Carl Edwards’ rear tire changer, Jon Moore, to miss up to 12 weeks

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With Carl Edwards having a leg up on making the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season after his win at Bristol, it was time for Jon Moore to put his shoulder to the grindstone.

Moore, a veteran rear tire changer on Edwards’ No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, has played hurt for quite some time with a bum shoulder.

After Edwards won at Bristol, Moore decided to get the ongoing – and worsening pain in his shoulder – looked at when the team returned from the following week’s race at Fontana, Calif.

“I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know it was this bad,” Moore told PitTalks.com. “For the last year its been getting progressively worse and then on the way back from (California) it really started hurting. I talked to my doctor, Bill Heisel of Ortho Carolina, and he told me it wasn’t good.”

The diagnosis: a torn Labrum, one of the roughest injuries an athlete can sustain.

Added Moore, “(Dr. Heisel) called me back after they examined me and said, ‘Jon, it’s worse than we thought. It’s torn on the front, the back, and part of your bicep.’ I knew at that point that I needed to do something.”

It was Edwards’ win at Bristol that prompted Moore to get his shoulder examined. Had his driver not won, who knows how much longer Moore would have continued playing hurt.

While his injury didn’t impede his duties as rear tire changer, the pain Moore continued to experience was eventually going to force him to do something about it.

And better to do so now than later in the season, particularly during the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

So Moore was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday and will likely miss about 12 weeks, according to PitTalks.com – or roughly 10 races.

“The thought process behind it was this: Carl won at Bristol so it makes sense to do it now and get it done,” Moore said. “Hopefully, if everything goes well, then I’ll be ready for the Chase.”

Just like other sports leagues call up injury replacements from their respective minor leagues, RFR and the No. 99 team have done the same.

Moore will be replaced by Rapheal Diaz, rear tire changer on the No. 16 Nationwide Series RFR Ford of Ryan Reed.

“He’s pretty good so I feel good about the team and the next few weeks,” Moore said of Diaz.

While he’s an integral part of the No. 99, Moore’s teammates support his decision to have the surgery now, rather than risk further injury that could have resulted in additional tearing or complications.

“Man, I got the best teammates in the world,” Moore said. “Everyone on the team has either been by to see me or called me to wish me well for the surgery. It’s kind of cool knowing I got so much support from my guys.”

To show he was in great spirits and frame of mind going into the operating room, Moore laughed and added that he even had one additional supporter to have the surgery done now.

“Even my hard ass crew chief (veteran Jimmy Fennig) was cool about it!”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”