IMSA

IMSA: CORE stretches fuel to win at Road America; Ford, Porsche win GTLM, GTD

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A pair of cautions in the final hour of the Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase set up an economy run to the checkered flag, with an array of pit strategies factoring in during the final hour.

With 31 minutes to go, several cars, including Ryan Dalziel (Tequila Patron ESM No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi), Helio Castroneves (No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05), and Oliver Jarvis (No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT24-P) pitted for splashes of fuel, kicking off the strategic battle among the Prototype class.

Several other cars pitted soon after, chief among them being the Action Express duo of Filipe Albuquerque (No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R) and Felipe Nasr (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac).

However, Jordan Taylor (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac), Jonathan Bomarito (No. 55 Mazda), Colin Braun (No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson), and Stephen Simpson (No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca) all tried to stretch the fuel in the final stint.

Taylor led from Bomarito, with Braun and Simpson running third and fourth, while Nasr was charging forward trying to catch them.

However, Taylor ultimately needed to dive into the pits with five minutes remaining for a splash of fuel, with Bomarito doing the same. As a result, they yielded the lead to Braun, while Nasr closed in on Simpson.

And Braun was able to nurse the fuel to bring home a second consecutive Prototype class win for CORE – they won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July – while Simpson managed to hold off Nasr in the battle for second. Jordan Taylor and Dane Cameron (No. 6 ARX-05 for Acura Team Penske) rounded finished fourth and fifth.

GT Le Mans (GTLM) saw a similar battle in the final hour, as BMW Team RLL made a run at their first victory of the year by also trying to play the fuel game – their No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, in the hands of Connor De Phillippi, led in the final hour as they tried to stretch the fuel after short-filling De Phillippi on their final scheduled stop.

The pair of cautions in the final hour seemed to give them the mileage they needed to make the finish, as they led comfortably with less than 10 minutes left. But, De Phillippi ultimately ran out of fuel in the final minutes while approaching Billy Mitchell Corner.

Their misfortune opened the door for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Westbrook, who came through in the No. 67 Ford GT to give Ford and Ganassi their fourth win in a row ahead of the Corvette Racing duo of Tommy Milner (No. 4 Corvette C7.R) and Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette).

Richard Westbrook and co-driver Ryan Briscoe gave Ford Chip Ganassi Racing its fourth win in a row. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Porsche GT Team rounded out the top five, with Earl Bamber (No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR) and Patrick Pilet (No. 911) finishing fourth and fifth. De Phillippi was credited with sixth.

GT Daytona saw a breakthrough win for Wright Motorsports, as Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen turned pole into their first win of the season. Long led early, while Nielsen kept the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 near the front of the GTD field in her time behind the wheel before yield back to Long, who took the lead for good in the final hour.

Wright Motorports took its maiden IMSA win at Road America. Photo courtesy of IMSA

The championship-leading Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 came home to finish second, with Bryan Sellers following Long home to the checkered flag – he and Madison Snow also lengthened their championship lead over Katherine Legge, who finished sixth with co-driver Alvaro Parente in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

Scuderia Corsa rounded out the podium in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3, as driver Alessandro Pier Guidi outdueled Markus Palttala (No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 for Turner Motorsport) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports) to take the final spot on the podium.

Palttala and Bleekemolen finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Full results can be found here. The next event for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the GT-only Michelin GT Challenge at VIR on August 19.

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View from the pits: Reporters’ picks for the 103rd Indianapolis 500

INDYCAR / Jason Porter
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It’s Race Day in Indianapolis, and for the first time, the Indianapolis 500 will be on NBC.

Time will tell what impact Mother Nature has on today’s 103rd Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. But no matter what, prerace coverage begins today on NBCSN at 9 a.m. ET, then transitions over to NBC at 11 a.m. ET.

All month long, the INDYCAR on NBC pit reporters have been bringing you the latest breaking news and stories for the Brickyard. Now, Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Marty Snider share their insights from pit road. Read on …

KEVIN LEE

Throughout the last two weeks, one common theme has been, “Don’t crash.” There were five crashes, and four of those teams/drivers ended up in the Last Row Shootout. Two of the three bumped (Patricio O’Ward and Fernando Alonso) were in backup cars following heavy impacts.

Several drivers have consistently been among the strongest. Simon Pagenaud (pictured, left) not only starts on pole but has been strong in race trim as well. All three Ed Carpenter Racing cars are fast and appear good in traffic. Alexander Rossi looks like he can put his car wherever he wants, and Scott Dixon has five championships and 44 IndyCar wins, so he must be watched.

In order, my picks for most likely to drink the milk are Pagenaud, Rossi, Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Dixon.

KELLI STAVAST

A week ago, no one could have predicted that two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren Racing would be bumped from the Indy 500 by a single-car, part-time effort of Juncos Racing and its driver, Kyle Kaiser (pictured, right).  But it happened, and Kaiser now occupies the 33rd and final spot in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

So what next?  I spoke with Kyle five days after the dramatic qualifying effort, and he told me he has never been happier to finish last and that he is still “buzzing” from that experience—an energy he hopes to carry straight through to the race.  He also told me that the response from fans has been positive with people stopping him in public (including at Chipotle) to hug him and congratulate him on making the Big Show.

But reality might have set in for the Californian who now lives in Indy.  During Carb Day’s final practice, the team struggled to get a good handling car for Kyle, who described the day as “challenging.”  But Kaiser also acknowledged that the team made some progress throughout the practice and at the very least collected some data that might help for the 500-miler on Sunday.

Whether he finishes 1st or 31st on Sunday, Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing will have plenty of fond memories to carry with them from the 103rd Indy 500.

MARTY SNIDER

First, we cannot wait to bring you guys the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. It’s an honor for our entire group to broadcast such an amazing event.

So what do we expect? I have no idea, to be honest. The weather will be a huge factor today. It might be a race to halfway if rain is forecast.  If it’s cooler (mid 70’s ambient, which it looks like it’s going to be), Alexander Rossi (pictured, left) was unstoppable in those conditions last Monday.

But Rossi was very unhappy with his car on Carb Day. For that matter, most teams were. But Rob Edwards of Andretti Autosport explained a few things to Rossi about all of the experimenting they were doing in final practice, and I think that team is in a much better frame of mind heading into the race.

I find it interesting that Simon Pagenaud’s team scuffed in literally every set of tires they will use for today’s race. The No. 22 camp is convinced (and they’re not wrong) that one of the keys to Will Power’s 2018 win was his ability to gain time on out laps after pit stops. Scuffing in tires helps that out lap time. It also allows teams to do a balance check on tires. Good thing they did: Kyle Moyer of Team Penske found two sets that had vibrations, which would have been bad in the race.

Bottom line, I haven’t seen anyone really stand out and show me they can beat Alexander Rossi yet. So I’m going with Rossi to win his second Indy 500.

Enjoy the show friends. It’s going to be a fantastic race!