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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Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.