TUSC reveals full lineup for 2014 season

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The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship announced its entry list late Friday afternoon, with nearly 70 cars confirmed across the merged series’ four classes: Prototype (P, combination of ALMS P2, Rolex Series DP and DeltaWing, Prototype Challenge (ALMS PC), GT Le Mans (ALMS GT) and GT Daytona (Rolex GT, ALMS GTC).

Here’s a link to the full breakdown. We’ll hit each class here briefly:

P

There are 17 cars listed with three alternates. Only four teams (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Action Express Racing, SpeedSource and Extreme Speed Motorsports) will field two cars. The nine single-car entries come from: DeltaWing Racing Cars, Wayne Taylor Racing, Marsh Racing, OAK Racing, Highway to Help, Michael Shank Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and one car TBA.

The TBA, however, is identified as Pickett Racing with a car TBA on the entry PDF. Additionally, part-time entries in the P class are Action Express’ and Ganassi’s second cars, and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entry. OAK’s is listed as full season on the PDF, but part-time in the release. 8Star and Starworks Motorsport, full-season Rolex DP teams in 2013, have been downgraded to alternate entries and a third alternate comes from Libra Racing.

PC

All 12 cars utilize the spec ORECAFLM09 chassis and like their P brethren, will run on Continental Tires. The Starworks, RSR, BAR1 and Level 5 Motorsports teams all have two cars entered with single cars coming from CORE autosport, 8Star Motorsports, Performance Tech Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.

8Star and Starworks are listed as alternates in the P class, so only have their PC entries guaranteed for now. PC has two alternates, a car apiece from Pickett and JDC/Miller.

GTLM

The manufacturer playground, and the only class with open tire competition. Of the 12 cars entered, 10 will be full season: two apiece from Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, SRT Motorsports and Porsche North America (run by CORE autosport) and single cars from Risi Competizione and Team Falken Tire. Additional NAEC entries come from Krohn Racing and Aston Martin Racing.

GTD

A pro-am class, back on Continental Tires, and the largest class revealed with 28 cars entered and four alternates. 12 of the 28 are the new Porsche GT America, with other entries running an Aston Martin Vantage, Audi R8 LMS, Ferrari 458 Italia, SRT Viper GT3-R, BMW Z4, and one team and car to be announced. Most teams are fielding two cars with a handful of others doing single cars.

NUMEROLOGY

Earlier this year, the TUDOR Championship released a list of tentative car count capacities. The original projections called for as many as 63 total cars per pit lane space requirements. Right now, the PC (12 confirmed full-season) and GTD (28 total, with 25 full season, one Rolex 24 only and two NAEC) exceed their projected caps of 10 and 19-21, respectively.

The next step of the process, undoubtedly, will be figuring out whether all cars gaining an entry today will be able to race.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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