IMSA driver Felipe Nasr tests positive for COVID-19; will miss Daytona

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Felipe Nasr is out of IMSA’s return at Daytona International Speedway after testing positive for COVID-19, his team announced Friday morning.

Action Express will replace Nasr with Gabby Chaves to team with Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi this weekend at Daytona, which will mark IMSA’s first race since the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The series had been on hiatus during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return Saturday with the WeatherTech 240 at Daytona.

Nasr said in a release that he wasn’t feeling right while driving to Daytona Beach to Miami and went for a test Thursday that was positive. He had been living in Miami for the past month after arriving in late May from his home in Brazil because of concerns about travel restrictions.

Felipe Nasr (IMSA)

“I felt I had been doing everything correctly,” Nasr said in the release. “I have been in Miami for about a month, staying away from anyone in racing. Before I went to the track or met with my team or anyone in motorsports, I went and got tested and, unfortunately, I tested positive.

“I want to keep everyone on the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team and those around the series safe. I am going back to Miami to quarantine. Hopefully, I will recover quickly, and my doctors can clear me to return to racing soon. For now, I will follow all instructions, guidelines and recommendations from my medical team, my race team, and the IMSA Officials.”

During a Zoom call with the media last Friday, Derani, a Brazilian who also has been living in Miami, said he’d been training for the race with Nasr, and he posted a tweet last month of a photo on a boat with Nasr and former IMSA driver Christian Fittipaldi.

The team has told IMSA officials that it had been more than 14 days since Derani and Nasr had been within 6 feet of each other. According to IMSA, Action Express said the drivers’ last interaction was on June 10 (which is the date on Derani’s tweet from the boat).

Asked by NBCSports.com whether Derani or other team members also would be tested for COVID-19, an Action Express spokesman referred questions to IMSA.

In a statement, IMSA president John Doonan said, “We share Felipe’s disappointment that he will not be able to join his Action Express Racing teammates this weekend in Daytona. He followed all necessary steps, sought medical attention when he wasn’t feeling well and has not been to the racetrack. He has had no direct interaction with any members of his team or any other participants in this weekend’s race. He is a champion of our sport and we expect that he will attack this virus with the same spirit that made him a champion.”

IMSA doesn’t test for COVID-19. But drivers, team members and anyone else entering Daytona International Speedway this weekend will undergo screening that includes a temperature check and completing a health questionnaire that includes a question about being within 6 feet for at least 5 minutes of a person for who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson said in the team’s release that Nasr had not been to the track and would avoid any contact with the public until being cleared.

“All of us at Action Express were stunned when we heard that our friend and teammate, Felipe Nasr, has tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday,” Nelson said in a release.  “We are certainly going to miss having him competing in our Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R on Saturday at Daytona. But, more importantly, he is a great friend to us all and we know he will fight hard to beat this virus the same way he fights for trophies on the racetracks. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

Nasr, 27, has been running full time in IMSA since 2018, winning the prototype championship as a rookie. He also finished second in the DPi standings last season and has three career victories in the class.

Prior to IMSA, the Brazilian raced in Formula One from 2015-16.

Here’s the release from the team:

DENVER, N.C. (July 2, 2020) – Gabby Chaves will replace Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R for this weekend’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship WeatherTech Daytona 240 July 3-4.

Nasr tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and is heading back to Miami to quarantine.

“I’ve been waiting so long for this weekend to get back to racing,” Nasr said. “I felt I had been doing everything correctly. I have been in Miami for about a month, staying away from anyone in racing. Yesterday as I was driving to Daytona, I wasn’t feeling just right. So, before I went to the track or met with my team or anyone in motorsports, I went and got tested and, unfortunately, I tested positive. I want to keep everyone on the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team and those around the series safe. I am going back to Miami to quarantine. Hopefully, I will recover quickly, and my doctors can clear me to return to racing soon. For now, I will follow all instructions, guidelines and recommendations from my medical team, my race team, and the IMSA Officials.”

“All of us at Action Express were stunned when we heard that our friend and teammate, Felipe Nasr, has tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday,” Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing, team manager said.  “We are certainly going to miss having him competing in our Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R on Saturday at Daytona. But, more importantly, he is a great friend to us all and we know he will fight hard to beat this virus the same way he fights for trophies on the racetracks. We wish him a speedy recovery. Felipe has not been to the track and will avoid any contact with the public until he has been cleared by his medical team.

“We made the quick decision to bring in Gabby Chaves who is familiar with our team to partner with Pipo Derani this weekend. We will get Felipe ready to hopefully join us again at Sebring in 15 days.”

Gabby Chaves drove for the team in 2018 at Petit Le Mans, finishing eighth.

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans