Mark Webber refreshed, relaxed in Austin return

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Though he didn’t get the result he would have wanted – Mark Webber finished fifth in the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid with co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in Saturday night’s FIA WEC Six Hours of the Circuit of The Americas – he was still thankful to be back in the city where he got one of his last two Formula One podiums.

Webber finished third last November in his second-to-last F1 race, and enjoyed his return to Austin this time around.

“It’s pretty relaxed this year,” Webber told MotorSportsTalk in Austin. “The city is still great. Austin’s a great place. This race here at six hours is quite unique starting in daylight and ending at night. It’s quite different to F1, but still a very professional environment. Sensational manufacturers to be racing with.”

Ordinarily, Webber’s been accustomed to having a one-month break in August when the F1 calendar shuts down. This year, it’s been a three-month break in-between the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and Austin this weekend.

Not that Webber’s been off. Testing of Porsche’s new high downforce aero package, which premiered this weekend, commenced along with other factory work.

“We’ve been testing, and it’s been very busy at the factory, so honestly it hasn’t been much of a break,” Webber said.

“We’re trying to do a better job of getting the balance right. We’ll keep learning with it and we’ll see what we get in Fuji.”

The race for the No. 20 car featured one of the more dramatic moments of the evening. Bernhard slid off course when the second hour downpour hit Austin, and narrowly avoided two already beached GTE cars. The No. 20 car needed to be craned out of the gravel, but was still able to continue to the finish.

Webber’s crew finished on the podium in the Silverstone season opener in April, and seek to be the trio that delivers Porsche’s new 919 its first win once the season half of the season commences at Fuji on October 12.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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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.