Photo courtesy of IMSA

Bell, Sweedler return ‘home’ to Scuderia Corsa for NAEC effort

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Longtime co-drivers Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, who won the 2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class championship with Scuderia Corsa, will return to Giacomo Mattioli’s team for another time in IMSA competition. Bell is an analyst for NBCSN’s coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Bell and Sweedler lead the team’s Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup effort for the four endurance races on the calendar, and will share their No. 64 Ferrari 488 GT3 with Frankie Montecalvo for all of those four and Sam Bird for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Bell, Sweedler and Montecalvo shared an Audi R8 LMS with Alex Job Racing this season in the endurance races.

Bell and Sweedler have also enjoyed great success with Scuderia Corsa racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the last three years. They won the GTE-Am class co-driving with Jeff Segal in 2016, and have been on the podium in both 2015 and 2017 co-driving with Segal and Cooper MacNeil, respectively.

The team’s primary No. 63 car will see MacNeil and Alessandro Balzan co-driving for the full season, with Gunnar Jeannette third driver and Segal the fourth driver for Daytona. The No. 63 car has won three straight GTD championships, with Bell and Sweedler in 2015 and then Balzan and Christina Nielsen each of the last two.

“The return of Townsend and Bill to our organization is a testament to the quality of our relationship, and the addition of Frankie Montecalvo should be a great contribution,” stated Mattioli. “Combined with Sam Bird for Daytona and all of our resources, we’re very confident in a great showing and fighting for the best results possible.”

Bell said, “It almost goes without saying that Scuderia Corsa is one of the best teams in the business. Our IMSA championship, our Le Mans victory, are all directly attributed to their program, and we hope to repeat the same success this year. It’s the most competitive era in the history of IMSA, but we’re confident we can be right in the mix.”

Sweedler added, “I’m thrilled to be back with Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari, and my teammates from last year for the NAEC championship. We have had great success over the years with Giacomo and I look forward to renewing our combined competitive drive and spirit to win again. Scuderia Corsa has become a world class team and I am honored to be back. Forza Ferrari 2018!”

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500