in Georgia a couple weeks ago. The car is shooting to run at P2 class speeds and serve as a possible option to customers interested in the car for the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick will drive, as they have for the team since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.
  • There are a number of entry list updates since the last round in Baltimore. Dyson’s P1 car sees Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry back in the No. 16 Lola Mazda. Anthony Lazzaro continues in Extreme Speed’s No. 01 HPD P2 car alongside Scott Sharp for the rest of the year. Several changes occur in PC, with Starworks adding the No. 5 car for Ryan Dalziel and John Pew, David Heinemeier Hansson replacing Alex Popow alongside Bruno Junqueira in RSR’s No. 9, and CORE autosport trading Colin Braun from its PC car to its GT car (No. 05 to No. 06) with Tom Kimber-Smith going the other way. Joey Hand also makes a surprise appearance alongside longtime friend and teammate Bill Auberlen in Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s No. 55 BMW Z4 with Maxime Martin committed to a Blancpain Endurance Series race this weekend.
  • There’s a handful of car updates as well. CORE’s GT class Porsche is a new tub that has been built up; Team Falken Tire reverts to its 2010 model year Porsche, a backup car that won twice in 2011, and Paul Miller Racing has fixed the damage sustained on its Porsche after all three were involved in a start-line accident in Baltimore.
  • In the points standings, GT is the closest battle with the Corvette pair of teammates split by two points. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner right now lead Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. BMW’s Dirk Mueller, racing with John Edwards, is eight points behind the class leaders.

WEC

  • This marks the North American debut of the Toyota TS030 Hybrid. Toyota did not have its car ready for the 2012 WEC curtain-raiser at Sebring, run in conjunction with ALMS, and also did not bring one to this year’s Sebring. Audi competed in both events; Audi is also undefeated in four prior WEC races this season.
  • Porsche’s new-for-2013 991-coded 911 RSR makes its North American race debut, as well. Porsche finished 1-2 at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class with this car.
  • Chris Dyson will be racing for Greaves Motorsport’s P2 Zytek Nissan in WEC rather than his usual P1 Dyson Lola Mazda in ALMS. Dyson is one of three American drivers in the WEC race, along with Kevin Weeda and Tracy Krohn.
  • The contingent of ex-Formula One racers  includes: Allan McNish (Audi), Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (Rebellion), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Lotus P2), Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kamui Kobayashi (AF Corse Ferrari), Pedro Lamy and Bruno Senna (Aston Martin).

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”