IMSA: Three streaks abound as WeatherTech series hits Detroit

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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A four-race and two three-race win streaks are on the line heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, Round 5 (for Prototype and GT Daytona) and 4 (Prototype Challenge) of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in the second of two knock-down, drag-out, 100-minute street fights this season.

For IMSA, which produced a barnburner of a Saturday afternoon in Long Beach a little more than a month ago where nearly all of the 35 cars entered had a ridiculous story to tell the last time the series hit the streets, going for a cleaner race Saturday must be the goal.

Meanwhile last-time out at Circuit of The Americas, other than a catastrophic first corner that took out most of the GT Le Mans class field, it was a pretty straightforward race that ended with similar winners – the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 and the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3 in the P, PC and GTD classes.

It’s those three cars that will be under the microscope this weekend on the streets of Detroit, as they look to extend their streaks, or finally got toppled.

The Taylor brothers, Jordan and Ricky Taylor, have enjoyed a stratospheric and amazing start to the season with four wins in four completely different types of races – the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix and Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown – at race lengths of 24 hours, 12 hours, 100 minutes and the standard two hours, 40 minutes.

All the while, they’ve done this thanks to incredible preparation from the Wayne Taylor Racing crew, and in spite of several Balance of Performance adjustments assessed by IMSA that have been designed to level the playing field. The Cadillacs got hit again going into Detroit this weekend, with a 0.6mm smaller air restrictor and 2-liter reduction in fuel capacity with other aero reductions also outlined.

It may not matter. The Taylors are riding a ridiculous amount of form both this season and in street course races in IMSA.

At Detroit alone, the Taylors have won in 2016 and 2014, and with Long Beach wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017, their street setup has clearly been dialed in despite this year’s switch from the now retired Corvette DP to the Cadillac DPi-V.R.

With the four-for-four start to the year, the Taylors also hold a 22-point lead over Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, the past champions in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac who have looked fractionally off by comparison to the Taylors this year. Either they, or defending champions No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, will look to get the Action Express team on the board this year, this weekend. Cameron and Curran scored their first win as teammates here in miserable conditions in 2015.

Among the others in Prototype, the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson has thoroughly impressed with the pro/am driver pairing of Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg. On the strength of four top-fives in as many races, there’s been a shift in goals here for the new team in Prototype class – podiums are now the goal rather than a dream as might have been thought earlier this year. A year ago here, the team combined its own PC chassis with one from BAR1 Motorsports to even make the race and score points; they must be hoping for a simpler outing this weekend.

The Mazdas also have a story to uphold, having scored podiums in its last two street races. The previous generation Lola Multimatic based chassis scored the Mazda Motorsports’ team’s first Prototype podium in Detroit last year and the new Mazda RT24-P scored its first podium at Long Beach earlier this year.

The pair of Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis, No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson and No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson cars, the latter with Tom Kimber-Smith listed to return after missing COTA, complete the grid.

No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Performance Tech’s wins with the young pairing of James French and Pato O’Ward have been perhaps overshadowed. Like the Taylors, they’ve won at Daytona, Sebring and COTA, and now head to their shortest race of the year. Against the pair of BAR1 cars, it’s hard to see Performance Tech losing its grip on the top – although strange things can happen on these streets.

Nos. 33 and 50 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3s. Photo courtesy of IMSA

In GTD, the Riley Mercedes of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating has won two of the last three races with teammates Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette having played a strategic spanner to perfection in Long Beach making it three in a row for the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

With a weight increase and an air restrictor decrease assessed going into Detroit, however, Mercedes will have work on its hands to keep that streak alive with either its No. 33 or 50 cars, or the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, led by Tristan Vautier, who’s done well at the track in IndyCar.

Scuderia Corsa has been on the podium three straight races but not yet won this year; the engine issue that struck Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan at Daytona looms large. But knowing this is the defending champion entry, the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 should be one to watch. They enter this weekend 24 points behind Bleekemolen and Keating in the championship.

Daniel Morad is also entered with Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, in what remains a race-by-race program. At third in the points, this is a pivotal weekend for Morad to get a big result and justify the expense to continue. Right now, the program is confirmed through Watkins Glen but a question mark from there.

Michael Shank Racing, of note, comes to Detroit after its maiden Indianapolis 500 voyage with Andretti Autosport and Jack Harvey. They’re back to work on their usual Acura NSX GT3s and a year after they were teammates here in a Prototype, Ozz Negri and Katherine Legge are split. Sage Karam, too, comes to Detroit after Indianapolis, back in his 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)