IMSA

IMSA: Ford breaks Porsche’s win streak at Lime Rock

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Ford Vs. Ferrari may not release in theaters until this November, but race fans at Lime Rock Park got to watch a live performance of Ford Vs. Porsche.

With the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber fading late in the race due to worn tires, Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, on a three-stop strategy, was able to catch up to and challenge Bamber for the lead in the closing laps and eventually took over the lead with seven minutes remaining in the race.

The No. 67 would take the checkered flag, and finally break Porsche’s five-race GTLM win streak to claim their first class victory of the season.

“Just a great strategy by the team,” Westbrook told NBC Sports following the race. “Ryan [Briscoe’s] opening stint just put us in a really good position on this three-stop strategy. I had better tires than the Porsche, and that’s the only way we can beat them. We got to roll the dice and do a gamble, but we stuck to the plan. That was our plan before the race and it just worked to treat, but to do that, you need the best team.

“When you got all of that behind you, then sometimes these plans work out, and today was one of those special days.”

Co-Driver Briscoe watched as Westbrook took the checkered flag. For him, the win couldn’t have come at a better time.

“What a great drive by Rich at the end. I’m just so stoked,” Briscoe said “It’s been a tough year, and to turn things around here – my home race – with this win, it’s just phenomenal. The whole team just did such a great job. Gave us a really good car to drive, and I think I think it was just really fun to do the three-stop strategy and just do it on pace out there.”

Bamber was able to still hold on and finish second overall in the race, with the No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller finishing in the third position.

GTD: Olsen gives Pfaff maiden victory with late-race pass

In GTD, Dennis Olsen gave Pfaff Motorsports their maiden IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory by passing Mario Farnbacher for the class lead with less than three minutes remaining.

However, Farnbacher fought back, challenging Olsen and almost retook the lead from the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R, coming just short at the finish by only 0.010 seconds.

“I saw the opening, and I just had to do it,” Olsen said of his late-race pass. “We had some quite aggressive moves throughout the whole stint and towards the end as well. It was pretty hard to keep him behind on the last lap, but we made it.”

The victory was also the first for co-driver Zacharie Robichon.

“He did an incredible job,” Robichon said. “He took the opportunity when presented without being overly aggressive, and at the end, I’m not too sure what was going on, but he held his position and it was pretty stressful as a team, I’d say.”

The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley completed the GTD podium.

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now heads to Road America for the IMSA Road Race Showcase on August 4. Live coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

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IndyCar’s Scott Dixon staying fit during lengthy time off

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During a regular racing schedule, five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing would spend much of his time between races at PitFit in Indianapolis.

The highly advanced workout facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis is run by noted sports trainer Jim Leo. His clientele includes IndyCar Series drivers and other athletes in the area.

In addition to the array of workout machines, Leo’s facility also has advanced equipment to test a driver’s reaction time. These range from a board with lights that rapidly flash, and a driver have to hit the board to turn them off. There are other tests drivers do to keep their skills sharp and reaction time focused.

Times have changed, though.

Indiana is under a statewide lockdown with the exception of essential services only. Instead of going to PitFit, Dixon is working out at his home on the north side of Indianapolis.

His reaction time is being tested by his wife, Emma, throw a tennis ball at him, changing the direction with each toss.

“I’ve gone back to old school, like tennis balls and Emma can drop them or throw them,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “As long as you keep up with basic cardio and lift weights and work on the neck muscles, that’s the harder part to get ready for. “As we get through this transition, we have 8-10 weeks before these things get lifted.

“I had already stopped going into Pit Fit last week. We had not been doing that for a while. Haven’t left the house for 13 days, now. We went to the grocery store once. The rest of the stuff has been delivered.

“We’re locked down, man, trying to do our best for everyone else.”

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Dixon’s home has an impressive array of workout equipment. That allows the 39-year-old racing legend to stay fit during this extended time off that won’t end until the last week of May at the earliest.

“I have most of the stuff I need at home,” Dixon explained. “Some of the reaction stuff, the D-2s and Synaptic machines plus some of the upper-body machines are pretty unique machines. Those are the machines that Jim Leo has at PitFit.

“As far as cycling, running, general weights, skiers and rollers, I have that at home.”

It seems like a lifetime ago when the world was normal. That was before the dreaded COVID-19 outbreak has literally sent society underground and locked in while a solution to this fatal virus is found.

Photo by Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Before this unexpected shutdown, Dixon would go into PitFit to work on specialized equipment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He would do the rest of his physical workout at home.

“I started skipping that when we got home before the lockdown,” Dixon said. “Before the lockdown, Jim could have stayed open because he never has more than 10 people at once.

“Typically, he would have the drivers spaced out where Tony Kanaan and I would go in at 8 in the morning and Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe would go in at 9:30 and then Zach Veach and Spencer Pigot and Charlie Kimball would go in around 11. There were only about five of us going in at once.”

Two weeks ago, Leo dropped off some equipment at Dixon’s house along with more instructions to focus on his workouts during the layoff.

Sacrifices are being made all throughout the world, including racing.

“You can’t be selfish,” Dixon said. “It sucks for the drivers, but it sucks a lot worse for a lot of other people. Luckily, the school the girls go to has e-learning. It’s school as usual on the computer from 8:30 to 3 and that has been seamless on that front.

“On a personal note, it’s nice to be home with the baby and bonding as well and that is great. But all of us wish everything was back to normal as soon as possible.”

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Dixon is the father of three, including young daughters Poppy (10), Tilly (8) and infant son, Kit.

This is a time to keep his family safe.

“You hear mixed messages about who is more at risk,” Dixon said. “Obviously, older people with underlying conditions. We’re a fairly healthy family, but still it sounds like something can trigger a pretty bad situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry so we are limiting our contact as fast as possible. The quicker everybody locks down, the quicker we will get through the situation. If we stay home, we will see a decline and hopefully get back to normal pretty quickly.

“It’s a new thing for everybody.”

For now, Dixon works out at home, while the girls continue their classes on the computer. Emma spends time with her infant son, Kit, while taking care of the family.

These days of working out at home will be important because once racing is scheduled to return, tentatively set for May 30 at Detroit, it will be flat-out, racing nearly every weekend.

There won’t be time-off in-between races.

“No, but everybody is having plenty of rest right now,” Dixon quipped. “It’s not what anybody wants. We all keep hoping everybody remains safe and healthy. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people and we’ve been very lucky that we don’t know anybody that has had an issue so far. Hopefully, that remains the same.

“Everybody is ready to go. We were ready to go at St. Pete. This will be welcomed greatly.

“Nothing is normal these days. I think what IndyCar and IMS did was probably the best of the situations. You never want to move the dates of the 500, but you always want the people to be relaxed enough they are going to come to the race, too.

“The way they have done the schedule is pretty cool. It gives them enough wiggle room now with Detroit being the kickoff. What is also fun is the July 4 doubleheader weekend at Indianapolis and St. Pete finishing the season.”

Once life returns to normal, depending on what the new normal will look like, race drivers and athletes will once again be in an area they know.

The difficult part of this, however, is nobody knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end.

“The hard part right now is there are so many unknowns,” Dixon said. “That is what people hate. They could wrap their hands around two weeks, but it could be another six weeks. People will go crazy.

“That is what we are going through right now. The unknown. Nobody knows what the next step is.”

That is why Dixon has a message for all race fans to take these orders seriously.

“Stay safe. Stay away from people. Lock down. Get this period done with,” Dixon said. “Once we do that, hopefully we can crack on like normal and people can find fixes and therapies. As soon as everybody bunkers down, we will get through this sooner instead of later.

“Let’s get back to normal as quick as possible and get back to racing when we can.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500