Fittipaldi, Alon, Sellers grab IMSA’s Detroit poles

Photos courtesy of IMSA

DETROIT – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is back in action this weekend with three of its four classes, and Christian Fittipaldi, Robert Alon and Bryan Sellers have the three class pole positions for this weekend’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic .

Fittipaldi survived a lurid last lap spin in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Action Express Racing Corvette DP to score his second pole position of the season – overall and in Prototype (Long Beach), over the three other Corvette DPs in the field. That being said, his tires were flat-spotted from the spin.

Fittipaldi’s best lap was 1:23.815 around the 2.35-mile Belle Isle Park with Marc Goossens second in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP at 1:23.863.

Ricky Taylor and Eric Curran are next ahead of Katherine Legge in her first start in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, then the two Mazdas.

Fittipaldi will share his car with Joao Barbosa, then Goossens with Ryan Dalziel, Taylor with brother Jordan and Curran with Dane Cameron as the two seek an encore win of their 2015 triumph. Legge is in her car with Ozz Negri.

Alon, in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 he’ll share with Tom Kimber-Smith, took the Prototype Challenge pole at 1:27.571. It’s his second pole of the season as well, having also won pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.


In GT Daytona, Sellers took a perhaps surprise pole – not because he isn’t one of the more talented drivers on the grid, but because he doesn’t usually qualify, and both he and the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 has never been to the streets of Detroit before! His best time was a 1:31.340, just ahead of Patrick Lindsey’s 1:31.351.

This marks both their respective first poles in IMSA competition (and Sellers’ first overall since a GRAND-AM race in 2008 at New Jersey), but the second in a row for the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing team at Detroit. Dion von Moltke also won last year’s pole in an Audi R8 LMS ultra.

“We hit it right, having went out early, then sat back,” Sellers said in the post-qualifying press conference. “It’s huge for Lamborghini, as they have a huge, vested interest in the U.S. market.

“It was a team decision (as to why he qualified), based on the way the driver pairings sit. The Silver guys (generally am drivers although there are some professionals) only have to do 35 minutes based on minimum drive time. We’ve talked about this for a couple races, and we figured this could be an option. But six others were just as clever!”

Sellers will share his car with Madison Snow and look forward to seeing what the talented teenager out of Utah will be able to unleash.

“Madison has been ready for this moment. Let’s see how he fares,” said Sellers.

Lindsey will start the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R second in the car he shares with Porsche factory ace Joerg Bergmeister.

Then it’s the two Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS cars of Robin Liddell (qualified third in the No. 6 car) and Matt Bell (fifth in the No. 9 car), who sandwich Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Liddell will co-drive with Andrew Davis, Bell with Lawson Aschenbach and Pumpelly with Corey Lewis on Saturday.

The one-hour, 40-minute race rolls off at 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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.”