TUSC: Tagliani, Daly join RSR PC class lineup

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IndyCar drivers Alex Tagliani and Conor Daly are among the driver lineup for Paul Gentilozzi’s RSR Racing team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and additional TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races in the PC class.

Tagliani, who was mooted as a potential replacement at Target Chip Ganassi Racing for the retiring Dario Franchitti, is set for a full season in the No. 09 Automax.com entry with fellow Canadian Chris Cumming alongside. Daly and Rusty Mitchell will join for selected endurance races, beginning with the Rolex 24 next week.

The sister No. 08 Lino’spresso car will feature Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende for the season, and David Heinemeier Hansson and Gustavo Menezes alongside at the endurance races.

Tagliani has driven for RSR before in Champ Car (2003-2004, 2007) and looked forward to reuniting with some familiar faces.

“I am excited to work with so many familiar faces like Jeff Lohman, Paul, Bruno, Conor, and John and to participate at the Daytona 24 hour race with a competitive team and line-up.

“I’ve already been on contact with Bruno via email. We are good friends and I look forward to working with him again and hopefully we can have a good result for the team.”

Added Daly on his opportunity, “I’m very excited to be headed to Daytona for the first time. I appreciate the opportunity RSR Racing has given me and look forward to working with the team. It will be a whole new experience for me and I’m ready to work with the team to learn from the guys around me to get up to speed quickly.”

At this point, neither Tagliani or Daly has a full-time IndyCar ride. Still, both are working to see what future opportunities may exist there this year.  The TUDOR Championship’s two races on IndyCar weekends, Long Beach and Detroit, do not feature the PC class. Other weekend conflicts include June 7 (TUSC at Kansas, IndyCar at Texas) and August 24 (TUSC at VIR, IndyCar at Sonoma).

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”