NASCAR honors Touring Series Champions — and potential Sprint Cup stars of tomorrow

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They may be champions in NASCAR’s smaller racing series, but there was nothing small-time when they were honored Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Seven drivers officially received their championship trophies and other assorted awards in a style befitting of last week’s Sprint Cup Awards in Las Vegas.

Saturday’s NASCAR Touring Series Night Of Champions ceremony took place in a location that many of those seven champions likely hope to one day be part of, namely, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The seven champs who got the full Kevin Harvick champions’ treatment were: Abraham Calderón (NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series), Anthony Kumpen (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), L.P. Dumoulin (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series), Doug Coby (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), Andy Seuss (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Greg Pursley (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and Ben Rhodes (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East).

“This championship was a dream a few years ago,” the 26-year-old Calderon said in a NASCAR media release. “It was really hard. But now that it’s real, it’s way better than I could ever imagine.”

Each winning driver received their trophies as well as champions rings from NASCAR President Mike Helton.

“Tonight, the past, the present and future all converge,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional touring and weekly racing. “The past, celebrated through the storied history of many of these series.

“The present, represented by a mixture of seasoned veterans winning another NASCAR championship and young guns winning their first.

“And most importantly, the future, drivers recognized on this stage in the past few years are already having a huge impact in NASCAR’s three national series. And given the talent tonight, that trend will definitely continue.”

Coby and Pursley won their second respective championships, while the other five champions were first-time winners.

The closest championship-deciding outcome was found in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, when Kumpen held off former two-time series champ Ander Vilarino by one mere point.

“For a European race driver, a NASCAR championship seemed like an impossible goal,” Kumpen said.

All told, the seven champs combined for 14 wins, 67 top-5s and 86 top-10s in 95 races.

“Everybody knows that most championship stories have a bump along the way,” Coby said. “We just did our thing and took care of business at each race.”

Added Seuss: “One fact I’ll always point to about this championship is we completed every lap but one. That’s a testament to the team we have working on this car in the shop and at the track. This is a team sport and I couldn’t do it without all of you.”

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award went to Rhodes (K&N East), James Bickford (K&N West), Tommy Solomito (Whelen Modified Tour), Spencer Davis (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Matthew Scannell (Canadian Tire Series), Mario Dominguez (Mexico Toyota Series) and Eddie Cheever III (Whelen Euro Series).

And the Most Popular Driver Award in each series (voted by fans) went to: Rhodes (K&N East), Brandon McReynolds (K&N West), J.R. Fitzpatrick (Canadian Tire Series), Rodrigo Marban (Mexico Toyota Series), Freddy Nordström (Whelen Euro Series), Melissa Fifield (Whelen Modified Tour) and Andy Seuss (Whelen Southern Modified Tour).

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IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans