IMSA: IndyCar rookie Hawksworth to make sports car debut in Brickyard GP

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Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth will be facing the unfamiliar and the familiar later this week.

The British pilot, who finished 13th and sixth for Bryan Herta Autosport in yesterday’s Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader, will make his sports car racing debut in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Hawksworth will join Paul Gentilozzi’s RSR Racing and co-drive the No. 08 ORECA FLM09 with Chris Cumming in Prototype Challenge.

Cumming’s normal co-driver, Alex Tagliani, is serving a one-race suspension from IMSA after his involvement in a practice crash during last month’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship weekend at Watkins Glen.

The decision to bring in Hawksworth may prove very fruitful for the RSR camp.

While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series raced at IMS in 2012 and 2013, it was done on a 2.534-mile course that was reconfigured this past winter into its current 14-turn, 2.435-mile form.

Hawksworth starred on the “new” circuit during IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis back in May (led 31 laps, finished seventh), and Gentilozzi hopes Hawksworth’s experience will help the team.

“We looked at a number of drivers to fill this seat,” Gentilozzi explained in a release. “We knew we wanted someone with experience at the Indy road course and Jack certainly fit that requirement given his success.

“Given his record, we know he will be fast and will give us 100 percent every time he gets in the car. We are very pleased to have him with us.”

It bears noting that a second driver from May’s GP of Indy will also be taking part in Friday’s event – and in the same class as Hawksworth, no less.

Martin Plowman, who drove this year for A.J. Foyt Racing in both the GP of Indy and the Indianapolis 500, is listed to co-drive the No. 88 Prototype Challenge car for BAR1 Motorsports.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.