Photos courtesy Mustang Sampling Racing

IMSA: Mike Conway joins Mustang Sampling Racing for Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

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With the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours endurance race just over a month away, defending race winner Mustang Sampling Racing has solidified its driver lineup for the Jan. 26-27 event, the start of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Returning to the fold are Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque, along with Christian Fittipaldi, who will be making the final Rolex 24 appearance of his racing career.

Rounding out Mustang Sampling’s four-driver lineup for the 57th running of the Rolex 24 Hours will be veteran British sports car and IndyCar racer Mike Conway.

Mike Conway

Conway has previously raced for Action Express Racing, which is entering its fifth year of a partnership with Mustang Sampling Racing. However, this is the first time Conway will race fully under the Mustang Sampling banner.

Conway finished third for Action Express in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, along with a third-place finish in the 2018 12 Hours of Sebring. He also finished second in the 2017 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Having won six-hour races at Fuji and Shanghai already in 2018, Conway is currently ranked second in the LMP1 standings of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship standings with three races remaining.

“I am looking forward to joining Mustang Sampling Racing and driving with Joao, Christian, and Filipe,” Conway said in a media release. “It is great to have already worked with them in the past, and as the results have shown, the team is very capable so I am eager to get to Daytona and help them hopefully bring another trophy home.”

Added Action Express team manager Gary Nelson, “We have been working hard to prepare to win at Daytona once again and we are happy to have Mike return to the team again this year.

“He is a strong team player and has made great contributions to our results in the past so he will fit in well with our line up in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac for Daytona. We are all looking forward to getting back to Daytona for the Roar to continue those preparations for the 24 at the end of the month.”

Like many of its counterparts, Mustang Sampling Racing will prepare for the Rolex 24 with the upcoming Roar Before the 24, Jan. 4-6 at Daytona International Speedway.

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INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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