Mazda drivers laugh off sandbagging charges at Rolex 24: ‘All drivers are kind of whiny’


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mazda drivers scoffed at allegations that they were sandbagging last week during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona test session.

“At the end of the day, it makes good headlines,” Harry Tincknell said Thursday during a Zoom news conference at Daytona International Speedway. “And I think when some teams and drivers win, it’s talent, and when they don’t win, it’s (Balance of Performance). That’s what I have to say on it.”

But in this most recent instance of manufacturer jousting, it was Motul 100 qualifying race winners Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani who leveled the accusations that their rivals weren’t trying as hard.

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Despite Cadillacs dominating much of the results on the opening weekend, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series officials announced Wednesday no Rolex 24 tweaks in DPi. Under its Balance of Performance policy, IMSA officials can enforce parity by restricting teams via aerodynamic, horsepower and weight adjustment.

Mazda’s No. 55 trio of Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito and Oliver Jarvis all pointed to the results of Thursday morning’s practice – where Cadillac, Mazda and Acura were separated by less than 0.2 seconds among the top four lap times – as evidence that the field already was even.

“All drivers are kind of whiny when it comes to that,” Bomarito said. “I think the fact there were no changes, they feel the BoP is very close, and I think you’ll see that in the 24 Hours. There’s going to be great racing across all three brands that represent the DPi class, and I think you saw that at Sebring and continue to see it at this race.”

Mazda won the Twelve Hours of Sebring season finale last November, leading a top four that featured all three manufacturers.

This is my fifth Daytona, and every year, you hear the same comments after qualifying,” Jarvis said. “This is nothing new. We’ve heard it all before. It’s a shame that BoP becomes a topic, and drivers do put that out in the press, but overall, I think looking at practice this morning, it’s extremely close, and we’re only really going to get a feeling when we get into the race, and even then, it’s going to change depending on the conditions. Certainly different cars work at different temperatures.

A Mazda team member works on the No. 55 co-driven by Oliver Jarvis, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito (IMSA).

“I think IMSA have done a really good job, even over the last year or so, it’s been some fabulous racing. Really close. But until we really get into sort of halfway through the race, we’re just not going to know how close it really is.”

Renger van der Zande, who led Thursday morning’s practice, said there was some validity to the comments of Derani and Nasr. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver noted that Mazda was dominant in qualifying at the 2020 Rolex 24 and is better positioned to disguise its speed in downsizing from two to one entry. There are three Cadillacs in the field.

“There’s always one Cadillac who starts to push,” van der Zande told NBC Sports in a Wednesday interview. “There are a few teams running that car, and there’s no communication between those teams, so if we slow down, there’s always another team who speeds up, and that basically gives the car for us to speed up as well because we’re not holding back.

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“So everybody is pushing with the Cadillac, but if you’re the only Mazda in the field, you can play the game as hard as you can, and it looks like well, I wouldn’t say they are playing the game to the maximum, but you just have to look at last year’s lap times where they were on pole with a big margin and all that, and this year’s lap times. I don’t think anybody got slower, so that’s how I look at it.

“I think Nasr is right. That’s the feeling you get, and he spoke from the heart and said, ‘Well, this is what we think and what’s going to happen,’ and the only thing I want is to have a fair BoP so we can have a fair fight. But also Penske played the BoP for a long time, and the year before, it was very clear how they played it. So within Acura they probably know how to do that. It’s obviously two teams now, so maybe less communication between them, but on the other hand they will cooperate.

“It’s always this BoP topic isn’t it? I really hate talking about it, but it’s a big part of what we do, because it really shows at the end who is going to be in the fastest car, and if they play the BoP and have the fastest car, it wouldn’t be so nice.”

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series

After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi