Drivers eager to begin Month of May with INDYCAR Grand Prix

Photo: IndyCar
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When it launched in 2014, the race now called the INDYCAR Grand Prix was somewhat of a gamble. Would adding an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway barely two weeks prior to the Indianapolis 500 impact the bigger event? Would it serve as an effective lead into “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”

According to the drivers, the event has been a flying success. “I love the GP of Indy,” said Conor Daly, native of nearby Noblesville and driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Racing. “I think it’s an awesome way to kick off the Month of May. It’s a home race, so it means a lot to me and we came very close to being on the podium last year, so I hope to be in contention again this year.”

James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished third in this race last year and acknowledged that the Grand Prix has been a welcomed addition to the schedule. “The INDYCAR Grand Prix was our first podium of 2016 and it would be great to repeat that. The GP has been such a fun addition to the month of May the last couple years, and like we said, the results were there last year. So with the momentum that we’ve got in the No. 5 Arrow car, and still holding on to a top-five position in points, we’re just hoping for another strong weekend,” he explained.

Scott Dixon, who will again sport NTT Data colors on his No. 9 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend, added that running the road course at the Speedway spices things up and gives onlookers something different to watch at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I like the idea of getting another race in to start the month of May before the Indianapolis 500,” said the four-time champion. “I think having a road course and then, of course, the oval race really gives race fans a good sampling of a few of the different disciplines we have to tackle as INDYCAR drivers.”

In its brief three-year history, two drivers have separated themselves at the event. The first is Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who has won two of the three grands prix held. This includes a dominant performance at last year’s event, one in which he led 57 of 82 laps and was only demoted from the lead by pit stop sequences and drivers going off strategy.

Simon Pagenaud dominated the 2016 INDYCAR Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“I was fortunate enough to win two of the last three (grands prix) events there. We are hoping to execute again and there’s nothing like the crowd at Indy and there’s so much excitement all over the city during the month,” Pagenaud said of his history at the event.

The other driver who has separated himself has done so by being the only driver to finish in the top five at all three previous INDYCAR Grands Prix. That driver is none other than…Charlie Kimball. The man piloting the No. 83 Tresiba Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing has finished fifth in every INDYCAR Grand Prix, and even qualified on the front row for last year’s race.

“It’s my favorite time of year, May in Indianapolis,” Kimball asserted. “I’m ready to move into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and continue working toward our goals on track. It’s no secret we’ve had a rough start to the season, so this is our chance to turn things around. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team had a super-solid race car last year, starting from the front row, so we’ll be taking what we can learn from that and seeing where we can improve.”

Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis rolls off at 3:30 p.m.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

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

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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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