Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 
By Godwin Kelly
IMSA Wire Service
 
 
 John Greenwood’s No. 76 IMSA Corvette, which posted eye-popping speeds during the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans, has found a new, temporary home at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America museum.
 
Members of Greenwood’s family, friends and a cluster of top IMSA officials were there Thursday to see the red, white and blue GT car unloaded and carefully rolled into position inside the museum, located in Daytona International Speedway’s Ticket & Tours Building.
 
“It’s a real beast,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “What Bill France Sr. and John Bishop did with IMSA, in terms of its original mission, was to allow people like John and others, who had a dream to go racing, and provided a platform that allowed them to do that at a cost-effective level.”
 
France helped Bishop found the International Motor Sports Association sports-car sanctioning body in 1969.
 
Greenwood, who died in 2015 at the age of 70, was represented by his brother Burt, 71, son Joe, 51, and other family members at the display ceremony.
 
They were joined by Mark Raffauf, IMSA senior director of race operations, Doonan and former IMSA President Scott Atherton.
 
Raffauf has been with IMSA, in different capacities, since 1974.
“This car is very familiar to me,” Raffauf said. “IMSA’s top two cars went to Le Mans in 1976 – Greenwood’s Corvette and Mike Keyser with the No. 1 Chevrolet Monza. They were IMSA Camel GT regulars.
 
“Those cars ran in the top five early in the race. Greenwood was pegged at 215 mph in this thing during the race on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars were fast. They clocked Greenwood at 221 mph at Daytona in 1974.”
 
Greenwood, who was an independent racer, built the car from a standard Corvette frame. He added handcrafted pieces to the bodywork and ran a 510-cubic-inch (about 8 liters in today’s terms) aluminum V-8 engine.
 
“John had to move a lot of stuff around to get that engine in there,” Raffauf said. “It was a pretty advanced engine for its day, but those were available in the Chevy power book. You could go to your nearest GM dealer and buy a 510 block and build up one of these engines.”
 
The car has a distinct American look to it. The red, white and blue livery was Burt Greenwood’s idea.
 
“The stars and stripes paint scheme were in response to a time in our country when we were struggling with many issues,” he said, adding, “I suggested (to John) we go ‘loud and proud.’”
 
John, Burt and Frenchman Bernard Darniche shared the colorful, engine-booming Corvette at Le Mans.
 
“They really loved this car when we went over there with it,” Burt said. “They loved the fact we were independents and we were beating the Porsches in that car.”
 
The car competed at Daytona and Sebring, too.
Despite posting the fastest speeds at Le Mans, the car never led the race nor saw the checkered flag at Le Mans because of mechanical issues.
 
Still, Greenwood’s car is part of IMSA Le Mans lore all these years later.
 
“You take a road car and build it into a fully prepped race car that was an absolute screamer around the track at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, and now to have it here at Daytona for a visit ties what we have and the traditions of IMSA,” Doonan said.
 
“We provide that same service today, from entry-level series all the way to the top with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. John showed us what is possible when you combine deep-rooted passion and engineering.”
 
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America President George Levy said his organization was honored to have Greenwood’s car, which is now owned by Steve Goldin, through the summer.
 
“We are so honored that people want to have their cars on display here at the Hall of Fame,” Levy said. “This is one of those cars I most wanted to get in here. This has been one of the very top cars on our wish list.”
Pit strategy was the name of the game in Saturday’s IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway and the No. 7 VOLT Racing with Archangel team played it to perfection.
 
With just under an hour remaining in the one-hour, 45-minute race, the team brought its bright yellow Ligier JS P230 with Alan Brynjolfsson at the wheel down pit road for service and to install co-driver Trent Hindman in the cockpit. A few moments later, the third full-course caution of the day came out when Indy AJ Miller spun into the Turn 17 tire barrier.
 
The No. 7 machine was just outside the top 10 when the FCY came out, but the top nine cars – including the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports Duqueine D08 of Moritz Kranz that led throughout the first hour – headed to pit lane just as the green flag came out with 47 minutes to go.
 
That promoted Hindman to second, just behind new leader Stevan McAleer in the No. 43 Robillard Racing Duqueine, who took over the lead a few seconds before yet another full-course caution came out for a Turn 7 incident involving Natasha Balogh in the No. 33 Jr III Racing Ligier.
 
The green flag flew again six laps later. Hindman found his way past McAleer before the end of the first lap and set sail, cruising to a 9.390-second victory over Rasmus Lindh in the No. 6 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier.
 
 
“It ended up being perfect, but I think we got pretty lucky with that second yellow in there,” Hindman said. “I don’t think we would have made it on fuel. I ran out of fuel, pretty much, coming out of the last corner. It was super, super close.
 
“We’ve been having some radio problems today too, so just trying to keep tabs on what’s going on – you don’t really realize how much you really need it until you don’t have it – so that made things, definitely, more complicated than they needed to be. But, big thanks to the VOLT Lighting/Archangel crew. We put a lot of work into this car since Daytona, a lot of development, just a lot of learning, mostly. I’m just glad all the hard work paid off.”
 
It was the first IMSA Prototype Challenge victory for Hindman and Brynjolfsson, who have previously won races together in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Hindman also won the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) title.
 
“It’s awesome to get a win so early in our evolution into the LMP3 category,” Brynjolfsson said. “I knew we had a great car. Trent showed that he was one of the fastest, or the fastest driver out there, and I was confident in our team and strategy. I had a really easy job just to be clean and that’s it. So, it was a pretty easy race for me and I give all the credit to Trent, the team and the car.”
 
Lindh and co-driver Dan Goldburg came home second in the No. 6 machine. Already poised for a podium result, Lindh moved into second place when McAleer served a drive-through penalty for passing under full-course caution.
 
Dakota Dickerson and Josh Sarchet completed the overall and P3-1 class podium with a third-place showing in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier. Naveen Rao and Matt Bell finished fourth in the No. 1 WIN Autosport Duqueine, while Kranz and co-driver Laurents Hoerr wound up fifth in the No. 21 entry.
In the P3-2 class, Francesco Melandri and Nigel Greensall claimed the victory in the No. 24 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier JS P3. It was the first win in the series for both drivers.
 
“It means everything to me,” Melandri said. “It’s my first pro race. We’ve been practicing and wanted to run in 2020. We all know what happened there. So, it’s just fantastic to come out. Sean Creech Motorsport put a great car together for us, and I couldn’t be happier co-driving with Nigel successfully for the first time out.”
 
“It’s wonderful,” Greensall added. “I’ve been coaching Franceso for a little while. We’ve just been developing and developing and his skills are really coming on. He’s driving some fantastic stints. With Sean Creech, I’ve worked with him for over 10 years now. I love this Sebring circuit. It’s my favorite track in the world, I think. It feel like home.”
 
The 2021 IMSA Prototype Challenge six-race season reaches its halfway point with the next round, scheduled for May 14-16 as part of the Acura Sports Car Challenge weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The fledgling Pro Stock career of third-generation drag racer Troy Coughlin Jr. received a boost Sunday when he guided the JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to a runner-up finish at the season-opening Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. It marked the second time in just nine starts Coughlin has reached the trophy round in the category.
 
"This was a good way to start the season and it shows the professionalism of the Elite Motorsports team," Coughlin said. "We rolled into Florida two weeks ago and right out of the trailer we were strong. We've been making great passes almost every round since.
 
"It was very warm today and the track was difficult to deal with. We had a little jump on Greg Anderson in the final and I felt like we could have won the round but we had pretty severe tire shake almost right away. Greg's car shook a little also but he was able to drive through it and get the win. Aside from that, we had a lot of fun."
 
Traction seemed to be an issue all day, with Coughlin benefitting from opponents Aaron Stanfield and Mason McGaha tire-shake issues in both Rounds 1 and 3, respectively. He also got a free pass in the second session when Fernando Cuadra Jr. fouled out after getting very loose during the prerace burnout.
 
"Today was a lot about overcoming adversity," Coughlin said. "As it turned out, we got some luck against our first three opponents when Aaron and Mason shook and Fernando got loose and then red-lighted, but that doesn't take away from the fact we made great passes against each of them (6.564 at 209.20 mph in Round 1, 6.572 at 208.91 mph in Round 2, and 6.633 at 208.55 mph in Round 3).
 
"Credit Mark Ingersoll, Eric Luzinski, Kelly Murphy, Steven Hurley and Kyle Bates with putting this car together perfectly every time out, both in qualifying and today. This was a decent first race. We're in second place, and we have 17 more national events to go. There's so much more for me to learn how to become a better driver. I'm excited."
 
Coughlin's uncle Mike Coughlin reached the second round in Top Dragster before breaking-out of his index and losing to Jeff Strickland, who went on to win the entire event. 
 
Also a part of the Team JEGS contingent was multi-time world champion Jeff Taylor, who competed in Super Stock in the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt. The car, which will be driven by Mike's son Clay later this year, was named the event's "Best Engineered Vehicle." 
 
Fellow world champion Danny Nelson also put some laps down in the JEGS.com Super Comp dragster, which Mike's other son Jack will take over once school is over.
By Holly Cain
IMSA Wire Service
 
 
After a long day turning practice laps and learning the historic Sebring International Raceway circuit recently, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was absolutely excited and encouraged about his return to the track when he makes his Sebring debut this week in the Mobil 1 Twelve 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
 
Yes, he acknowledged, the grand, time-worn Sebring course has its own “characteristics” and demands. And yes, he said, there was absolutely a legitimate learning curve.
 
But at the end of the practice day, it was evident in Johnson’s voice that he was excited to return for his maiden 12-hour race with the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi team, which finished runner-up in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
 
It was such a stellar outing at Daytona, in fact, the team has announced it will contend for the 2021 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup competing in all of the series’ endurance races – Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, in addition to the Daytona 24-hour race.
 
Action Express continues to run the program with support from members of Johnson’s former NASCAR team, Hendrick Motorsports. Ally remains as the car’s sponsor for the events.
 
“I can recall the drivers of the (No.) 48 car and team management just talking about it at the very first test session, just how much fun we had as a group,’’ Johnson said. “Like, if we run good, maybe we can make this happen for the other endurance races, and it was just kind of talked about among us, the drivers.
 
“Then literally going to the airport following the Rolex race, the CEO and CMO of Ally said, ‘We need to talk to you tomorrow, this is amazing.’ Mr. (Rick) Hendrick is like, ‘We need to do more of this. This is amazing.’ And Jim France (IMSA and NASCAR Chairman) saying, ‘How can we make this happen?’
 
“So literally Sunday afternoon (the day of the Rolex 24 finish) and then Monday morning before eight o’clock – before I had my kids dropped off at school – I had a pretty darn good idea it was going to happen. There was a lot of momentum. Everybody kind of felt the same. There were some things to iron out, but the real momentum was there and everybody wanted to make it happen.”
 
The No. 48’s driver lineup also includes IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud and two-time Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi for the remaining three races. Pagenaud was with Johnson at the recent test, helping the Sebring rookie get acquainted with the course and fine-tuning the car.
 
“I haven’t told him much except that this place hasn’t changed in 50 years,’’ Pagenaud joked about Sebring. “It’s rough. It’s the best place to test the race car and make sure it’s reliable, and it’s the best place to test the drivers as well. 
 
“I’ve actually learned a lot of things watching him on Sundays when I wasn’t racing,” Pagenaud added. “I just really like the guy and I think our personalities are very alike. 
 
“There aren’t that many seven-time champions in any sport. It’s just phenomenal, so you can only draw respect from what he’s done, the moves he’s made at the track and that only attracts respect from me.’’
 
The extension of Johnson’s sports car calendar is in addition to a busy IndyCar Series debut for Chip Ganassi Racing starting in April.  Johnson will contend for rookie of the year competing in the non-oval races. Between testing the sports car and getting to know the IndyCar, Johnson has had a busy offseason since stepping away from full-time NASCAR racing in November.
 
“I think five years ago, my post-NASCAR plan was IMSA and potentially some WEC (World Endurance Championship) races were on the list,’’ Johnson said. “But this (IMSA endurance racing) has kind of been in my head for a long time. Being able to compete for an endurance championship this year has been a goal and a direction I have wanted to head in for years. It just all happened a little sooner than expected.”
 
Johnson said he has limited experience at all three of the upcoming endurance tracks – participating in an SCCA one-day event on Sebring’s full course about 15 years ago, competing previously in the six-hour race at The Glen (finishing sixth in 2010) and testing a NASCAR Cup Series car at Michelin Raceway. They are all iconic tracks and events, which has Johnson genuinely looking forward to the opportunities.
 
At Sebring this week, the future NASCAR Hall of Famer will add another significant piece of history to his list of achievements and join a top-shelf list of motorsports legends. From Phil Hill and Sir Stirling Moss to Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt. From Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood to Geoff Brabham and Tom Kristensen, the Twelve Hours of Sebring is its own perpetual Hall of Fame entry list – one that Johnson already appreciates and embraces. And now he will be a part of it.
 
“I’m excited,’’ Johnson said. “All my heroes did it, so I’m glad I get to do it myself.”
 
WeatherTech Championship action on the legendary Sebring circuit begins Thursday with three practice sessions, starting at 9:05 a.m., 1:55 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying is set for 11:15 a.m. Friday and streams live on IMSA.com.
 
The 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts takes the green flag at 10:10 a.m. Saturday. Live television coverage starts at 10 a.m. on NBCSN, moves to the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com at noon and returns to NBCSN at 7 p.m. for the concluding hours. Complete flag-to-flag coverage is also available on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio coverage airs on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius channel 216, XM 392, Internet 992). Tickets can be purchased at SebringRaceway.com.
By David Phillips
IMSA Wire Service
 
 
When it comes to picking a favorite win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, Johnny O’Connell is like a father picking a favorite child. No can do.
 
It’s not like he’s lacking in choices. After all, nobody has more wins at Sebring International Raceway. Not Mario Andretti, Phil Hill or Hans Stuck (three), not Rinaldo Capello (five). Not even Tom Kristensen, whose Sebring tally includes six overall victories and one class win. O’Connell’s record is something of a mirror image of Kristensen’s, with one overall win among his total of eight class (count ‘em, eight) triumphs spread between Nissan (three) and Corvette (five). And that’s fine with him. 
 
“Out of them all, you can’t pick one,” he says. “Of course, the overall win (in 1994) meant a lot – but the overall win guys are just in the fastest car. Every win is equal to me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a class or an overall win at Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans … you win your class and that’s a win.
 
“If there’s one thing I do take pride in, it’s that I know it irks Tom Kristensen that I have more wins than him there!”
 
If Hollywood were to recycle the title of the cheesy ‘70s television show “Eight is Enough” as a Sebring biography of O’Connell, they might tweak the title to “Eight is NOT Enough.” Because, when it comes the Sebring, O’Connell’s memory bank tends to favor the near misses rather than his amply stocked trophy case.
 
“I don’t remember the ones that I won so much as the ones that got away,” he says. “When we first raced the Corvette C6 there, we had a great car and a great battle with the (Aston Martin) ProDrive guys.
 
"But that’s the one where I lost the front brake rotor going into Turn 17. I actually consider that to be some of the best driving I ever did, not to completely auger in. Call it divine intervention, but literally the day before the race I had stood in that corner and asked myself, ‘What would I ever do if I had the brakes fail here?’ And then I visually went through my mind what I would do. I just started throwing down through the gears – bam, bam, bam – to get the car to spin. It saved me from an enormous impact.
 
“Then there was ... it must have been ’93, it was pouring rain and I had this amazing battle with Hans Stuck. That was so-o-o-o much fun! We were going back and forth, and he finally pulled away ‘cause my windshield fogged up. I found out later he had a stick with a rag on it that he could use to clean his windscreen so he could see!”
 
As much as the wins in the iconic race, O’Connell remembers the drivers with whom he shared the victory stand at Sebring.
 
“I was blessed,” he says. “I got to win with a lot of great drivers. That to me makes it memorable. In the Nissan days with Steve Miller and John Morton, those were special. The ones at Corvette with Ron (Fellows), (Oliver) Gavin, (Jan) Magnussen, (Antonio) Garcia – some pretty stellar guys.”
 
So many, in fact, they all run together.
 
“I don’t know whether we won at Sebring with (Scott) Pruett or not,” he continues. “No, that was ’01. We won Le Mans with him. But getting to work with so many people.
 
“And when I think of Sebring, I think of the fans. How spectacular they are and how well they always treated me.”  
 
And when he thinks of Sebring a little more, the man who has done as much to promote the Corvette brand as any driver since Tod Stiles or Buz Murdock (if those names don’t ring a bell, search “Route 66 TV show”) finally does home in on a particularly memorable victory. 
 
“It’s funny, you can’t pick one,” O’Connell repeats, returning to a familiar theme. “The Nissan wins were awesome. Then Corvette, Corvette was snake-bitten at Sebring for a long time. So that first win for Corvette Racing in ’02, that one with Ron and Oliver meant a lot. If I had to pick one, now that I think it through, that might have been the one. I really wanted to get that first win for Corvette Racing, and we got it.”
 
That breakthrough triggered a landslide of success, as Corvette Racing has since garnered 10 more wins in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – as well as a victory in last year’s Cadillac Grand Prix sprint race at the track. Corvette will go for another win with the mid-engine C8.R at Sebring this weekend – with Sebring’s most prolific winner cheering them on.
 The 60th season of racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will feature its five traditional events in 2021. The legendary road course in Lexington, Ohio, will showcase some of the premier series in all of motorsports for fans as it returns to a full slate of racing starting in May.
 
On Tuesday, March 23, the renewal period begins for Mid-Ohio Season Race Pass and Season Motorhome spaces for 2020 customers. Then, on Tuesday, April 6, event tickets will go on sale at advance pricing at a savings before standard pricing begins on Tuesday, April 27. Renewal customers on file will be notified directly with further details.
 
“We sincerely thank our fans for their patience and understanding as our team worked tirelessly during the 2020 season to host as many events as possible,” said Craig Rust, president of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “Now with the 2021 season and our 60th season of racing upon us, we are looking forward to getting back to a full schedule of racing and look forward to seeing the fans back at the track.
 
“Things will kick off in April with The Mid-Ohio School as today we open enrollments for our 2021 classes for teenage drivers, racers and our sportbike enthusiasts,” Rust continued.
 
Starting in 1993 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, The Mid-Ohio School offers defensive driving, high performance, racing, and corporate entertainment programs plus performance track riding for motorcyclists. Its range of course dates and pricing are posted at midohioschool.com.
 
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course schedule for its 60th season follows:
 
May 14-16 - Acura Sports Car Challenge (IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event)
June 4-5 - B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio (NASCAR Xfinity Series / ARCA Menards Series)
June 25-27 - Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (Sportscar Vintage Racing Association / Trans Am)
July 2-4 - The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (NTT INDYCAR SERIES event)
July 23-25 - AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days (AMA’s annual motorcycling celebration)
 
All courses and events will continue to be held based on the ongoing guidance of the CDC and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings surrounding COVID-19. All the necessary protocols for race fans and course participants can be found at midohio.com/covid19.
 
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course offers one of the best family values in all of live sports and entertainment. Children 12 and under always receive free general admission when accompanied by a ticketed adult. All the ticket options and pricing are posted online at midohio.com

Pomona event postponed

Thursday, Mar 18
NHRA officials announced today the postponement of the 61st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, originally scheduled for April 9-11.
 
NHRA and track officials will continue to look to state and federal health officials for recommendations to host events in California. A new date for the event is to be determined.
 
“We are confident we will find a new date for the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals,” said Kasey Coler, NHRA Vice President of Track Management & Operations. “We are working closely with California health officials to come to an agreement as to the best dates for the event.”
 
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season kicked off with a successful race at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville. The season will continue racing action at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 16-18. NHRA officials are confident the season will consist of 22 national events.
 
Although racing is paused at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the track is currently serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site, allowing locals to drive through the facility and receive their vaccination.
 
For more information about the 2021 NHRA season, visit NHRA.com.
 
(NHRA Communications)

Indian Motorcycle Racing, presented by Progressive Motorcycle Insurance, jumped out to an early lead in the 2021 American Flat Track (AFT) SuperTwins standings, as Indian Motorcycle Privateer Brandon Robinson and Wrecking Crew Rider Jared Mees secure back-to-back wins at the Volusia Half-Mile doubleheader.

 

Robinson’s season-opener win at Volusia Half-Mile I marked his third straight victory, dating back to the 2020 season finale doubleheader in Daytona. After winning his semi and getting a start on the front row in the Main, Robinson jumped out to an early lead but was battling with the second-place rider throughout the race. In his third season as an Indian Motorcycle privateer, the win marks Robinson’s fifth victory aboard the Indian FTR750.

                                                                                     

“Despite being injured for the bulk of the 2020 season, Brandon finished the year with incredible momentum, so it was truly exciting to see him pick up right where he left off and reach the top of the box,” said Gary Gray, Vice President – Racing, Technology & Service for Indian Motorcycle. “Having swept the Volusia Half-Mile doubleheader last year, Jared entered round two with fierce determination to secure the win and garner the all-important points at a track he’s exceptionally comfortable and confident on."

                                                                                                                                       

On Saturday, Mees won his semi and was able to return to the front row for the Main. Though, it was Wrecking Crew teammate and defending SuperTwins Champion Briar Bauman who captured the holeshot. After leading eight laps, Bauman was unable to hold on, as Mees made his pass and gained separation with every lap – ultimately cruising comfortably to his 54th career win. The victory also marked his 34th career win aboard the Indian FTR750, a race bike he won two Grand National Championships with in 2017 and 2018.

 

Following the doubleheader at Volusia Speedway Park, Mees sits atop the leaderboard with 42 points. Robinson is closely behind with 39 points, while Bauman’s fourth and second-place finishes keep him within striking distance with 35 total points.

 

The 2021 AFT season continues on May 1 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Atlanta Super TT. For more information on Indian Motorcycle Racing and the Indian Wrecking Crew, visit IndianMotorcycle.com or follow along on FacebookTwitter & Instagram.

By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service
 
 
 Mazda Motorsports rolls into the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on a wave of confidence, despite enduring a fraught start to its 2021 campaign.
 
After suffering a series of unrelated problems and falling as many as three laps behind in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 55 Mazda RT24-T DPi prepared by Multimatic Motorsports and driven by Oliver Jarvis, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito rebounded to finish third in the season-opening race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
 
Mazda executives often use the phrase “Never stop challenging” to describe the manufacturer’s fighting spirit.
 
That same philosophy clearly applied to the racing team at Daytona, where Mazda’s drama actually started before the 49-car field took the green flag and continued through the race’s 24th and final hour.
 
The podium finish – both overall and in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class – left Tincknell “gutted and happy in equal measure.” But he came away impressed with the speed and reliability of the Mazda and the heart and stamina of the crew.
 
“The last two races in IMSA for us have been very, very strong,” Tincknell said. “Going into Daytona, we were hopeful for a strong result. The team has been on an upward trajectory for the last two or three years.
 
“Of course, we had a few problems at Daytona, but we were still very close to wearing those Rolexes out of there,” he added. “We fought back, but we didn’t quite get it. Daytona 2021 was the best I’ve ever seen the team operate, the most confident and calm it has ever been. Everyone had their ducks in a row and we did a really good job.”
 
Tincknell, Bomarito and the No. 55 Mazda arrive at Sebring as the defending champion of the Sebring Twelve Hours, which was delayed last year from its traditional March date to November, serving as the WeatherTech Championship season finale.
 
This year they are joined in the No. 55 by Jarvis as part of Mazda’s consolidation from two cars to a single entry. Jarvis and Tincknell are the full-time pilots, with Bomarito stepping into the third driver role for events in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
 
Bomarito has been part of the Mazda prototype program since its inception in 2017. He and Tincknell shared in the first victory for the effort at Watkins Glen International in 2019 and have combined to earn four of Mazda’s five wins in its current era of IMSA competition.
 
The 39-year-old Californian is proud of how the once-fragile Mazda has evolved into a reliable tool for endurance racing.
 
“Finishing these hardcore endurance races is a big feat and proves the development we’ve done over the last five years with the car,” Bomarito remarked. “Multimatic took over the program from a constructor’s perspective and completely redeveloped the whole back half of the car. They changed a lot of suspension geometry and there’s constant evolution of the dampers.
 
“Year after year, the whole car as a package – whether it being suspension, engine, drivetrain – the whole thing has become more and more reliable, as we saw winning last year’s (Sebring) 12 Hour and finishing two years in a row on the podium at the Daytona 24 Hour.”
 
Prior to the start at Daytona, the Mazda drivers had to overcome an electronic glitch that prevented the car from engaging first gear and nearly put it a lap down before the race even started. 
 
Things got worse before they got better. The Mazda lost a lap to the leaders in the fifth hour when an air jack malfunctioned. A longer, unplanned pit stop came in the 11th hour to diagnose what extinguished the car’s mandatory taillights. It was a failure in the pins that hold on the rear bodywork, and it put the No. 55 car three laps down approaching the halfway point.
 
A stirring comeback drive put the Mazda in contention for the win. But a repeat breakage of the rear deck mounting pins with about an hour left in the race caused a loss of performance and any chance for victory.
 
That kind of heartbreak has the Mazda drivers and team ready to get to grips with Sebring this weekend.
 
“You want to have that feeling like when we walked out of Sebring as the winners,” Tincknell said. “Coming back as the defending champion gives you even more motivation to do the double. It doesn’t happen that often, and we have the opportunity in the No. 55 car this year to do that.
 
“Definitely hopeful of another strong result,” he added. “We know it’s not going to be easy, of course. Sebring is obviously one of the hardest endurance races in the world. Even though it’s only a 12-hour, it’s the equivalent of a 24-hour at most of the other tracks. But we have big momentum and there’s a big air of confidence in the team.”
 
Bomarito rates winning the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring for Mazda as a career highlight.
 
“It was super special,” he said. “I’ve been participating in that race for a lot of years. To win it overall for the first time makes it all that much more special. You’re part of the amazing history of that track. It’s so historic.
 
“Both our cars were so strong at that event last year, and it wasn’t that long ago,” he noted. “We’re excited to go back. I think we have a pretty good shot at it. It would be pretty amazing to do two in a row, that’s for sure.”
 
WeatherTech Championship action on the legendary Sebring circuit begins Thursday with practice sessions starting at 9:05 a.m., 1:55 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying is set for 11:15 a.m. Friday and streams live on IMSA.com.
 
The 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring takes the green flag at 10:10 a.m. Saturday. Live television coverage starts at 10 a.m. on NBCSN, moves to the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com at noon and returns to NBCSN at 7 p.m. for the concluding hours. Complete flag-to-flag coverage is also available on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio coverage airs on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius channel 216, XM 392, Internet 992). Tickets are available at SebringRaceway.com.

The last time the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli raced at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, TeamSLR driver Connor Mosack was 14 months old. Sam Mayer, his teammate for Sunday’s Trans Am ProAm Challenge race at the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course, was still three years away from being born.

 

These two next-generation talents will lead a youth movement at Charlotte, with the 22-year-old Mosack and the 17-year-old Mayer wheeling Chevrolet Camaros for TeamSLR in the ProAm Challenge race at the speedway. Both eye the event at the Roval – Trans Am’s first since April 1, 2000 – as a way to bolster their road-racing skills. Each driver is climbing the NASCAR ladder, where road-course racing has become much more prominent in recent years. Mosack is running the full schedule in Trans Am’s TA2 class, while Mayer kicks off a five-race campaign in TA2 Sunday at Charlotte.

 

“Connor and Sam have showed a lot of speed in their races with us and we’re very happy to have them together for this ProAm race at Charlotte,” said Scott Lagasse, Sr., president, TeamSLR. “It’s a really great opportunity for them to learn and for us to teach. It’s a non-points race, and that allows everyone to really focus on turning quick and efficient laps. You do that enough, you tend to be out front.”

 

Mosack, a Charlotte native, will make his second TA2 start of 2021, as the soon-to-be graduate of High Point (N.C.) University competed in the season-opening race Feb. 21 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. The Roval will be his fifth overall start in TA2 competition. He raced in two doubleheaders last year at Virginia International Raceway in Alton and Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

 

Mayer is from Franklin, Wisconsin, but plans to relocate to Charlotte this spring as he already has a burgeoning NASCAR career. He is a two-time ARCA Menards Series East champion (2019-2020) and won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in his just his seventh career start last September at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Upon turning 18 on June 26, Mayer will compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

 

Sunday’s ProAm Challenge race will be Mayer’s fourth TA2 start, with his previous drives coming at Road Atlanta in 2019, the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course in 2019, and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, last August. After Charlotte, Mayer will return to the TA2 ranks March 26-28 at Road Atlanta, April 23 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, April 30-May 2 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County, California, and July 2-4 at Road America.

 

Mayer and Mosack will be coached by veteran racer Scott Lagasse Jr. The 40-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida, has made more than 115 starts across the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series. He is a two-time ARCA race winner who has been competing in TA2 since 2016. He relinquishes his seat for ProAm Challenge events, seeing it as the ideal time to mentor TeamSLR’s crop of young racers.

 

“I feel young, and I feel like I can relate to Connor and Sam, at least when it comes to driving a racecar,” said Scott Lagasse Jr. “I’m still racing and we’re running the full TA2 schedule this year, but these ProAm events give me the opportunity to give back and help these guys develop into the racers they want to be. I take a lot of pride in that and that’s why I’m really looking forward to this weekend at Charlotte.”

 

TeamSLR leverages its Trans Am involvement to highlight its driver development program as well as its car-building capabilities. TeamSLR is the exclusive representative of M1 Racecars, an official TA2 constructor. It builds rolling chassis and complete Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers for Trans Am competition.

 

Connor Mosack, driver No. 28 Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear/Interstate Foam & Supply Chevrolet Camaro:

 

“In our last race at Sebring, unfortunately, we had a tire go down late in the race, but we had the speed to run second there coming down to the end. I think we’ll continue to get faster as the season goes on, with me getting more comfortable in the cars and getting the setups better as I continue to mesh with the team.

 

“We’ll approach this weekend at the Roval just like any other race. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to cross the line first, but we could use this opportunity to try some different things on the car. If it comes down to it at the end, we could try to be a little more aggressive to get a better finish.

 

“I do have some experience on the infield portion of the Roval in Legends cars, but I’ve never run the full Roval course before. We’ve won a few races there on the road course, and actually ran two races there a couple weeks ago to get a little more prepared.

 

“The Roval is a pretty tough track. It has relatively low grip on the infield portion and it’s narrow. Passing will be done mostly on entry and exit off the chicanes. It’s my home track, though, and I’m looking forward to racing there.

 

“Now more than ever, road-course racing is really important to be a versatile racer. Becoming adept at road racing is now crucial to NASCAR and, thankfully, it’s something I really enjoy. Trans Am is the best series to get this road-course experience since it’s the closest road-racing series to a stock car.

 

“The Roval is a great place to race and I’m thankful to have it in my hometown. It’s always nice to wake up in a familiar place to get ready for a race. It’s also great to be able to have friends and family who live in the area that are able to come out and watch.”

 

Sam Mayer, driver No. 8 M1 Racecars/Fields Racing Chevrolet Camaro:

 

“My one goal is to go out and win the race. I’ve raced the Roval before in a Legends car. In fact, I have multiple wins on that track in those style of cars. I’ve also raced the Roval on iRacing in an Xfinity car.

 

“Going off into turn one, you have to be very careful of not overdriving the car. Through (turn) two you want to stay nice and easy, and not get the rear end loose. Through turn three and up the hill, you want to try and carry as much speed as possible through ‘the bowl’ and get as close to the wall as you can. Getting up onto the oval, you want to make sure you get through the gears and get ready for the chicane. You want to get through there as fast as possible and carry speed and momentum back onto NASCAR three and four to set yourself up for the chicane right before the start/finish line.

 

“Running these road courses is the most important thing right now. All the tracks I’m running this season are good tracks to help prepare me for my NASCAR career. Having solid finishes in the road-course races will help put you on the map.

 

“These Trans Am races are important to me. I want to win all five races I’m entering. I know we have the speed as a team to do so, it’s just about being there at the end. Running these Trans Am races will help me get ready for my upcoming NASCAR races at these tracks. I will begin competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series later this season once I turn 18.”