Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2021 season this weekend at Michelin Road Atlanta as the Motul Petit Le Mans is held under an unusually longer shroud of darkness.
Normally held in late September, pandemic schedule disruptions have pushed the prestigious 10-hour season finale to Nov. 13, which means roughly half of the endurance race will be held at night on a 2.54-mile road course with sparse track lighting.
“The more of the race at night time, the more the chances that contact can happen,” said Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing. “Going through Sector 1, you dive into that little chicane, and that’s when bad luck happens, that opens more to that contact. You can’t have it. If you’re a a lap down, you’re done. It’s hard to get laps back, and it’s a small lap as well, if you need to come in to replace the nose, you can easily lose a lap. You need to (be) sharp to (avoid) a mistake.”
Albuquerque and co-drivers Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi are aiming to be perfect as they try to protect the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura’s 19-point lead in the DPi standings over the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Action Express with drivers Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway.
After teaming with Derani and Nasr last year, Albuquerque moved to WTR in 2021 and drove the final stint of its Rolex 24 at Daytona victory. The team since has added victories at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca.
But Derani and Nasr (who is in his final race at Action Express) have won three of the past four races (Long Beach, Road America and Watkins Glen) in the premier class to make it a tight battle.
“The championship comes down to so many moving parts, especially on the long races,” Derani said. “We’re coming down to the final race with the slimmest of margins.”
Adding another layer to the drama is that Derani and Taylor (then racing for Team Penske) collided while racing for the lead with 10 minutes left in last year’s Petit Le Mans.
THEY BOTH SPIN!
Trouble for Pipo Derani and Ricky Taylor after this bold move near the end of Motul Petit Le Mans! @IMSA // @RoadAtlanta pic.twitter.com/eBqIKQBA1w
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) October 18, 2020
Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner, is one of several endurance drivers from other series in the field. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will be making his fourth start this season in the No. 48 Cadillac with 2019 Indy 500 winner and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud and two-time Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi.
Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon will be teamed with Renger van der Zande and Kevin Magnussen in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 Cadillac. Four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will join Dane Cameron on the No. 60 Acura of Meyer Shank Racing.
Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):
IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info
When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET
Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course
Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 52 degrees with an 11% chance of rain at the green flag.
Entry list: Click here to see the 43-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta
Starting lineup: Click here to see the grid for the race
RACE BROADCAST IMSA PETIT LE MANS ROAD ATLANTA
TV: Noon ET, NBC; 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN
TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold Coverage: Live flag to flag beginning at 12:05 p.m. ET. Leigh Diffey is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell, Calvin Fish and Steve Letarte and pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dillon Welch and Kevin Lee.
Race streaming: NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold
IMSA.com live qualifying stream: Friday, 3:40 p.m. ET.
IMSA Radio: All sessions live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (Sirius 216, XM 202, Internet 992).
DAILY SCHEDULE IMSA PETIT LE MANS ROAD ATLANTA
Here’s a rundown of the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:
Wednesday, Nov. 10
8:45-9:15 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice
9:30-10:15 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice
10:30-11 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 Cup practice
Noon-12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice
12:45-1:15 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice
1:30-2 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 Cup practice
2:15-3:15 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice
3-4 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying
Thursday, Nov. 11
8-8:15 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying
8:30-9 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying
9:20-10:20 a.m.: WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice
10:40-11:40 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice
12:10-12:55 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup Race 1
1:15-2 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 Cup Race 1
2:20-3:35 p.m.: WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice
3:55-4:30 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying
4:45-5:30 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup Race 2
6:30-8:10 p.m.: WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice
Friday, Nov. 12
8-9:45 a.m.: Prototype Challenge, Round 6
10:05-10:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 Cup Race 2
11:15 a.m.-noon: Porsche Carrera Cup Race 3
1:10-3:10 p.m.: Fox Factory 120
3:45-5:15 p.m.: WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying
Saturday, Nov. 13
9:15-9:35 a.m.: WeatherTech SportsCar Championship warmup
12:10-10:10 p.m.: Motul Petit Le Mans