IMSA Preview – Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

Photo courtesy of IMSA

Round 6 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the halfway point of the season, sees IMSA’s third endurance event of the year in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

But, as its shortest enduro, several teams that opted for three-driver lineups for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring are going with two drivers in Sunday’s six-hour event.

It also marks the third round of the 2018 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which is comprised of IMSA’s four endurance races. Action Express leads the way in that championship with Mike Conway, Eric Curran, and Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand lead the TPNAEC standings in GT Le Mans in their No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT (Sebastien Bourdais is also atop those standings with them, but is not on the entry list for Watkins Glen.

In GT Daytona, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Luca Stolz lead the TPNAEC standings in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports.

As such, Sunday’s event possesses championship implications in multiple areas, and all three classes are enveloped in close championship fights, both in the TPNAEC and in the overall standings.

Previews for all three classes are below.


  • Action Express continues to show the way in Prototype, though there is a small shakeup in their No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac, with Gabby Chaves filling in for the injured Joao Barbosa. Chaves partners Felipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi, with Mike Conway joining Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac. Though losing Barbosa for this race is a blow, the team still looks mighty strong – the two entries are tied at the top of the championship, and it’s well within reason to think they’re again the team to beat heading into Watkins Glen.
  • Behind Action Express sits another tie, between Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 ARX-05 of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande. The two entries have experienced different fortunes of sorts in 2018 – Taylor and Castroneves gave Acura and Penske their first win together at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and finished second at Detroit, both signs that the Penske/Acura package is getting stronger. The Wayne Taylor squad, meanwhile, sees its winless streak pass the one-year mark, and while Taylor and Van Der Zande have looked strong this year, they just haven’t yet found the magic to break into victory lane.
  • Dane Cameron and Juan Montoya hold down fifth in the championship, and are coming off back-to-back podiums at Mid-Ohio and Detroit. They gave Penske and Acura their first pole in Long Beach, and a win for them appears to be beckoning.
  • Tequila Patron ESM continues to show lots of speed – Pipo Derani scored a brilliant pole in Detroit – but outside of Sebring (which Derani, Johannes van Overbeek, and Nicolas Lapierre won in the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi), they haven’t been able to put the race results together. The same can be said of the sister No. 2 entry, which finished second at Long Beach and fourth at Detroit in the hands of Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel, but finishes of 19th at Daytona and 16th at Sebring blight their season. Olivier Pla joins the No. 2 entry again at Watkins Glen, which sat on the pole last year, while Lapierre returns to the No. 22, and both entries will look to turn their speed into strong race results this weekend.
  • Mazda Team Joest had a hiccup in Detroit, finishing ninth and 14th with the Nos. 55 and 77 RT24-P entries, though the No. 77, in the hands of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez, had been flying the flag nicely in previous rounds, and did score a podium at Mid-Ohio behind the Penske Acuras. The car has pace to contend, they just need a clean weekend. Rene Rast joins Jarvis and Nunez in the No. 77, while Spencer Pigot joins regulars Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell in the No. 55.
  • Spirit of Daytona Racing continues to try and rebound from missing Long Beach and Mid-Ohio after their nasty Sebring crash, with Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry looking to turn the car’s strong pace into a noteworthy result that the team greatly needs.
  • Performance Tech Motorsports, JDC-Miller Motorsports, AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, and CORE Autosport again fill out the Prototype grid, with Performance Tech returning after missing Detroit. All four teams compete with global LMP2 platforms (Oreca 07 Gibsons for Performance Tech, JDC-Miller, and CORE, and a Ligier JS P217 Gibson for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen). As such, they’re the underdogs of the Prototype class. But, this event did see the legend of the JDC-Miller “Banana Boat” begin last year, as Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg challenged Barbosa, Fittipaldi, and Albuquerque for the win. Anything can happen in the six-hour Watkins Glen enduro, so don’t be surprised if one of these teams emerges as a threat.
  • United Autosports also returns to IMSA competition at The Glen, with Phil Hanson, Bruno Senna, and Paul Di Resta piloting the No. 32 Ligier.

GT Le Mans (GTLM)

  • Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook continue to show the way in GTLM, leading the class championship by seven points in their No. 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. Though they haven’t won since the Rolex 24, they have not stumbled, with a worst finish of fifth since then – they also finished second at Long Beach. GTLM is sure to be its usual all-out grudge match, but expect Briscoe and Westbrook to be at the forefront.
  • Porsche GT Team’s Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor sit second in the championship (in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR), and Vanthoor has a lot of momentum on his side as he comes off of a 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph in GTE-Pro. They also won the last time GTLM raced, at Mid-Ohio, so they could also go back-to-back at Watkins Glen. Their teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy sit seventh in the championship, and look to right the ship after struggling since their Sebring win.
  • The No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller sits third in the championship, followed by the Corvette Racing entries of Oliver Gavin and Timmy Milner (No. 4 C7.R) and Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (in the No. 3). Hand and Mueller are looking for their first win of 2018, as are Garcia and Magnussen, while Gavin and Milner look for their second 2018 triumph. And all three entries could use a win to make up ground in the championship.
  • BMW Team RLL had its best outing at Mid-Ohio, with Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi finishing second in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE. They sit sixth in the GTLM standings, while teammates Jesse Krohn and John Edwards sit eighth. Of note: Bill Auberlen joins the No. 24 lineup for Watkins Glen, while Krohn and Edwards stay a two-man effort in their entry.

GT Daytona (GTD)

  • Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow continue to lead the GTD standings for Paul Miller Racing in their No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, but Meyer Shank Racing has Katherine Legge right behind them – Legge, in the MSR No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 sits only three points behind them. Legge is coming off a victory in Detroit and sees Alvaro Parente rejoin her as a co-driver – Parente was competing in a Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup event at the Circuit Paul Ricard during the Detroit weekend. The No. 86 entry is still not confirmed for the whole year, but as a genuine title threat, it’s hard to imagine they won’t continue if they keep pushing the No. 48 Paul Miller Lambo. Meyer Shank had the upperhand in Detroit, but the Paul Miller squad has plenty of fight and has been on the podium at every GTD event this year. Expect both entries to lock horns again.
  • Not to be forgotten, the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports entry sits third in the GTD standings with Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen. They sit 17 points out of the lead in their No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3, and they could sneak into the battle for the win as well. Luca Stolz joins Keating and Bleekemolen to fill out the lineup at Watkins Glen.
  • Meyer Shank’s No. 93 NSX, with Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach, sits fourth in GTD, and is coming off a season’s best second place finish in Detroit – they completed a Meyer Shank 1-2 that day. They’ll have their sights set on their first win of 2018 at The Glen.
  • Scuderia Corsa has Cooper MacNeil sitting fifth in the championship at the moment – MacNeil is joined by Gunnar Jeannette and Jeff Segal in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 this weekend – and the team will look to move closer to the front of the GTD field. NBCSN’s Townsend Bell also joins the sister No. 64 effort at Watkins Glen, partnering Bill Sweedler and Frank Montecalvo.
  • Wright Motorsports consolidates back down to one entry for the Glen, with Robert Renauer joining Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen. They sit outside the top 10 in GTD right now in what’s been a disappointing 2018 to this point, but they remain potent enough to challenge for wins if they can avoid trouble.
  • HART returns at Watkins Glen, with Ryan Eversley, Chad Gilsinger, and Tom Dyer filling out the driver lineup. This group remains a genuine underdog – the team is an all-volunteer effort that is comprised of Honda employees – but with a strong driver lineup complementing a strong machine underneath, this group could be in for a surprise or two.

A full entry list can be viewed here and a full weekend schedule can be viewed here.


Tony Kanaan at peace with IndyCar career end: ‘I’ll always be an Indianapolis 500 winner’


INDIANAPOLIS – Few drivers in Indy 500 history have been as popular as Tony Kanaan.

Throughout his career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with his first Indy 500 in 2002, the fans loved his aggressiveness on the track and his engaging personality with the fans.

The Brazilian always got the loudest cheers from the fans during driver introductions before the Indy 500.

Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 would be his last time to walk up the steps for driver introductions. Kanaan announced earlier this year that it would be his final race of his IndyCar career, but not the final race as a race driver.

He will continue to compete in stock cars in Brazil and in Tony Stewart’s summer series known as the “Superstar Racing Experience” – an IROC-type series that competes at legendary short tracks around the country beginning in June.

Kanaan was the extra driver at Arrow McLaren for this year’s Indy 500 joining NTT IndyCar Series regulars Pato O’Ward of Mexico, Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden, and Alexander Rossi of northern California.

He had a sporty ride, the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet that paid homage to McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory by the late Mark Donohue for Team Penske in 1972.

Because Kanaan has meant so much to the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was honored before the start of the race with a special video.

It featured Kanaan sitting in the Grandstand A seats writing a love letter to the fans of this great event. Kanaan narrated the video, reciting the words in the letter and it finished with the driver putting it in an envelope and leaving it at the Yard of Bricks.

Lauren Kanaan with daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Bruce Martin Photo).

Many in the huge crowd of 330,000 fans watched the video on the large screens around the speedway. On the starting grid, Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Kate Beckinsale, watched with their four children.

Kanaan’s wife is an Indiana girl who was a high school basketball star in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Kanaan proposed to Lauren in 2010, and after a three-year engagement, they were married in 2013 – the year he won his only Indianapolis 500.

She has been Kanaan’s rock, and this was a moment for the family to share.

After receiving an ovation and the accolades from the crowd, Kanaan walked to his car on the starting grid and exchanged hugs with people who were important in his career.

One of those was Takuma Sato’s engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, Eric Cowdin.

Tony Kanaan shares a moment with former engineer Eric Cowdin (Bruce Martin Photo).

Kanaan and Cowdin shared a longtime relationship dating all the way back to the Andretti Green Racing days when Kanaan was a series champion in 2004. This combination stayed together when Kanaan moved to KV Racing in 2011, then Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-2018 followed by two years at AJ Foyt Racing.

Kanaan returned to run the four oval races for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in the No. 48 Honda that was shared with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2022, Johnson ran the full IndyCar Series schedule, and Kanaan drove the No. 1 American Legion entry to a third-place finish in his only IndyCar race of the season.

Kanaan knew that 2023 would be his last Indy 500 and properly prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his long goodbye.

But one could sense the heartfelt love, gratitude, and most of all respect for this tenacious driver in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

Tony Kanaan gets emotional during an interview after the Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“The emotions are just there,” Kanaan said. “I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket (IndyCar Technical Director Kevin Blanch) cry. I mean, that is something.

“Yeah, it was emotional.”

Kanaan started ninth and finished 18th in a race that was very clean for the first two thirds of the race before ending in disjointed fashion with three red flags to stop the race over the final 15 laps.

“Yellows breed yellows and when you are talking about the Indianapolis 500 and a field that is so tough to pass, that happens,” Kanaan said. “It’s the Indy 500. Come on. We’ve got to leave it out there.

“Every red flag, everybody goes, I’m going to pass everybody. It’s tough to pass. It’s the toughest field, the tightest field we ever had here. It was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

“I wouldn’t want it any different. We left it all out there. Everybody that was out left it out.”

At one point in the second half of the race, Kanaan passed Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin by driving through the grass on the backstretch.

“That was OK, right?” Kanaan said. “That is one thing I have not done in 22 years here. Even (team owner) Sam Schmidt came to me and said, ‘That was a good one.’

“That was a farewell move.”

On the final lap, it was Kanaan battling his boyhood friend from Brazil, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, for a mid-pack finish.

“Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead,” Kanaan said. “It was like, who’s playing pranks with us.

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“We went side by side like twice. A lot of memories came to my mind, and I even said how ironic it is that we started it together and I get to battle him on the last lap of my last race.

Tony Kanaan is embraced by his wife, Lauren, after finishing 16th in the 107th Indianapolis 500 ((Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“It’s pretty neat. It’s a pretty cool story. He’s a great friend. My reference, a guy that I love and hate a lot throughout my career, and like he just told me — I was coming up here and he just said, who am I going to look on the time sheet when I come into the pits now, because we always said that it didn’t matter if I was — if I was 22nd and he was 23rd, my day was okay. And vice versa.

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.

“Not the result that we wanted. I went really aggressive on the downforce to start the race. It was wrong. Then I added downforce towards the end of the race, and it was wrong. It was just one of those days.”

After the race was over, Kanaan drove his No. 66 Honda back to the Arrow McLaren pit area and climbed out of the car to cheers of the fans that could see him. Others were focused on Josef Newgarden’s wild celebration after the Team Penske driver had won his first Indianapolis 500.

There were no tears, though, only smiles from Kanaan who closes an IndyCar career with 389 starts, 17 wins including the 2013 Indianapolis 500, 79 podiums, 13 poles, and 4,077 laps led in a 26-year career.

Kanaan came, he raced, and he raced hard.

“That’s what we did, we raced as hard as we could,” Kanaan told NBC “It wasn’t enough.

“The win was the only thing that mattered. If we were second or 16th, we were going to celebrate regardless.

“In a way, being 16th will stop people wondering if I’m going to come back.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to enjoy the time with my family, with my team and doing other things as well.”

Kanaan’s face will forever be part of the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“I won one and that is there, and it will always be there,” Kanaan said. “It was an awesome day.

“The way this crowd made me feel was unbelievable. I don’t regret a bit.”

Tony Kanaan hugs his son Max before the Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

Kanaan actually announced the 2020 Indianapolis 500 would be TK’s last ride because he wanted to say goodbye to the fans.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, the Indianapolis 500 was moved from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 and because of COVID restrictions, fans were not allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500.

Three years later, Kanaan was finally able to say goodbye to this fans that were part of the largest crowd to see the Indianapolis 500 since the sold-out gathering for 350,000 that attended the 100th running in 2016.

“That’s it, that’s what I wanted, and I got what I wanted,” Kanaan said. “This moment was so special; I don’t want to ever spoil it again.

Tony Kanaan kisses his daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“We’ve been building and growing this series as much as we can. I’m really glad and proud that I was able to be part of building something big and this year’s race was one of the biggest ones.”

Kanaan walked off pit lane and rejoined his family. He will always be part of the glorious history of the Indianapolis 500 and fans will be talking about Tony Kanaan years from now, not by what he did, but the way he did it.

“This is what it is all about,” Kanaan said on pit lane. “Having kids, be a good person. Even if you don’t win, it’s fine if you don’t, as long as you make a difference.

“Hopefully, I made a difference in this sport.

“I will always be an IndyCar driver. I will always be an Indy 500 winner and I will always make people aware of IndyCar in the way it deserves.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

(Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network)