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  

  

 
With a renewed focus and a fresh approach to the 2020 season, Austin Forkner secured his first Western Regional 250SX Class Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, win of 2020 Saturday night at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. 

 Forkner, a native of Richards, Mo., turned in a dominant performance before the home-state crowd and picked up his eighth career 250SX Class win aboard his JE Pistons-powered No. 52 Kawasaki KX250 with 51,000-plus in attendance. 

 After a handful of close calls in 2019, a practice crash in Nashville that left him with a torn ACL, and losing the Eastern Regional 250SX Class championship, he seemed destined to win. Forkner exorcised the demons of last year with an impressive flag-to-flag victory. 
 
“It was good,” commented Forkner who finished fifth in last week’s Anaheim opener. “I was obviously happy to get a win in St. Louis. It’s kind of like a bucket list type win. This is the closest race to home and I’ve been coming to this race for a long time. Also, this is my first win since my ACL, so it just proves to myself I can still do it and still get up here, on the podium. Hopefully I can keep it going and keep clicking wins off. It’s just been a special night for me. I wasn’t feeling the best about how I was riding and where I was last weekend, but this weekend couldn’t have been more different. I felt good all day and comfortable on my KX250. I hope we can keep that momentum going.”

 With the win, Forkner climbed the points ladder where he currently sits second, trailing leader Justin Cooper by just five points. 

 Forkner’s Pro Circuit Racing teammate Cameron McAdoo was forced to withdraw from the event after a crash during the first qualifying left him physically unable to compete.

 Meanwhile, JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Racing's Alex Martin rode his JE-powered Suzuki RM-Z250 to a spirited fourth-place effort and his best showing of the season. Martin was ninth in both qualifying sessions, finished third in his heat race, and rode that momentum to his first top-five of the year. The solid effort also powered Martin into the top five in points where he sits just five points outside the top three. 

 "It was nice to be back racing in the Midwest,” commented Martin. “I’m from Minnesota, so St. Louis is the closest Supercross race to home for me. We made small changes to the bike for the main and that seemed to help. It was the best I felt and rode all day.  We’re only five points out of third in the championship. I’m excited to keep the momentum going heading into Anaheim next weekend!"

 
Monster Energy AMA Supercross returns to Anaheim, Calif., this weekend for the second visit of the season to Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The third of 17 races on the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule will be televised on NBCSN Sat., January 18 beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 7 p.m. Pacific.
 
What has quickly become a “must-see” event during Rolex 24 At DAYTONA week, the third annual “IMSA Twenty-Four Premier” at ONE DAYTONA takes place this year on Wednesday, Jan. 22 from 6-8 p.m. ET. The event kicks off fan activities around this year’s 58th running of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA on Jan. 25-26 at Daytona International Speedway.
 
The Twenty-Four Premier allows fans to see a selection of Rolex 24 At DAYTONA race cars and superstar drivers free of charge. ONE DAYTONA – a lifestyle and entertainment destination located directly across International Speedway Blvd. from Daytona International Speedway, features numerous shops and restaurants, Cobb Luxury Theatres and The DAYTONA, a AAA Four-Diamond Autograph Collection hotel that opened in Spring 2019.
 
“The IMSA Twenty-Four Premier event continues to grow at ONE DAYTONA,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “ONE DAYTONA, with its shops and restaurants, provides a perfect launching pad as we kick off Rolex 24 At DAYTONA weekend festivities. Fans are going to have a great opportunity to get up close with the some of the drivers and cars that will compete in North America’s most prestigious sports car race.”
 
“This event has quickly established itself as one that is on every Rolex 24 fan’s race week calendar,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “It is no secret ONE DAYTONA is a destination for every fan during the week and the IMSA Twenty-Four Premier is the perfect way to see the cars and meet the drivers from the Rolex 24. This year’s Premier promises to be the biggest one yet and one that every fan will want to attend.”
 
Cars from each class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take part in the evening’s festivities, allowing fans an unprecedented view of them before they take to the famed Daytona International Speedway road circuit.
 
Among the current WeatherTech Championship race cars expected are the defending overall race winners – the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R - which will be taking part in a technical and safety inspection demo.
 
Other prototypes include the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing/JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R, a Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi car and the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports LMP2 entry.
 
The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class will be represented by the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE. The defending GT Daytona (GTD) Rolex 24 winner - the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 will take part in a pit stop demonstration while other cars from the class include the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, one of the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3s, the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 and the No. 19 GEAR Racing Powered by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3. A Toyota Supra GT4 Show Car will also be on display.
 
Another highlight of the event will be a Fan Forum hosted by IMSA Radio announcer John Hindhaugh. Drivers expected include Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Kamui Kobayashi, Scott Dixon, Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen and Jordan Taylor. The list of participating drivers and race cars is subject to change.
 
IMSA Official Merchandise will be available and there also will be a live DJ and opportunities to win Rolex 24 At Daytona tickets.
 
On-track activity for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 23, with practice and qualifying. NBC has live network coverage of the start of the race starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25, and also will televise the race’s dramatic finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26. That is all part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio (XM 202, Sirius 216 and Online 972).
 
Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.

Road to Indy TV, the broadcast production arm of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, will return for Season 7 in 2020 with an expanded programming platform to provide increased coverage for race fans, competitors and series partners. The three-pronged video content plan will feature increased live, edited and social media segments covering the three renowned driver development series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – to audiences around the world.

Road to Indy TV is the brainchild of JP Manterola, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Pro Racing Group – an international award winning, full-service sports marketing agency headquartered in Lithia, Fla. just outside Tampa. Since 2014, Manterola and his team, including Senior Creative Designer Travis Earnest and Project Manager and Producer Kyran Guild, have strived to bring unprecedented coverage of the Road to Indy across all platforms.

In 2016, the Road to Indy became the first American racing series with a dedicated broadcast channel on demand and also the first open-wheel series to have an official App on Xbox One. In 2020, all shows will now be available on demand as well as live on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. The shows will also be live streamed on the free Road to Indy TV App (which launched in 2015), on RoadToIndy.TV and its social media platforms and on the respective series websites – indylights.com, indypro2000.com and usf2000.com – and social media outlets.

Road to Indy TV will now be producing full live race shows with over three hours of streaming content daily on race weekends which includes a dedicated pre-race show, and race and post-race coverage of each series highlighted by special segments Paddock Pass, RTI Insider and The False Grid.

For the first time, embed codes for all shows will be available to series drivers, teams, partners and interested media for live streaming use on their own outlets.

“Live content is so important in this day and age,” said Manterola. “In 2020, live streaming is expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic. Our goal with our new expanded live programming is to meet what the numbers tell us in terms of consumption by consumers with quality live programming and behind-the-scenes access. The Road to Indy is a great product with tremendous racing and a host of stories off the track. We are excited about the creative process we have lined up and look forward to engaging more fans this season.”

The social media component of the video content plan will include regular one-minute features with individual Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 race weekend highlights as well as Beyond the Grid, Road to Indy 101, Tech Talk, Story of the Moment and Weekend Recap segments. Fuller two to five-minute edited segments will be produced the week following a race event and will include Beyond the Grid, Road to Indy 101, Tech Talk, Story of the Moment and Race Recap.

All creative content will be supported by social media marketing, providing better brand recognition among a wider audience and more exposure for series competitors. In addition, in-show branding and advertising opportunities will be offered for the first time.

“JP and his team are tremendously passionate in their efforts to expose the Road to Indy to as large an audience as possible,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Each year they strive to take their creativity and technical capabilities to new heights, and 2020 will begin a new era of live content for our teams, drivers and partners thanks to their efforts.”

Another star-studded field featuring world-class sports cars and drivers are set to take on the grueling, twice-around-the-clock classic challenge that is the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the end of next week on the iconic 3.56-mile, Daytona International Speedway road course.
 
The field includes race cars from 12 different manufacturers and includes 42 drivers with at least one previous Rolex 24 victory. It also includes a two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner among six Indy 500 winners and five IndyCar champions in the field, 26 24 Hours of Le Mans winners and 30 IMSA premier series champions.
 
There is a total of 39 entries spread between four classes of competition: Daytona Prototype international (DPi) with eight, LMP2 with six, GT Le Mans (GTLM) with seven and GT Daytona (GTD) with 18. Nearly every entry will compete in the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship season. The race also will include drivers from 22 different countries and five continents.
 
On-track activity for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 23 with practice and qualifying. NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25, and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio (XM 202, Sirius 216, Online 972).
 
Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
 The allure of the Rolex 24 At Daytona has Giacomo Mattioli eager to return each year and 2020 is no exception.
 
The Scuderia Corsa team owner thinks this may be the team’s best shot yet of landing the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 in victory lane at the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, which opens the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
 
The team retains its 2019 GT Daytona (GTD) IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup lineup of full-timers Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander, alongside Jeff Westphal. However, next week’s twice-around-the-clock event marks the return of Alessandro Balzan to the driver’s seat. The Italian was sidelined for a year for medical reasons but remained as part of the team throughout last season in a non-racing capacity.
 
“I think it’s exciting, I think it’s emotional,” said Mattioli of Balzan’s return. “He’s pumped up. He’s in the best shape of his life. He’s motivated and it’s exciting to welcome him back in the driver’s seat. He brings a lot of experience and speed to the lineup, which is probably the best lineup we’ve ever had for Daytona, so we’re excited.”
 
Scuderia Corsa’s résumé is undoubtedly impressive – two WeatherTech Championship GTD titles; the 2016 GTE-Am victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; and wins at three of the four IMSA endurance races: the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, and the Motul Petit Le Mans.
 
But it’s the Rolex 24 At Daytona that eludes the team. Should they finally triumph, the victory would rank “right at the top” for Mattioli.
 
“Right on top, absolutely,” Mattioli said. “I think this is the major accomplishment and major title that we’re missing. It would sit right with the win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016. Daytona is such a special place. It’s my favorite 24-hour.
 
“You feel connected to the car for the entire 24 hours as opposed to Le Mans where you are in the garage and the laps are long. It feels a little more disconnected with the car. Daytona, you see the car every minute or second, coming down the banking, etc. It’s intense and a great event that we look forward to every year.”
 
The 2020 Rolex 24 weekend will be doubly busy for Scuderia Corsa, as the Ferrari Challenge North America series will hold a doubleheader to open its season at the World Center of Racing. A handful of Ferrari dealerships that partner with Scuderia Corsa have entered cars for next weekend’s races and will lean on the experience of the WeatherTech Championship program.
 
“It speaks volumes that the team can perform multiple programs on the same weekend,” said Mattioli. “We’ve done it in the past and at one point, we ran three cars in the 24 Hours. The challenges are with the different paddocks and the races on Friday.
 
“But Daytona is a beautiful venue and a fantastic experience for our drivers because they get to mix and match with the IMSA pro drivers and experience the 24 Hours. It’s always much appreciated by the Challenge drivers. I think Daytona adds a lot to the Ferrari Challenge program.”
 
It’s also a firsthand glance at Ferrari’s ladder system and Mattioli’s involvement at both ends of the spectrum. Mattioli sees a bigger picture by welcoming people into the racing environment and coaching them through the ranks. 
 
“It offers the Challenge driver the ultimate step into the motorsport arena that we can take them to the endurance GT championship,” he said. “This has been possible with the support of Ferrari and the support system that we have. I think it’s valuable, and we’ve seen people develop through the ranks and the ladder system. I think it benefits the entire motorsport.”
 
NBC carries live network coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25 and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. This is all part of the NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Meanwhile, the first Ferrari Challenge race of the weekend goes green on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9:05 p.m. Race 2 will take place Friday at 6:45 p.m. Streaming of both races is available at races.ferrari.com.
 
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona event weekend are available at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
 
Professional off-road racer and radio host Jim Beaver started his 2020 race campaign on a high note on Saturday, finishing the Parker 250 presented by Polaris RZR as the Best in the Desert season kicked off in his hometown of Parker, Arizona. Beaver fought his way to a 21st place finish in UTV Turbo when all was said and done, passing a number of other cars after an early mechanical issue forced him to run most of the event from back in the pack.
 
“I’m happy to put up a decent result in our hometown race and season opener in Parker,” said Beaver. “We had a couple of little things happen along the way that forced us to play some catch-up, but the car ran well, we got into a rhythm, and made up positions throughout the day as we clicked off miles. I’m happy to get a good finish to start the year, and ready to head on to King of the Hammers!”
 
Beaver drove the first and third laps of the three-lap race, while his brother Trent strapped into the car for the second lap. A belt issue 13 miles into the race allowed more than 20 other cars to get past, but the #915 General Tire/Vision Wheel Polaris RZR ran smoothly for most of the event. As a rough course knocked a number of competitors out during the day, Beaver and his team managed the car well enough to get to the finish on the lead lap—a feat that only half of this year’s starters were able to accomplish.
 
Stay tuned for new episodes of the General Tire Down & Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR, Project Action, and more, as well as full coverage of the Parker 250 presented by Polaris RZR and all of this week’s action motorsports events on DownAndDirtyShow.com.
 
Jim Beaver Motorsports is supported by General Tire, Vision Wheel, Polaris RZR, Rigid Industries, GSP XTV Axles, DirtFish, Gibson Exhaust, Optimas Starters, Impact Safety, Acronis, Hyperco, HCR Racing, zMAX Race Products, Pro Armor, Assault, Rugged Radios, and Action Sports Canopies. For more information on Jim Beaver and the General Tire Down & Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR, visit www.downanddirtyshow.com, follow @JimBeaver15 on social media, and follow @DownAndDirtyShow on Instagram.
 
Professional off-road racer and Red Bull athlete Mia Chapman made it to the finish line in the first race of her desert off-road career last Saturday in the Parker 250 presented by Polaris RZR. Chapman, who made her debut in the #1837 Polaris RZR in the UTV Production class, finished 20th with a time of 6:14:57.839, completing the race on the lead lap despite facing a rough and unforgiving course in her debut.
 
“I learned a lot in my first desert race, and I’m stoked to finish!” said Chapman. “It’s difficult to try and finish your first time out, but we managed to get it to the line and work through any issues we had. We didn’t have a flat all day, our Yokohama tires held up amazingly even as the course got rougher and rougher as the day went on. I can’t wait to get back in the car for my next race of the season at the Mint 400!”Three laps on the rocky course in Parker weren’t without their challenges; Chapman’s rear axle failed on the final lap of the race, forcing her to finish the race without all-wheel drive. Undeterred, the desert rookie focused on running at her own pace throughout the day as she began her transition from a highly successful short course racing career. The Florence, Arizona native adapted to very different conditions, with less consistent wheel-to-wheel racing and much more time in the driver’s seat.
 
Chapman’s next race will be the Mint 400 in March, as she makes her debut in the Great American Off-Road Race. Last year’s event drew over 540 entries, meaning Chapman will likely face some of her toughest competition of the season in 2020 in the legendary Nevada-based event.
 
Mia Chapman is supported by Red Bull, R-N-R Steel, Yokohama, Kicker Performance Audio, Walker Evans Racing, Vision Wheel, Rigid Industries, Jim Beaver’s Down & Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR, Action Sports Canopies, Muzzys, Sparco, DynoJet, AiM Sports, Xtreme Racing Fabrication, and Rugged Radios. For more information on Mia Chapman and her off-road racing career, visit www.miachapman.com or follow Mia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Although SuperSebring 2020 is still two months away, many popular fan hospitality opportunities and corporate hospitality offerings are in limited supply.

SuperSebring 2020 includes IMSA’s 68th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts (March 21), the FIA WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring (March 20) and both the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race and IMSA Prototype Challenge races (March 19).

Included among the premier ticket options in limited supply:

  • The Celebrity Cruises Luxury Lounge, which is new for 2020 and includes a four-day SuperTicket, admission to a climate-controlled VIP hospitality tent, complimentary Yuengling, Mike’s Hard and Pepsi products, meal service on Friday and Saturday as well as driver meet and greets and live entertainment, is selling fast.  Admission is $395 per person and tickets are limited.  The Celebrity Cruises Luxury Lounge is similar in scope to the popular Club Sebring which sold out almost immediately after going on sale.
  • Only three reserved trackside RV spaces remain available. Please call 800.626.7223 immediately to reserve.
  • The Porscheplatz Corral, which is located on the outside of Turn 17 and the beginning of the front stretch, provides great views of the circuit’s final turn and the entrance to pit road.  Access to this VIP parking area is limited to Porsches of all models and years, and owners can also participate in an on-track parade lap.  One, two and four-day tickets are available, and the space is approaching full capacity.
  • The Gurney Terrace provides elevated, covered viewing from the Raceway’s pit structure.  The open-air space has been enhanced for 2020 with new flooring and other upgrades, and limited seating is provided along with a cash bar and limited food service.  Tickets are $245 and fans can bring their own folding chairs for seating.
  • The Corvette Corral, a popular parking and hospitality area exclusively for Corvette owners, has reached capacity.

Sebring management anticipates all the options listed above to sell out and encourages fans to reserve space early. Please call 800.626.7223 if you have any questions.

A $15 savings per ticket on one-, two- and four-day SuperTickets is available until Feb. 17, after which all tickets will be offered at gate prices.  Parking passes for cars and RVs are also available, and as always, free parking and shuttle service is available outside the Raceway.  Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

Buy tickets now at sebringraceway.com.

It's not uncommon for recent high school or college graduates to take an "off-year" after completing their studies to travel or wind down.
 
For Michael McCann Jr. – a recent graduate of Ohio University – he wanted to go sports car racing.
 
"When I graduated, I had full anticipation of accepting a job at an IT company in Columbus," said McCann, who graduated with a degree in Science and Management Information Systems. "A couple of days before Christmas, my dad came to me. My dad and I always had a mutual agreement with racing where, you know, keep your nose clean, stay out of trouble, get good grades, do well in school.
 
"He said that now is the time to go racing if you want to go racing. I told him that I don't want to look back in 10 years and be like, ‘I wish I would've taken that opportunity.’ I held off on the corporate life, and I started doing this, and I instantly fell in love with it."
 
McCann Racing joins the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge paddock in the No. 8 Audi R8 GT4. McCann – son of the former GT racer with the same moniker – will be sharing driving duties with a fellow Midwesterner, Britt Casey Jr.
 
Hailing from Illinois, Casey returns full time to the series after his championship-winning season in TCR in 2018. He completed a partial season in 2019, which yielded two pole positions, one win and two additional podium finishes in just four starts.
 
"It's rewarding to be back in the paddock full time after a successful, but partial, season last year being in an Audi RS3 TCR car again," said Casey. "We still found a lot of successes, but the move up to GS, I think, is something Audi wanted to see in terms of a ladder progression, as one of the Audi customer racing offerings of TCR, GT4 and GT3 and GT2 machinery. I know they're excited about that. McCann has long been an Audi team as well, and it was a good fit."
 
It can't be argued that the program as a whole is a good fit. Nearly all of the crew is Midwest-based, and Casey himself is nearing his college graduation from Ohio's Miami University.
 
"It's a Midwest team," said Casey. "Pretty much everyone on the team is from the Midwest, so we all get along in the same way and laugh at the same jokes. A lot of mutual friends and a lot of mutual experiences that we can all relate to. It's fun. It's is a cool team to be on because everyone is cool people."
 
His co-driver – who he met in World Challenge last year – echoed the same sentiments.
 
"The first thing with bringing other people in is that you just hope they get along," said McCann. "The first night (at the Roar Before the Rolex 24), we're all working together and we go out to dinner and it was perfect. It was like a happy marriage. Everything is going well so far, I can't complain. Having Britt as a teammate, that's huge for me. When we were teammates for one race last year, we just kicked things off."
 
The duo is hoping to kick off the 2020 Pilot Challenge season with a bang. Although they’re new to the grid, they're not necessarily lagging behind the veteran teams.
 
"There are little things that new teams don't think about, but we have a lot of guys that have previous experience with IMSA like myself that are on the team," said Casey. "We all know the little elements that go into a championship that may be a new team doesn't think about. Our goal is to be upfront every single race as much as we can.
 
"We're expecting to do well, not in a big-headed manner, but with a calculated approach. We have already started to recognize the little things we need to do to make sure we're taken as an established team, rather than a first-year team in IMSA because it's not going to be that way."
 
 
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season begins with the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, January 24. The race will be streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold beginning at 1 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio commentary is also available at RadioLeMans.com and IMSA.com.
 
 

 

How do you win an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the GT Daytona (GTD) class?
 
It’s the most populous class in the series, with 18 entries from no less than nine different manufacturers teed up to compete in the 2020 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26. And yet, since the inception of the WeatherTech Championship in 2014, there have been just four GTD teams that have won championships.
 
Turner Motorsport took the inaugural title with its then-season-long driver Dane Cameron aboard the No. 94 BMW Z4. Scuderia Corsa won the next three, with Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell capturing the title in 2015 followed by back-to-back championships with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan in the team’s Ferrari 488 GT3 in 2016 and 2017.
 
Paul Miller Racing broke Scuderia Corsa’s stranglehold with Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in 2018. And last year, it was Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher who delivered the first sports car title for Meyer Shank Racing in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3.
 
That title was a long time coming for the team, which began competing full-time in sports cars back in 2004. But after coming close in prior years, the light bulb finally came on for the MSR squad and team owner Mike Shank in 2019 and gives the team a roadmap to follow into 2020.
 
“You know, in 2018 we finished second by one point and we won last year by 21 points,” Shank said. “We had two different years there. In 2018, we had another team that didn’t make any mistakes. Last year, a lot of people made mistakes and we were able to capitalize on that.
 
“So, I would see us more as steady. We’re trying to keep that steady progression. We want to win championships. Obviously, we want to win races, but we think we know how to win championships now.”
Therein seems to lie the secret.
 
Of the GTD championship winners since 2014, Cameron and the Turner squad were the winningest team with four victories that season. Nielsen and Balzan had two wins in their first championship season of 2016 and Sellers and Snow also had two in 2017. But three times – Sweedler and Bell in 2015, Nielsen and Balzan in 2017 and Farnbacher and Hindman last year – the GTD champions only had one win during the season.
 
That seems to suggest that, if you’re going to contend for a title, you’ve got to accept that race wins aren’t always part of the equation.
 
“We accepted P2,” said Shank. “We accepted P3, ‘cause sometimes that’s the way the race goes. We were P7 at Sebring, as a matter of fact, but that was kind of our worst finish minus getting a stone in the radiator at Petit (Le Mans, the 2019 season finale).
 
“We accept that we can’t win all the races. So, what do you do then? What we do is, we let our drivers know, sometimes it’s not our day, and when it’s not our day, P4 is good. Let’s get the car in the trailer whole, take P4 and let’s move to the next track. I think that’s one of the biggest things actually.”
 
But there’s more to it than that. A lot more, says Shank.
 
“We’re like any other team in this class,” he said. “We have to fight BoP (Balance of Performance). The series put almost a hundred pounds on us – 80-some points – over the course of the year, which is a challenge for us to try to get the car to handle like it should.
 
“We all have to deal with it. I’m not making a judgement at all. I’m just saying that’s a part of the strategy now. At some point, you’ve got to figure out what’s the best way to manage that. I don’t mean manage BoP, but just understanding what you have at the time and not trying to overshoot that, making a mistake on the track or anything like that.”
 
Another common thread among past GTD champions – Meyer Shank Racing included – is a preponderance of podium finishes. In five of six seasons since 2014, the champion had podiums in at least half of the season’s races. And the one pairing that didn’t – Bell and Sweedler in 2015 – had top-four results in six of 10 races.
 
“We had more wins and stuff in ’18, but we had some mistakes too, and the 48 car that year just did what we did (in 2019),” Shank said. “There’s really something to be said about that. You’ve still got to be fast, and you’ve got to have a win, at least. And you should finish on the podium four or five, six times and have some poles, which we did.
 
“But it’s just understanding that there are days it’s just not going to be your day no matter what you do. Being able to be OK with being P4, P5 and put it in the trailer. We’ll go and we’ll be better next time. That’s what (Paul Miller Racing) did, it’s what Scuderia Corsa did, and it’s what we did. I think we strategized it really well.”
 
Shank hopes to carry that strategy over to 2020 with his team’s pair of entries and a shuffled driver lineup. Farnbacher is back full-time in the No. 86 Acura but his full-season co-driver will be 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion Matt McMurry, while the team’s No. 57 entry run in partnership with Henricher Racing now features a full-season driver lineup of Misha Goikhberg and Alvaro Parente.
 
Hindman will compete in the No. 57 for IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds, with AJ Allmendinger – who won the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona with the team – lined up for another Rolex 24 run in the No. 57. Japanese racer Shinya Michimi and Frenchman Jules Gounon complete the No. 86 lineup at Daytona alongside McMurry and Farnbacher.
 
And with all the talk of accepting podium finishes or the best result you can get, there are still two races – the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts – where a win-at-all-costs mentality is acceptable.
 
“Of course, we won the race overall in 2012, but in GTD, we have not won Daytona or Sebring,” Shank said. “We were second here (at Daytona), but Sebring just kicks our butt every year in every car we’ve ever been in.
 
“So, we have some real, hard goals to do better with the next here and at Sebring, potentially. We’ll test there at Sebring in February and we’ll try like crazy to get some better results.”
 
On-track activity for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 23 with practice and qualifying. NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25, and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.
 
Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
 
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