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100th Indianapolis 500 team preview: KVSH Racing/KVRT

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series grid ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Next up is KV Racing, which has three cars entered but under three different entrant names: KVSH Racing, KV Racing Technology and PIRTEK Team Murray.

Three cars with three team names here, for the team co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, which captured the 2013 ‘500 win with Tony Kanaan. Its No. 11 car is traditionally its best bullet at Indy; meanwhile in the other two cars, they have a pair of ‘500 first-timers, nearly identical to last year. One could argue though that Wilson and Brabham are an upgrade over Stefano Coletti and Bryan Clauson.

ENTRIES

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet (Car name TBA; will be updated)
Stefan Wilson-R, No. 25 Driven2SaveLives – KVRT Chevrolet
Matthew Brabham-R, No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet (KVRT technical alliance)

2016 SEASON SO FAR

It’s been a year of frustration thus far for Bourdais and the No. 11 crew, who’ve been either bloody quick but unlucky, or unlucky and then able to rebound. St. Pete and Barber saw the former occur with Phoenix and Long Beach sandwiched in the middle. Bourdais has been one of the few drivers able to pass with regularity this year and remains a force in working with lead engineer Olivier Boisson.

INDY OUTLOOK

True to form, Bourdais will be the team’s best bet this year at Indy. In rookies Wilson and Brabham, this group has two great story lines based on their family histories, but less-than-likely contenders on race day. For both first-year drivers, the goal is to bank laps, make the finish and shoot for a top-15, perhaps top-10 result. Such a result would put either or both drivers in contention for rookie-of-the-year honors for the month.

RECENT RESULTS 

  • 2015: 11. 11-Bourdais (7; KVSH), 25. 4-Coletti (29; KVRT), 31. 88-Clauson (30, KVSH/Byrd’s)
  • 2014: 7. 11-Bourdais (17; KVSH), 15. 17-Saavedra (32; KV/AFS), 16. 33-Davison (28; KV/AE); 25. 6-Bell (25; KVRT)
  • 2013: 1. 11-Kanaan (12; KVSH), 17. 78-de Silvestro (24; KVRT)
  • 2012: 3. 11-Kanaan (8; KVSH), 11. 8-Barrichello (10; KVRT), 18. 5-Viso (9, KVRT)

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?