Photo courtesy of IMSA

Seven-race IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup to debut for GT Daytona

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

ELKHART LAKE, Wis.  – The 2019 IMSA season will see the debut of a new, seven-race competition called the “IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup” for GT Daytona (GTD) class competitors within most IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sprint events two-hour, 40-minutes in length or shorter.

The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup is a product of constructive feedback from a series of conversations with GTD stakeholders,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Beginning next season, GTD competitors have the opportunity to compete for three different IMSA titles. The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup offers GTD drivers and teams a relatively cost-effective option to compete at the top level of North American sports car racing. We are grateful to WeatherTech Founder and CEO David MacNeil for his enthusiastic support of this new program.”

The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup will use the same points system and sporting regulations as the GTD class uses for the 10-race WeatherTech Championship GTD season but creates new opportunities for class competitors. Teams will have two-driver lineups every round, including a minimum of one Bronze- or Silver-rated driver paired with another Bronze or Silver or a maximum of one Gold or Platinum driver. Drivers, teams and manufacturers all will earn points based upon the overall finishing position of the car in the GTD class, all accumulating toward season-ending awards.

The first race for the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup will be the two-hour, 40-minute round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 5 and will conclude at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – another two-hour, 40-minute race – on Sept. 15.

The 100-minute Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will count toward the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for the GTD class, and not toward the overall, 10-race WeatherTech Championship season. That event, which is subject to final approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is scheduled for Saturday, June 1.

Other rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup include the two-hour, 40-minute races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on July 7, Lime Rock Park on July 20, Road America on Aug. 4 and VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 25.

“The new IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for GTD competitors will add an exciting element to the class,” David MacNeil, founder and CEO of WeatherTech said. “Putting emphasis on the sprint rounds should attract new competitors to our brand of sports car racing. More cars on the track makes for more excitement for the fans and a better show for television.”

Winners of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup will be recognized alongside champions in the WeatherTech Championship and the Michelin Endurance Cup at the season-ending WeatherTech Night of Champions awards celebration in October.

All IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup races will be broadcast in the U.S. by NBC Sports, which kicks off a new six-year rights agreement with IMSA in 2019. The races also will be streamed live on the NBC Sports App and at NBC.com.

 

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.”