INDYCAR’s Bourdais forced into double-duty with IMSA at Long Beach

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LONG BEACH, California – Sebastien Bourdais has no time to lose this weekend at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He has been called in to substitute for Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT driver Joey Hand in Saturday’s BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach IMSA race.

The 40-year-old Bourdais will also compete in all NTT IndyCar Series practice, qualifications and the race in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

“I’m definitely going to be very busy,” Bourdais told NBC Sports.com Thursday at Long Beach. “I’m not much of a nap guy anyway.”

Watch Sunday’s race at 4:30 pm ET on NBCSN or the NBC Sports app

Bourdais will co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT with Dirk Mueller on Saturday. Bourdais also drove with Hand and Mueller in the first two races of the IMSA season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. In the latter, they earned a second-place finish in the GT Le Mans class.

“I like it; it’s something I enjoy doing,” Bourdais said. “I’ve never driven anything other than a Champ Car or Indy car here so it will be interesting to discover something new. I’m never too old to discover new things.

“I just needed to get Dale Coyne’s approval and he said, fine.”

According to Chip Ganassi Racing, Hand has “flu-like symptoms.” Bourdais drives for Ganassi’s IMSA team in the long endurance races on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Although we’re disappointed for Joey, we’re also fortunate to have someone like Sebastien who can step right in this weekend,” said Ford motorsport boss Mark Rushbrook. “We’re grateful Dale Coyne Racing will allow him to do double-duty with the IndyCar race this weekend. Seb already has so many miles in the Ford GT, and knows the team and crew so well, that it’s the perfect solution.”

It will be a busy weekend as Bourdais will be the only driver competing in both major races at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Qualifying for the IMSA race is Friday afternoon after INDYCAR has two practice sessions. IMSA also has a 45-minute practice.

The 100-minute BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix begins at 2:06PM (Pacific Time) on Saturday, immediately after Bourdais competes in the knockout qualifying format INDYCAR uses on road and street courses.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Bourdais said. “I like to be busy. I don’t need rest. I’m looking forward to the challenge and helping those guys out. I’m really sad for Joey. It’s a race that counts for him and that’s loss of points. Hopefully, we can cheer him up a little bit.

“All I can do is drive the wheels off the thing here at Long Beach.”

Bourdais is a three-time winner at Long Beach during his first tenure as an IndyCar driver back in Champ Car. He won from 2005-2007 when he was with Newman-Haas Racing.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).