Bill Auberlen sets IMSA wins record; No. 3 Corvette triumphs again at VIR

Bill Auberlen IMSA record
IMSA
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Bill Auberlen became the all-time winner in IMSA victories Saturday, setting the record in a GTD class victory with teammate Robby Foley during the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway.

Taking the checkered flag in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, Auberlen socred his 61st victory and broke a tie with Scott Pruett.

“It’s amazing,” Auberlen told the IMSA Wire Service. “I said my best career win was Petit Le Mans last year (win No. 60); I think this one has to top it. … It is probably the best win of my career. To do it with Robby, Turner, BMW, everybody, I’m super happy.”

RESULTS: Michelin GT Challenge at VIR overall l By class

Auberlen led the final 53 minutes of the two-hour, 40-minute race, fending off an aggressive move by class runner-up Mario Farnbacher in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 of Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian.

The victory came 27 years after Auberlen’s inaugural win at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“This was the most nerve-racking hour of my life,” Auberlen said. “When I got to about 35 minutes, every little calculated mistake or whatever I was making, I would talk to myself: ‘Don’t blow this!’ This time it was all in my head, trying not to screw up, get this monkey off my back. Now we can put our head down for the season and try to win this championship.”

Said Foley: “To have a guy like Bill as my teammate to lean on a little bit and just watch how he does things and performs and learn off him is just an amazing opportunity. To be a very small part of his historic career is a humbling experience but also fun to be a part of.”

Robby Foley and Bill Auberlen won the GTD class with the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 (IMSA).

In the GTLM class, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor won in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R for the second consecutive race and third this season, taking advantage of a late pit stop for a cut left rear tire from the lead by Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19.

Garcia limped to the finish line with a broken rear diffuser that left his car shaking over the closing laps.

“Things are definitely going our way,” said Garcia, who won by 3.5 seconds over the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE of Bruno Spengler and Connor De Phillippi. “We can’t complain about that. To do this, you need a fast car and a team to perform the whole time. We have that. We had our issues like the other teams did, but the main thing is that the ones we had were early so we could recover right away.”

Garcia said the rear diffuser broke at the same time Tandy pitted with 18 minutes left, but the Corvette driver was able to baby the car to the finish.

“Jordan did a really good job in his middle stint to drive back and maintain the gap behind the leaders,” Garcia said. “When I jumped in, the race was pretty much done. All I could do was keep some pressure on the 911 and not let him get away and have an easy race to the end. But we had our issues at the same time.

Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor celebrate their GTLM victory at VIR (IMSA).

“At first I thought it was terminal because it felt really bad. Once I got used to it, I could tell it wasn’t really interfering with the performance. I had enough of a gap to the 25 by about 12 or 13 seconds. I could manage that in a way. It was very stressful. Thankfully the C8.R is very strong all around. We just need to keep this momentum.”

Taylor and Garcia lead the championship standings in GTLM 165-146 over defending champions Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor, who finished fifth Saturday.

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return Sept. 4-6 at Road Atlanta.


MORE STATS FROM VIR

Michelin GT Challenge leader sequence

Michelin GT Challenge race analysis by lap

Michelin GT Challenge fastest lap sequence

Michelin GT Challenge fastest lap by driver

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change