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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IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

Live race coverage of IMSA’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app with an encore presentation of the race airing later in the evening at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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