Super Sebring weekend begins on Friday with 1000-mile race

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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.

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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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