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Former Colt Robert Mathis to drive the pace car for INDYCAR Grand Prix

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Robert Mathis, former pro bowl linebacker and pass rusher for the Indianapolis Colts, will drive the 2017 Corvette Stingray Coupe Pace Car at the fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mathis’ spent his entire 14-year NFL career (2003-2016) with the Colts, winning Super Bowl XLI and being named AFC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Pro in 2013 after leading the NFL in sacks with 19.5.

“Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the city known as the Racing Capital of the World grants me a bucket list opportunity!” said an elated Mathis of the opportunity. “Colts, Pacers, Fever, 11, Indians and racing fans all over the world, I will be your official pacesetter this Saturday for the Grand Prix! #IAmIndyAndIndyisMe.”

The INDYCAR Grand Prix is the first event in the famous Month of May for the Verizon IndyCar Series, with everything culminating in the 101st Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.

“Robert Mathis is one of the most popular Colts ever, and his enthusiasm has made him a great ambassador for this city and its vibrant sports culture,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, about Mathis’ significance to Indianapolis’ sports culture. “He’s a perfect fit to lead The Greatest Drivers in Racing to the green flag at the INDYCAR Grand Prix. We’re also grateful for our longstanding relationship with Chevrolet and can’t wait to see the 2017 Corvette Stingray Coupe at the front of the field this Saturday.”

Practice for the INDYCAR Grand Prix begins Friday 5/12 at 9:15 a.m. ET.

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.