Sebring 12-hour race updates (UPDATED; 10 Hours)

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The 62nd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is underway. Some race updates follow:

HOUR 10

In brief, anyone could win in three of the four classes by this point. Nine Prototypes, six GTLM and four GTD cars are all on the lead lap. The battle in P is between DP and P2-spec cars, which was unlikely to occur at Daytona.

HOUR EIGHT

Extreme Speed Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03bs were the star fighters to the DPs as the race settled into a rhythm over the last two hours. Unfortunately for the leading No. 2 car, driven by Johannes van Overbeek, contact with the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS at Turn 17 has eliminated that. “JVO” pitted for repairs after the two collided; the Miller car wasn’t sure the HPD was there.

That contact promoted the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to the lead, with other class leaders CORE autosport (PC), Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R (GTLM) and AIM Autosport’s No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

A number of GTD class cars had issues, either punctures, fuel pressure or paddle-shift related.

HOUR SIX

We’re halfway home, but holy yellow flags, Batman. There were eight of them in the first six hours, four of which were caused by the No. 87 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 PC class car as one of several PC-related incidents.

That said, there were some proper racing highlights as this headed to the crossed flags mark. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Dalziel had a great scrap in the lead in the diverse combination of the Action Express Corvette DP and Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b. Then Justin Wilson and Sage Karam went toe-to-toe in the pair of Ford EcoBoost Rileys, Wilson for Michael Shank Racing and Karam for Chip Ganassi Racing.

PC has more or less been a battle of survival with the CORE autosport and RSR Racing having mostly clean races to this point. Unfortunately even that went awry before the 6-hour mark, when Alex Tagliani’s No. 08 car was tagged by Gaston Kearby in the aforementioned No. 87 car exiting Turn 16 in a violent accident.

In GTLM, Porsche, BMW and SRT Viper have thus far had trouble-free races. Same for most of the Ferraris, the Turner BMW and handful of Porsches in GTD.

But otherwise, this first half of this race has been weird.

HOUR FOUR

As if the Riley GTD Viper and Risi GTLM Ferrari incidents weren’t bad enough, things got worse when two PC class cars collided just past the four-hour mark.

The No. 38 Performance Tech entry driven by David Ostella wrecked on exit to Turn 17 and careened into the path of No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen entry of Frankie Montecalvo. Montecalvo spun into the pit in area and the race was briefly red flagged.

At the four-hour mark, where points were awarded for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the Nos. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing (P), 52 PR1/Mathiasen (PC), 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (GTLM) and 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 (GTD) were class leaders.

HOUR THREE

Just at the end of the third hour, following a third full-course caution for two BAR1 Motorsports PC class cars colliding, things got worse in terms of contact.

Matteo Malucelli, in the rebuilt Risi Ferrari, spun off at Turn 1. Upon rejoining, he entered right on the racing line of corner exit and contacted Christina Nielsen’s No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America. It put the race under a fourth full-course caution. Several others took evasive action to avoid.

IndyCar champion Scott Dixon led overall at the three-hour mark in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley.

HOUR TWO

The race settled into a rhythm after the first yellow flag. Klaus Graf took the overall lead through the most recent pit stop cycle in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan.

Risi Competizione’s No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia and the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR battled for the GTLM class lead. RSR Racing (No. 09, PC) and Scuderia Corsa (No. 63, GTD) were other class leaders at the two-hour mark.

HOUR ONE

The majority of the first hour was run under a caution flag as Ben Keating had to stop his No. 33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R on track, just at Turn 6. A blaze ignited underneath the car and made a massive fire; Keating got out under his own power but with the car, torched, was taken back to the paddock on a flatbed.

As the pit stop cycle commenced, the DeltaWing racing team took the opportunity to stay out and lead under yellow. Andy Meyrick was behind the wheel of the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 cope.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).