IMSA: 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans entry list notebook

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IMSA Wire Service

Heading into the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta – the season finale for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – this is the final part of a four-part series in which the primary championship contenders in each of the three classes are compared.

Wednesday, we previewed the GTLM class. Thursday, we looked at the Prototype class. Friday, we looked at the GTD class and today we wrap up the series with an all-encompassing statistical look at next week’s overall event.

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The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship draws to a close on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Road Atlanta with the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans.

The race also represents the season finale for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

The 21st annual Motul Petit Le Mans headlines an event week at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit that also includes the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s two-hour Fox Factory 120, which wraps up its 2018 campaign on Friday, Oct. 12.

Other events include a season-ending pair of 45-minute Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama races and the one-hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda season finale.

The WeatherTech Championship entry list features 37 cars:

* 14 entries in the Prototype class

* 9 entries in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class

* 14 entries in the GT Daytona (GTD) class.

Live television coverage of Motul Petit Le Mans begins Saturday, Oct. 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, with continuing coverage on FS2 from 12 p.m. ET through the checkered flag.

Live IMSA Radio coverage also will be available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 119/XM 202/App 972). Tickets are available now at roadatlanta.com.

Click here for the provisional WeatherTech Championship entry list.

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Notes:

– Of more than 100 drivers on the Motul Petit Le Mans entry list, 39 have at least one previous victory in the prestigious event.

o Oliver Gavin has the most Motul Petit Le Mans wins among active drivers with five previous victories. He won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTS class in 2002 and 2004, the ALMS GT1 class in 2005 and 2008, and the ALMS GT2 class in 2010. He will share the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with co-drivers Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

– There are four additional drivers in this year’s field with three or more Motul Petit Le Mans victories.

o Timo Bernhard, who will share the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi with Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani, is a four-time winner, taking ALMS GT victories in 2003 and 2004 and ALMS P2 wins in 2006 and 2007.

o Jan Magnussen also is a four-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner with victories in the ALMS GTS class in 2004, ALMS GT1 in 2005 and 2008 and ALMS GT2 in 2010. Magnussen is slated to share the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Fassler.

o Patrick Long, who shares the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Christina Nielsen and Robert Renauer, has three Motul Petit Le Mans wins, taking ALMS GT2 wins in 2005 and 2006 and an ALMS P2 win in 2007.

o Marino Franchitti, who is entered in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT-24P DPi car alongside Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot, also is a three-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner with ALMS P2 victories in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

– Jeroen Bleekemolen, who is sharing the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Ben Keating and Luca Stolz, has the most Motul Petit Le Mans pole positions among active drivers with three. He took ALMS GTC poles in 2010 and 2011 and a WeatherTech Championship GTD pole in 2016.

– Corvette Racing is the winningest team in the Motul Petit Le Mans field with eight previous victories. The first came in the ALMS GTS class in 2000 and its most recent was the ALMS GT2 win in 2010.

– Among the top-two contenders for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship title in each class, five of the six teams have at least one previous Motul Petit Le Mans victory. In addition to the eight Corvette Racing wins, CORE Autosport has two, while Action Express Racing, Paul Miller Racing and Meyer Shank Racing have one each. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is the only championship contender without a previous Motul Petit Le Mans win.

– With 19 victories, Porsche is the winningest active manufacturer at Motul Petit Le Mans. Audi is second with 11 wins and Chevrolet is third with 10.

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Winners in 2018 Field (39):

Oliver Gavin (5) – ALMS GTS – 2002, 2004; ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Timo Bernhard (4) – ALMS GT – 2003, 2004; ALMS P2 – 2006, 2007

Jan Magnussen (4) – ALMS GTS – 2004, ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Patrick Long (3) – ALMS GT2 – 2005, 2006; ALMS P2 – 2007

Marino Franchitti (3) – ALMS P2 – 2009, 2010, 2013

Bill Auberlen (2) – ALMS GT – 2001, GTLM – 2017

Romain Dumas (2) – ALMS GT – 2003, ALMS P2 – 2007

Johannes van Overbeek (2) – ALMS GT2 – 2007, ALMS GT – 2012

Ryan Briscoe (2) – ALMS P2 – 2008, 2013

Joao Barbosa (2) – ALMS P2 – 2011, P – 2015

Jeroen Bleekemolen (2) – ALMS GTC – 2011; GTD – 2016

Ryan Dalziel (2) – ALMS PC – 2012, P/Overall – 2017

Scott Sharp (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, P/Overall – 2017

Toni Vilander (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, GTLM – 2016

Wolf Henzler (2) – ALMS GT – 2013; GTLM – 2014

Bryan Sellers (2) – ALMS GT – 2013; GTLM – 2014

Nick Tandy (2) – ALMS GT – 2013, GTLM/Overall – 2015

Spencer Pumpelly (2) – ALMS GTC – 2013, GTD – 2015

Madison Snow (2) – ALMS GTC – 2013, GTD – 2015

Dirk Mueller (1) – ALMS GT – 1999

Helio Castroneves (1) – ALMS P2 – 2008

Simon Pagenaud (1) – ALMS P2 – 2010

Andy Lally (1) – ALMS GTC – 2010

Tim Pappas (1) – ALMS GTC – 2011

Mario Farnbacher (1) – ALMS GTC – 2012

Kyle Marcelli (1) – ALMS PC – 2013

Ricky Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Jordan Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Renger van der Zande (1) – PC – 2014

Patrick Pilet (1) – GTLM/Overall – 2015

Sebastien Bourdais (1) – P – 2015

Christian Fittipaldi (1) – P – 2015

Robert Alon (1) – PC – 2016

Jose Gutierrez (1) – PC – 2016

Ben Keating (1) – GTD – 2016

Alexander Sims (1) – GTLM – 2017

Connor De Phillippi (1) – GTD – 2017

Christopher Mies (1) – GTD – 2017

Sheldon van der Linde (1) – GTD – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Pole Winners in 2018 Field (21):

Jeroen Bleekemolen (3) – ALMS GTC – 2010, 2011; GTD – 2016

Romain Dumas (2) – ALMS GT – 2004, ALMS P2 – 2007

Dane Cameron (2) – ALMS PC – 2011, 2013

Toni Vilander (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, GTLM – 2017

Richard Westbrook (2) – P/Overall – 2015; GTLM – 2016

Bill Auberlen (1) – GT3 – 1998

Dirk Mueller (1) – ALMS GT – 1999

Oliver Gavin (1) – ALMS GTS – 2004

Timo Bernhard (1) – ALMS GT2 – 2005

Andrea Bertolini (1) – ALMS GT1 – 2007

Ryan Briscoe (1) – ALMS P2 – 2008

Marino Franchitti (1) – ALMS P2 – 2009

Kyle Marcelli (1) – ALMS PC – 2012

Spencer Pumpelly (1) – ALMS GTC – 2013

Christian Fittipaldi (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Jack Hawksworth (1) – PC – 2014

Nick Tandy (1) – GTLM – 2014

Earl Bamber (1) – GTLM – 2015

Robert Alon (1) – PC – 2016

Helio Castroneves (1) – P/Overall – 2017

James French (1) – PC – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans-Winning Teams in 2018 Field (14):

Corvette Racing (8) – ALMS GTS – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004; ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2007, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Acura Team Penske (3) – ALMS P2 – 2006, 2007, 2008

Risi Competizione (3) – ALMS GT2 – 2008, 2009; GTLM – 2016

AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (3) – ALMS PC – 2011; PC – 2015, 2016

CORE Autosport (2) – ALMS PC – 2012; GTLM/Overall – 2015

Tequila Patrón ESM (2) – ALMS GT – 2012; P/Overall – 2017

Wayne Taylor Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Paul Miller Racing (1) – GTD – 2014

Action Express Racing (1) – P – 2015

Park Place Motorsports (1) – GTD – 2015

Meyer Shank Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2016

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports – GTD – 2016

BMW Team RLL (1) – GTLM – 2017

Montaplast by Land Motorsport (1) – GTD – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Race-Winning Manufacturers in 2018 Field (8):

Porsche – 19

Audi – 11

Chevrolet – 10

Ferrari – 8

BMW – 2

Nissan – 1

Mazda – 1

Ford – 1

IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”


Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.


Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500