Hargrove, Pelfrey, plan Phoenix, Barber in working towards full season

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

One of the most talented drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy is set to continue for at least the next two Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires weekends, with the plan of extending it to a full-season effort.

Scott Hargrove is set to continue in the No. 3 Gap Guard Team Pelfrey Dallara IL-15 Mazda at the Phoenix International Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park race weekends, the second car to teammate Juan Piedrahita.

It’s the next step as Hargrove, the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda champion, and his partners – others of note include Vancouver-based Full Torque Gear (apparel company) and Electra Meccanica (electric car company) – work towards finalizing a full-season program.

“I’ll be at Phoenix, and we’re going to try to run the whole season,” Hargrove told NBC Sports. “That was (always) the plan… and we just needed to put the pieces together.

“But it’s looking positive. We’re still working the business deals and looking to find a few more sponsors. Our intentions are to go run at Phoenix and Barber, and show we can run up front.”

Hargrove, who besides the USF2000 title has also won the Porsche GT3 Canada championship, has said his ability to look for new partners is one of his favorite parts of the sport.

“Racing is my passion but at the same time, but I’m absolutely hugely interested in the business side of the world,” he explained. “It’s a natural fit being able to move different parties and find solutions for their needs. It’s a lot of fun.

“Yes you hope to race, but the negotiating with different companies is a ton of fun. I’ve learned a lot from that. The whole thing is that sometimes I think that I learn more doing this than I would at school!

“And this year has been a lot more relaxed than last year. I go in thinking, ‘Whatever happens, happens, and I’ll give it my best shot.’ But things are looking positive. It’s all about the mindset and how you work on it.”

Hargrove finished second in the season opener at St. Petersburg, fighting through a broken car. Unfortunately he was caught up in an accident in the second race of the weekend on Sunday.

“We knew we had the speed to run up front,” Hargrove said. “The start went really well. The inside line moved a lot better than the outside. After that, we kind of settled in. It wasn’t too crazy.”

Hargrove’s chance to gain a position opened up when then-leader Zach Veach encountered electrical issues roughly halfway through the 30-lap race.

“Zach (Veach) had his issue and my eyes got pretty wide! I didn’t know what was going on with his car. I used my push-to-pass. He was figuring out why his car was having an issue. I don’t think he saw me.

Hargrove at St. Pete. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Hargrove at St. Pete. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“We made slight contact and it bent the toe link. I ran the whole second half with a bent toe link and still came in second. I was really hoping to challenge Felix (Serralles) for the win, but after the contact, it was hanging on. Kyle Kaiser was right on me the rest of the race. It was definitely exciting.”

Sunday’s race still produced a positive despite first-lap contact at Turn 4.

“I’d been three-wide into (Turn) 1, and had some contact, side to side,” Hargrove said. “I thought I’d got through good. I had a good run coming on Shelby (Blackstock). I tried to go around the outside. After the contact with Shelby, I realized I had a flat tire. So that’s why I carried more speed into the corner than I was expecting. Unfortunately he was there.

“The positive was, we were still the second quickest lap of the race. We came into the pits with a bent suspension. But the guys were jumping on it working to fix it! For our team, the result was disappointing but the effort was outstanding. You can’t complain too much.”

He’ll now head into the next two weekends having tested at both tracks, although the Phoenix test was truncated with mechanical issues. Barber saw him at the pointy end of the timesheets.

“We were really happy with having such pace,” he said. “I hadn’t raced at Barber since 2014, so it was a good reminder of which way the corners go. We’re confident going there.”

The mindset of St. Petersburg though, although it was only one race last year, was different this year compared to last year then as 8Star Motorsports.

“It was a one-race deal going into St. Pete. But that said… compared to last year, things are looking a lot better now,” he said.

“It was a different situation. (This year) I was pretty sure we were going to Phoenix. So it seems different. Everyone’s happy at St. Pete, and we’re continuing. I’m just hoping that continues for the rest of the year.”

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans