IndyCar and NASCAR presence basically set for Rolex 24

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One of the best parts about the Rolex 24 at Daytona is the volume of Verizon IndyCar Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars that will be in the race, considering their seasons don’t start for at least another month or two.

There’s inevitably a bumper crop of drivers from both that pop up. Thus far, that includes at least 13 of the 33 starters in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 (more than one-third of the field), and three from NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Here’s a rundown of confirmed and possible drivers from IndyCar and NASCAR set for the Rolex 24:

INDYCAR

  • Sebastien Bourdais, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP (P)
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 7 Starworks Motorsport Riley-Dinan BMW (P)
  • Charlie Kimball, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)
  • Sage Karam, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)
  • Tony Kanaan, No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)
  • Scott Dixon, No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)
  • Jack Hawksworth, No. 11 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 (PC)
  • Martin Plowman, No. 61 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 (PC)
  • Ryan Briscoe, No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Simon Pagenaud, No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Graham Rahal, No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE (GTLM)
  • Townsend Bell, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD)
  • James Davison, No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)

Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Kimball, Kanaan, Dixon, Hawksworth, Briscoe, Pagenaud and Rahal all raced the full 2014 season, with Karam, Bell, Davison and Plowman each racing in the Indianapolis 500. Bell also serves as NBCSN’s IndyCar analyst.

NASCAR

  • AJ Allmendinger, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda (P)
  • Jamie McMurray, No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)
  • Kyle Larson, No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford (P)

The NASCAR contingent is much smaller but it’s three full-timers in Allmendinger, McMurray and Larson, plus Max Papis, who of course races sporadically in Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Trucks, in the No. 31 Whelen/Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Papis did not run a single NASCAR race in 2014.

More to come?

Chances are strong at least two more IndyCar-affiliated drivers will be joining the IndyCar list later this month.

Beyond the ones already listed, James Hinchcliffe is a likely candidate somewhere. Hinchcliffe told this writer last month he was close on a couple things, but wouldn’t be returning to the SpeedSource Mazda team he’s driven for the last three years.

Justin Wilson does not have a confirmed IndyCar ride for 2015, but would be a good get for any team for the Rolex 24. Wilson is out at Michael Shank Racing, replaced by teenaged rookie Matt McMurry.

The 2014 Indy Lights champion, Gabby Chaves, figures to return with the DeltaWing team. Chaves is seeking a full-time ride in IndyCar next season.

It’s doubtful any further NASCAR-affiliated drivers will join beyond the four mentioned above.

Most P and GTLM class rides are confirmed, which leaves only the pro-am PC and GTD classes as outlets for drivers to go.

Either way, the already confirmed drivers will have a chance to shake the rust off and get going starting with this weekend’s Roar and the Rolex 24 later this month, January 24-25.

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen finish 1-2 at High Point, tie for points lead

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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Time was running off the clock and Eli Tomac was going to give up the overall win to Ken Roczen, until the Colorado native dug deep and made the pass for second in Moto 2 at High Point Raceway at Mount Morris, Penn. Roczen would win his third Moto of the season, but Tomac won the war.

With a third-place finish in Moto 1 and his second in Moto 2, Tomac grabbed the overall victory for the second time this season in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.

For Tomac, it was another difficult start to the race. He tipped his bike over in Moto 1 and fell back to fifth while battling two seconds behind the leader Blake Baggett. Tomac had to battle his way back toward the front again after barely cracking the top five in the first Motos in two of the first three rounds.

Roczen fared even worse in Moto 1. He finished sixth in that race – more than 34 seconds behind the leader Baggett. Determined to make up for his bad start, Roczen charged through the field in Moto 2 and took the lead from Cooper Webb on Lap 9.

“I was just going to charge,” Roczen told NBC Sports after his Moto win. “Do the best I can. I went back to my Colorado (last week) settings because the first race was awful; I couldn’t even ride.”

Tomac entered the round two points behind Roczen and was able to make up only those two points. The battle continues onto Florida next week with a tie for the top spot.

With a 2-5, Jason Anderson grabbed third overall.

Battling back from injury, Anderson faded in the closing laps of Moto 2, but is regaining strength each week.

Webb (third) and Zach Osborne (fourth) rounded out the top five in Moto 2 and finished fourth and fifth respectively overall.

Moto 1 featured a rider searching for his first Moto win in two years. Baggett earned the holeshot and held off an early advantage by Tomac. When Tomac fell, it handed second to Anderson, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.

“Every time I get out front here, I have that weird sensation of trying to keep it on two wheels,” Baggett said on NBC Sports Gold following his win.

Tomac was not the only rider to go down in Moto 1. Webb lost his pegs on Lap 9 and became the cape to his KTM motorcycle as he flew along holding tight to the handlebars. He recovered in that race to finish seventh.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo remains perfect in the 250 class. Winning Moto 2 in each round so far this season, Cianciarulo has capitalized on his late event surges to sweep Victory Lane in the first four weeks.

It wasn’t an easy run for Cianciarulo, nonetheless. He was only fifth at the end of Lap 1 in Moto 1 and was forced to slice through the field to get to second at the checkers of that race.

“Just coming to the races now – coming to outdoor nationals now – compared to the past, it’s just an entirely different vibe,” Cianciarulo said on NBCSN after the race. “It’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time because for the first time in my whole pro career I believe in myself.

“It’s a process when you hit rock bottom and start coming back.”

Hunter Lawrence stole the show in Moto 1. Earning his first career win handily, he came out in Moto 2 and proved it was not a fluke by finishing third in the race and taking second overall.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence said on NBC Sports Gold following his Moto 1 victory. “It’s just a Moto win, but it’s a big milestone in our trip and campaign.”

Chase Sexton earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but faded to fourth at the end. Sexton kept Cianciarulo in sight in the back half of Moto 2 to finish second in the race and third overall.

With a 3-4, Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth overall with Colt Nichols (5-5) finishing fifth.

After losing the overall at Thunder Valley amidst controversy, Justin Cooper wanted to make a statement. He barely raised his voice with a sixth in Moto 1 and a ninth in Moto 2 to finish ninth overall.  He lost another 20 points to the points leader as Cianciarulo starts to edge away from the pack. Cooper remains second in the points, but is now 26 back.

Garrett Marchbanks went down hard on Lap 4 of Moto 1 and had the bike land on his head. He did not start Moto 2, but there have been no report of injury yet.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250MX
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

Next race: WW Ranch Motocross Park, Jacksonville, Fla. June 22

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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