IndyCar: Drivers praise speed, flowing nature of NOLA circuit

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The most common refrain coming out of this week’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at NOLA Motorsports Park was “it’s fast and flowing,” or something along those lines.

With times already in the 1:18 and 1:19 range, they should improve once the manufacturer aero kits come on board the track. Several drivers expect this will be the fastest road course on the schedule.

“This track is similar to the Indy Grand Prix in terms of layout,” said Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“You have to be really precise with your braking point and the speed you carry into the corners. I think fans will see good racing, a lot of passing and the aero kits will make the cars even faster, which will be a lot of fun to drive.”

Added Josef Newgarden of CFH Racing, “It’s a really fun, flowing track. It’s kind of like a European circuit in some parts. It has its challenges because it has bumps in some areas that you have to watch out for and then you have to try to get the most out of the smooth, long, flowing corners to make the cars faster. There is a lot of apex speed that you’re trying to carry around there where you’re fighting the car.

“I think this track is similar to the Indianapolis road course for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with very long straightaways and fast corners that lead onto the long straightaways. There is room to race here and with some of the hard braking zones, you’ll see quite a bit of passing. We had such great racing at Indy and hopefully we can replicate that here.”

James Hinchcliffe compared the track more to Barber Motorsports Park.

“Corners 3 and 5 are quite long, there is a flat-out chicane on the backstraight and (Turns) 12, 13 and 14 are all long corners as well,” said Pagenaud’s replacement at SPM. “It will be hard on tires as a result and kind of Barber-esque in that respect. When you look at the races we’ve had at Barber (Motorsports Park) the past couple of years, I think this one could be quite good.”

The inaugural NOLA race is set for April 12, a week after Easter Sunday.

IMSA at Mid-Ohio Sunday: How to watch, schedules, TV, stream info

IMSA Mid-Ohio schedule
IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to a sprint as the circuit enters the stretch run of the 2020 season with a packed weekend schedule at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Acura Sports Car Challenge will be a two-hour, 40-minute race around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio, for the DPi, GTLM and GTD classes.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar teams will practice Friday and Saturday. Qualifying will take place at 8 a.m. Sunday before a 2 p.m. green flag (same-day delay 11 p.m. ET, NBCSN; streaming on NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold) for the headlining race of a busy weekend.

There will be eight other races at Mid-Ohio across four series: the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, IMSA Prototype Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup.

The GTLM class of IMSA’s top series will be short two entries with Porsche pulling out because of positive COVID-19 tests at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend.

This will mark the seventh race of the season. After Mid-Ohio, there are three events left for the premier DPi and four for the GT division, including two of the year’s longest (the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring season finale).

Here are the details for IMSA this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (all times are ET):


IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mid-Ohio

WHEN: Sunday, 2 p.m.

TV:  11 p.m. (same-day delay), NBCSN (streaming link); 2 p.m. NBC Sports App (streaming link) / TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold

STREAM: NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (live flag to flag starting at 2 p.m.)

RADIO: IMSA Radio will have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, as well as SiriusXM

RACE DISTANCE: Two hours and 40 minutes around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 81 degrees with a 1% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here for which WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams are racing at Mid-Ohio


IMSA Mid-Ohio weekend schedule

Friday

6:10-7:10 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Saturday

10:55 a.m.-12:10 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Sunday

8-9:05 a.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

2 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Sports Car Challenge