IMSA adds B.o.B as pre-race headline concert at Sebring

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn’t the only motorsports entity putting out a musical act on Thursday.

IMSA too announced that the upcoming Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will feature a pre-race concert, in the form of B.o.B, but with or without Bruno Mars remains to be seen.

If you got the joke, congratulations, you’re well aware of the “Nothin’ on You” song.

Here’s the release from IMSA:

Multi-platinum recording artist B.o.B is ready to “Rock The Grid” in Sebring on Friday, March 18.

The Atlanta-based rapper/musician/producer, whose hits include “Airplanes,” featuring Haley Williams of Paramore, and the Grammy-nominated “Nothing On You,” featuring Bruno Mars, will headline the Rock The GridTM concert to be held in Sebring, Florida beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, March 18.

In addition to his recording accolades, B.o.B owns a substantial social media presence, with more than 9.1 million Facebook likes (Facebook.com/bobatl), 2.3 million Twitter followers (@bobatl) and 600,000 Instagram followers (@bob).

Rock The GridTM is the vision of longtime IMSA competitor Jim Jonsin of Rebel Rock Racing. Jonsin is a Grammy Award-winning music producer whose credits include hits for Lil Wayne, Beyoncé, Usher, T.I., Pitbull and Eminem among many others.   The concert is made possible by Continental Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Rebel Rock and IMSA.

“The Rock The GridTM concert will be a game changer for IMSA and our existing fans, and the most significant effort yet in our mission to attract new fans to our sport,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.   “This represents an outstanding opportunity to entertain our many existing Sebring guests and introduce our sport to a broad range of new fans. We are grateful to Jim Jonsin for presenting us with this tremendous opportunity and for providing A-list talent through Rebel Rock. We also must recognize our partners – Continental Tire and VP Racing Fuels – for their continued outstanding support and for helping us make Rock The GridTM a reality.”

Building upon his success as a producer, Jonsin founded the record label Rebel Rock, and the debut release of flagship artist B.o.B delivered three platinum-plus singles. In addition to B.o.B, Rebel Rock artists Leroy Sanchez and Alys Ffion also will perform in the Rock The GridTM concert at Sebring.

“I’m really excited for the launch of Rock The GridTM with IMSA, Continental Tire and VP Racing Fuels at Sebring,” Jonsin said.  “In my five years as a race team owner, driver or just camping out as a race fan, I’ve learned how amazing and diverse the crowds at these events can be.  Rock The Grid’s mission is to raise the bar when it comes to at-track entertainment and bring a fresh new generation of fans to motorsports.”

Sanchez is a Los Angeles-based recording artist signed to Interscope Records. While recording his debut album, Sanchez has earned 500,000 Facebook likes and Instagram followers, in addition to 1.7 million YouTube subscribers. His cover of Adele’s “Hello,” has been viewed more than 25 million times.

Ffion is a 19-year-old Australian singer-songwriter based in Nashville. She is highly regarded for her refreshing style and has chalked up some significant achievements including supporting international artists on their Australian tours, featuring on X-Factor winner Reece Mastin’s most recent album and an endorsement by Martin Guitars. Ffion also will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the race onSaturday, March 19.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”