Alex Palou bags $500,000 in Thermal Club Challenge race

Alex Palou cruised to victory Sunday morning in IndyCar’s Thermal Club $1 Million Dollar Challenge exhibition race at The Thermal Club, a private motorsports club in Palm Springs, California, bagging himself half a million dollars.

Alex Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing Team celebrate winning the Thermal Club $1 Million Dollar Challenge race in victory lane (Photo by Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)
  • Palou becomes half a million dollars richer
  • Empty pockets
  • Heat results
  • Main race results

3 min read

Palou becomes a half a million dollars richer

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver and reigning two-time IndyCar champion had been in control of his destiny all weekend long, qualifying on the pole, and then comfortably winning his heat race to start on pole for the main 20-lap 12 car feature race where victory never looked in doubt, leading all 20 laps, and taking the checkered flag with over five seconds over second place Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who still won $350,000 for being runner-up.

The final race was divided into two ten-lap segments with a ten minute halftime break, with teams having to keep the same set of tyres on for the whole race.

Drivers like Colton Herta chose not to push for the first 10-lap segment and instead hanged back of the pack and sought to save his tyres for the second 10-lap segment.

Herta was able to go from tenth to fourth but still bagged himself $500,000 of the $1.7 million total purse, but was not able to reach Palou, who was out front in clean air all race long.

Palou said: “I was a bit surprised how the competitors did the first 10 laps, saving tires. I was like: ‘All right, that’s our game. I like it.”

When asked by NBC how he was going to spend his winnings he replied: “I need to buy a lot of diapers and pyjamas.”

Heat one runner up Scott McLaughlin was Alex Palou’s nearest competitor on track in the main race but two laps in, Palou had pulled a 1.7 second gap, and despite the halftime reset, Palou only extended the gap over McLaughlin further by over five seconds come the end of the race.

Alex Palou leads the Thermal Club main race with Scott McLaughlin in second (second), and Felix Rosenqvist in third (third) (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Colton Herta only just made it into the main race in heat one by holding off rookie and fellow California native Nolan Siegel who was making his IndyCar Series debut, Ferrucci, and Will Power for sixth place, with only the top six out of the 14 drivers in heat one advancing to the main race.

Herta said: “Our strategy worked in the second half. Yeah I didn’t care. I went to feast in the second half.”

Heat one polesitter and Meyer Shank Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist had an impressive outing again, leading right where he left off in St. Pete, by holding off McLaughlin for the heat one win, and was able to bring the car home third and secure himself $250,000.

Empty pockets

Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean did not share in the fortunes of Palou’s dominant display or his ex-Andretti teammates’ fourth place, nor did Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, after he collided with Grosjean in the heat one race start in the turn one braking zone, sending Grosjean out of control into the pack as they went through the turn one hairpin, collecting innocent bystander Rinus VeeKay in the process, taking them both out of the race.

Romain Grosjean goes skidding across the sand in turn one moments before he collides with Rinus VeeKay in the start of heat 1 (Photo by Joe Skibinksi/Penske Entertainment)

Dixon was given a drive through penalty under green conditions following the restart for avoidance contact.

Grosjean said: “It’s not what I signed up to IndyCar for.”

It was intense heat two battle for Arrow McLaren with their drivers Callum Ilott, Alexander Rossi, and Pato O’Ward as they fought over seventh, with Rossi and O’Ward finding a way past Ilott, who was standing in for David Malukas and is not scheduled to compete in any more races, with Rossi managing to get past Meyer Shank Racing driver Tom Blomqvist for the final transfer spot.

Callum Ilott (front), Alexander Rossi (second), and Pato O’Ward (third) battle over seventh place in heat 2 (Photp by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

Rossi then scrapped with two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden following the halftime break in the main race, making contact on lap 12 and driving both wide off track, allowing Lundqvist and Herta to sneak by for fifth and sixth place respectively.

Rossi finally finished ahead of Newgarden in seventh after finding a cleaner way past by the end of the lap. Newgarden finished eighth.

Pietro Fittipaldi, who had finished in fifth place in heat one, was disqualified from the main race come the halftime break due to the team not getting the car full of fuel for the race, as required by IndyCar.

The next IndyCar Series race is the prestigious Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 21st with the race starting 3pm ET time.

Heat 1 results 

  1. Felix Rosenqvist
  2. Scott McLaughlin
  3. Josef Newgarden
  4. Christian Lundgaard
  5. Agustin Canapino
  6. Colton Herta
  7. Nolan Siegel
  8. Santino Ferrucci
  9. Will Power
  10. Kyle Kirkwood
  11. Sting Ray Robb
  12. Scott Dixon
  13. Rinus VeeKay
  14. Romain Grosjean

Heat 2 results 

  1. Alex Palou
  2. Marcus Armstrong
  3. Graham Rahal
  4. Linus Lundqvist
  5. Pietro Fittipaldi
  6. Alexander Rossi
  7. Pato O’Ward
  8. Tom Blomqvist
  9. Callum Ilott
  10. Christian Rasmussen
  11. Kyffin Simpson
  12. Marcus Ericsson
  13. Colin Braun

Main race results 

  1. Alex Palou
  2. Scott McLaughlin
  3. Felix Rosenqvist
  4. Colton Herta
  5. Marcus Armstrong
  6. Linus Lundqvist
  7. Alexander Rossi
  8. Josef Newgarden
  9. Christian Lundgaard
  10. Agustin Canapino
  11. Graham Rahal
  12. Pietro Fittipaldi

Featured Image:  Alex Palou celebrates winning the Thermal Club $1 Million Dollar Challenge Race (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

COTA race preview: SVG and Kobayashi return

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Circuit of The Americas for the fourth successive year this Sunday for the first road course of the season, in what promises to be another wild and fiercely competitive COTA race, with 2023 Chicago Street Race winner and three-times Supercars champion Shane Van Gisbergen and ex-Formula 1 driver and 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi, both making their first Cup start of the season.

  • Race breakdown
  • Shane van Gisbergen and Kamui Kobayashi return
  • Qualifying
  • Full qualifying results

3 min read

Race breakdown

The EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas will consist of 68 laps (232 miles), broken down into three stages of 15, 15, and 38, around the 3.41-mile 20-turn premiere road course with the race starting at 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

NASCAR have brought a new race package this weekend for the Cup Series which includes a simplified diffuser and diffuser strake, accompanied by a three-inch spoiler, the shortest spoiler package the Cup Series currently run, all in an effort to take away downforce from the cars.

All three prior COTA Cup races have been wild affairs, with the inaugural race in 2021 seeing a torrential downpour that saw NASCAR’s wettest ever Cup race brawl ensue that saw Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott win.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MAY 23: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on May 23, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2022 came down to a three-wide wrestle that saw Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain come out on top after moving AJ Allmendinger out of the way to take his first Cup Series win.

Last year featured several manic overtime attempts that saw 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick finally take the checkered flag.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott has the most wins amongst Sunday’s field with seven road course victories. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson have five, four, and four road course victories respectively.

Shane van Gisbergen and Kamui Kobayashi return

Shane van Gisbergen looks set to compete up front again in his third Cup Series start now racing for Kaulig Racing after he stole the show from the Cup regulars, out-braking, and outmanoeuvred all to take the win at the inaugural Chicago Street Course on his Cup Series debut last summer.

Gisbergen also finished 10th in last year’s Indianapolis road course race. He qualified 12th for Sunday’s COTA Cup race.

Gisbergen raced in yesterday’s Xfinity COTA race as part of his full-time schedule with Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series this season, and was up front all day long with teammate AJ Allmendinger and was leading when the caution came out with less than four laps to go.

In the final overtime Gisbergen got moved of the way by Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill in turn one, that then saw the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Kyle Larson, who was on much fresher tyres, pass both of them on the final lap to take the win away, as Gisbergen got back by Hill in the final corners.

Gisbergen was then penalised for marginally cutting a corner in the esses on the final lap that relegated him to a 27th finishing position.

Kamui Kobayashi is piloting 23XI Racing’s No. 50 Toyota, making his second Cup Series start after making his debut in last year’s Indianapolis road course race, where he finished 33rd one lap down.

Kobayashi who has qualified 25th for the COTA race said: “I’m definitely looking forward to COTA. We’ve had more preparation. I’ve raced COTA five times already in Formula 1 and WEC. I think Indy, it was my first time ever racing there, but at COTA I have more experience, so definitely looking forward to the race.”

Kobayashi will be sporting a Mobil 50th anniversary livery for the Cup race.


Qualifying saw William Byron take his 13th Cup Series pole and fifth on a road course with an average lap speed of 94.696 mph, beating Ty Gibbs by 0.15-seconds, who finished 24th in yesterday’s Xfinity race after being up front up for much of it.

Byron said: “Honestly this has been my first normal week since the [Daytona] 500 and being in my rhythm and kind of in my cocoon and being able to focus on driving the race car. I feel very happy with the way the week has gone and feel very fresh going into this race.”

The EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas starts 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

Full qualifying results 

  1. William Byron
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Corey Lajoie
  6. Ross Chastain
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Bubba Wallace
  11. Austin Cindric
  12. Shane van Gisbergen
  13. Justin Haley
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Kyle Larson
  16. Kyle Busch
  17. Alex Bowman
  18. Carson Hocevar
  19. Daniel Suarez
  20. Chris Buescher
  21. Austin Dillon
  22. John Hunter Nemechek
  23. Kaz Grala
  24. Ryan Preece
  25. Kamui Kobayashi
  26. Todd Gilliland
  27. Michael McDowell
  28. Ryan Blaney
  29. Harrison Burton
  30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  31. Josh Berry
  32. Chase Briscoe
  33. Daniel Hemric
  34. Zane Smith
  35. Joey Logano
  36. Brad Keselowski
  37. Timmy Hill
  38. Erik Jones
  39. Noah Gragson

Featured Image: AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 24: A general view of practice for the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 24, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge race preview

The NTT IndyCar Series are getting set to race for $1 million plus dollars near Palm Springs, California at the 17-turn three mile Thermal Club circuit, in a non-points paying exhibition race, the first of it’s kind since IndyCar’s Nikon 300 at Surfers Paradise in 2008.

The Thermal Club logo printed on the straight of the Thermal Club circuit (Photo by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)
  • Race day breakdown
  • Qualifying 
  • Full qualifying results 

5 min read

There is a $1.7 million total purse for the race, with the winning driver being awarded $500,000.

The race event will consist of two 10 lap/20 minute heat races on Sunday starting 8:45am PT/3:45pm UK time with the main race starting 9:30am PT/4:30pm UK time.

Full course yellow laps will not count towards the lap total during the heat races but the time will, the first that’s completed, either 10 laps or 20 minutes, will end each heat race.

Drivers will only be granted one set of tyres for their heat races.

The top six finishers from each heat race will advance to the main race to have a chance of winning the $500,000, with even second and third winning $350,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Callum Ilott (front), Pato O’Ward (middle), and Christian Lundgaard (rear) race around the Thermal Club circuit (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

The starting order for the heats was decided by two eight minute heat qualifying sessions, one for each of the two groups, Saturday afternoon that saw Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Palou take pole for each heat respectively.

The main race, the Sprint for the Purse, will be a 20-lap race broken down into two 10 lap segments, with a 10-minute halftime break after lap 10.

There will only be one set of tyres made available for the main race and will have no time limit for but will finish by all 20 laps being completed.

During the 10-minute halftime break, drivers will come pit road, and be able to take fuel and make adjustments.

Due to both groups of drivers only merging together for the main race with the top six from each groups’ heat races, group two have been awarded priority spots for equivalent starting positions for the main race due to Palou, who is in group two, laying down a faster pole time compared to Rosenqvist’s group one pole time.

There is a strong likelihood of teams infighting for the top six advancement through to the main race in both heats due to all three Team Penske cars being in group one, and all three Arrow Mclaren cars being in group two, three of the four Chip Ganassi Racing cars in heat two, as well as both Juncos Hollinger Racing cars of Romain Grosjean and Agustin Canapino starting next to each for heat one.

It is not the first time IndyCar have tried out heat racing, last doing so at the Iowa Speedway oval in 2012 and 2013, with current drivers Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon winning heat races in those events.

Current Indy NXT championship points leader and California native Nolan Siegel, is making his IndyCar Series debut at the event and qualified 12th for his heat one race.

Siegel was the 2023 IndyCar development series’ Rookie of the Year, and the 19-year-old is scheduled to also make IndyCar Series starts at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, and the Grand Prix of Toronto.

Nolan Siegel (front) and Christian Lundgaard (rear) race around the Thermal Club circuit (Photo by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

Push to pass for the drivers is being made available for a total time of 40 seconds, for each qualifying session, the heat races and both 10-lap segments of the main race.


Qualifying consisted of two eight minute sessions, with the two group makeups being decided by a random draw, and only had one set of tires to lay down their qualifying laps.

Group 1 qualifying saw Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist bag a consecutive pole with a lap time of 1.38.5831, after grabbing pole two weeks ago in the season opener at St. Pete.

Rosenqvist talking to NBC said: “It’s so tricky out there, wind and dirt on the track. Felt confident. The speed is there.”

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who qualified third in group one, speaking to NBC said: “That was awesome, it was like an old-school Supercars shootout, you go out there, and bam bam bam.”

Andretti Global’s and California native Colton Herta struggled to put a fast lap together, lacking grip at the end of the session, and will start 11th out of 14th for heat one.

Group 2 qualifying saw a dramatic change in weather conditions after a late session red flag brought out by Marcus Ericsson, that saw Palou shoot to the top with a lap time of 1.38.5675, to secure pole for heat two.

Palou, who was quickest in both test sessions on Friday, speaking to NBC said: “Amazing, looking forward to tomorrow, happy with that. Had 14 seconds of push to pass, car was good.”

Palou’s pole lap came following the 10-minute red flag, that had been brought out by Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson after he lost his car over the bumps in turn eight as engaged push to pass, and went backwards into the tyre wall.

When the red flag was lifted, wind gusts had eased, creating more favourable conditions for the drivers.

Both Arrow McLaren teams of Callum Ilott and Pato O’Ward, who were sat one two on the timesheet at the time of the red flag, did not go out to do one final lap, unlike the other 11 drivers in group two, and ended up eighth and ninth for qualifying, over half a second down to Palou.

O’Ward speaking to NBC during the red flag said that the “track is very sensitive to heat and wind. I could never get the car to set, it was going in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. It’s just really gusty and feels icy out there.”

Graham Rahal qualified third for heat two in his final lap attempt following the red flag.

Speaking to NBC Rahal described his attempt as “the old fashioned pull it out.”

Don’t miss the Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge race beginning 8:45am PT Sunday.

Full qualifying results

Group 1 qualifying results for Heat 1 

  1. Felix Rosenqvist
  2. Scott McLaughlin
  3. Rinus VeeKay
  4. Christian Lundgaard
  5. Josef Newgarden
  6. Will Power
  7. Romain Grosjean
  8. Agustin Canapino
  9. Scott Dixon
  10. Santino Ferrucci
  11. Colton Herta
  12. Nolan Siegel
  13. Kyle Kirkwood
  14. Sting Ray Robb

Group 2 qualifying results for Heat 2

  1. Alex Palou
  2. Marcus Armstrong
  3. Graham Rahal
  4. Linus Lundqvist
  5. Tom Blomqvist
  6. Pietro Fittipaldi
  7. Alexander Rossi
  8. Callum Ilott
  9. Pato O’Ward
  10. Kyffin Simpson
  11. Christian Rasmussen
  12. Colin Braun
  13. Marcus Ericsson

Featured Image: Colton Herta practices around the Thermal Club circuit in Friday’s test session (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Acura clinch Sebring 12 Hours win from Cadillac

Saturday’s IMSA’s Twelve Hours of Sebring came down to the wire, as after an hour long duel, the GTP No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura with Louis Deletraz at the wheel wrestled past the GTP No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac of two-time Twelve Hours of Sebring winner Sebastien Bourdais with just six minutes of the race left to go and held him off to give Wayne Taylor Racing their second Twelve Hours of Sebring win and first for Acura.

  • Wayne Taylor Racing win second Twelve Hours of Sebring
  • Cadillac heartbreak
  • GTP leader swaps
  • GTD Pro battle
  • Lamborghini SC63 test race successful
  • LMP2 and GTD
  • Class winners

8 min read

Wayne Taylor Racing win second Twelve Hours of Sebring

Acura clinched their first Sebring 12 Hour win on Saturday, Wayne Taylor Racing’s second Sebring 12 Hour win,  last winning in 2017, and the first Sebring 12 Hour win since becoming Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti in 2023.

The final hour of the race saw several full course yellows that gave Sebastien Bourdais, who was desperately trying to keep ahead of Deletraz’s Acura ARX-06 after the team had worked their way back to the front after being off the pace for a couple of hours, a quick reset each time, just as Deletraz had been filling the Frenchman’s mirrors.

The final green flag run was just long enough for Deletraz to find a way past Bourdais’ Cadillac, who had been lacking tyre life compared to Deletraz, as he pinched Bourdais coming out of the turn seven hairpin after a side by side battle. Lap traffic nearly helped Bourdais make a final charge at Deletraz with two laps to go, but Deletraz was able to find enough clear track to stay out front and take the checkers.

#40: Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta (Photo courtesy of Acura Newsroom).

Following the 333 lap race, with a race time of 12 hours and 54 seconds, Deletraz, speaking to IMSA Radio said: “It was clear I wanted to win. Really hard fight with Seb, but in the end was fair, we could have both ended up in the wall but it was respectful. I saw the gap, if I don’t try, I’m not a racing driver. I am super happy we won.”

The No. 40 team comprised of Louis Deletraz, 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion Jordan Taylor, and full-time IndyCar star Colton Herta, denied Cadillac from scoring their fifth Twelve Hours of Sebring in six years.

Team principal Wayne Taylor speaking to IMSA Radio said: “Balance of performance didn’t suit us at all in Daytona. Thanks to IMSA and all manufactures to getting this thing back on track to where everyone had a chance.”

Cadillac heartbreak

It was heartbreak for Cadillac, as both their cars collectively led the majority of the race, first with the pole-sitting GTP No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series. R car.

Disaster struck the race leading No. 31 Cadillac in the eighth hour when, after leading for several intervals for the first half of the race, Pipo Derani, who had set a blistering pace, gapping the second place 2024 Daytona 24 Hours winning No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport team driven by Felipe Nasr, had a huge crash when on the run to turn 10, Derani slightly moved across the GTD No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari of Miguel Molina, getting tagged and was sent sliding to the right, smacking into the tyre wall, sending several tyres flying into the air, with the impact flipping his GTP car and landing upside down.

This had come shortly after a nearly three hour interval where the No. 31 had worked it’s way up from seventh to first with drivers Tom Blomqvist and Jack Aitken after having to pit for emergency fuel after a full course yellow had come out.

The Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Cadillac of Renger van der Zande, six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon who was looking for his first Twelve Hours of Sebring win, and Bourdais, had spent the first few hours of the race in the tyre tracks of the sister Cadillac car, and also had to work their way back to the front after falling off the GTP Acura and GTP BMW’s leading pace in the eighth hour.

It was less than two hours to go when the 01 car led consecutive stints but just like the sister 31 car did in the first half of the race, the No. 40 Acura had the legs and the pace to just find a way past the No. 01 car in the dying embers of the race.

Van der Zande said speaking to IMSA radio said: “I’m very disappointed, hats off to Deletraz. Bourdais. It’s all Seb could have done. [The Acura] had more tyre and faster lap pace. Bourdais tried to hold off.”

GTP leader swaps

Following Derani’s race ending crash, nobody could keep the lead without issue.

As the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura car, nine and half hours into the race, found a way past the race leading No. 25 BMW M Team RLL car, the car was continually burning excessive amounts of oil, and several laps later was forced to pit to address it, puttiing them a lap down, and handing the lead to the No. 7 and No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport cars.

The next restart after a full course yellow, saw the new race leader Porsche No. 6 of Frederic Makowiecki spin in turn seven with a flat right rear tyre possibly as a result of contact with the GTD No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo 22 car.

The No. 66 car was one of two all-female lineups in the race, and was running fifth in their GTD class at the time, when the No. 7 Porsche came charging round the inside of Sunset Bend, getting onto the grass before tank slapping into the No. 66 of four-time IMSA GTD winner Katherine Legge, sending her barrelling into the turn 17 tyre wall on the opposite side and taking the team out of the race. No action was taken, a common theme in the race by race control.

#66: Gradient Racing, Acura NSX GT3, GTD: Sheena Monk, Katherine Legge, Tati Calderon, #57: WINWARD RACING, Mercedes AMG GT3, GTD: Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Indy Dontje (Photo courtesy of Acura Newsroom)

GTD Pro battle

The GTD Pro class saw a fierce battle between Lexus, BMW, Porsche, Corvette, and Ferrari for the top five spots all race long, but after an overall dominant display from the GTD Pro No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 team of 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring GTD winner Jack Hawksworth, Lexus USA factory driver Ben Barnicoat, and full-time IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood, and an impassioned comeback from Hawksworth, saw the team jump from third to back to the top spot in the final laps to win the GTD Pro class.

The No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 team of Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat, and Kyle Kirkwood, racing in the 2024 Sebring 12 Hours in their Mobil 1 50th anniversary livery (Photo courtesy of Lexus Newsroom).

Hawksworth made an ambitious dive down the inside of the Daniel Juncadella driven No. 3 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R car into the turn seven hairpin with Juncadella colliding heavily with the rear of Hawksworth’s Lexus as he turned in, with Hawksworth coming out with second.

Hawksworth then stormed past the leading GTD Pro No. 62 Ferrari of Daniel Serra down the inside of turn one the following lap with 23 minutes to go, to take GTD Pro victory.

Hawksworth said speaking to the IMSA Radio: “With 30 minutes to go, I didn’t want to settle for bottom step of the podium.”

Hawksworth’s No. 14 teammate Ben Barnicoat said speaking to IMSA Radio: “Hawksworth, what a badass, he knows when to make big moves.”

Hawksworth other No. 14 teammate and full-time IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood said speaking to IMSA Radio: “They executed at exactly the right time. The car was flawless, pit stops were flawless. His pass was absolutely insane.”

Lamborghini SC63 test race successful 

While not having the pace of the other GTP teams, in their first IMSA GTP class race, the GTP Iron Lynx Lamborghini SC63 team of Lamborghini factory drivers Matteo Cairoli and Andrea Caldarelli, as well as full-time IndyCar and ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, completed all 333 laps finishing in seventh place with little issues when it came to reliability.

Lamborghini SC63 confirms strong reliability in the 12 Hours of Sebring; the SC63 races in the 2024 Sebring 12 Hours – ID: 652662 (Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Media Center).

The fight for most of the race was keeping the SC63 out of trouble and on the lead lap, which Romain Grosjean nearly jeopardised four hours into the race when he spun the SC63 and had to visit the pits to check the car was ok.

Grosjean also was driving when with less than four hours to go, the only notable fault occured on the SC63 when the driver side door was slightly ajar but fixed in place as he raced around the 17-turn 3.74 mile circuit.

Lamborghini SC63 confirms strong reliability in the 12 Hours of Sebring; the SC63 making a pit stop during the 2024 Sebring 12 Hours – ID: 652665 (Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Media Center)

After going a lap down ten hours into the race, the seas parted just in front of Grosjean as the SC63 was directly behind the No. 6 Penske Porsche Motorsport car of Makowiecki as he spun in turn seven, allowing Grosjean to slip past to go back on the lead lap.

Grosjean worked frantically for twenty minutes to keep the now race leading No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport car of Matt Campbell behind as he was being pressured by the No. 01 Cadillac of van der Zande for the race lead.

The SC63 team briefly went a lap down during the next green flag pit cycle but through the many full course yellows in the final hour of the race, was able to get back on the lead lap.

Grosjean said: “I am super happy with the result, we know that the Sebring 12 Hours is one of the toughest races out there, due to the track nature. It is a really positive step therefore, that we managed to finish the race and on the lead lap in P7. There is still a lot that we need to work on, and I am excited for the future.”

LMP2 and GTD

In the LMP2, after a fierce battle back and forth all race long back for the LMP2 lead between the No. 99, No. 52, No. 2, and No.11 machines, it was instead the No. 18 Era Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson team of Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, and Connor Zilisch, who with half an hour ago took the lead through the pit strategy cycle with Zilisch driving, to win the LMP2 Twelve Hours of Sebring class, going back to back in the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech Championship season after winning the 2024 24 Hours of Daytona in January.

Zilisch said speaking to IMSA Radio: “That was the longest 24 minutes of my life.”

The GTD class saw a dominant display by the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo of Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, and Indy Dontje, leading 164 of the 314 laps that the GTD class completed, also going back to back after winning the GTD class in the 2024 24 Hours of Daytona.

This came after their pole position was rescinded after running unapproved sensors during Friday’s qualifying, but after just 55 laps had passed all 21 GTD cars to take the lead of the race.

Ward said: “We’re used to it, ‘cause the last three years we’ve had to start from last at some point. We knew we had the car for it, and our goal was just to get the maximum amount of points out of this race. The crew performed flawlessly, the drivers made a few mistakes, and we came out on top.”

The next IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship race is the 100-minute Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 20th.  

Class winners 

GTP – No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 of Louis Deletraz, Jordan Taylor, and Colton Herta

LMP2 – No. 18 Era Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson of Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, and Connor Zilisch

GTD Pro – No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F of Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat, and Kyle Kirkwood

GTD – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG Evo of Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, and Indy Dontje

Featured Image: #40: Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta, Confetti, Orange Juice (Photo courtesy of Acura Newsroom)


It’s Bristol Baby! Food City 500 race preview

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway this Sunday, aka The Last Great Colosseum, to race around the concrete fastest half-mile oval in the world, as NASCAR returns to racing back on the concrete of Bristol for it’s Spring Bristol race for the first time since 2020, replacing the Bristol Dirt race after just three editions of the event.

  • Race preview
  • Current points standings 

3 min read

Sunday’s Food City 500 race is comprised of 500 laps (266.5 miles), broken down into three stages of 125, 125, and 250 laps, with qualifying for the race on Saturday at 5:50pm ET/9:50pm ET and the race starting on Sunday at 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

The half-mile 24-28 degree banked oval in Bristol, Tennessee never fails to deliver on action, with plenty of fierce elbows out racing, with door to door banging being a common occurrence.

To stay on the lead lap all race with no damage is almost a victory in itself at The Last Great Colosseum. Pitting under green here will cost you two laps to the leaders, due to the short length and furious nature of the track.

Denny Hamlin won the last concrete Bristol Cup race last September in the 2023 playoff Round of 16 cutoff race, leading over 100 laps, with him exclaiming to the fans post-race “I beat your favourite driver.”

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Direct Toyota, celebrates with a burnout in front of fans after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16, 2023 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The last spring concrete Bristol Cup race was in May 2020, originally postponed from April due to the covid pandemic, that saw Brad Keselowski win for Team Penske, where he swept both Bristol races in 2020.

Brad Keselowski, in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31st 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch is king of Bristol for current Cup drivers, having won eight concrete Cup Bristol races dating back to 2007 and most recently in 2019. He has swept all three races during the autumn edition twice, winning the Truck, Xfinity, and Cup race in 2010 and 2017.

Busch also won the 2022 Bristol Dirt 250-lap race.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing M&M’s Caramel Toyota celebrates winning the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Night Cup race and sweeping the weekend of races, holding up a broom to the fans, at Bristol Motor Speedway, August 19th 2007, in Bristol, Tennessee (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are joint second for current cup drivers wins at Bristol with three wins each, while Joey Logano has two wins, as well as having won the 2021 Bristol Dirt race, and Chris Buescher and Kyle Larson also have a win.

Last week’s Phoenix Cup winner, Christopher Bell, also has a win at Bristol, having won the 2023 Bristol Dirt race. This is not a surprise given Bell’s extensive resume and success in his dirt racing career.

It’s close for bragging rights amongst the current Cup teams with Joe Gibbs Racing leading total Bristol Cup wins with 14, Team Penske with 13, and Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing with 12 wins each. All are chasing all-time Bristol Cup winning team of Junior Johnson & Associates with 16 wins.

Don’t miss the return of the Spring Bristol Cup race this Sunday at 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

Points standings (* = has 2024 race win, – = playoff cutoff line)

  1. Ryan Blaney – 151
  2. Kyle Larson* – 141
  3. Martin Truex Jr. – 141
  4. William Byron* – 134
  5. Tyler Reddick – 130
  6. Ty Gibbs – 130
  7. Ross Chastain – 129
  8. Denny Hamlin – 129
  9. Chase Elliott – 123
  10. Daniel Suarez* – 114
  11. Kyle Busch – 110
  12. Christopher Bell* – 102
  13. Alex Bowman – 99
  14. Bubba Wallace – 97
  15. Austin Cindric – 87
  16. Chris Buescher – 86

  17. Michael McDowell – 84
  18. Erik Jones – 84
  19. Chase Briscoe – 83
  20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 80
  21. John Hunter Nemechek – 80
  22. Brad Keselowski – 75
  23. Corey LaJoie – 70
  24. Carson Hocevar – 70
  25. Daniel Hemric – 67
  26. Noah Gragson – 53
  27. Harrison Burton – 53
  28. Todd Gilliland – 52
  29. Justin Haley – 52
  30. Joey Logano – 51
  31. Josh Berry – 48
  32. Austin Dillon – 46
  33. Zane Smith – 40
  34. Kaz Grala – 37
  35. Ryan Preece – 28
  36. David Ragan – 17
  37. Derek Kraus – 11
  38. Jimmie Johnson – 9

Featured Image: Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Dollar General Toyota, leads the field back to green in the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17th 2016, in Bristol, Tennessee (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Twelve Hours of Sebring preview

This year’s running of International Motor Sports Association’s (IMSA) Twelve Hours of Sebring sees 58 cars entered into the race, Lamborghini making it’s GTP debut, and race title sponsor Mobil 1 celebrating its 50th anniversary with gold liveries, making it an unmissable event for motorsport and automotive enthusiasts. 

  • Race breakdown
  • Lamborghini IMSA GTP debut
  • Mobil 1 50th anniversary
  • Two all-female lineups
  • Qualifying 

5 min read

Race breakdown

The 17-turn 3.74 mile circuit of Sebring International Raceway is one of the toughest and unforgiving race tracks on the planet, with bumpy and narrow straights, treacherous corners, and very little run-off, making winning the 12-hour race a truly honourable feat.

This Saturday’s 72nd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring marks the second race of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship, with all four classes, Grand Touring Prototype (GTP), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) competing. 

2023 Twelve Hours of Sebring (USA), 15th to 18th March 2023. BMW M Motorsport, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Twelve Hours of Sebring, BMW M Team RLL, #24 BMW M Hybrid V8, Philipp Eng (AUT), Augusto Farfus (BRA), Marco Wittmann (GER), #25 BMW M Hybrid V8, Connor De Phillippi (USA), Nick Yelloly (GBR), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), GTP class (Photo courtesy of BMW Group Press Club)

Cadillac look set to continue their hot streak at Sebring, having won four of the last five Sebring 12 Hour races, including the last three, and sweeping the front row during qualifying Friday afternoon.

The race begins 9.40am ET/1:40pm UK time, with international coverage starting from 9am ET/1pm UK time via IMSA TV/IMSA Radio/IMSA YouTube.

This means that the race begins on a Floridian Saturday morning, and will end under the pitch black of night, following a glorious sunset in the final turn just after 7:30pm local time.

Lamborghini IMSA GTP debut

The Lamborghini SC63, with IMSA President John Doonan calling it the “Verde Mantis”, is making its IMSA GTP debut this Saturday, the fifth GTP manufacturer to compete in the series

With a Ligier chassis, an all-new 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine, and with a bright green and Italian flag striped livery, it will surely turn heads this weekend.

Operated by the Iron Lynx team who will have the one car effort in IMSA’s GTP class with is Italian factory driver Andrea Caldarelli, Matteo Cairoli and ex-Formula 1 and full-time IndyCar driver Romain Grosjean piloting the No. 63 raging bull.

American Debut for Lamborghini Squadra Corse Iron Lynx at Sebring International Raceway (Photo courtesy of Lamborghini media center)

A single car entry has also been entered into the WEC season, already having raced in the WEC season opener at Qatar.

This is the first time Lamborghini’s Squadra Corse program has entered the top class of IMSA racing since entering the championship in 2016 with it’s Huracan GT3 GTD class car.

Emmanuel Esnault, the team’s racing director, said following its WEC at Qatar: “We will be competing in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, one of the world’s toughest races. We need to extract the maximum benefits from what we are learning during race weekends to develop the car and further improve our trackside operations to provide our drivers with the best possible opportunities.”

The team qualified eighth for Saturday’s race.

Mobil 1 50th anniversary

Motor oil company and title sponsor of the Twelve Hours of Sebring, Mobil 1, is celebrating its 50th anniversary since its inception, with several cars sporting special 50th anniversary gold liveries including the two Corvette Racing GTD Pro cars and No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GTD Pro car.

Two all-female lineups

Two all-female lineups, will race in Saturday’s Sebring Twelve Hours, an IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship first.

Katherine Legge will join Sheena Monk and Tati Calderon in the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class, while Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting will co-drive the No. 83 Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2.

#66: Gradient Racing, Acura NSX GT3, GTD: Sheena Monk, Katherine Legge, Tati Calderon, Stevan McAleer, racing the #62: Risi Competizione, Ferrari 296 GT3, GTD PRO: Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado in the 2024 24 Hours of Daytona (Photo courtesy of Honda Racing News Room)

Katherine Legge said: “Our program and Iron Dames are done in a serious and professional way. We are professional sports teams that just happen to be female. It’s showcasing female power. It’s not done as anything else. We’ve picked the best drivers we can pick. It’s a showcase rather than a publicity stunt.”

The same Iron Dames trio made history last year when they the GTE Am class in the WEC’s 8 Hours of Bahrain race, the first time an-all female lineup earned a class win in WEC history.



The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series. R ended qualifying right where they led off last year when they won the 2023 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring by qualifying on pole Friday afternoon with Pipo Derani by doing a 1.48.152 lap.

Derani is going for his fifth Twelve Hours of Sebring victory, this time teaming up with Jack Aitken and current IndyCar driver Tom Blomqvist.

Joining the No. 31 Whelen on the front row is the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series. R car after accomplished sportscar driver Sebastian Bourdais laid down a lap time of a 01:48.299.

Sebastian Bourdais qualifying the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series. R (Photo courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing)

The qualifying session came down to who could get their car in optimum performance range after the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 car brought out the red flag after the car snapped in the exit of turn one as Mathieu Jaminet took too much kerb, smacking the right hand side wall with the front of the car.

With less than four minutes to go as the session went back green, it was about who could get their GTP car operating at it’s most optimum.

It looked like at first that the pole would go to the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura Arx-06 car being driven by Ricky Taylor when he laid down a lap time of 1.48.038, only to have it taken off them and be disqualified for working on the car under the red flag.


The fan-favourite No. 99 AO Racing Oreca 07 Gibson car, known as “Spike the Dragon”, secured class pole, driven by PJ Hyett, with a lap time of 1.52.142.

Hyett said: “Let’s just say this is probably top three moments of my life happening right now. When I met my wife, birth of my children and I just got pole at Sebring in a P2. I don’t know what the hell’s happening, it’s wonderful!”


GTD Pro qualifying saw Jack Hawksworth, piloting the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 car, locked down pole with a class-record lap of 1.58.714, sporting the Mobil 1 50th anniversary gold and black paint scheme.

The No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 car also looked set to continue in the same fashion as Cadillac Racing by winning the GTD pole and second overall in GTD Friday afternoon with Phillip Ellis, following on from their 2024 Daytona 24 Hours class victory.

It was not to be however as the team was disqualified due to running unapproved sensors during the session, handing GTD pole to the No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 team, with Antonio Fuoco qualifying the car second overall in GTD with a lap time of 1:59.014, so will start alongside the No. 14 Lexus.

The race begins Saturday 9.40am ET/1:40pm UK time, with international coverage starting from 9am ET/1pm UK time via IMSA TV/IMSA Radio/IMSA YouTube. 

Featured Image: The Lamborghini SC63 GTP at Sebring (Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Media Center)

Josef Newgarden soars to third St. Pete victory

Josef Newgarden ruled the streets of St. Pete Sunday afternoon in IndyCar’s season opening race, leading 92 of the 100 laps to secure his third St. Pete win and first street course win for Team Penske after Penske went winless on street courses in 2023.

  • Josef Newgarden takes third St. Pete victory
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results/points standings 

3 min read

Newgarden converted his pole starting position to an over seven second lead over runner up Pato O’Ward come the checkered flag, with the win only ever looking in doubt when the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet machine lost three spots on pit road during the first pit stop cycle of the day but quickly gained them back and the lead after the restart.

Josef Newgarden and his No. 2 Chevrolet Team Penske team celebrate winning the 2024 GP of St. Pete (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Newgarden said: “I had a lot of fun today. I think it’s so deserving for the work they (Team Penske) put in. We’ve worked really hard to close the gap. We didn’t have the speed we needed on road and street courses last year, at least on a consistency basis, and today we brought that speed.”

It was Newgarden’s 30th IndyCar Series win, passing Team Penske legend Rick Mears for 13th on the all-time IndyCar Series wins list.

Team Penske and Chevrolet have appeared to have got their street course package back on track, with all three Penske cars finishing in the top five with 2022 St. Pete winner McLaughlin finishing third and two-time St. Pete winner Will Power finishing fourth.

Last year Honda won all five street course races. Sunday saw Andretti Global’s Colton Herta, who won the 2021 edition of the race, be the highest finishing Honda in fifth.

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was Newgarden’s closest contender throughout the race, keeping Newgarden within two seconds of him until the final twenty laps where he extended it to an eight second lead while O’Ward had to drive with his rearview mirrors to keep the late charging McLaughlin and Power behind to hold on to the runners up position.

Josef Newgarden leads with Pato O’Ward giving chase (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

O’Ward said: “I think it’s a very solid foundation to what is going to be a very tight, very competitive rest of the year.”

Power and McLaughlin, on the softer alternate tyre were able to charge down O’Ward despite the No. 5 Arrow McLaren driver being on the harder primary tyre. Power had yet to take the alternate green lined tyre before his final pit stop, so as per IndyCar rules of having to run at least two laps on each tyre compound, Power was forced to take the softer tyre.

Rest of race recap

Josef Newgarden and Felix Rosenqvist led the 27-car field to green with Newgarden comfortably leading the opening stint.

The start of the St. Pete GP (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong brought out the first caution of the race on lap 26 when he locked up his No. 11 Ridgeline Honda in turn 10 slamming it into the outside tyre wall, taking himself out of the race.

Sting Ray Robb brought out the second of three cautions on lap 35 when he parked his No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet in the turn one escape road. Christian Lundgaard who had inherited the lead after not pitting during the previous caution due to pitting earlier in the race for a puncture, handed the lead back to Newgarden, who had raced past Rosenqvist and Herta to work back up to second prior to the caution.

Last year’s St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson had to retire early from the race on lap 53 due to a mechanical failure. Ericsson had been running seventh before the failure.

Romain Grosjean’s late lunge on rookie Linus Lundqvist for 12th place on lap 68 saw the caution fly again as Lundqvist went spinning into the turn 10 outside tyre wall.

Lundqvist’s Chip Ganassi Racing team was able to replace his rear wing but would finish the race three laps down. Grosjean would later retire with gearbox failure after completing his drive through penalty for avoidable contact.

The next event is The $1 Million Challenge, a special, non-points race at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, March 24 at The Thermal Club near Palm Springs, California.

Full race results/points standings

  1. Josef Newgarden 54
  2. Pato O’Ward 40
  3. Scott McLaughlin 35
  4. Will Power 32
  5. Colton Herta 31
  6. Alex Palou 28
  7. Felix Rosenqvist 26
  8. Alexander Rossi 24
  9. Scott Dixon 22
  10. Rinus VeeKay 20
  11. Santino Ferrucci 19
  12. Kyle Kirkwood 18
  13. Callum Ilott 17
  14. Kyffin Simpson 16
  15. Pietro Fittapaldi 15
  16. Graham Rahal 14
  17. Tom Blomqvist 13
  18. Agustin Canapino 12
  19. Jack Harvey 11
  20. Christian Lundgaard 10
  21. Christian Rasmussen 9
  22. Colin Braun 8
  23. Rinus Lundqvist 7
  24. Romain Grosjean 6
  25. Marcus Ericcson 5
  26. Sting Ray Robb 5
  27. Marcus Armstrong 5

Featured Image: Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the 2024 GP of St. Pete (Photo by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

Grand Prix of St. Pete race preview

The traditional NTT IndyCar Series season opener, the Grand Prix of St. Pete in Florida, gets underway this Sunday with a 27-car grid including five rookies, with Josef Newgarden and Felix Rosenqvist locking out the front row for Sunday’s 100-lap race.

Start of the 2023 GP of St. Pete (Photo by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment).
  • Race preview/qualifying 
  • Full qualifying results

3 min read

IndyCar returns to St. Petersburg, Florida for it’s season opener in what will be the 21st running of the Grand Prix of St. Pete; a 100-lap, 180 mile race around the streets of downtown St. Pete and the Albert Whitted Airport with the race starting at 12pm ET/4pm UK time.

The 14-turn temporary street circuit never fails to bring the action as last year’s race was won in the final laps as Pato O’Ward’s car temporarily lost power, allowing Marcus Ericsson to drive by and take the checkered flag three laps later.

Marcus Ericsson leads Pato O’Ward in the 2023 GP of St. Pete (Photo by Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment)

Saturday’s qualifying saw Team Penske’s two-time St. Pete winner Josef Newgarden  put his No. 2 PPG Chevrolet on pole with a 59.5714 second lap.

Newgarden said: “I get jacked up every time I show up for an IndyCar race. This is a rockstar team.”

One of Newgarden’s main goals for the 2024 season was to secure a pole position, It is Newgarden’s third St. Pete pole, having gone without a pole in the 2023 season, last being on pole for the 2022 Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle.

Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet for Team Penske at St. Pete (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Felix Rosenqvist, now racing for Meyer Shank Racing after being replaced at Arrow McLaren, joins Newgarden on the front row, having done a 59.5772 lap.

Rosenqvist said: “We don’t want to get carried away; the race is a different challenge. But we had a feeling from practice, from rolling off the truck, and that’s great.”

Rosenqvist broke the track record in the Group of 12 qualifying session with a lap of 59.2706 to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, beating Will Power’s 59.3466 lap in the Group of 12 session in 2022.

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon could only manage an 11th starting place. Dixon is still winless at St. Pete after 19 previous attempts.

Will Power also failed to make the fast six, with an eighth-place effort. Power had secured nine of the last 14 poles at St. Pete, also being a two-time winner, winning in 2010 and 2014, with Newgarden winning the 2019 and ’20 race respectively.

Tom Blomqvist was the best of the rookies, qualifying 17th with a lap time of 59.9968, driving for Meyer Shank Racing

Graham Rahal, Colton Herta, Scott McLaughlin, and Marcus Ericsson also have wins at St. Pete; 2008, 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively.

Different for this years’ race is the turn three repave, removing heavy bumps that means drivers can now go flat out through the corner.

Also different is the use of lighter chassis components on the cars including a new 3D-printed titanium aeroscreen top frame, saving seven pounds, as well as the switch to a magnesium gearbox casing and bellhousing. This is all in preparation for the arrival of the 2.2-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engines with hybrid technology this summer.

Catch the 2024 Grand Prix of St. Pete on Sunday at 12pm ET/4pm UK time.

Full qualifying results

  1. Josef Newgarden
  2. Felix Rosenqvist
  3. Pato O’Ward
  4. Colton Herta
  5. Romain Grosjean
  6. Marcus Ericsson
  7. Rinus VeeKay
  8. Will Power
  9. Scott McLaughlin
  10. Marcus Armstrong
  11. Scott Dixon
  12. Christian Lundgaard
  13. Alex Palou
  14. Santino Ferrucci
  15. Alexander Rossi
  16. Callum Ilott
  17. Tom Blomqvist (R)
  18. Kyle Kirkwood
  19. Linus Lundqvist (R)
  20. Agustin Canapino
  21. Christian Rasmussen (R)
  22. Graham Rahal
  23. Kyffin Simpson (R)
  24. Sting Ray Robb
  25. Colin Braun (R)
  26. Pietro Fittipaldi
  27. Jack Harvey

Featured Image: 2023 GP of St. Pete (Photo by Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Ka-chow: Daniel Suárez wins Atlanta race in three-wide Pixar-esque photo finish

The Disney Pixar Cars movie intro came to life on Sunday night when Daniel Suárez edged Ryan Blaney by 0.003 seconds and Kyle Busch by 0.007 seconds in a three-wide finish in the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to take his second Cup series win of his career and his first oval win.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, crosses the finish line ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Zero Sugar Ford, to win the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)
  • Suárez wins
  • Blaney and Busch
  • Front Row Motorsports vs Team Penske
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results
  • Points standings

6 min read

In what had been a thrilling and intense restrictor plate race, with dynamic hypercompetitive pack racing all race long, came down to a five-lap shootout that Suárez lost control of on the restart as Blaney retook the lead, only on the final lap coming out of turn four for Kyle Busch and Suárez to pull up alongside Blaney, with Suárez surging ahead with side drafting and momentum on the top lane to win the third closest NASCAR Cup series race in history.

Suárez said: “It was so damn close. It was good racing. Ryan Blaney there, Kyle Busch, Austin Cindric also was doing a great job giving pushes. In the back straightaway he didn’t push me because he knew I was going to [screw] his teammate, but man, what a job. We wrecked [on] lap two. The guys did an amazing job fixing this car.”

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Suárez was caught up in an Atlanta record-breaking 16-car crash on lap two when Front Row Motorsport’s driver Todd Gilliland checked up to let teammate and polesitter Michael McDowell in on the top, causing a large stack up behind, pinballing Austin Dillon and Bubba Wallace sideways, taking Josh Williams out of the race and later Noah Gragson as he would retire the car at the end of stage one as a result of the crash.

Suárez recovered from the crash but would narrowly escape further carnage when with 21 laps to go, Chase Briscoe boldly made it four-wide with Suárez on the bottom entering turn three resulting in Denny Hamlin collecting Briscoe, taking them both out of contention.

Suárez would find himself on the row front row inside of 30 laps to go, and would battle for the lead until taking the checkered flag.

It’s Suárez’s second Cup win, his first coming in the 2022 Sonoma road course race, both with Trackhouse Racing.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Reigning Cup series champion and race runner up Ryan Blaney was one of the cars to beat throughout the race, leading six times for 31 laps, including duelling with Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson for the lead in the first half of stage one, and staying up front for the second half of stage two, before leading for much of the final 40 laps prior to the checkered flag.

Blaney said: “I thought I laid back enough in [turns] one and two to not let both lanes get that big of a run. What a cool finish. Appreciate the fans for sticking around. That’s always a good time when we can do that, race clean, three-wide finish to the end. Happy for Daniel. Fun racing with Kyle. I can’t complain; I’ve won them by very, very little too, so I can’t complain too much when I lose them by that much.”

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Zero Sugar Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Third place Richard Childress Racing driver Kyle Busch had an up-and-down race being involved in three crashes including when Denny Hamlin spun off Busch’s front end as he came down on him with nine to go in stage one, at the beginning of stage three when Kaz Grala ran Busch very tight on the bottom of turn one before being collected by Busch as a result, and escaping the four-wide melee crash with Briscoe with Busch up top.

Busch even had to come from a lap down in the final stage after a serving a drive through speeding penalty under green but after getting the free pass, he found himself charging to the front inside of 50 to go through a four-wide manoeuvre and would fight to the checkered flag to try to claim his third Atlanta Cup win.

Busch said: “Typically whoever is behind getting into [turn] three prevails at the start finish line with the side draft and everything, so I was second to the 12 [Blaney] right there, and the 99 [Suárez] was the furthest back, and he made the ground back up with the side draft and stuff. It’s good to see Daniel get a win. We were helping each other, being Chevy team partners and working together there.”

The finishing order may have been different if Bubba Wallace, who is close friends with Blaney, had been able to lock bumpers and push Blaney in turns three and four on the final lap but instead washed up the race track and lost touch with the front three.

The race featured a record 48 lead changes amongst 14 different drivers. Suárez led twice for nine laps. The race saw 10 cautions for 65 laps of the 260 lap 400-mile race.

Front Row Motorsports vs Team Penske

It was a bittersweet day for Front Row Motorsports after competing with Team Penske for the top positions in the race.

Front Row’s Todd Gilliland led a career high of 58 laps, the most of anyone, on six separate occasions while Michael McDowell would lead five times for 27 laps including winning stage one in a one-lap shootout.

Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Benebone Ford, lduring the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Team Penske’s Joey Logano was due to start second but the reigning race winner was sent to the rear for the start of the race and had to serve a drive through penalty under green due to wearing a webbed left glove during qualifying that NASCAR deemed illegal due to violating NASCAR rule governing driver protective clothing and equipment. It is possible that Logano wore the glove to gain a competitive advantage due to being able to manipulate the airflow more on the drivers side.

To Logano’s fortune, he was serving the drive through penalty as the 16-car crash on lap two happened, so was able to stay on the lead lap.

Stage two was a fierce battle between the two teams, as Gilliland led the opening segment with Logano behind, and McDowell inside the top five.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Ford, and Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 Georgia Peanuts Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The second half of stage two saw Front Row’s race become undone as they first drifted back as their cars became tight before McDowell, during the green flag pit stop, wheel hopped entering pit road and collided with last week’s Daytona 500 winner William Byron, sending them both spinning into and off the wall. The race miraculously stayed green and both were able to continue with McDowell just one lap down after repairs.

After the green flag pit stop cycle, it was the Penske trio of Austin Cindric, Logano, and Blaney out front but Logano drifted back with a few laps to go and coming off turn two on the final lap crashed into the wall as his car got very tight, collecting Chris Buescher.

Cindric won stage two. Logano would finish the race several laps down following multiple repairs.

Front Row fell short in the final stage as despite Gilliland leading the start of stage three and again later, Gilliland had to pit for damage late on, and was forced to pit under green inside of 15 laps to go for right side tyres, taking him out of contention.

Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 Georgia Peanuts Ford, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

McDowell gambled to stay out longer than most of the field in stage three to regain track position but was forced to pit with 35 laps to go as he began slipping down the order. McDowell still recovered to an eighth place finish.

Rest of race recap

Ross Chastain sent Georgia’s Chase Elliott for a spin as he pushed Elliott in the rear in turn three with 65 laps to go, as Chastain was fighting with Wallace for the free pass who was just one car length ahead.

Elliott rescued his car with a sideways drift in the turn three grass reminiscent of Lightning McQueen’s save at the end of the Cars movie.

Elliott was then caught up in Josh Berry’s crash with 12 to go spinning down the backstretch, but was able to recover to a 15th place finish.

Denny Hamlin, despite being involved in multiple crashes including with Busch and Buescher, led parts of the final stage, only to receive heavy damage in the Briscoe crash with 21 to go.

Hamlin’s teammate Martin Truex Jr. would lead parts of the final stage also, fighting Kyle Larson for control of the race.

The next race is the Pennzoil 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday 3rd March with the race starting at 3:30pm ET (8:30pm UK time).  

Full race results 

  1. Daniel Suárez
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Austin Cindric
  5. Bubba Wallace
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Michael McDowell
  9. Chris Buescher
  10. Ty Gibbs
  11. Harrison Burton
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Corey LaJoie
  14. Kaz Grala
  15. Chase Elliott
  16. Ryan Preece
  17. William Byron
  18. Daniel Hemric
  19. Carson Hocevar
  20. Justin Haley
  21. John Hunter Nemechek
  22. Austin Dillon
  23. Denny Hamlin
  24. B.J. McLeod
  25. Erik Jones
  26. Todd Gilliland
  27. Alex Bowman
  28. Joey Logano
  29. Josh Berry
  30. Tyler Reddick
  31. Chase Briscoe
  32. Kyle Larson
  33. Brad Keselowski
  34. Christopher Bell
  35. Zane Smith
  36. Noah Gragson
  37. Josh Williams

Points standings

*=win -=playoff cut line

  1. Kyle Busch – 77
  2. William Byron* – 76
  3. Austin Cindric – 76
  4. Bubba Wallace – 74
  5. Ryan Blaney – 69
  6. Chase Elliott – 65
  7. Daniel Suárez* – 64
  8. Ross Chastain – 62
  9. Alex Bowman – 60
  10. Martin Truex Jr. – 60
  11. Kyle Larson – 58
  12. Corey LaJoie – 57
  13. John Hunter Nemechek – 53
  14. Ty Gibbs – 50
  15. Chris Buescher – 49
  16. Christopher Bell – 47

  17. Erik Jones – 47
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 44
  19. Denny Hamlin – 44
  20. Michael McDowell – 40
  21. Daniel Hemric – 40
  22. Chase Briscoe – 37
  23. Harrison Burton – 36
  24. Ryan Preece – 35
  25. Tyler Reddick – 31
  26. Noah Gragson – 29
  27. Zane Smith – 29
  28. Justin Haley – 29
  29. Carson Hocevar – 26
  30. Kaz Grala – 24
  31. Josh Berry – 20
  32. Todd Gilliland – 19
  33. Joey Logano – 18
  34. David Ragan – 17
  35. Austin Dillon – 16
  36. Brad Keselowski – 16
  37. Jimmie Johnson – 9

Featured image: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, crosses the finish line ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Zero Sugar Ford, to win the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Ambetter Health 400 race preview

Following on from the closest Daytona 500 finish ever, this weekend sees NASCAR returns to its moonshining roots in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

3 min read

The NASCAR Cup Series will race around the 28 degree banked 1.54-mile superspeedway oval for 260 laps (400 miles), with stage lengths of 60, 100, and 100 laps.

This will be the fifth NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the track reconfiguration in 2021 turning the track into a steeper banked, repaved, ‘mini-Daytona’ type racing track, with the cars using a superspeedway package like at Daytona and Talladega.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 King’s Hawaiian Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

For large parts of the race, drivers will be racing in high-speed packs, utilising the draft and pushes to get to the front, especially on restarts. As the tires begin to wear more into a run, cars will begin to spread out and large packs will break up, racing more like a traditional 1.5-mile speedway race.

Last year’s Ambetter Health 400 saw Joey Logano achieve his childhood dream by winning the race after outduelling former Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the final laps of the race, partly due to a helpful push from Christopher Bell down the backstretch to clear the pack.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell earned his first ever Cup series pole today with a lap time of 30.999 seconds (average speed of 178.844mph). With 467 Cup races under his belt, it’s the most start’s by a Cup driver before securing a pole since J.D. McDuffie’s 404 Cup starts before securing a pole at the 1978 Delaware 500 at Dover Motor Speedway.

Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Benebone Ford, poses for photos after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Josh Williams will make his fourth Cup series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for Kaulig Racing, qualifying 30th.

This follows a memorable 2023 spring Xfinity race at Atlanta where Williams grabbed the headlines after parking his No. 92 DGM Racing Chevrolet at the start finish line and walking across the track to the garage after refusing to accept NASCAR’s ruling for him to park his car for the race, due to multiple yellow flags coming out for debris off his car following race damage.

It led to a surge of fan, garage, and sponsor support for Williams, who is known to be a big personality, and unafraid to express himself in NASCAR, being a ‘what you see is what you get’ type character, as well overachieving in his equipment, leading to a full-time Kaulig Racing ride in the Xfinity series this season as well as a part-time Cup schedule with them including at Atlanta this weekend.

Since the reconfiguration in 2021, last week’s Daytona 500 winner William Byron has won two of the first four Atlanta races, including the first race in the spring of 2022, and the summer 2023 race. Chase Elliott won the 2022 summer race and Joey Logano won the 2023 spring race.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 09: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Available at Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 09, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Other active drivers to have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway pre-2021 reconfiguration include two-time winners Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, as well as reigning Cup series champion Ryan Blaney, and Denny Hamlin.

Tune in Sunday for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this with the race beginning at 3pm ET (8pm UK time).

Full qualifying results 

  1. Michael McDowell
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Todd Gilliland
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Austin Cindric
  9. Chase Brisoce
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. William Byron
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Josh Berry
  15. Noah Gragson
  16. Harrison Burton
  17. Alex Bowman
  18. Bubba Wallace
  19. Tyler Reddick
  20. Ryan Preece
  21. Ross Chastain
  22. Christopher Bell
  23. Daniel Suárez
  24. Brad Keselowski
  25. Ty Gibbs
  26. Daniel Hemric
  27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  28. Chase Elliott
  29. Zane Smith
  30. Josh Williams
  31. Justin Haley
  32. Corey LaJoie
  33. Kaz Grala
  34. John Hunter Nemechek
  35. Carson Hocevar
  36. B.J. McLeod
  37. Erik Jones

Featured image: HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 19: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Menards/Knauf Ford, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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