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IMSA will resume its revised 2020 season at Daytona and Sebring

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IMSA announced the resumption of its WeatherTech Championship season Friday, returning July 4 at Daytona International Speedway with a live broadcast on NBCSN

The Michelin Pilot Challenge also will resume with the WeatherTech Championship Series at Sebring International Raceway on July 17-18 (also on NBCSN).

The events will be held without fans.

IMSA also announced the rest of its 2020 slate, which continues with Road America on July 31-Aug. 2. Series officials said it hasn’t been decided which races would have crowds after Daytona and Sebring.

The season will conclude Nov. 11-14 with the 12 Hours of Sebring, which was rescheduled from March because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IMSA has been on hold since Wayne Taylor Racing won the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January (here were the final results by class in that event).

Here’s the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Revised Schedule:

Date                 Venue                                                  Length                Classes

Jan. 25-26         Daytona International Speedway            24 hours           DPi, LMP2*, GTLM, GTD

July 3-4             Daytona International Speedway            2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, GTLM, GTD

July 17-18         Sebring International Raceway               2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD**

July 31-Aug. 2   Road America                                       2 hr., 40 min.       DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Aug. 21-23        VIRginia International Raceway              2 hr., 40 min      GTLM, GTD

Sept. 4-6           WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca     2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Sept. 25-27       Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course                  2 hr., 40 min.     DPi, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 2-4             Watkins Glen International                      6 hours             DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 14-17         Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta             10 hours           DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

Oct. 30-31         Lime Rock Park                                     2 hr., 40 min.     GTLM, GTD

Nov. 11-14        Sebring International Raceway               12 hours           DPi, LMP2, GTLM, GTD

 

Here’s the release from IMSA:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2020) – In a series of video conferences with stakeholders earlier today, IMSA revealed its plans to return to racing this summer with a revised 2020 calendar for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The WeatherTech Championship will return July 4 at Daytona International Speedway. This Fourth of July event will feature an evening race with WeatherTech as its entitlement partner and a live television broadcast on NBCSN.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge will resume alongside the WeatherTech Championship at Sebring International Raceway on July 17-18. The WeatherTech Championship event also will be televised live on NBCSN.

Both event weekends will be conducted without fans in attendance.

“IMSA is grateful to all of our promoter partners for collaborating with us to develop a revised schedule of outstanding events,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Our No. 1 priority since March has been to get back to racing as safely and as quickly as possible, and this revised schedule is evidence of that. We appreciate the patience, cooperation, and input of our IMSA stakeholders, and we all are very much looking forward to going racing again this summer and putting on amazing races for our audience.”

Further NBC Sports television broadcast information and any additional details will be announced soon.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?