World of Outlaws to run a pair of Kings Royal races in busy Eldora Speedway weekend

Kings Royal Eldora
World of Outlaws

A busy week is on hand for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series with the Brad Doty Classic in the books and four more races on tap as they run a pair of Kings Royal races at Eldora Speedway complete with one Jokers Wild and one Knight Before the Kings Royal in support of the big shows. The action begins Wednesday night and runs through Saturday on DirtVision (subscription required).

The COVID-19 pandemic put the 37th running of the Kings Royal on hold in 2020. The Outlaws decided the best time to make up the iconic race was during the 2021 Kings Royal weekend, so in a move that is likely to confound every statistician out there, the 38th Kings Royal will be run Thursday, July 15th with the 37th running of the classic occurring two days later on Saturday, July 17th.

But first, the series got kickstarted the week with the Brad Doty Classic at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. It is a fitting tribute to one of open wheel racing’s former stars as Doty saw his sprint car career end in the 1988 Kings Royal after suffering a devastating back injury.

Tuesday night, Spencer Bayston earned his first Outlaws win over the drivers standing first and second in the championship. Points’ leader Brad Sweet finished second at Attica with second-place Carson Macedo finishing third.

And if that was not enough competition, the winningest active Outlaws driver, Donny Schatz, advanced 18 positions during the evening to finish fourth.

The Brad Doty Classic also included a pair of NASCAR drivers, with Christopher Bell running 15th and Kyle Larson a distant 24th.

The Kings Royal was last run in 2019 with Sweet beating Logan Schuchart by more than two seconds in the 40-lap feature. Sweet also won the Jokers Wild 30-lap race that year. Schatz was victorious the next night in the Knight Before the Kings Royal, also run at 30 laps.

Both Kings Royals will feature a purse of $175,000.

Sweet is going to need the momentum that six consecutive top-fives, including three wins and a second-place finish, gives him. He did not run very well at Eldora in May when the track hosted a two-day show. Sweet finished 14th and 11th in those two races.

Schatz stood on the podium in both May races with third-place finishes, but still anxiously waited on his 300th career victory, which he achieved at the Dubuque (Iowa) Fairgrounds a little less than a month ago.

If Schatz can win his both Kings Royals, he will tie the legendary Steve Kinser with seven.

Sweet and Schatz are joined by five other former Kings Royal winners, including Kerry Madsen (2014), Daryn Pittman (2008), Jason Sides (2004), Jac Haudenschild (1987, 1994 and 1998) and Dave Blaney (1993, 1995 and 2000).

Wednesday’s Jokers Wild and Friday’s The Knight Before will run as standard World of Outlaws programs. Thursday’s 38th Kings Royal and Saturday’s 37th Kings Royal are a whole different show.

Qualifying is part of the schedule, but everyone goes under one group. More importantly, a huge 36-car inversion flips the Heat Race lineups and puts the fastest cars mid-pack. Only the top-three finishers of the heats transfer directly into the Kings Royal A-Main in spots 1-18. The fastest two qualifiers who do not transfer are guaranteed starting spots 19-20. A Last Chance Showdown will add four more drivers to the 40-lap, 24-car feature.

Back-to-back Kings Royal races also kicks off the “Month of Money”. Over the next eight events, culminating in the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals on August 11, a total of $635,000 in prize money will be on the line.

2021 Kings Royal Schedule

Wednesday, Jokers Wild
Thursday, 38th Kings Royal
Friday, The Knight Before the Kings Royal
Saturday, 37th Kings Royal

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.