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IMSA schedule day provides some 2018 IndyCar dates

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The full 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar isn’t out yet but between dates already announced and then dates that have been announced today via IMSA, with three of its series calendars getting released, you can start penciling in weekends on the IndyCar calendar.

IMSA confirms four 2018 IndyCar dates. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will continue alongside the Long Beach and Detroit dates, and those are April 13-14 (Long Beach) and June 1-2 (Detroit) respectively.

IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama also will run on two IndyCar weekends at Barber Motorsports Park and Sonoma Raceway. Those dates were revealed for April 21-22 (Barber) and Sept. 14-16 (Sonoma).

The pair of April confirmations for Long Beach and Barber, coupled with the one-year only move of Phoenix from the first weekend in April to the last weekend of April owing to the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship, also indirectly confirms that race moves forward a week ahead of Long Beach to April 7.

In January this year, International Speedway Corp.’s 2016 Annual Report listed Phoenix’s date as April 13-14, but that date was incorrect. Phoenix will instead move to the weekend before Long Beach and provide a West Coast back-to-back run for the Verizon IndyCar Series teams; this was noted by NBCSN contributor Robin Miller last month.

With St. Petersburg kicking off the season on March 11, then with the month of May dates for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 102nd Indianapolis 500 on May 12 and May 27, respectively, most of the dates for 2018 are already coming into full focus.

Mexico City rumors continue to percolate as well; while all 2017 races are locked into the 2018 schedule, and most figure to be on the same weekends, INDYCAR (sanctioning body) has not yet set a time frame to announce the full schedule.

It is worth noting that Daytona, rather than Kentucky, takes on the July 7-8 weekend (would be Iowa’s weekend for IndyCar) for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and will run on Saturday night on NBC. Kentucky shifts a week later to Saturday night, July 14 (would be Toronto’s weekend) and runs on NBCSN.

And unless there are any major or unforeseen changes, the date equity long sought after for INDYCAR may be becoming a reality.

Here’s the announced Verizon IndyCar Series dates in 2018:

  • March 11, St. Petersburg
  • April 7, Phoenix
  • April 15, Long Beach
  • April 22, Barber
  • May 12, INDYCAR Grand Prix
  • May 27, Indianapolis 500
  • June 2-3, Detroit doubleheader
  • June 24, Road America
  • Sept. 16, Sonoma

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”