Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Nate Stacy Returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Where Continental Tire Challenge Success Began

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was one year ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca that Nate Stacy burst onto the scene in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

Making his series debut with KohR Motorsports, the 18-year-old finished third on the podium alongside Scott Maxwell and Jack Roush, Jr. in a four-hour enduro that also doubled as his first time in the Ford Mustang GT4 racecar.

“I almost expected the team to do well because I know how good the team is,” said Stacy. “I knew how good Scott Maxwell and Jack were, so it wasn’t a crazy surprise we got on the podium. It was just like man, we accomplished what we wanted to do. We had a goal to reach and that was to win or to get on the podium. We ended up meeting that.”

Even with the outstanding first impression, Stacy has come a long way since his debut.

Now paired with Kyle Marcelli in the No. 60 Mustang, the duo has won a class-high three races entering the ninth and penultimate round of the 2018 Grand Sport (GS) class championship. Their success has helped skyrocket Ford into the lead of the manufacturer’s championship by 13 points over Mercedes-AMG. Stacy and Marcelli also currently sit second in the driver’s championship, 17 points behind Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb.

“I would say it’s a little bit surreal because this field is nothing short of impressive,” said Stacy. “There are crazy good drivers in every single car. I get to the Continental Tire Challenge and every team in the top five to the top 10 is just ridiculous. We’re talking A-List drivers, silver-ranked drivers. There’s a lot of really good drivers here and it’s just like, okay this is a challenge.”

Taking on the challenge has been a little easier for the Oklahoma native, as he’s leaned on Marcelli – a full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship co-driver in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class – and team owner Dean Martin.

“I was pretty happy with where I was, but Kyle was on a whole other level,” said Stacy. “It was insane how fast he was. I had never been to Watkins Glen, Daytona, and a couple other tracks on the roster this year and it was fun to go try new tracks with him because he knew so much about them. The guy is a vault of knowledge. He’s the smartest, fastest, most humble guy I know. Having him as a teammate is really cool.”

“And having KohR behind me, it’s a super good team. Really good pit stops and awesome strategy calls because Dean is just a freak of nature on the box. It’s honestly just a really good team, a really good set of drivers and I think we can do a lot of good things. If I win in my rookie season, that would be pretty fantastic.”

Stacy hopes that history can repeat itself this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and is eager to return to a track that particularly suits his driving style.

“Everything is always changing at that track with the dust,” said Stacy. “It’s kind of a good feature of the track honestly. Everything can change in a quarter of a second. Whenever you come into a corner, you don’t know if there’s going to be dirt there, you don’t know if there’s going to be dust there, if you’re going to stick, if you’re going to slide.

“You’ve just got to improvise a lot and that’s how I specialize in driving, when it’s sheer chaos at the start of the race and everyone doesn’t know what they’re doing. That’s kind of when I thrive a little bit. I like to go into a situation and instinctually attack it.”

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Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).