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IMSA ride culminates a difficult two weeks for Bourdais

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One of the most respected and well-decorated NTT IndyCar Series drivers, Sebastien Bourdais, wants to remain in INDYCAR, but instead will have to compete in a full-time IMSA beginning in 2020.

“I never wanted to leave INDYCAR,” Bourdais told NBC Sports.com late Friday night. “I have to find something to build on for 2020. The timing of things, there wasn’t anything left for me in INDYCAR in 2020. The opportunity for me to drive in IMSA, I will go to try to win races and try to win the championship.

“Hopefully, I will find something to return to IndyCar in 2021.

“I didn’t leave. I was terminated. But I want to return in 2021. I just have to find the right opportunity.”

Bourdais announced on Friday he was leaving Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan’s No. 18 Honda in IndyCar. Beginning next season, he will compete in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling RacinJDC-Miller MotorSports g Cadillac DPi-V. R in the 2020 and 2021 seasons of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

Bourdais joins two-time series champion Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 entry in IMSA. He credits the team’s former driver and current consultant Christian Fittipaldi for helping him finalize the deal.

“Following two very difficult weeks filled with uncertainty regarding my future, I am thrilled to get the opportunity to race a prototype again, be reunited with Joao, Ken and Brenda, and drive for JDC-Miller MotorSports and Mustang Sampling Racing,” Bourdais said. “I want to thank Christian and everyone who made this possible. 2020 can’t come soon enough and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of our Cadillac DPi-V.R.”

Bourdais returns to prototype competition after spending the past four seasons as a part of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program in addition to the last three seasons with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan in IndyCar.

The former Peugeot Sport LMP1 driver brings a wealth of top-level prototype experience to JDC-Miller MotorSports and the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry.

It was perhaps the off-season’s most surprising announcement as the four-time Champ Car Series champion and 37-time NTT IndyCar Series race winner decided to leave IndyCar for IMSA.

Mustang-Sampling won the WeatherTech SportsCar Team and Driver Championships in 2015, the Michelin Endurance Cup in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2018.

“We are honored to have Mustang Sampling joining us and grateful for the confidence Brenda and Ken Thompson have placed in our team and organization,” said John Church, managing partner of JDC-Miller MotorSports. “Mustang Sampling Racing has achieved a tremendous amount in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. We look forward to carrying on the legacy of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry and hope to add more wins and championships in the near future.”

“We are thrilled to continue our Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac Prototype program with our new partner JDC-Miller MotorSports in 2020,” said Mustang Sampling president Ken Thompson. “Our first five years in IMSA with Action Express, Corvette, and Cadillac were great. Learning the sport and becoming a part of the IMSA family promoting sport car racing for all the great fans was fantastic and we are very thankful to all who guided us along the way. We had much success, enjoyed many wins and Championships during that time. Now with our partnership with JDC-Miller MotorSports we are confident this amazing run will continue and provide many future wins and Championships. Since joining the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in 2014 JDC-Miller MotorSports has shown incredible growth and success in every category they have competed. We feel as a group we can be successful, both on and off the track, as we work together to develop new opportunities for Mustang Sampling and our Fans.”

Fittipaldi completed his final year as a racing driver and is looking forward to his new opportunity.

“I am extremely happy with what we have accomplished today,” Fittipaldi said. “A lot of effort from everyone involved has gone into putting this package together and I could not be happier with our driver line-up and what we have achieved. Most thanks to Mustang Sampling, Ken and Brenda for their trust and our new partner JDC-Miller MotorSports. I cannot wait for the season to start and to see the #5 Cadillac again at Daytona.”

The team also confirmed 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Loïc Duval will complete the line-up for the endurance rounds. Duval currently competes with Audi in the DTM and Formula E championship.

“First of all, I am obviously super happy to be able to return to Daytona with a great team, car and fast experienced co-drivers. I am very excited for the challenge and looking forward to my first laps in a Cadillac.” Duval said.

JDC-Miller further confirmed that it plans to continue running a two-car Cadillac DPi program in 2020.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

 

IndyCar’s Scott Dixon staying fit with new training regimen during layoff

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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 has 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.

RELATED: How is Sabres’ star Jack Eichel staying fit?

His reaction time is being tested by his wife, Emma, throwing 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.

“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.”


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 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic literally sent society underground and locked in while awaiting a solution to this fatal virus.

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.”

RELATED: Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph adjusting to ‘new normal’ for training

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 inbetween 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 outbreak 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