Today’s IMSA race at the Charlotte Roval: How to watch, schedules, TV, streaming info

IMSA Charlotte Roval schedule
IMSA
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During a season in which street courses were wiped from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Saturday’s Motul 100% Synthetic Grand Prix at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) might offer the closest approximation of those tight circuits.

“A lot of the infield feels like a street course with a lot of walls and not a lot of room for error,” said Corvette Racing driver Jordan Taylor, who tested his C8.R at the track last month. “That’s a lot different compared to Daytona where you have some grass and exit curbs, whereas at Charlotte some of the apexes and exit curbs are concrete walls.

“Learning the track was pretty stressful because there are some bumps in odd places and the flow feels a bit funny. The chicanes with the big blue curbs, we can’t really touch those. One of the other cars there in testing crashed twice just from clipping the blue curbs. Definitely there will be some attrition. It’s definitely going to be one of the tougher races. We were lucky to test there.”

The 100-minute race around the 10-turn, 2.32-mile layout will feature only the GTLM and GTD classes, and the track essentially will be a one-off for IMSA, which won’t return to the Roval on its 2021 schedule.

Corvettes have won five of the past six races in GTLM, including four by No. 3 drivers Taylor and Antonio Garcia. With four races remaining the lead the standings by 17 points (226-209) over No. 4 teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.

In the GTD class, Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry of the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 (which paced practice Friday night) enter with a lead on Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth of the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.

“I was kind of expecting it to be a bit Mickey Mouse, but it really isn’t,” Hawksworth said after testing at the Roval. “It’s a super-high-intensity, high-level, technical track. I think the racing is going to be insane.

“I have to say I really enjoyed the circuit. It surprised me how much fun it was to drive. That place is a street circuit on steroids in one of our cars. (You’re) really, really on the limit, difficult chicanes, walls everywhere, no room for error at all. It feels like you’re flying. There’s no rest, either. It’s probably the most physical track that we go to.”

Here are the details for IMSA Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (all times are ET):


IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the Roval

WHEN: Today, 8 p.m.

TV:  NBCSN

STREAM: NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold

RADIO: IMSA Radio will have live radio coverage on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, as well as SiriusXM

RACE DISTANCE: A timed event of 100 minutes (shortest of the season) on the 17-turn, 2.28-mile course at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 69 degrees with a 50% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the GT and GTD entry list for the Motul Grand Prix at the Roval


IMSA at the Roval today

9:45-11 a.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

2-2:40 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying, IMSA.com

8 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul 100% Synthetic Grand Prix, NBCSN, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold

Jenson Button joins NASCAR Garage 56 at Le Mans with Jimmie Johnson, Rockenfeller

Jenson Button NASCAR Le Mans
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Garage 56 entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be driven by champions of three major-league series — Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The lineup of the Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Next Gen Camaro was announced Saturday before the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

NASCAR’s Garage 56 project was announced in March 2022 as a joint effort by NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear. It marks the return of a NASCAR team to Le Mans for the first time in nearly 50 years with Hendrick fielding a Camaro ZL1 as the “Garage 56” entry in the 100th edition of the sports car classic.

It’s long been expected the car would include Johnson, the seven-time Cup Series champion who is returning to NASCAR’s premier series as a driver-owner in 2023. Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM champion and 2010 Le Mans overall winner, has attended every NASCAR Garage 56 test since last year while racking up simulator testing hours.

The surprise was Button, the 2009 Formula One champion who has become a popular commentator. Rick Hendrick initially said wanted four-time Cup champion and current Hendrick Motorsports COO Jeff Gordon to drive the car, and Gordon had raced a sports car at Indianapolis last year to test his race shape.

GARAGE 56 ANSWERS, ANALYSISMore on the NASCAR-Hendrick entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

“Since the beginning of the Garage 56 project, it has been our goal to partner with the top racers in the world to represent us in Le Mans,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a release. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is everything we could have dreamed of – three elite drivers who have won at the highest levels of motorsports worldwide. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, we are honored to have these world-class champions help bring the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race car to fans in Le Mans, and across the world.”

Button had one of the most prolific careers in F1 history finishing with 15 wins and 50 podiums on top of his 2009 World Championship and is widely considered one of the top British drivers of all time.

“As a lifelong racing fan, I have always dreamed of racing certain cars, with and against certain drivers and competing in certain events,” Button said in a release. “In June, a number of those dreams will come true in one event when I get to bring NASCAR to the world stage alongside my pals Jimmie and ‘Rocky’ for the 100th anniversary of the most prestigious race in the world. I’m really looking forward to sharing this journey with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and current and future NASCAR fans from around the world.”

Johnson will make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut a year after starting his first Indy 500. He has 83 victories in the Cup Series, where he will return for the Daytona 500 next month with his Legacy Motor Club team.

He also has been involved with testing the Garage 56 Camaro.

“I’m super thrilled – it’s been at the top of my bucket list to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans someday,” Johnson said. “To have this opportunity come – and to partner with everybody and this driver lineup – is truly an incredible opportunity and one that I am thankful to be a part of.”

Rockenfeller teamed with Johnson on the No. 48 Ally Cadillac in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2021-22. The German driver has been the lead test driver for Garage 56 and has driven during every on-track test.

“It has been a great journey so far with the whole team and project,” Rockenfeller said. “To be involved as a driver from day one until now was already a great honor, and to now have Jimmie and Jenson alongside me as teammates in Le Mans is unbelievable.”

The car will continue testing with all three drivers next week at the Daytona International Speedway road course. Rolex 24 and four-time IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, who drives for Corvette Racing, will be the team’s backup driver and coach. Taylor also won the GTE Pro class in 2015 at Le Mans, where he has four podium finishes.

The project also is being supported by IMSA GTP team Action Express, whose general manager is former NASCAR executive and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Gary Nelson. Action Express built the first test car for the Garage 56 but since has handed off the project to Hendrick, where it’s being over seen by vice president of competition Chad Knaus (the crew chief for Johnson’s seven championships).

“Action Express got it going and built the mule car, and then Hendrick joined the program, took it from where we had it, and they’re doing a major percentage of the work,” Nelson told NBC Sports. “We just did a test a couple months ago on a wet track. We’ve done a couple of other tests as they were ramping their program up. Now their car is good, tested and running. We’re still involved and here to help. The Hendrick guys have taken the reins, and Rick Hendrick and Chad Knaus are a thrill to work with and doing a much better job. It’s more NASCAR than prototype racing.”