Road America test: Live updates from the track

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – This just feels right – we’re coming to you from Tuesday’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at Road America – the first time the top level of North American open-wheel racing is back at the classic, picturesque 4.048-mile road course since 2007.

Quick reminder of who’s testing:

  • Team Penske: Will Power (now No. 12), Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud
  • Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball
  • CFH Racing: Josef Newgarden
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Takuma Sato

There has not been a ton of running yet in the first hour, which runs from 8:30 to 4 p.m. CT and local time, as drivers have noted low grip levels. Unofficial times are just under the 1:50 barrier to start the day, but no one is really pushing too hard as yet.

Fans can attend for a $20 entry fee, with 50 percent of every ticket sold going to the Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson. Fans will also have the option to make additional contributions on site. There’s already a good number of fans here.

And here’s the first of a number of tweets I’ll be posting both on my personal account and the @IndyCaronNBCSN account throughout the day.

More videos and photos:

Have spoken to a number of drivers – all except Castroneves actually as the Penske media scrum was a scrum – and will work up those transcripts today.

Also made sure to stop by the Gearbox – the track’s legendary food stand – for a double brat, some curly fries and a Pepsi.

It’s a good problem to have when the line to eat is this long.

Here’s some selected quotes from driver media availabilities today:

Power: “It’s actually pretty similar, I think. Champ Car was faster with a bit more power. But as far as speed goes, where we’re lifting, is similar. I don’t know what we were doing in Champ Cars. It should be about same pace too.”

Pagenaud: “The car behaves differently but obviously more speed here. It’s still the same race track. Very enjoyable here. Having quite a bit of fun. We’re going through a long list of laundry items. Enjoyable day.”

Montoya: “Back in the day with the old CART car, you had to lift everywhere. You’re breathing through Turn 7. Blind left hander where the bridge used to be, you lift there. Now it’s flat. How brave are you?

“It’s not easy flat. The thing is when it’s flat, you take more downforce off. Then you’ll go quicker in the corners.”

Dixon: “It’s like riding a different bike. It’s a three wheeler vs a two wheeler.The only thing that was quite familiar was coming into pit lane. Different car and 13 years. So a lot has changed. You see, feel and remember things. The general feel of it is quite a bit different. Yeah I think everything changes over time. The track changes. Facility looks good. It means a lot, it’s nice to come back to a place to see this many fans here for a test on a Tuesday. Fun track. It’s hard to put a whole lap together. It’s easy to get a couple corners right, but go offline with this car, it requires a lot of momentum. Mess up one corner, and it affects a whole lap.”

Kanaan: “I tell you what, the first lap today, it was fun. A lot of good memories came back from back in the day, and the speeds that this track brings.

“I haven’t been in a car since Sonoma, so to jump and go down this long straightaway, you realize how fast you are going, so it’s awesome to be back.”

Kimball: “Yeah, especially from (Turn) Five around to Canada (Corner) there is quite a bit of flow there. (Turn) One and (Turn) Three kind of stand on their own, but it is a lot of rhythm. There’s connections all the way through that if you can start to find that rhythm, you can make the most of it.”

Rahal: “It was awesome man. Good to be back. Turn some laps around this place. You forget how damn fast it is in these cars. It’s very quick. Way quicker than I remember the Champ Car being on cornering side. It’s cool. Gonna be a lot of fun. Keep working, keep digging for more speed. We’re creeping up.”

Newgarden: “Man I love this place. It’s awesome. It’s first time I’ve driven anything with power and grip. It’s incredible. It’s so fast. It’s all high speed corners. Yes some low speed corners. But every corner is fast. High commitment, very flowy track. You can’t mess up the rhythm. I like that it’s penalizing. You have to be precise. It’s just a damn cool track.”

Sato: “I love it. Every driver feels the same way.”

More to follow in this post throughout the day.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.