Patrick Dempsey confirms WEC program for 2015

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Patrick Dempsey will focus on an FIA World Endurance Championship program in 2015.

The Hollywood actor who has since focused more time each year on sports car racing over the last decade, will run a full-season GTE-Am effort known as Dempsey Proton Racing, a Porsche 911 RSR. The team will work in partnership with Proton Competition.

Additionally, he’ll run with Porsche’s lone American factory driver Patrick Long. As Long is a Platinum and Dempsey a Bronze, the team will need to confirm a Silver-rated driver to confirm the car’s driver lineup to the class regulations.

Dempsey announced the news at the Los Angeles Auto Show today.

“I’m already looking forward to 2015, and I’m proud to be able to contest the entire WEC as well as Le Mans with a Porsche,” Dempsey said, via a Porsche release. “Porsche’s experience in long distance racing is invaluable. Porsche was winning sports car races before I was even born. As a childhood fan of Porsche, I grew up with their successes at Le Mans, Daytona, and the Targa Florio. There are moments when I simply cannot believe that I am now a member of this great team.”

As for his TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program, Sportscar365 has reported the end of the Dempsey Racing operational effort, although the brand name could live on with another team running the operations for selected events.

No formal announcement of Dempsey in TUDOR Championship races will come today.

Long’s departure to WEC, as well, provides the talented American a chance to shine on the world stage for the first time over a full season, after doing well in occasional outings both at Le Mans (where he’s a class winner) and in Australian racing.

His departure would open up a full-time seat in one of Porsche North America’s GT Le Mans class Porsche 911 RSRs in the TUDOR Championship, with Porsche choosing to decide that car’s driver lineup and Long’s North American program later this offseason.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for the injured Oliver Askew, also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.