TUDOR Championship Set To Tackle The Iconic Brickyard
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the next stop for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – and yet another iconic North American motorsports venue on the inaugural 2014 schedule.
All four TUDOR Championship classes will compete in the Brickyard Grand Prix, a two-hour, 45-minute race on Friday at 5:45 p.m. ET.
While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competed in the Brickyard Grand Prix the past two years, the unification of North American sports car racing now extends the opportunity to race at Indy to teams and drivers that formerly competed in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÂ¢n, including competitors formerly in the P2, GT, Prototype Challenge (PC) and GTC classes.
The race will be held on the repaved and revised 14-turn, 2.435-mile circuit, leveling the playing field for competitors who have never raced at the Speedway. In the past, the Rolex Series used a 2.534-mile layout.
Eight Indy 500 Veterans To Challenge In Brickyard Grand Prix
Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix will return a number of familiar drivers from IndyCar, Formula One and NASCAR to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Eight veterans of the Indianapolis 500 – including four drivers from the 2014 event –will be joined by Giancarlo Fisichella – an eight-time U.S. Grand Prix competitor – and Scott Pruett and Andy Lally, who have raced in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400.
Prototype Challenge (PC) competitors Jack Hawksworth and Martin Plowman, along with GT Daytona (GTD) drivers Townsend Bell and James Davison, all were in the field for the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend classic.
Bell was running in his eighth Indy 500, and ran competitively until a late-race incident led to a 25th-place finish. Davison led the TUDOR Championship group with a 16th-place finish, with Hawksworth finishing 20th and Plowman 23rd.
Prototype driver Scott Sharp raced in 14 Indy 500s, winning the pole in 2001 and scoring five top-10 finishes. He is joined in the lead class by fellow Indy 500 veteran Christian Fittipaldi, who was Rookie of the Year and second-place finisher in his lone 500 in 1995. PC driver Bruno Junqueira led four of his six 500s, winning the pole in 2002 while finishing fifth in both 2001 and 2004.
Fisichella finished in the top 10 in all but one of his Formula One races at Indy, including a third-place finish for Renault in 2006. He scored his second GTE Pro victory for Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Pruett, who finished second in the Brickyard Grand Prix, in both 2012 and 2013, competed in four Indy 500s in addition to racing twice in the Brickyard 400.
Lally competed in the 2011 Brickyard Grand Prix – going on to win NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. He won the GT class in the 2012 Brickyard Grand Prix.
Tech Corner: CORE autosport Owner/Driver Bennett Has NASCAR Business Ties
Jon Bennett will put on his business attire after taking off his driving helmet following Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix. Bennett's company, Composite Resources, has a working relationship with NASCAR, and provides the spoilers and deck lids for all of the cars used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Composite Resources began providing the deck lids for the 2013 season, and expanded to include the spoilers for the current season.
NASCAR spoilers have long been made from aluminum. The Composite Resources design includes a carbon fiber base with a clear polycarbonate blade at the top – allowing drivers maximum visibility in their rear view. The company submitted its design for a lighter and safer spoiler while building the deck lids – noting the weightiness and limited visibility offered by the metal spoilers.
"This new spoiler product elevates the safety of NASCAR's vehicles, without compromising the classic look of the cars," said Kevin Bialas, Product Development and Engineering Manager at Composite Resources. Bialas added that the spoiler product was designed with the full involvement and ultimate approval of NASCAR.
Bennett is owner of CORE autosport, and co-drives the team's No. 54 ORECA FLM09 with Colin Braun in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. The pair has won four of the five PC races this season, including the classic Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. They hold a 17-point lead in the point standings over Renger van der Zande (169-152), while leading their class in the Tequila PatrÂ¢n North American Endurance Cup by 10 points with only the season-ending Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda remaining.
Both drivers will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.
"Winning four races is a reflection of the strength of our team, our work ethic, and a bit of racing luck," Bennett said. "Our past success does not transfer to future events. We start each event by focusing on the process that has worked for us in the past. We accept that race results can be altered by factors, both positive and negative, which are not in our control. This team philosophy helps us to manage the pressures of competition at every event."
Starworks Motorsport Seeks Third Consecutive Brickyard Grand Prix Victory
Starworks Motorsport takes its perfect record in the Brickyard Grand Prix to a new series and a new class on Friday.
After taking GRAND-AM Rolex Series overall victories with a Daytona Prototype in both 2012 (Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Popow) and 2013 (Ryan Dalziel and Popow), the Florida-based team will enter two cars in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.
Martin Fuentes and John Martin co-drive the No. 7 Under Armor/Bomberg ORECA FLM09, while Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca winners Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande co-drive the No. 8 Martini FLM09.
"We've been looking forward to this race for a while," team owner Peter Baron said. "Obviously, we've had good luck there. Our car should be good there – the setup philosophy on how you run a car at Indy should translate from a DP to a PC car. Our team really wants to win. Hopefully, we're rid of all our bad luck and will start making ground in the championship. We're trying to make an ‘Indy three-peat' and kiss the bricks one more time."
CORE autosport is the team to beat in the class.
Jon Bennett and Colin Braun won four of the five races in the No. 54 entry, and hold a 17-point lead over van der Zande (169-152) in the championship.
RSR Racing has a pair of Indy 500 veterans leading its two-car lineup. Six-time 500 competitor and 2002 polesitter Bruno Junqueira joins Duncan Ende in the No. 09 Linospresso USA ORECA FLM09 entry.
With regular Alex Tagliani suspended for the event, 2014 Indy 500 rookie Jack Hawksworth will co-drive the No. 08 AutomaxUSA.com ORECA FLM09 entry with Chris Cumming.
BAR1 Motorsports also has an Indy 500 driver in its lineup, with Martin Plowman joining Doug Bielefeld in the No. 88. Other teams to watch include 8Star Motorsports, with Luis Diaz and Sean Rayhall co-driving the No. 25 ORECA FLM09, and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports with Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 52.
Corvette Racing Seeks Fifth Straight Victory In GT Le Mans Debut At Indy
Fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see some of the best GT racing on the planet with the Brickyard debut of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
The competitive division features factory teams from Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Viper and Ferrari, with the spread among the top 10 cars often one second or less during practice and qualifying sessions.
After Porsche North America opened the season with each of its cars winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the No. 3 Corvette Racing operation has been the team to beat. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen take a streak of four consecutive victories to the Brickyard Grand Prix.
The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R won at Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, allowing the drivers to open a 19-point lead in the championship, 190-171.
Tied for second are SRT Motorsports drivers Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher, drivers of the No. 91 Ti Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R, and Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx, who share the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE.
Porsche North America features Rolex 24 winners Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, and the similar No. 912 with Sebring victors Patrick Long and Michael Christensen. Porsche is also represented by Team Falken Tire, with 2013 Indy Continental Tire Challenge winner Bryan Sellers paired with Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 911 RSR.
Ferrari is represented by the No. 62 of 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro class winner Giancarlo Fisichella (a former Formula One podium finisher at Indy) and Pierre Kaffer.
Corvette, BMW and Viper all have a second competitive car. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner co-drive the No. 4 Corvette; John Edwards and Dirk Muller are paired in the No. 56 BMW; and Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer share the No. 93 Viper.
OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan's First Victory One For The Record Books
Campaigning for the first time in North America, OAK Racing made a bold statement with its first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
In the racing equivalent of a perfect game in baseball, the team led both of Friday's practice sessions, captured the pole on Saturday and then led all 133 laps on the challenging circuit to win in the No. 42 Morgan/Nissan driven by Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla.
The victory followed a third-place outing at Detroit Belle Isle and runner-up finish at Watkins Glen International for the team based in Le Mans, France. Yacaman moved up to third in the Prototype standings, 10 points behind leaders Ricky and Jordan Taylor.
While Yacaman will be making his first start on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, he was a four-time Indy Lights competitor on the storied 2.5-mile oval, winning the pole and finishing fourth in 2012. He will be joined this weekend by Dutch-based Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung, who drives for OAK Racing-Team Asia.
"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most important tracks in the world – just walking into the track it gives you chills," Yacaman said. "We have a lot of momentum from the past three races and the team have been doing an amazing job. We are now in the middle of the championship fight and we need to keep working harder and harder to stay on it."
TUDOR Championship, Etc.
Burt Frisselle will join Marsh Racing for the next two events, substituting for Boris Said, recovering from injuries suffered at CTMP. He will also join Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP at Road America on August 10.
Patrick Dempsey will be racing at Indianapolis for the second time when he joins Andrew Davis in the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. The popular racer/actor competed in the 2012 Brickyard Grand Prix, finishing 21st in the Rolex Series GT class, co-driving a Mazda RX-8 with Joe Foster.
Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long won the Rolex Series GX class in last year's Brickyard Grand Prix, with Long winning the pole in a SpeedSource Mazda 6. The pair return for Friday's race in the No. 70 diesel-powered Mazda in the Prototype class as part of a two-car SpeedSource entry. Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez drive the team's No. 07 Mazda.
Hindman Returns To Indy As Grand Sport Points Leader
One year ago, Trent Hindman made his Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when the then 17-year-old driver from Wayside, N.J. qualified third and finished fourth in the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge won by Fall-Line Motorsports teammates Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden.
This weekend, Hindman will be in the spotlight for his return to Indianapolis, as the leader in the Grand Sport (GS) point standings entering the eighth race of the season. Hindman opened the year with second-place finishes at Daytona and Sebring, followed by his first career victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Hindman and John Edwards finished fourth in the most recent race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to end a two-race skid for the No. 46 Trim-Tex/Cirrocco Ozzimo BMW M3.
"It's weird to think how everything has progressed over the last year," Hindman said. "Last year I came there fresh out of club racing, and I was not really sure what to expect. It was a lot to take in on one shot. A lot has changed since then – the competition is tougher and even the track is a little different. But it's still Indy, and I think we're looking good."
Currently, Hindman leads defending GS champion Matt Plumb in the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911 by six points, 182-176. No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage driver Kris Wilson is third with 169 points, followed by Edwards with 167 points.
After a slow start, the two Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.Rs have battled back into title contention. Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell (No. 6 Camaro) won at Sebring and Watkins Glen to stand fifth in the standings with 164 points, followed by CTMP winners Andy Lally and Matt Bell (No. 9 Camaro) with 160 points.
Billy Johnson, who finished second in last year's Brickyard Sports Car Challenge with Jack Roush Jr. for Roush Performance, took second at CTMP co-driving the No. 158 Multimatic Motorsports/Miller Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R with Ian James.
Foss Regains Lead In Topsy-Turvy ST Battle
Eric Foss used a second-place finish in the recent Continental Tire Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to regain the points lead in the Street Tuner (ST) class.
Foss and Jeff Mosing opened the year by winning at Daytona and finishing third at Sebring in the No. 56 Murillo Racing/Mosing Motorcars BMW 328i, but finished 10th or worse in three of the next four races.
Wayne Nonnamaker has worked his way up to second with three consecutive solid finishes in the No. 42 Team Sahlen Porsche Cayman co-driven by his brother Will. The Nonnamakers were second at Kansas and Watkins Glen prior to finishing sixth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to trail Foss by eight points, 176-168.
Tyler Cooke and Greg Liefooghe took the ST lead to Canada but finished 10th. The drivers of the No. 81 BimmerWorld Johnstone Supply/Powerflex/Red Line Oil BMW 328i are now third with 167 points. Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers, drivers of the team's No. 82 CRC Brakleen/Johnstone Supply BMW 328i, won at Indy in 2012 and finished third in last year's event.
Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra are the defending ST winners at Indy. Last year they used their victory to launch them to the season championship in the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i. They are currently fifth in the standings with 153 points.