Photos: IMSA

IMSA: Roar Before the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona — Saturday Notebook

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IMSA Wire Service
* Speeds continued to climb on the second day of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona under Chamber of Commerce weather conditions in front of a huge crowd at Daytona International Speedway.

Jonathan Bomarito ended Saturday atop the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship time charts by the slimmest of margins, posting a best lap of 1 minute, 34.533 seconds in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P Daytona Prototype international (DPi). Bomarito’s time, which came under the bright lights of the 3.56-mile circuit Saturday night, was just one-thousandth of a second quicker than Renger van der Zande’s lap of 1:34.534 in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R from the afternoon session.

Both laps were well under the current WeatherTech Championship track record of 1:36.083 set last year in Rolex 24 qualifying by van der Zande.

Nicolas Lapierre owns the fastest LMP2 lap of the Roar so far with a 1:36.553 in the No. 81 Dragonspeed ORECA. Richard Westbrook is the fastest in GT Le Mans (GTLM) with a lap of 1:43.148 in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT and Trent Hindman tops GT Daytona (GTD) in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 at 1:45.533. All three laps took place in the Saturday afternoon session.

Sunday’s activities at the Roar include two more WeatherTech Championship practice sessions, as well as pit lane and garage qualifying for the DPi, LMP2 and GTLM classes. There also will be two IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice sessions.

* The all-female No. 57 Meyer-Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 team will have prime real estate to work with on Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend after Bia Figureido was the fastest qualifier in Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship qualifying session for GT Daytona (GTD) pit and garage allocations. Figureido, who was known as Ana Beatriz to U.S. fans when she raced IndyCar from 2010-13, posted a fastest time of 1:45.537 (121.430 mph).

She and the No. 57 car were second on the time charts at the end of the 15-minute session, but the session-leading No. 71 entry had all of its times disallowed as the Gold-rated Dominik Baumann drove the car during the session. IMSA rules require Silver- or Bronze-rated drivers only to participate in all GTD and LM2 qualifying sessions.

“I thought I was P2, but then with the disqualification, this is a very good position,” said Figureido, who will share the car in the Rolex 24 with Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen and Simona De Silvestro. “It shows that we’re really competitive, so I’m really happy for everybody with our car.”

* Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2004 champion Kurt Busch was an interested visitor to the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing pits at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Busch, who is joining Ganassi’s NASCAR Cup Series team in 2019, has raced twice in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

He drove a Ford Multimatic Daytona Prototype along with fellow NASCAR drivers Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle and sports car ace Scott Maxwell in 2006, then drove a Pontiac Riley DP for Penske-Taylor Racing in the 2008 race, finishing third alongside co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves.

“It’s been like a decade since I ran a prototype,” Busch said. “I live just down the road in Wellington, Florida during the offseason. I saw a practice on the schedule, I love seeing cars, tires and burning fuel, so I’m here checking it out with the Ganassi team.”

* With a bumpy freshman year in the rearview mirror, Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport is ready for its clean slate in 2019. Fielding two Mercedes-AMG GT4s in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the driver lineups have altered a bit since the team’s last appearance in 2018.  Team Owner Bryce Ward is paired with Christian Hohenadel while Ward’s son Russell joins up with Dutchman Indy Dontje.

“I’m sure the whole team is looking forward to it,” said Russell Ward of the new year. “We’ve had some changes in the team and it’s exciting to be back here with the fresh start because it was pretty rocky last year. Second year for the team and it’s only up from here.
“My dad is driving the other car and he did a couple races with Christian and they really got along well. He made the call he’d like to do a full season with him and Indy was left open and he’s obviously very quick, so I think we make a good pairing. We get along well.”

As the first race of IMSA’s 50th Anniversary began, it was a tale of two races for the No. 4 ANSA Motorsports team in Saturday’s season-opening race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

There was the start, when Brazilian Leo Lamelas had to navigate his Ligier JS P3 through a majority of the 19-car field after missing qualifying a day earlier due to an engine change and starting 16th. And then there was the finish, when Lamelas’ co-driver Neil Alberico – making his first career IMSA start – held off that same field of drivers from the lead on a restart with 34 minutes remaining to score the season-opening victory.

It was the second consecutive Daytona win for ANSA Motorsports, with the team using great pit strategy and consistent driving from both Lamelas and Alberico to beat the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30 duo of Austin McCusker and Rodrigo Pflucker by 13.987 seconds

ANSA Motorsports also won the inaugural IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Daytona one year ago with Roman DeAngelis scoring the victory.

“It was my first race ever here in Daytona,” said Alberico, who previously raced in the open-wheel ladder system. “The IMSA series is awesome. It’s my first experience here and to be on the podium – let alone a win – is awesome with these ANSA Motorsports guys. Congrats to Leo, and hopefully there’s more to come.”

“I’m so grateful to everyone,” said Lamelas, who won at Sebring last year with Charles Wicht Racing. “Our team did a perfect job. It’s very special for me too. I love Daytona, so I’m very happy to win here. Last year, my team, CWR, was an excellent team also. Today, I had the opportunity to go to ANSA. I’m just grateful for everyone who is making this possible for me. It’s a dream for me to be here racing in IMSA.”

It was a strong points day for the runner-up Forty7 Motorsports team, who also had to start from the back after missing qualifying. The team and McCusker finished second in the LMP3 standings last season with two wins and two runner-up finishes in six starts. Pflucker was making his first start with the No. 47 team after driving the team’s No. 74 entry last season.

“I was a little bit worried going into the race that points are so tight in this series that one bad finish can hurt you for the whole season,” said McCusker. “We’re in the championship hunt and that’s what we’re pushing for. Hopefully we can continue this at Sebring.”

McCusker was running second on the final restart with 34 minutes left but had multiple lapped cars between himself and Alberico. He made a bold move into Turn 1 on the restart to get around the lapped cars, but ran wide and Alberico was able to pull away for the win.

“I just got caught behind a lapped car and it was tough to get by him,” McCusker added. “I don’t know if I would’ve been able to catch Neil, but we did what we could and I am happy to finish in second after starting last.”

The trio of Bruce Hamilton, Tonis Kasemets and Scott Maxwell rounded out the podium in the No. 60 Ligier JS P3 for Wulver Racing. Kasemets set the fastest lap of the race, lapping the 3.56-mile course in 1 minute, 44.021 seconds.

Finishing eighth, but winning the inaugural Bronze Cup as the highest-running Bronze-only driver lineup was Jonatan Jorge, and his P1 Motorsports co-driver Joel Janco.

“Starting and just focusing on the Bronze Cup, we had the pace I think to be on the podium overall,” said Jorge. “But still a good day for the Bronze Cup. We’re happy to be here and ready for the next one.”

The IMSA Prototype Challenge returns to the track at Sebring International Raceway as part of the March 13-16 weekend that includes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

The television schedule for the IMSA Prototype Challenge was announced earlier Saturday. As part of IMSA’s new agreement with the NBC Sports Group, all IMSA Prototype Challenge races will be shown on NBCSN throughout the season beginning with the Daytona broadcast on Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. ET.

NHRA 50th Gatornationals winners: Crampton, Hight, Butner, Hines

Gatornationals winners: Hines, Butner, Hight, Crampton. Photos and videos courtesy NHRA.
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Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) emerged as winners of the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Sunday at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

IN TOP FUEL: Crampton successfully defended his win in last year’s Gatornationals with a 3.769-second, 329.89 mph effort to defeat Clay Millican (3.756 seconds, 324.67 mph) in the final round.

Ironically, not only was Sunday’s triumph Crampton’s first win since last year’s Gators, he also finally got past the first round for the first time in the 2019 season’s first three events, going on to earn his ninth career NHRA national event win.

This is just a big race no matter what year you win it,” Crampton said. “There were not too many easy rounds this year. That goes to tell you how difficult this Top Fuel category is.

I think this win is going to take a while to sink in. I’m so lucky to have a team that puts me in a position to win like this. I’m just focusing to be a dependable driver.”

IN FUNNY CAR: Hight keeps rolling along. Not only has he been the No. 1 qualifier in each of the first three NHRA national events, Sunday’s win was the second of the season and 47th of his career.

Hight (3.867 seconds, 331.61 mph) took the win light after Tim Wilkerson (11.165 seconds, 92.63 mph) lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line.

Qualifying No. 1 at the first three races is really impressive,” Hight said. “It shows that we have a really good handle on this car.

We didn’t get the job done on the last day of the season last year (he failed to win the championship, losing to J.R. Todd) and my team worked really hard because they don’t want to be in that spot again.”

IN PRO STOCK: Butner, the 2017 Pro Stock champion, is off to a great season’s start, with Sunday’s triumph being his second of the young season.

Butner (6.505 seconds, 212.29 mph) defeated Alex Laughlin in the final round. Laughlin’s car broke, essentially giving Butner a free pass to the victory.

Butner’s win was all the more sweeter as his fiancee, Randi Lyn Shipp, won the Stock Eliminator class.

I had no shot of winning rounds today,” Butner said. “Second and third round we didn’t get down the track. The guys never gave up and I made the best run of the weekend in the finals. We were real ready for the final.”

IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: The two-wheeled guys kicked off their season with an outstanding final round battle between teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec.

Hines earned the 49th win of his career and first since the final race of the 2017 season with a run of 6.752 seconds at 199.17 mph to defeat Krawiec (6.762 seconds, 198.90 mph).

The motorcycle I had this weekend was phenomenal,” Hines said. “It was tracking straight down the track and it responded to all of the changes.

That made it so much easier to focus on going out there and racing, cutting good lights and not really worrying about what could happen the very next run.”

The next national event will be the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 5-7 in Las Vegas.

Here’s Sunday’s results and updated point standings:

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2. Clay Millican; 3.T.J. Zizzo; 4. Doug Kalitta; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Leah Pritchett; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Jordan Vandergriff; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Dom Lagana; 11. Mike Salinas; 12. Austin Prock; 13. Antron Brown; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Chris Karamesines.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. John Force; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Matt Hagan; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Jonnie Lindberg; 10. Shawn Langdon; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. J.R. Todd; 14. Dave Richards; 15. John Smith; 16. Jim Campbell.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Alex Laughlin; 3. Kenny Delco; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Shane Tucker; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Deric Kramer; 9. Jeg Coughlin; 10. Jason Line; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Matt Hartford; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Wally Stroupe; 15. Erica Enders; 16. Val Smeland.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Hector Arana Jr; 4. Joey Gladstone; 5. Ryan Oehler; 6. Jerry Savoie; 7. Jim Underdahl; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Angie Smith; 10. Cory Reed; 11. Angelle Sampey; 12. Karen Stoffer; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Scotty Pollacheck; 15. Hector Arana; 16. Melissa Surber.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Richie Crampton, 3.769 seconds, 323.89 mphdef. Clay Millican, 3.756 seconds, 324.67 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.867, 331.61def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 11.165, 92.63.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.505, 212.29def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, Broke.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.752, 199.17def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.762, 198.90.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — T.J. Zizzo, 4.467, 287.84 def. Scott Palmer, 7.510, 92.54; Clay Millican, 3.713, 325.61 def. Austin Prock, 3.996, 311.63; Richie Crampton, 3.783, 318.77 def. Antron Brown, 4.376, 220.40; Brittany Force, 3.712, 304.12 def. Chris Karamesines, 8.179, 68.29; Jordan Vandergriff, 3.721, 322.34 def. Mike Salinas, 3.986, 275.28; Steve Torrence, 3.680, 327.27 def. Dom Lagana, 3.845, 264.18; Leah Pritchett, 3.724, 327.59 def. Pat Dakin, 7.999, 80.28; Doug Kalitta, 3.749, 325.30 def. Terry McMillen, 3.749, 325.22; QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.785, 319.37 def. Pritchett, 3.739, 328.78; Millican, 3.701, 325.69 def. Vandergriff, 10.914, 71.66; Zizzo, 3.764, 325.92 def. Force, 3.751, 326.95; Kalitta, 3.703, 327.51 def. Torrence, 3.708, 329.91; SEMIFINALS — Crampton, 3.734, 326.56 def. Zizzo, 3.844, 297.42; Millican, 3.909, 313.73 def. Kalitta, 4.920, 145.97; FINAL — Crampton, 3.769, 323.89 def. Millican, 3.756, 324.67.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.759, 231.48 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 5.240, 213.43; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 326.63 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 8.295, 78.64; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.933, 326.56 def. John Smith, Charger, 5.306, 150.05; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.869, 331.94 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.234, 284.03; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.941, 322.58 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.950, 324.44; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.905, 326.79 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.353, 255.53; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.924, 325.22 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.966, 323.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.910, 324.59 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.969, 316.90; QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.872, 329.50 def. Pedregon, 8.110, 84.77; Hight, 3.870, 330.88 def. Capps, 10.137, 77.38; Force, 4.471, 185.95 def. Hagan, 9.028, 77.04; Beckman, 3.898, 329.67 def. Johnson Jr., 3.892, 327.03; SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.896, 329.02 def. Beckman, 4.211, 267.27; Hight, 3.852, 331.20 def. Force, 3.942, 324.12; FINAL — Hight, 3.867, 331.61 def. Wilkerson, 11.165, 92.63.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.566, 210.97 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.751, 173.63; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.512, 210.83 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.527, 212.39; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.533, 210.34 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.516, 212.53; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 212.46 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.549, 211.63; Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.593, 209.26 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.571, 211.13; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.504, 212.69 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.625, 208.07; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.566, 211.23 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.505, 212.33 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 12.777, 67.47; QUARTERFINALS — Brogdon, 6.513, 211.39 def. McGaha, 7.852, 127.58; Delco, 6.555, 210.01 def. Tucker, 6.610, 209.23; Butner, 6.552, 211.76 def. Kramer, 20.651, 37.89; Laughlin, 6.507, 211.00 def. Anderson, 6.506, 213.16; SEMIFINALS — Butner, 8.103, 115.58 def. Brogdon, Foul – Red Light; Laughlin, 6.531, 210.57 def. Delco, 6.550, 210.41; FINAL — Butner, 6.505, 212.29 def. Laughlin, Broke.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.916, 187.89 def. Hector Arana, 7.095, 196.93; Joey Gladstone, 6.873, 194.46 def. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.884, 195.39; Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.853, 196.36 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.901, 194.04; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.781, 198.67 def. Cory Reed, Foul – Red Light; Hector Arana Jr, 6.815, 197.62 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.916, 192.19; Matt Smith, 6.795, 197.36 def. Angie Smith, 6.850, 196.79; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.803, 198.17 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.964, 192.41; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Broke def. Melissa Surber, Buell, Foul – Red Light; QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.797, 197.08 def. Oehler, 6.886, 198.44; Krawiec, 6.920, 197.68 def. Underdahl, 7.184, 153.49; Gladstone, 6.811, 194.74 def. M. Smith, Broke; Hines, 6.756, 199.14 def. Savoie, Foul – Red Light; SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.819, 197.08 def. Gladstone, 6.850, 194.72; Hines, 6.758, 199.08 def. Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Hines, 6.752, 199.17 def. Krawiec, 6.762, 198.90.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1.Doug Kalitta, 246; 2.Leah Pritchett, 204; 3.Steve Torrence, 197; 4.(tie) Richie Crampton, 178; Billy Torrence, 178; 6.Terry McMillen, 166; 7.Mike Salinas, 161; 8.Clay Millican, 157; 9.Antron Brown, 150; 10.Austin Prock, 138.

FUNNY CAR: 1.Robert Hight, 330; 2.Jack Beckman, 225; 3.Matt Hagan, 215; 4.John Force, 200; 5.Tommy Johnson Jr., 191; 6.Tim Wilkerson, 165; 7.Bob Tasca III, 163; 8.J.R. Todd, 159; 9.Ron Capps, 146; 10.Shawn Langdon, 143.

PRO STOCK: 1.Bo Butner, 301; 2.Alex Laughlin, 229; 3.Jason Line, 189; 4.Erica Enders, 186; 5.Matt Hartford, 185; 6.Rodger Brogdon, 184; 7.Jeg Coughlin, 180; 8.Deric Kramer, 166; 9.Kenny Delco, 141; 10.Chris McGaha, 137.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.Andrew Hines, 124; 2.Eddie Krawiec, 106; 3.Hector Arana Jr, 76; 4.Joey Gladstone, 72; 5. Matt Smith, 63; 6.Ryan Oehler, 54; 7.(tie) Jerry Savoie, 53; Jim Underdahl, 53; 9.Angelle Sampey, 35; 10.(tie) Hector Arana, 32; Karen Stoffer, 32; Melissa Surber, 32.

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