IMSA

Harry Tincknell gives Mazda Team Joest third straight IMSA win

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At the end of a 2 hour, 40-minute sprint race the top three drivers saved their best for last as the final three minutes were action-packed. Harry Tincknell protected the lead through the final lap as he and Dan Cameron banged fenders in Round 9 of the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Championship.  Tincknell prevailed.

It was the third win in a row for Mazda Team Joest and the second for the No. 55 of Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito. The No. 55 team won the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen. Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez won the Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

“I just had nothing left,” Tincknell said after the race. “I was pushing as hard as I could the whole way.”

On his way to the lead, Tincknell made a dramatic move to the outside of Montoya.

“On the outside move, I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s not easy to get by Juan Pablo. But at the end, I was just hanging on for dear life.”

Tincknell pushed a little too hard in Turn 5, which opened the door for Cameron. Tincknell slammed it shut and clipped the front nose of the No. 6. Both drivers kept the cars pointed in the right direction and finished 1-2.

It was not as if the lead was ever particularly safe. After a spirited battle in the opening laps between the Team Penske cars of Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 and Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7. Bomarito took the lead from Cameron on Lap 15. At the end of the first hour, the top three were separated by less than a second as they navigated traffic.

Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 team car to the winner finished third with the second-place team in the points, Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr finishing fourth.

Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande rounded out the top five. Road American remains the only track on which Wayne Taylor has not yet conquered.

Patrick Kelly scores his first LMP2 victory

Matthew McMurray and Patrick Kelly won following a return from injury. It was the first win for Kelly and the fourth for McMurray.

Patrick Kelly described the feeling of winning after such a long, nine-year hiatus.

“I’ll tell you, it’s hard to describe. I think the last race I was in was Laguna or maybe it was Sebring in GTC, remember when we had the Cup cars that ran in the class,” Kelly said. “I was in a really horrible crash with a school bus driver who was texting and swerved into on-coming traffic. I was just about a year ago able to cleared to go back. I just said I have to keep a clear head, do what I need to do, do decent lap times, don’t do anything stupid and foolish. And just hand it over to Matt in one piece. I’ll admit, it was hard to stay relaxed.

“Wow. Road America. I mean, Road America is the greatest track in North America. I’m originally from Minnesota, this is like the Mecca. So I’ve been coming here for holidays and even better holidays when there are race events. It’s always been that track that the European drivers come over and say it’s their first or second favorite track in the world. It’s incredible.”

The pair finished 10th overall.

Westbrook, Briscoe earn GTLM victory

Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Ford scored a 10.657 second win over their Chip Ganassi teammate Joey Hand and the No. 66 in GTLM class.

“The key was being good on the tires,” Westbrook said. “Really the last 10 laps of the stint were the important 10 laps, not the first 10 laps. If you fell off the cliff like the Corvettes definitely did 20 laps into the stint, you were toast. That was the key, the polar opposite of Lime Rock. We won on a three-stopper and today we made the two-stopper work.”

Briscoe is now one victory away from the 20-win mark in IMSA competition. This was his 10th Weathertech victory to go along with nine in the American LeMans Series.

“We’ve always run strong here,” Briscoe said. “I think we were unlucky to not win the first year too. It’s just a track that really suits the Ford GT. The long straights and fast corners. I think now it’s the consistency than the outright speed. We always come here with a lot of confidence and we know we’ll always have a shot at winning.”

Robichon, No. 9 team wins back to back in GTD

In the GTD class, it was back to back wins for the No. 9. After scoring the win with Zacharie Robichon and Dennis Olsen at Lime Rock, Matt Campbell took the car to Victory Lane at Road America along with Robichon.

It is Campbell’s first IMSA win and the second for Robichon.

Soon after losing the lead to Corey Lewis (who is filling in for the remainder of the season for Ryan Hardwick) on Lap 17 of the race, pole sitter Ben Keating broke a suspension and retired the No. 33 Mercedes less than 30 minutes into the race.

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The next race of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Michelin  GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on August 25.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

 

NHRA: Antron Brown takes major step toward team ownership

NHRA
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There will come a day that when three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown wants to talk to his boss, he’ll need to look no further than in the mirror.

The New Jersey native announced Tuesday that he has begun to lay the groundwork to own his Top Fuel team, eventually branching out from Don Schumacher Racing.

“It’s definitely exciting, but at the same time, it’s also nerve-wracking because the buck stops here right now,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Now the coolest part is you get to help and drive and motivate and push the team forward, to make decisions and leave a legacy behind for my family.”

Brown will continue racing for DSR this season while beginning the transition to eventual sole ownership of the new AB Motorsports in the future. Even when he officially leaves the DSR camp as a hired driver, Brown and his new team will retain a technical partnership with the Schumacher organization.

Moving toward team ownership is just a natural evolution for Brown, who previously ran his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team from 1998 until joining DSR in 2002. It’s also a move that potentially may lead other current drivers to start thinking about their own futures.

It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in drag racing – both drivers and owners – are getting up in years. John Force will soon turn 72, while Schumacher is 75. They’re among several others in the sport who are making contingency plans for their teams to continue to operate once they’re gone – and Brown wants to do his part to help the sport grow and flourish.

“When you’re able to have ownership, you’re looking at the talent coming up,” Brown said. “You’re able to reach down and see and give other people opportunities that you had. When I came to race for Don Schumacher at DSR, he’s given all these people at his place this opportunity to drive.

“But what happens when the Don Schumachers, the John Forces, the Connie Kalittas go? You lose all the owners of our series, so who’s next in line to take over that lineage or carry that torch? It’s a necessary means for the future for the upcoming people.

Antron Brown’s plans to become a team owner were embraced by his current team owner, Don Schumacher. (Getty Images)

“I’ve been in this sport for over 20 years. This is the next evolution of my chapter, the next page of my book. What am I going to do when I decide to hang the helmet up one day? I want to be there to bring that new crop of drivers and talent up and help mold them to be the best version of themselves to carry the sport forward and to share with them what was shared with me over all my years in the sport, from Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Mark Oswald and Don “Snake” Prudhomme, all the people I looked up to.”

While Brown will start as a single-car team once he transitions to ownership, he hopes to eventually build AB Motorsports into at least a two-car operation, with his Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car.

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The path to eventual ownership began nearly a year ago when Brown and Schumacher discussed the future.

“Me and Don had a heart-to-heart talk,” Brown said. “When I told him what I wanted to do, Don said, ‘Antron, I know this is what you want to do. I’ll support you in this.’

“That’s a cool experience when you have a gentleman that has done everything in this sport, from over 350 national event wins, 17 world championships – and I’ve done three with him – and is in every motorsports hall of fame there is.

“What is he going to do next? He’s making the sport better by pushing people like myself to do what I’m doing now. No matter how long it takes, I know I have him on my backside, pushing me to get to that point.”

Like father, like son: Antron Brown and son Anson, who is following in his father’s drag racing footsteps. Photo: Antron Brown’s official Facebook page.

His family’s future also figured into Brown’s decision. His oldest son, Anson, soon turns 16 years old and is heavily involved in NHRA’s Jr. Dragster program, as are Brown’s other children. It’s likely his son some day will follow in his father’s footsteps.

But don’t think that the elder Brown, who turns 44 in March, is ready to hang up his firesuit just yet.

“I’ll stop driving when I feel I’m not capable to drive no more and I’m not having fun no more,” he said. “That’s nowhere in the near future. I know I’m going to drive for at least another 15 years.”

Heading into this season, Brown will retain current sponsorship from Mac Tools and Toyota, as well as associate sponsorship from Hangsterfer’s on his 11,000-horsepower dragster. Global Electronic Technology also has signed on as a new associate sponsor in a multiyear deal.

“It’s no secret this has been a goal of Antron’s for a while now, and I’m happy to be able to provide the tools and resources needed for him to be able to successfully branch out on his own,” Schumacher said in a team media release. “It’s important for me to see my team members grow.”

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Brown burst upon the NHRA scene atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, earning 16 wins over the next 10 seasons. He joined DSR in 2002 and made the switch to Top Fuel in 2008.

Since then, Brown – who now resides in suburban Indianapolis – has gone on to become one of the winningest drivers in Top Fuel history with 50 national event victories, as well as three championships between 2012 and 2015.

That performance recently earned him AutoWeek magazine’s Top Fuel Driver of the Decade.

Brown also announced Tuesday he is reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi, who returns to the team after spending the last two seasons as co-crew chief for 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. Corradi will share crew chief duties for Brown with NHRA veteran Mark Oswald.

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When he won his first title in 2012, Brown became the first African-American world champion in Top Fuel history. He hopes his move to ownership will continue to grow NHRA’s already significant focus on opportunities for minorities and females in the sport.

“I think it’s important across all spectrums, period,” Brown said. “I think a lot of fans see me, and they can relate to me because I am them. I came from a good, hard-working family in Chesterfield, New Jersey, which is right next door to Trenton.

“Everybody in my family from my great uncles to my grandpop made their own way, had their own businesses, from swimming pool to paving to septic tank businesses.

“One thing my grandpop said to me is the world is wide open. He said, ‘Son, you can have anything you want in this world, as long as you put the effort and put the work towards it.’ If people can resonate with my story from where I came from and where I’m heading, I hope it gives them this energy, this ray of hope that ‘if Antron Brown can do this, so can I.’

“That’s the only way for motorsports to grow. It’s for the young ones to get interested in it and I want them to know the opportunity is there. All they have to do is take it.”

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Brown will be among more than 30 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers who will take part in this weekend’s annual preseason “spring training” test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, California.

Follow @JerryBonkowski