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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 teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.