Sebring 12-hour: Extra drivers to watch

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As the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is a great chance to see an extra bumper crop of drivers in action before their regular campaigns in other series begin.

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship sees a number of all-star third and fourth drivers in action in all four classes. The P and GTLM class have no driver restrictions and as such, can afford to bring in ringers to aid their two main drivers.

They include but are not limited to:

PROTOTYPES

  • Gabby Chaves (No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13),
  • David Brabham (No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b), Simon Pagenaud (No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b),
  • Sebastien Bourdais (No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP), Jon Fogarty (No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP)
  • Jann Mardenborough (No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan)
  • Max Angelelli (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP)
  • Alex Brundle (No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan)
  • Justin Wilson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley)
  • Mike Rockenfeller (No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP)
  • Marino Franchitti (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley), and all three drivers in No. 02 CGR car
  • Tristan Vautier (No. 07 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D Coupe)

GT LE MANS 

  • Ryan Briscoe (No. 3 Corvette C7.R), Robin Liddell (No. 4 Corvette C7.R)
  • Marco Holzer (No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR)
  • Joey Hand (No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4), Dirk Werner (No. 56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4)
  • Andrea Bertolini (No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia), Gianmaria Bruni (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia)
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R), Rob Bell (No. 93 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R)
  • Patrick Pilet (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR), Jorg Bergmeister (No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR)

PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE

Sam Bird (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport), Sean Rayhall (No. 25 8Star Motorsports), Stephen Simpson (No. 85 JDC/Miller), Martin Plowman (No. 88 BAR1 Motorsports) and David Heinemeier Hansson (No. 09 RSR Racing) are “good gets” for third drivers given the pro-am nature of the class requires at least two Silver drivers in a three-driver lineup.

GT DAYTONA 

Like PC, GTD requires a pro-am lineup, with at least two Silver drivers in a three- or four-driver lineup. But there are some star pros who can fill in if teams have a higher volume of Silvers.

Some extra drivers to watch here include:

  • Matt Plumb (No. 13 Rum Bum/Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Philip Frommenwiler (No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America), Alex Riberas (No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Klaus Bachler (No. 28 Konrad Motorsport/Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Christina Nielsen (No. 30 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Marc Basseng (No. 32 GMG Audi R8 LMS)
  • Filipe Albuquerque (No. 35 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS), Markus Winkelhock (No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS)
  • Christopher Mies (No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 LMS)
  • Stefan Johansson (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
  • Norbert Siedler (No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Patrick Huisman (No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Markus Palttala (No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3)

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway

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The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):


NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)