Chevrolet delivers a six-pack of IndyCar manufacturer titles

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SONOMA, Calif. – One race before the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Chevrolet has wrapped the Manufacturer’s Championship, and done so for a sixth consecutive season.

Chevrolet celebrated its 100th start back in the championship at Watkins Glen International, and has 66 wins. This year they will have at least nine wins and if one of its eight drivers entered this weekend wins Sunday, they’ll have extended their streak of winning double digit races for six straight years.

Team Penske has won all nine races while Ed Carpenter Racing, A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Harding Racing have all added top-fives to their haul.

Perhaps the funniest moment of a press conference today celebrating the title came when A.J. Foyt told Jim Campbell, vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, and Mark Kent, Director of Motorsports Competition – Chevrolet, “I apologize for as bad we’ve ran this year.” The room exploded in laughter thereafter.

Jokes and humor aside, it was another successful year for Chevrolet, and also saw them complete a sweep of the three titles in the manufacturer aero kit period.

“It’s very rewarding because we believe that the aero kits allowed us the opportunity to accomplish everything we wanted to do. We wanted the aero kits to provide some visual differentiation. They did that. We wanted the aero kits to provide us an opportunity to demonstrate our engineering prowess, out-engineer our competition. And we did that as well,” Kent said.

“From our perspective, the aero kit era was very successful for us. But as we move forward, we’re looking forward to the next chapter of IndyCar competition with the universal kit. We won before the aero kits, we won with the aero kits, we’re looking forward to continue winning with the new aero kit.”

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Chevrolet works in tandem with technical partners Pratt & Miller and Ilmor Engineering and Campbell made sure to thank them as well.

“A big thank you to our technical partners at Ilmor. Paul Ray is here, Steve O’Connor, Steve Miller, Wayne Bennett. Thank you for your partnership on everything related to our engine program. And everybody at Pratt & Miller, thanks for what you’ve done on the aero kit as well, really integrating that all together.

“Jay (Frye), thanks for having us. We love competing in the IndyCar Series.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”