Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA reveals 2019 schedule

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 3, 2018) – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has long been admired for the world-class road racing facilities and events on its schedule each year, and in 2019, the series will continue building equity in the same 12 events as it had in 2018.

“As we head to the conclusion of the 2018 season, our promoter partners have enjoyed record, or near-record attendance for WeatherTech Championship events, and our 2019 schedule will enable those same promoters to build on that momentum,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “IMSA has been fortunate for the past several years to have a schedule that includes the very best road courses and road racing events in North America, and we are thrilled to confirm our return to these same venues in 2019. We have often said that one of the most valuable elements of the merger is the event schedule that resulted – and our 2019 schedule is another reflection of that.”

The Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and LMP2 classes will compete in 10 races, while the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class will have an 11-race season. In a new development for 2019, the GT Daytona (GTD) class will have 10 events that count toward the WeatherTech Championship, with a new seven-race IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup also announced for GTD.

Eight of the 12 events on the schedule will include all four classes, including the four Michelin Endurance Cup events: the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona – which kicks off the season on Jan. 24-27, the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 13-16, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on the weekend of June 28-30 and the Motul Petit Le Mans season finale at Road Atlanta on Oct. 9-12.

The four additional events with all four classes all will be two hours and 40 minutes in length at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 3-5, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on July 5-7, Road America on Aug. 2-4 and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 13-15.

A pair of three-class, 100-minute sprint races again are planned in 2019 as well. The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach featuring the DPi, LMP2 and GTLM classes is scheduled for April 12-13; while the DPi, LMP2 and GTD classes are slated once again for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Presented by Lear Corporation on May 31-June 1. The Detroit round is subject to final approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to continue hosting the event on Belle Isle.

For the third consecutive year, there also will be a pair of GT-only races in 2019, both two hours and 40 minutes in length. The GTLM and GTD machines will do battle at Lime Rock Park on July 19-20, and once again at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 23-25. Ten of the 12 events will be on the same weekend as they were in 2018. The races at VIRginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca each will run one weekend later in 2019. The three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test again will open the year for WeatherTech Championship competitors on Jan. 4-6. It will be the year’s only IMSA-sanctioned test. The 2019 season kicks off a six-year U.S. television partnership with NBC Sports, which will televise every race through its networks: NBC, NBCSN and CNBC. Live streaming of each race also will be available on the NBC Sports App. The complete television schedule will be unveiled in the future.

The full schedule is below.

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Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”