IMSA releases entry list, schedule for iRacing’s Saturday at Sebring

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IMSA has released the official entry list for Saturday’s virtual stand-in for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (rescheduled to Nov. 11-14 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic).

IMSA’s Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday with a 50-car field of real-world drivers from IndyCar and various sports car series.

The 90-minute race will be streamed live on the iRacing eSports Network on YouTube and iRacing’s Twitch channel, with pre- and postrace from the Torque Show on Facebook Live. IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh will be part of the broadcast.

Drivers will have a choice between racing four cars from the GT division of the WeatherTech Series Championship on the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway: Porsche 911 RSR, BMW M8 GTE, Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTE.

Click here for the entry list in the “SuperSaturday” at Sebring International Raceway.

There are several IndyCar veterans in the race, including Colton Herta. The Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport driver who had two victories in his No. 88 Honda as a 2019 rookie in the NTT Series. Herta also was part of the BMW team that won the 2019 GTLM class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’m looking forward to racing this weekend,” Herta, who will drive the No. 23 BMW in the online race, said in a release. “It’s always exciting to go up against everyone, no matter the circumstances. Like many things right now, racing is coming to a stop at the minute. So I think this will help propel interest and hopefully give people an outlet to watch some form of motorsport.”

He will be joined by fellow 2019 IndyCar rookie Santino Ferrucci, who drives the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and will be driving the No. 18 BMW in iRacing.

IndyCar drivers Dalton Kellett and Sage Karam also are in the online event, which will include seven drivers who have won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Joao Barbosa, the 2015 winner, will drive the No. 5 Ferrari 488 GTE, and last year’s overall winner, Felipe Nasr, will pilot the No. 31 BMW M8 GTE. Richard Westbrook, who won the GT class in 2013 at Sebring, will be in a Ford Mustang.

Four past GTD winners are in the online race. Jeff Segal (2016) will drive the No. 69 Ferrari; Jeroen Bleekemolen (2017) is piloting a Porsche 911 RSR; Corey Lewis (2018) is in the No. 39 BMW, and Mirko  Bortolotti (2019) will drive the No. 888 Porsche.

There are 11 IMSA champions in the field, including Barbosa and Nasr from the top divisions. Other champions: Filipe Albuquerque, Segal, Westbrook, Bleekemolen, Mark Wilkins, Michael Lewis, Stevan McAleer, Roman De Angelis and Ryan Hardwick.

Frenchman Tristan Vautier, a veteran of IndyCar who scored consecutive Sebring pole positions in GTD and Prototype in 2017-18, also is in the race, driving the No. 85 BMW.

Here’s the schedule for Sebring SuperSaturday (all times ET):

1:30-2:30 p.m. – The Torque Show iRacing Pre-Race Show – Facebook Live

2:30-4 p.m. – IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing – iRacing eSports Network on YouTube, Twitch

4 p.m. – The Torque Show – iRacing Post-Race Show – Facebook Live

7:30 p.m. – The Torque Show – NBCSN Preview

NBCSN, which has been broadcasting IMSA races since last season, will show a one-hour highlight show of the 2019 Twelve Hours of Sebring at 8 p.m. ET Saturday. It was the closest overall finish in the race’s 67-year history.

Fans are encouraged to use the #IMSASuperSaturday hashtag to discuss the race on social media.

April 9 in Motorsports History: Al Unser Jr. gets sixth Long Beach win

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The list of winners in the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a ‘who’s who’ of open-wheel racing.

Mario Andretti won at the famed street course four times. His son Michael won there twice.

Paul Tracy is also a four-time winner at the beach. Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, and Alexander Rossi also have won at the famed course multiple times.

But there is only one “King of the Beach”: Al Unser Jr.

The winningest driver in the race’s history, Unser won at Long Beach four consecutive times from 1988-91. He won again in 1994 and entered the 1995 edition as the race’s defending champion and the defending CART champion as well.

Starting fourth, Unser made slight contact with Gil de Ferran when he passed the Brazilian on Lap 3. He then continued to move up to the front, taking the race lead from Teo Fabi on Lap 30.

Once he had the lead, Unser ran away from the field, winning by more than 23 seconds over Scott Pruett.

Unser’s victory was such a familiar scene that after the race, CART news manager John Procida began the winner’s news conference with the following statement: “Well, we have a very familiar face on the top rung of the podium. As we listed on the prerace press release, this seems to be the Al Unser Invitational.”

Indeed it was. Unser’s victory was his sixth at Long Beach, and the 28th of his career. overall. While it would be his last win there, Unser continued to race at Long Beach through 1998 before missing 1999 with a broken leg and moving to the Indy Racing Leauge in 2000.

In 2009, Unser was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, which honors significant contributors to the race and California motorsports community.

“It truly is just an honor to be mentioned with the names and the legends that have already been put into the sidewalk,” Unser said during the induction ceremony. “To have Brian (Redman, the inaugural winner of the race) and Parnelli (Jones) is really an honor and just to be in their company is very, very special.”

Also on this date:

1971: Jacques Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The second-generation driver was one of the best in open-wheel racing during the 1990s, winning the Indianapolis 500 and CART championship in ’95 and becoming a Formula One champion two years later.

1989: Rick Mears dominated CART’s Checker Autoworks 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading every lap from the pole and lapping the field.

2011: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, their sixth consecutive victory in Grand Am competition. Their lengthy win streak, which started on Aug. 7, 2010 at Watkins Glen, prompted Grand Am to offer a $25,000 bounty for any Daytona Prototype team that could beat the dominant duo. The Action Express trio of Joao Barbosa, J.C. France, and Terry Borcheller finally unseated Pruett and Rojas in the series’ next round at Virginia International Raceway.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994