Starting lineup for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta

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Acura Team Penske will lead the starting lineup to the green flag for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Dane Cameron, who is paired with Juan Pablo Montoya and IndyCar teammate Simon Pagenaud in the No. 6 DPi entry, captured the pole position for the 10-hour race Friday.

It’s the fourth consecutive pole position for Penske, which has won the past three IMSA events with its No. 7 Acura ARX-05 of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor (who have been joined this weekend by Alexander Rossi).

Cameron edged Taylor by 0.094 seconds with a record lap of 1 minute, 8.412 seconds around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course in Braselton, Georgia.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the Petit Le Mans grid l Click here for the lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: How to watch the 10-hour race Saturday

“I told the engineers, ‘Let’s really put the thing on the limit this time and see,’” Cameron said. “I’m happy with what we ended up with, happy to get pole after missing out here the last time we showed up and the last couple of years here at Petit.”

Among other classes:

–Patrick Kelly put the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA on the pole position in LMP2.

–Antonio Garcia scored the third consecutive GTLM pole position for Corvette Racing’s No. 3 C8.R (which was on pole the past two races with teammate Jordan Taylor).

–Shinya Michimi qualified for his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship pole, putting the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 first in qualifying.

The 31-car lineup for the Petit Le Mans will take the green flag at 12:40 p.m. ET Saturday at Road Atlanta.

The 10-hour race will be broadcast from 12:30-6:30 p.m. on NBCSN; 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com; and 9:30-11 p.m. on NBCSN.

Click here for the starting lineup for the Petit Le Mans.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”