Motocross: James Stewart out for 2015 after FIM denies appeal

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James Stewart will not be able to line up when the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship gets underway in just over two weeks. The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has denied his appeal, meaning that his suspension for a failed drug test – which runs through August 11th, 2015 – will be upheld.

The ruling comes more than a year to the day after the Yoshimura Suzuki rider originally tested positive for a banned substance – later identified as Adderall – after the Seattle Supercross race in 2014.

Although he had a prescription for the drug, Stewart didn’t fill out the required form for a Therapeutic Use Exemption, which resulted in a violation of the drug policy. After a period where he was provisionally suspended but still allowed to race, the FIM hit him with a 16-month suspension in December, retroactive to the time of the drug test. After a lengthy delay from the FIM, Stewart was recently given the chance to appeal the suspension in hopes that he could be cleared to race the Nationals this summer. The FIM’s ruling this week has since eliminated those hopes.

With a return for the season-opening race at Hangtown out of the picture, the former champion – who has been testing with the Yoshimura Suzuki team while awaiting a decision – will now turn his attention to the 2016 season.

“It’s extremely disappointing that my appeal was denied,” Stewart said in a statement from the team. “But I’m glad this is over and now I can turn my full attention back to preparing for the few events I’ll be competing in this year and coming back strong for 2016.”

Proving that he was still an elite talent last season, Stewart swept both motos at the June race at High Point, just days before news of his provisional suspension broke. After the announcement though, he struggled on the track, failing to finish better than eighth overall at any remaining races. He later opted to sit out the final four rounds of the series and ended up ninth overall in 450 Class points.

Stewart is one of the most popular riders in the series and has won three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross titles, including a 450 Class championship in 2008.

This year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will kick off Saturday, May 16th at Hangtown.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”