Super Sebring weekend begins on Friday with 1000-mile race

1 Comment

Two months after racing twice around the clock in Daytona, the IMSA Weathertech Series heads to Sebring, Fla. for a single trip around the dial. Apparently, that just isn’t enough for some drivers or fans.

On Friday, the World Endurance Championship hosts the 1,000 Miles of Sebring as a prelude to the 12-Hour race. The World Endurance Championship schedule this year includes the 24-Hour of LeMans and 6-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone, Fuji and Shanghai.

One of the winners of the 24 Hours of Daytona likely has an opportunity to win his second consecutive race. Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande are all entered in three different cars.

In the No. 8 Gazoo Racing entry, Alonso claimed the pole for Friday’s race with the fastest ever lap around this track of 1 minute, 40.124 second. Kobayashi, along with Mike Conway will sit on the outside of the front row. Van der Zande’s team, the No. 10 DragonSpeed entry, qualified seventh in the 34-car lineup.

Matthieu Vaxiviere, who joins van der Zande and Jordan Taylor this week in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Cadillac in the 12-Hour race, and the Corvette Racing duo of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia will also be doing double duty.

Along with the stars of the 24-hour race, IndyCar is represented in the 1,000-mile race with Ben Hanley joining van der Zande in that event.

Jordan King, who is entered in this year’s Indy 500, will compete for Jackie Chan DC Racing (yes, that Jackie Chan) in their No. 37 entry. They qualified ninth on the grid, one position behind their teammates in the No. 38 who earned the pole in the LMP2 division with Stephane Richelmi.

Chan is not the only Hollywood star to field an entry in this race. Patrick Dempsey rolls out two cars in the LMGTE Amateur division.

While the 1,000 Miles of Sebring has a couple of IndyCar drivers in the mix, they will be in full force on Saturday in the IMSA race. Simon Pagenaud (No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPI), Alexander Rossi (No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPI), Colton Herta (No. 25 BMW Team RLL that won the Rolex 24 GTLM in January), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) and Scott Dixon (No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) are entered.

And of course, Townsend Bell will be doing double duty as week like he did in the 24 – racing and providing color commentary for NBC’s coverage of the 12-Hours of Sebring. After finishing second in the Rolex 24 to a team that will not run the full IMSA season, Bell looks to protect the points lead for the No, 12 AIM Vasser-Sullivan team in the GT Daytona class.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).