Courtesy of IMSA

Christian Fittipaldi’s final start will feature an extra workload

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Christian Fittipaldi will be putting in a few hours of extra work during the final start of his racing career.

With Action Express pulling Mike Conway from its No. 5 Cadillac DPI, the team will attempt to defend its Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona overall championship with Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque – the same trio that won last year’s race.

Conway encountered travel delays while trying to depart from England. “With the delay, it became obvious that he could not make the trip to Daytona in time for the final practice session,” team manager Gary Nelson said in a release. “We all decided that it may be best for the 5 car to race the Rolex with Christian, Joao and Fillipe. We will continue to work with Mike in other events in the 2019 endurance championship.”

Fittipaldi said the change probably will affect him the most because he was planning to be in the car only twice over the course of 24 hours. Now he will be driving at least three stints lasting somewhere from six to eight hours. Albuquerque likely will handle the largest workload at eight to 10 hours.

“We’ll try to run longer stints in the evening,” Fittipaldi said. “We’re still debating a little bit. A lot can happen depending on the pace of the race is and depending on how the conditions are and the wear on the tires. We sort of adjust according to the race. It’s not carved in stone.”

There was a surprise farewell party Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway for Fittipaldi, who turned 48 last week.

“In a way, last night was good because now I got over it,” he said. “So in my mind, I know it was official before. Now it’s official. This is done. Let’s just think about the race and see what we can get out of it, and that’s it. So just enjoy myself, but at the same time, take it as serious as possible and try to get a fourth win. That’s why we’re here. We’re not here to keep pound around in circles.”

Fittipaldi, who has eight victories over the past five years in IMSA, said he will “probably be more busier than when I was driving” as he will continue as a Cadillac ambassador and test driver after retiring.

At the Roar test at Daytona three weeks ago, he said he was “happy, sad, at peace with myself. I think that’s the most important. But if you ask me are you going to miss it? Shit yeah. If I tell you I won’t miss it, I’ll be lying. I did this 38 years of my life. How can you not miss something that you did 38 years of your life? It’s not humanly possible.”

The versatile veteran of IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One said he hasn’t planned how he will fill the void left by racing.

“That’s a very good question, but always in life, when one chapter closes, another one opens,” he said. “So I’ve always known, not since beginning when I was 15 years old, but when I started understanding more about life, that I wouldn’t be a race car driver until I was 90 years old. At some point, this chapter is going to close, and some other opportunities are definitely going to show up.”

Supercross Preview: It’s Webb’s World for now

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A short launching area and tight left-hand turn is going to create a lot of drama this week in Round 8 of the Supercross season as the riders invade Detroit’s Ford Field after one year off.

Last week Cooper Webb won for the fourth time in the last five races. Incredibly, two of these count among the five closest finishes in Supercross history with a .760-second win over Marvin Musquin at Oakland and last week’s .028-second win over Ken Roczen. Webb has won in a variety of ways so far this year. He has gained experience protecting a lead and coming from behind with Arlington’s incredible run. He even won the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim II after taking two of the three heats.

Last year, Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to grab the points lead in Round 2. He never relinquished it. Webb has tighter competition in 2019, but he shows know sign of letting up as the four-man battle for the lead became a three-rider challenge last week with Eli Tomac’s trouble.

Eli Tomac cooled off in a hurry. After sweeping the top five in the first five rounds and winning San Diego, he finished sixth in Minneapolis and 12th at Arlington. This week will be a test of his ability to rebound.

Which rider will be the first to win in 2019, Roczen or Musquin? Between them they have finished second or third 10 times this season. They have both stood on the podium in the last three events, but have yet to climb to the top rung.

Vince Friese injured his knee during practice at Arlington and may have a torn ACL. He is unlikely to ride this week.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 12 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 7 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold, 8 p.m. on NBCSN

Last Week:

Cooper Webb won his fourth event in the past five races over Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner won over Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Last Year:

Event was not run in 2018.

In 2017 Eli Tomac beat Marvin Musquin and Ryan Dungey in the 450 class.
In 250s, Jordon Smith won over Joey Savatgy and Adam Cianciarulo in the 250 class.

Winners

450s:
[4] Cooper Webb (Anaheim II, Oakland, Minneapolis, and Arlington)
[1] Justin Barcia (Anaheim I)
[1] Blake Baggett (Glendale)
[1] Eli Tomac (San Diego)

250 West:
[3] Adam Cianciarulo (Glendale, Oakland, San Diego)
[1] Colt Nichols (Anaheim I)
[1] Shane McElrath (Anaheim II)

250 East:
[2] Austin Forkner (Minneapolis and Arlington)

Top-5s

450s:
Ken Roczen (7)
Marvin Musquin (6)
Eli Tomac (5)
Cooper Webb (5)
Blake Baggett (3)
Dean Wilson (2)
Joey Savatgy (2)
Justin Barcia (1)
Jason Anderson (1)
Justin Bogle (1)
Chad Reed (1)
Justin Brayton (1)

250 West:
Shane McElrath (5)
Adam Cianciarulo (5)
Colt Nichols (4)
RJ Hampshire (3)
Dylan Ferrandis (3)
James Decotis (2)
Jacob Hayes (1)
Garrett Marchbanks (1)
Jess Pettis (1)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (2)
Jordon Smith (2)
Justin Cooper (2)
Chase Sexton (2)
Alex Martin (1)
Martin Davalos (1)

Points Leaders

450s:
Cooper Webb (150)
Ken Roczen (148)
Marvin Musquin (144)
Eli Tomac (134)
Dean Wilson (110)

250 West:
Adam Cianciarulo (114)
Shane McElrath (105)
Colt Nichols (104)
Dylan Ferrandis (102)
RJ Hampshire (75)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (52)
Justin Cooper (44)
Jordon Smith (42)
Chase Sexton (39)
Mitchell Oldenburg (34)
Alex Martin (34)

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