IMSA/LAT

IMSA: Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring 9-hour update – 3 hours left to go, action heating up

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With nine hours complete, there are three hours left in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race at Sebring Raceway in central Florida.

The event has picked up in terms of harder racing, increased contact and a number of drivers either knocked out or are lagging behind by several laps.

Just minutes into the start of the second half of the race, Team Penske saw one of its two cars suffer a premature end to its day.

Team Penske was riding high in the fourth hour of the race, with Helio Castroneves checking out on the rest of the field.

But as the second half began, Ricky Taylor suffered a race-ending oil pressure issue that ended the day for the No. 7 Acura DPI.

With 5 hours, 14 minutes to go, Prototype leader Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda DPI pitted for fuel and service, then stalled several times while he was trying to exit his pit stall, before finally getting going.

With just under five hours, Juan Pablo Montoya spun the Team Penske Acura No. 6 in Turn 17 but was able to get going again.

But something apparently broke on the car in that spin as Montoya limped the car to the pits and the damage was enough to end its day, as well, ending any Penske hopes for a decent finish in the second half of the event.

Shortly after, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPI came into the pits to have its front end replaced.

The No. 10 Wayne Taylo Racing Konica Minolta Cadillac DPI made contact with another car that damaged its rear wing, bringing out the caution.

But the team chose to keep the car on the track for one lap after the restart before bringing it in for repairs, replacing the wing and deck, all in one minute, five seconds.

With 4:26 left, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPI made contact with the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports LMP2, with the No. 5 suffering front end damage that needed to be repaired in the pits.

With about 3 hours, 50 minutes to go, the Porsche 912 GT team suffered major rear end damage that required a full pit stop to replace the rear wing, diffuser, bumper, all four tires and more. But the team did an outstanding job, repairing the damage in less than five minutes.

Here’s how the three classes look with thee hours to go:

Prototype

Jonathan Bomarito (No. 55 Mazda DPI), holds the lead, followed by Mike Conway (No. 31 Cadillac DPI), Nicolas LaPierre (No. 22 Nissan DPI), Matthew McMurry (No. 90 Cadillac DPI) and Alex Brundle (No. 32 Ligier LMP2).

GT Le Mans (GTLM)

Frederic Makowiecki (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR) has the lead, followed by James Calado (No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE), Tommy Milner (No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R), Giamaria Bruni (No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR) and Bill Auberlen (No. 25 BMW M8 GTLM).

GT Daytona (GTD)

At the front of the pack is Lawson Aschenbach (No. 93 Acura NSX GT3), followed by Madison Snow (No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3), Trent Hindman (No. 86 Acura NSX GT3), Jergen Bleekemolen (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Alessandro Balzam (No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3).

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Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

IndyCar
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With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

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