2015 Rolex 24 Preview: P class

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We’re taking a class-by-class look this week at the field for the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona, one class per day through Thursday. We’ll start off with the Prototype class.

2014 RECAP

WINNERS: No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais

PODIUM: No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Burt Frisselle, Brian Frisselle, John Martin, Fabien Giroix

POLE: No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, Alex Gurney

2015 FORECAST

ROAR RECAP: Parity by design was the name of the game, with any of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Riley-Fords, the Action Express and Wayne Taylor Corvette DPs and occasionally the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda topping the timesheets. Bottom line, no team wanted to show too much during the Roar and risk a major Adjustment of Performance tweak. Fortunately, none came.

RACE OUTLOOK: The big surprises of the Roar were the competitiveness of Shank’s new Ligier and the DeltaWing coupe, which as expected, starred in straight-line speed. Either car upsetting the nine DPs entered would still be a surprise, but a top-five if not podium finish is possible if either car was to have a trouble-free race.

WIN CONTENDERS: Armed with the same lineup and no major changes year-on-year, Action Express’ No. 5 figures to have a great shot to repeat. WTR, too, is hungry after consecutive years finishing runner-up. But the CGR pair of Riley-Fords might be suited to return to win contention after a rare off year in 2014, as the Ford EcoBoost V6 turbo is further developed, and Joey Hand represents an upgrade over Memo Rojas in the No. 01 car. I’m tempted to include the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP here as well, but the car hasn’t really stood out thus far.

PODIUM SPOILERS: Shank’s Ligier is the standout of the second tier here, and the No. 31 Whelen-backed Corvette DP that features 2014 GT Daytona class champion Dane Cameron could be poised to spring a surprise as well. Krohn Racing too has three very capable drivers in Ligier JS P2 chassis developers Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle, along with Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn’s longtime right-hand man. Krohn finished fourth at Sebring last year in GTLM and a top-five here is possible.

THE REST OF THE RUNNERS: The remaining eight cars in class should be shooting for either top-five finishes or, more to the point, finishes overall. That includes the pair of debuting Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04bs, the DeltaWing, the Starworks Motorsport Riley-Dinan BMW, Mazda SKYACTIV-D prototypes and RG and Highway to Help DPs. Starworks, in this group of eight, has the highest ceiling with a go-for-broke driver lineup and could well surprise, while the others seek to avoid trouble.

CLASS ENTRY LIST (16 cars)

  • 0 Memo Rojas, Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves, Andy Meyrick, DeltaWing Racing Cars with Claro/Tracfone DeltaWing DWC13 coupe
  • 1 Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier Hansson, Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04b
  • 2 Johannes van Overbeek, Ed Brown, Jon Fogarty, Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04
  • 5 Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais, Action Express Racing Corvette DP
  • 7 Rubens Barrichello, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Brendon Hartley, Tor Graves, Scott Mayer, Starworks Motorsport Riley-Dinan BMW
  • 10 Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor Racing with Konica Minolta Corvette DP
  • 31 Dane Cameron, Eric Curran, Max Papis, Phil Keen, Action Express Racing (Whelen) Corvette DP
  • 50 Dorsey Schroeder, Jim Pace, David Henton, Byron DeFoor, Fifty Plus Racing/Highway to Help (Doran) Riley-BMW
  • 57 Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Alex Brundle, Olivier Pla, Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd
  • 60 Ozz Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger, Matt McMurry, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ligier JS P2 Honda
  • 66 Robert Gewirtz, Shane Lewis, Mark Kvamme, David Cheng, RG Racing Riley-BMW
  • 70 Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, James Hinchcliffe, Sylvain Tremblay, SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D
  • 90 Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante, Mike Rockenfeller, VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP
  • 01 Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam, Ford EcoBoost Chip Ganassi Racing  with Felix Sabates Riley-Ford
  • 02 Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Ford EcoBoost Chip Ganassi Racing  with Felix Sabates Riley-Ford
  • 07 Joel Miller, Tom Long, Ben Devlin, Sylvain Tremblay, SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”