IMSA

IMSA expands sim racing options with new iRacing Challenge Series

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IMSA will be introducing a new sim racing series Thursday.

The IMSA iRacing Challenge Series will make its debut at 3 p.m. as a precursor to the biweekly IMSA Pro Invitational Series and streamed on the Global SimRacing YouTube Channel..

The 60-minute race will be held at virtual Road America with drivers in Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars based on those in the real-life IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class.

There are several IMSA champions in the field — Joao Barbosa, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tyler McQuarrie and Owen Trinkler — along with several up-and-coming drivers from the Prototype Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge

The IMSA iRacing Challenge event will be followed by Round 4 of the IMSA Pro Invitational Series at virtual Road America (6 p.m. ET, streaming on iRacing YouTube and Facebook).

The 90-minute race will feature the debut of Mazda Motorsports’ Tristan Nunez. The former Road America winner will be racing in a Ford GT with teammates Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell, also former winners at Road America.

Other former winners at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course who are entered in the iRacing event: Ben Keating, Colin Braun, Jeff Segal and Nick Tandy.

Here’s the relase from IMSA on its new iRacing Challenge Series:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Starting this week, IMSA fans will be treated to a double dose of iRacing with the introduction of the new IMSA iRacing Challenge Series.

Prior to the bi-weekly IMSA iRacing Pro Invitational Series event held every other Thursday at 6 p.m. ET, there now will now be an additional, same-day event held at 3 p.m. beginning on Thursday, May 14.

The IMSA iRacing Challenge Series will feature 60-minute races with all drivers using Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars like those used in the real-life IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class.  All IMSA iRacing Challenge Series races will be streamed on the Global SimRacing YouTube Channel.

Like the IMSA iRacing Pro Series, the IMSA iRacing Challenge Series will feature single drivers in each race car.

A range of drivers from all IMSA series, including a handful of newcomers, are entered for the inaugural IMSA iRacing Challenge Series event also being run at Road America. Here’s a closer look:

·    Several IMSA champions have entered. Two-time IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship titleholder Joao Barbosa will be competing, in addition to two-time IMSA GTC champion and longtime Porsche driver Jeroen Bleekemolen. Additionally, the two most recent co-champions in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class, Tyler McQuarrie (2019) and Owen Trinkler (2018) are on the entry list.

·    Up and coming drivers from other IMSA-sanctioned series will have the chance to mix it up with the heavyweights. From IMSA Prototype Challenge, Dakota Dickerson is entered with MLT Motorsports and Benjamin Waddell, who competed in the series for two years before making the jump to Pilot Challenge in 2020, will run with Forty7 Motorsports.

·    Drivers from Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama should find the chosen Cayman GT4 Clubsport appealing.  GT3 Cup Challenge USA race-winner Max Root – who finished fifth at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GTD class with Black Swan Racing – will run under the Wright Motorsports banner. Up-and-coming Canadian driver Ethan Simioni is competing with JDX Racing. Simioni completed his rookie season in the 2019 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series, and shifts to GT3 Cup Challenge USA for 2020.

·    Among drivers making their return to IMSA, prototype driver and WeatherTech Championship race-winner James French is running with Algarve Pro Racing and former Pilot Challenge driver Tyler Cooke – whose most recent win in the series came at the 2018 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – is back on the entry list as well with MDM Motorsports.

IndyCar: Tony Kanaan’s ‘Last Lap’ begins at Texas Motor Speedway

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The streak lives for Tony Kanaan. At least for one more race.

With Kanaan running only ovals during his farewell IndyCar season in 2020 – which has been dubbed the “Last Lap” – his record streak of 317 consecutive Indy-car starts was to end with the season opener March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Fate had other plans. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the postponement of St. Pete (now the season finale in October) amid the shutdown of American sports.

IndyCar has made multiple changes to its 2020 schedule since then, and as a result, Kanaan is getting an opportunity to extend his “Ironman” streak.

The 2004 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner is set for career start No. 318 on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – driving the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet alongside the team’s new full-season driver, Charlie Kimball, in the No. 4 Chevy.

“A lot of people ask me how I coped with the delay of the season,” Kanaan said Monday in an IndyCar Zoom news conference. “To be honest, I was mentally prepared already because my first real race was going to be the [Indy] 500. My mind was already set for May.

“I only really had to delay, what, a couple of weeks from what I was originally scheduled to do. For me, I think it wasn’t as hard as for the other guys that were already in St. Pete, ready to go.”

But while his mindset is locked in, Kanaan notes that he’s been out of a race car for eight months. In fact, as of Monday, he hadn’t sat in a car fitted with the new Aeroscreen cockpit protection system.

However, he is no stranger to the wild and woolly action at Texas. Ditto for his new-slash-old teammate, Kimball: The two competed together at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-17.

That experience is something A.J. Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt is grateful to have on his side.

“Going into this race, it’s huge,” Foyt said. “Especially with the one-day show, everything is accelerated, and going to a big track like Texas, having a guy like Charlie sit on the pole there [in 2017], knows his way around there, and obviously TK is very good there, as well.

“It’s a little bit of peace of mind for sure. Anything can happen, but the engineering group has been working really well together. We’re really hopeful we’re going to unload and get these guys some good cars out of the box. That’s the plan.”

Speaking of Kimball, the Californian is set to revive his full-time career in the sport after making just seven starts last season with Carlin.

He’s enjoyed his unexpected free time at home with his wife, Kathleen, and their two children, Hannah and newborn son Gordon, who arrived in March. But he’s grateful to get back in the car – and to accompany Tony on his ‘last lap.’

“We’re friends off the track,” Charlie said. “We train together. He’s gotten me addicted to riding a bicycle on a computer game, but also our wives are friends, and I think our families when we can get together and the kids can play, I think they’re going to interact really well. I’m excited for his daughter Nina to spend some time with our daughter.

“And the experience – I mean, he’s taught me things and I’ve learned a lot from him about how to restart on ovals and what you can and what you should and shouldn’t do and what he still does. That experience is invaluable to me to continue to learn and get better. I just feel really honored to be his teammate during his last lap, especially when we get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500.”

The NTT IndyCar Series season begins Saturday night from Texas Motor Speedway with the Genesys 300 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The race will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.