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United Autosports confirms de Sadeleer, MRTI grad Owen for Le Mans/ELMS

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BIRMINGHAM, UK – United Autosports has confirmed two of its drivers ahead of its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June in the LMP2 class.

United Autosports won the LMP3 championship in the European Le Mans Series last year, securing itself a berth for Le Mans in the process.

The Anglo-American team announced two of its three drivers for Le Mans at Autosport International on Thursday, with Mazda Road to Indy racer Will Owen and Formula Renault’s Huge de Sadeleer set to feature for its debut at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Owen finished fourth in the Pro Mazda series in 2016 with Juncos Racing, but will now turn his attention to sports car racing as part of United Autosports’ Le Mans and full-season ELMS line-up.

“Part of it was going to Le Mans in 2016. That was life-changing, honestly, it was so cool,” Owen told NBC Sports when asked about his decision to cross codes.

“The other thing was I feel like there are so many opportunities to become part of a manufacturer effort in sports cars. I decided to go that way because there are so many great places to go and series to run and cool cars to drive.

“I think I went there because of the options, that’s the biggest thing. We looked at a lot of things but eventually we looked at prototypes and after I drove it, I was like ‘man, this is what I want to do’. I’m so excited that we landed with United Autosports.”

Owen said racing on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder for the past three years – including one season in USF2000 championship and the last two in Pro Mazda – has prepared him well for life in endurance racing.

“If you look at me before and after Mazda Road to Indy, I’m a completely different driver and a completely different person,” Owen said.

“The series has helped me develop because of the intense competition. When you come here and you’ve done the deal where it’s been down to hundredths in qualifying, you’re well prepared.”

Owen and de Sadeleer are poised to be joined by Alex Brundle for Le Mans and the ELMS season, the Briton having won the LMP3 title with United Autosports last year.

“We know who we want, we’re just working on getting some economics together so we can go there and compete at the front,” United Autosports team owner Zak Brown told NBC Sports.

United Autosports will field a Ligier LMP2 car for the ELMS season and Le Mans, with the livery being unveiled on Thursday as part of the announcement.

IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.