Scott Dixon leads IndyCar drivers in Rolex 24


The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is a race that attracts drivers from across the world of motorsports, and this year’s running of the sports car classic was no exception.

In addition to the presence of reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, several stars from the NTT IndyCar Series competed in the 2020 race.

Among the IndyCar regulars competing this year was five-time champion Scott Dixon, who was part of the No. 10 overall winner from Wayne Taylor Racing.

Joining Dixon in victory lane Sunday afternoon were co-drivers Ryan Briscoe (who competed in IndyCar from 2005-15), Kamui Kobayashi and Regner van der Zande. Dixon previously won the overall in 2006 and 2015; he also took the GLTM class in 2018.

But this was the first time since 2004 that Dixon wasn’t driving in the Rolex for his IndyCar team, Chip Ganassi Racing.

“These situations are just so hard to come by,” Dixon told NBC Sports in victory lane. “I think with Ganassi not being here for the first time in a long time, and having the opportunity to come with such a strong team, the defending champions as well, feels so good for me. I’ll just enjoy it, man. That’s all I can do.

“Hopefully I can come back next year and have another go at it. I just love racing so much, and [I’m] thankful to be part of great teams like this, and part of this whole history.”

Finishing two positions behind Dixon in third was four-time IndyCar champion Sebastien Bourdais, who was competing in his first race at JDC Motorsports/Mustang Sampling Racing.

Though Bourdais will drive for the team full time in IMSA this year after parting ways with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, the Frenchman has said he still intends to run a few IndyCar races this season.

Behind Bourdais in fourth pwas the No. 6 Acura Team Penske entry that included Indy 500 winners Simon Pagenaud and Juan Pablo Montoya. Fellow Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished sixth overall with Mazda Team Joest.

Among the race’s disappointing finishes was the No. 7 Acura of Team Penske, which was shared between Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi with sports car regular Ricky Taylor. 

The trio’s hopes were eliminated just four hours into the race when Harry Tincknell spun Castroneves into a tire barrier in the Bus Stop chicane, sending Castroneves to the garage for repairs.

“It’s not even four hours into the race, I was taking my time, dealing with traffic, and then the guy just decided to dive into [me] in a place that’s probably 120 mph, for a risk that’s not going to pay off,”  a frustrated Castroneves told NBC Sports while his crew repaired the car. “We had a great car. It’s just … 24 hours! Ugh!

“I’m sorry that I expressed my feelings right now, but it’s just ridiculous. Especially when we tell the guy, look, we’re communicating and taking it easy. I’ll let you by, no problem. So many hours to go. It’s just frustrating.”

While most IndyCar drivers competing in the race ran in DPi, a few others raced in other classes.

IndyCar part-timer Ben Hanley was one of the drivers in DragonSpeed’s LMP2 winner, and Colton Herta finished fifth (17th overall) in BMW RLL’s No. 25 car (after winning the GTLM class with the team last year).

Next month, many of the IndyCar drivers who competed at Daytona will return to their day jobs, as the series will conduct a two-day open test session on Feb. 11-12 at Circuit of Americas near Austin, Texas.

The season opener of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will take place March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, with coverage starting at 3:30 pm ET on NBCSN.

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Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).