New Hampshire Update: Truex leading at halfway


Days after the announcement that his main sponsor, NAPA Auto Parts, would leave Michael Waltrip Racing at year’s end, Martin Truex Jr. has had a strong afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and led the Sylvania 300 – the second race in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup – at halfway.

Early morning rains eventually gave way to partly cloudy skies at the start, but also forced the Sprint Cup contingent to start on a green track for the second consecutive week. On Lap 3, Kasey Kahne was able to make the move past pole sitter Ryan Newman for the lead, with Jeff Gordon heading past Newman for second place shortly after.

Newman eventually settled in fourth position behind Kahne, Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. when a caution came out at Lap 30 for a Turn 4 spin involving Josh Wise. NASCAR had originally set a competition caution to be thrown anyway at that point of the race because of the aforementioned rain.

Kahne was able to keep the lead after the first round of pit stops, while Gordon narrowly missed hitting the pit crew of Mark Martin after contact with David Ragan following his stop; Gordon fell back to seventh for the restart on Lap 36, which saw Truex whip past Kahne for the lead coming out of Turn 2.

Truex had no chance to build up a gap as the yellow emerged again on Lap 37 for a two-car incident involving Jamie McMurray and Kevin Swindell. McMurray had contact with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya and backed into the Turn 4 wall, with Swindell then hitting him and causing considerable front-end damage to his own car.

The green flag run after that yellow was also short-lived, as Bobby Labonte suffered a tire failure and then had contact with David Gilliland before hitting the frontstretch wall at Lap 52. Labonte was making his return to on-track competition after missing several races due to three broken ribs from a cycling accident; he was checked, cleared and released from the infield care center.

Truex quickly pulled away off the restart at Lap 60, leaving Kahne and Newman to fight it out for second place before the former grabbed the position. Chase leader Matt Kenseth also got by Newman for third before the field started to shake out into largely single-file racing.

Truex, Kahne and Kenseth remained the Top 3 of the race as it passed over the 100-lap mark as part of a long, caution-free run. Truex would give up the lead for service on Lap 110, but would return to the point after Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t get a yellow to get back on the same strategy as the leaders and had to pit himself at Lap 129.

At Lap 150 of 300, Truex was leading Kenseth, followed by Brad Keselowski in third after starting 20th, early leader Kahne in fourth, and Gordon in fifth.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.