Airplanes to race around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016

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For the first time in over a century, there will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Air racing, that is – as in airplanes flying around and above the fabled Brickyard.

IMS announced Wednesday that it will host the seventh stop on the eight-race, four-continent Red Bull Air Racing Series on Oct. 1-2, 2016.

The world’s most elite master class pilots will participate in the landmark event. While IMS is known for open-wheel and stock car racing, it also has a rich history of air racing that dates back to more than 100 years ago.

“Orville and Wilbur Wright were some of the first pilots to take to the skies above the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the first licensed aviation competition in United States history,” IMS president J. Douglas Boles said in a media release. “In 2016, as we celebrate the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it’s fitting that the world’s best pilots will gather at IMS for a breathtaking display of competition and innovation that will honor the legacies of IMS founder Carl Fisher, the Wright brothers and their fellow aviation pioneers.”

Ironically, the first race ever contested at IMS was not a car event. Rather, the 2.5-mile oval hosted the first national balloon race in 1909 – which was also the first year an air race was held (in Reims, France).

IMS also hosted the nation’s first licensed aviation meet in 2010, and served as a military aviation and refueling depot during World War I.

The objective of the air race will be for pilots to maneuver around a “track” made up of air-filled pylons in the fastest time possible and with the fewest penalties. In all sessions, only one pilot will be in the air at any one time, essentially racing the clock and not other pilots.

Training/practice takes place Sept. 29-30, followed by two days of qualifying, a Round of 14, a Round of 8 and a Final 4.

IndyCar fans will certainly appreciate the speed factor of the planes, as they hit the same speed open-wheel cars reach at IMS: in the 230-mph range.

“IMS is a perfect location for the Red Bull Air Race due to its motorsport and aviation history and presence and we cannot wait to bring our sport to the skies above the track,” said Erich Wolf, General Manager at Red Bull Air Race GmbH.

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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.”