IMSA, LAT Images Jake Galstad

Felipe Nasr leads 12 Hours of Sebring at three-Hour mark

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Round 2 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the 12 Hours of Sebring literally picked up where the series left off after the 24 Hours at Daytona: Racing in the rain in Central Florida.

The yellow and green flags waved over the field as the timer started at 10:42 a.m. ET with Dane Cameron on the pole. Cars circled the course while track drying was under way so that the heat from the cars would help the process.

Racing began in full force at the 40-minute mark with the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPI of Tristan Nunez immediately sweeping around the outside of Cameron’s No. 6 Acura Team Penske DPI to take the lead in Turn 1. As Cameron dropped back through the field, Filipe Albuquerque stalked the leader and grabbed the overall lead 45 minutes into the 12-hour endurance race.

In a foreshadowing of the first quarter of the race, Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPI kept pressure on as well and grabbed the lead from his teammate Albuquerque five laps later, which he held through the 1-hour mark.

Rain continued to fall as the 1-hour mark went into the books. Struggling in the wet, Helio Castroneves lost a lap to the leader before pitting for fresh rubber and a driver change in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPI.

Castroneves made the point that racing in the rain is often about limiting mistakes, and he was happy to turn the wheel over to Ricky Taylor in one piece. Thirty minutes later, Taylor looped the car in Turn 17 and kept it off the wall, but his seat belts came unhooked and he was forced into the pits a few laps later.

At the 3-hour mark, Taylor was still one lap off the pace in ninth.

The No. 31 held the lead at three hours with Felipe Nasr behind the wheel. Up front in LMP2 was Kyle Masson in the No. 38 entry from Performance Tech Motorsports.

Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford had the GTLM lead, and Lars Kern and the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche paced the GTD class.

The track began to dry at the 2-hour mark, and the leader Derani was the first onto pit road. Switching to dry tires three laps earlier than the field allowed him to extend his lead to nearly 18 seconds over Albuquerque and the rest of the field.

The second yellow of the race waved at the 2-hour, 19-minute mark for an electrical failure on the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPI.

Timo Bernhard pulled to the side and needed a tow back to the pits – another brutal setback for the team after problems during the Rolex 24 in January.

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.

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“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.