NHRA announces 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule; no venue changes

NHRA
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There are still 10 races remaining on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but that isn’t stopping the world’s premier drag racing organization from already thinking ahead to next year.

The NHRA on Wednesday announced the 2019 schedule. Other than a few minor date changes, the 24-race 2019 schedule will include all of the same venues from this year’s 24-race slate.

In addition to the annual U.S. Nationals in suburban Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend – the biggest race of the season – 2019 will also feature the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Nationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway on March 14-17.

NHRA officials have been planning the Gainesville festivities for over a year. Among its highlights is the NHRA Legends Tour, which began this season and will culminate at Gainesville next March.

“Never before have so many NHRA Legends been gathered in one place,” an NHRA statement said. “This is a ‘can’t miss’ event for any devoted NHRA fan.”

As for the minor date changes, they are:

* The NHRA SpringNationals in suburban Houston will move up one weekend and take place April 12-14.

* The Virginia NHRA Nationals in suburban Richmond, Virginia, will also move up one week on the schedule from this year’s placement, to be held May 17-19.

* The Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, will be held one week later, from June 7-9.

* Lastly, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis will move back one week to Sept. 27-29.

Also, the NHRA statement said, “As in years past, the 2019 season will begin at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona in Southern California at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, and conclude at the same renowned dragstrip with the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 7-10.”

Here’s the full 2019 schedule and dates:

2019 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE

NHRA Mello Yello Series Regular Season

Feb. 7-10–Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 22-24–NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix

March 14-17–Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 5-7–DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

April 12-14–NHRA SpringNationals, Houston

April 26-28–NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.

May 3-5–NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta

May 17-19–Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond, Va.

May 30-June 2–Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago

June 7-9–Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan.

June 14-16–Fitzgerald NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 20-23–Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

July 5-7–NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

July 19-21–Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Denver

July 26-28–NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif.

Aug. 2-4–NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle

Aug. 15-18–Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Aug. 28-Sept. 2–Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs

Sept. 12-15–Dodge NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 27-29–AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis

Oct. 3-6–AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas

Oct. 11-13–NHRA Carolina Nationals, Charlotte

Oct. 24-27–NHRA Nevada Nationals, Las Vegas

Nov. 7-10–Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

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Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.