Friday, October 7, 2016

Patrick Long looks good for this weekend at Mazda Raceway.

GT TITLE POINT CONTENDER PATRICK LONG STRONG FRIDAY IN QUEST OF CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY AT MRLS Press Release by Tom Blattler: SALINAS, Calif. – GT championship contender Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., established himself Friday afternoon as the one to beat for Sunday’s 50-minute GT season finale by driving his No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to the fastest second practice round speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships present by Nissan. Long, 34, recorded a lap time of one minute, 24.856 seconds for an average speed of 94.947 miles per hour as the air and track temperatures increased in the afternoon practice round. The 201 GT series champion was second in the morning practice at 1:24.130, just behind fastest of the day, Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., with a 1:23.986 clocking in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. “We unloaded the Porsche strong yesterday in testing here and it continued throughout Friday,” said Long, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner. “I felt we were going have a strong first two days. And qualifying and the race are different stories from practice here at Laguna Seca. So far we like our chances for the weekend. Qualifying in the cooler conditions will be important Saturday and we run less fuel and better tires than in the race. We have to start Sunday’s race on the tires we qualify with and that can be a key. The race will be in hotter conditions and for 50 minutes, so you want conserve your tires overall. But right I’m pleased with the direction we are going.” “We had a good morning run in the cooler conditions,” said Cooper, a two-time GT winner in 2016. “We were working on qualifying setup as we’ll qualifying in the morning Saturday. We were attempting to get the Cadillac just right. We expected the afternoon to be much hotter for the track surface and that is what happened. Qualifying will be very important for Sunday’s finale. We want to start up front.” Long, a three-time GT winner in 2016, trails current GT point leader Alvaro Parente of Porto, Portugal, by nine points entering Sunday’s season-ending GT event. Parente took his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S to the sixth position Friday afternoon with a 1:25.314. In the GTA division, Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., Long’s Wright Motorsports teammate in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R, was the quickest in the afternoon at 1:26.041 over GTA series champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico City in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia at 1:26.119. Rookie Corey Fergus of Columbus, Ohio topped the GT Cup category on Friday afternoon with a 1:29.369 in his No. 00 Byers Imports/Motorsports Promotions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup over Sloan Urry of Salt Lake City, Utah at 1:30.516 in the TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Qualifying for GT/GTA/GT Cup is scheduled for Saturday at 10:25 a.m. with the Sunday’s GT finale set for 1:05 p.m., as a Pirelli World Challenge record 127 entries will compete this weekend. Used by permission of Tom Blattler

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Brock Yates, RIP.

BROCK YATES 1933-2016 Story by Doug Stokes. Brock Yates ... "The Assassin" as he was nicknamed at one time (although I've often wondered if he didn't really start that himself, just to get under the establishment's skin a few millimeters deeper) has left the building. Most thought of him as brash, a larger-than-life provocateur who loved nothing more than skewering the establishment in print and in person every chance that he got. He was all of that. Right ... he started the Cannonball Run (more formally the "Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash"*), and yes, he and Dan Gurney once traversed the US part of the North American continent ... the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach in a Ferrari Daytona taking a grand total of 35 hours and 54 minutes to do the drive. The guy who built the famous "Eliminator" road racing special, and one of the fathers of Karting, "Duffy" Livingstone, is an old friend of mine, hence the reference in the above inscription. None other than Hal Needham, the stuntman-turned-action-film-director, once growled, "I thought that I was a crazy son of a bitch until I met Brock Yates." But Brock wasn't crazy; he was just very, very alive ... and to-the-core honest. His writing spoke of his passions. They were broad and plainly-stated, his work was not really aimed at undermining convention, but to ask a few impertinent questions and then have some solid alternative answers. I guess that he really was a scholar in many ways; Yates' monthly column in Car and Driver had the same magnetic attraction for me as Chris Economaki's weekly words about the state of the automobile world. It was ALWAYS going to be "good", always interesting, sometimes praising, sometimes taking issue, but always featuring that insightful style that made his writing so intriguing. I must stop myself there to mention a strange typo in that last graph. I was thinking "insightful" but I spelled in "inciteful" ... I fixed it of course, but think the Brock would have loved the error. He incited well, on a regular basis, and to great effect. I last saw Brock at the Motor Press Guild Dean Batchelor Dinner in late 2011 where he was given MPG's Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. Alzheimer's was already weakening his memory but, when I went over to crouch next to his chair, held his hand and said my name he lit up and, said. "Yes, Doug, the racetrack, Karts ... how ARE you?" The best thing that can be said about anyone was that they were perfectly true to themselves. Yates was such, he never wavered, he loved cars and the people who loved them more, I think, than even he knew. In 2015, MPG gave me that same award. It was not a surprise, I knew about for weeks (which only made things worse). I had printed out the list of prior awardees beginning with Chris Economaki and including people like Denise McCluggage, Jesse Alexander, Shav Glick, Wally Parks, John Clinard, Robert Petersen, Thomas Bryant and Brock. I (think) that I said that my name had no business on that list and was really trying to remember what Brock said. It's almost a year now since, I look at the award itself almost every day ... I keep thinking that I'm (finally) going to get the call to bring the thing back, that it was a joke, or, at best a clerical error, but there's been no call as yet. Brock Yates gave voice to the excitement and frustrations of the wheeled world, he managed to be civil on many occasions, even charming at times, but he was always at his best asking the tough questions. In the end, in his last columns with the help of his daughter, he was still a redoubtable figure, openly acknowledging that he was being slogged by some stupid brain fog, but with a clarity of thought and purpose that never wavered. So long pal, you did better than your best, take a little rest now... -Doug Stokes *The movie was fun for sure, but even better, and even more outrageous is Brock's (and a whole bunch of other highly-involved folks) retelling of the real story in his book: "CANNONBALL! World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race". Get it, read it, pass it along. Editors Note: I hope my friend Doug Stokes (stokescommunications October 6, 2016) doesn't mind me posting his story here on our Blogsite. I have many things to write about Brock Yates, but it will take a day or two to get my thoughts together. Dicken Wear.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Josef Newgarden And Team Penske - American Dream Becomes Reality

Josef Newgarden as he sits in his Ed Carpenter Racing prepared No. 21 Chevy Dallara at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pit box. Newgarden seems just perfect this year to be tapped for Team Penske since he finished the year at P-4 ... just behind P-1 Pagenaud, P-2 Power, and P-3 Castroneves - his new teammates for 2017. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Josef Newgarden And Team Penske - American Dream Becomes Reality

The rumors that began to crop up around the paddocks during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale of the Verizon IndyCar Series held at Sonoma Raceway September 18th had many scenarios bandied about. One of the more far reaching was that the new American Driver of the series, Alexander Rossi (2016 Rookie of the Year | INDY 500 Winner | finished season at P-11) was seen coming out of a Team Penske transporter during the previous race at Watkins Glen.

This rumor was put to bed recently when Andretti Autosport was able to retain Rossi as Bryan Herta's agreement with the Andretti organization became more formal for the 2017 season. American Driver, American Team ... American Dream.

Cresting the highest point of the Sonoma Raceway road course, Newgarden enjoys blue, blue skies as he sews up P-4 in the 2016 championship points race. The fact remains that only Team Penske drivers were the only drivers to lock out Ed Carpenter Racing and Josef Newgarden from placing higher in the Verizon IndyCar Series points chase. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2016)

Today, the announcement that caught everyone's attention that involved American Team Penske and the pursuit of the American Dream was the confirmation that American Driver Josef Newgarden (finished season at P-4) was signed to drive the No. 2 car for the 2017 season. He will replace last season's INDY 500 winner and season points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, who ended last year in a tie of points after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale and lost out on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship through the pre-established tie-breaker to Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and finished P-2.  This year JPM finished P-8.

The rumor of Rossi had some plausibility since his career had been rather extraordinary with his early rise through to an F1 ride, to signing with the Bryan Herta / Andretti Autosport combo team and winning the INDY 500 first time out. When one thinks about it, this would be all too soon since landing a seat with Team Penske is never a gamble for the team - they always have the patience and the time to pick just the right fit and talent for the organization.

Josef Newgarden in his Ed Carpenter Racing pit stand following practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

A look at Josef Newgarden's rise through the ranks through these last five years, points out how focused this determined driver really is - Tony DiZinno's NBCSports review HERE.

It’s not very often you meet a driver coming up through the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder system and immediately think, “this kid just gets it.”

A Penske Racing conference call interview with:

October 5, 2016

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to today's media teleconference introducing Josef Newgarden as Team Penske's newest Verizon IndyCar Series driver.  Along with Josef, we have Team Penske president Tim Cindric joining us today.

Earlier this morning we announced that Josef Newgarden is joining Team Penske as the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet beginning in 2017.  This obviously comes on the heels of one of our most successful seasons ever in IndyCar where we earned 10 wins, 11 poles, our 14th IndyCar championship with Simon Pagenaud and a 1-2-3 sweep in the points standings, something we had not done since 1994.

Josef Newgarden as he bangs across the rumble strips in the off-camber Turn 5 at the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. He finished the race through the concrete canyons by the sea at P-10. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Josef, you've been able to spend some time in the shop this morning.  What are impressions of Team Penske so far?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, it's been a whirlwind for me.  It's all happened a bit fast, which is great.  It's just like racing.  Everything goes quickly.

So for me, it's been a pleasure to try and meet a lot of the guys this morning within Team Penske. You know, trying to absorb as much as I can.  It's almost information overload for a guy like me.  Really excited to be here and hopefully add some more value to the group, which is going to be hard to do. They have got a lot of amazing people here, whether it's the manager, the ownership, sponsors, all the crewmen, the drivers.  It's really a lot to get your head around.

So I think for me, I'm just trying to absorb as much as possible and taking in the experience and being prepared for the long off‑season that we're going to have before we get to St. Pete next year.

THE MODERATOR:  Tim, can you tell us why Josef is such a good fit to drive for Team Penske?

TIM CINDRIC:  Yeah, I think that from an historical perspective, you look at it, and you know, he's the first American that we've had driving in IndyCar here since Sam Hornish, so it's been ten years. That's not the reason we hired him.

Obviously we look for the guys that can drive the car and that's what we've always looked at, but it's a bonus, for sure.  The fact that as we look at it, we wanted somebody that we could build on for the future.

It's no secret that he's bringing the average age of our drivers down a little bit, so I think it's somebody that we can build with and I guess the most important thing is showing that he can be successful at this level.  He's somebody that we met with when he was the Indy Lights champion.  I remember meeting with he and Rick and Roger after he won the Lights Championship, and he's somebody we've kept our eye on from that point in time.

No different than when we signed Simon, you have to decide if you're going to make a place for somebody like that, or if you're going to race against him for awhile.  So we figured he was better off being on our side than on the other side.

Q.  You're coming off an amazing season, given what transpired in June at Texas.  How does it feel to be driving for Penske now?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, it's amazing.  I think for me, as a still hopefully, relatively young guy in the sport, it's an amazing opportunity.  It's something that I think you really have to take a hard look at and make a decision on, and for me, it was difficult to look the other way at it.

I think it's a great place where I can learn new experiences, try and grow as a driver, and kind of open up my whole role within the group and try and just become better within the sport.

So I mean, just to put it simply, it feels amazing.  It's an amazing honor, just for me, I just want to be able to integrate into the team and be a part of the whole system that obviously works really well together already.  Had a very successful year in IndyCar and they are very hard to compete against. It's fun for me to be a part of that now and hopefully add some value to the whole group.

Q.  And for you, Tim, with Josef taking over Juan Pablo Montoya's seat, is it pretty safe to say that JPM is leaving the team after this year?

TIM CINDRIC:  Well, it's something that we're still working through.  You know, when we sat down with Juan around Toronto, and had told him at that point in time that we weren't prepared to make any decisions on what we were going to do going forward until the end of the season.

And we wanted to understand, really, what our options were, and we were very up front with him about that whole situation.  And all along, we said that we'd like him to be part of our team in the future.

That doesn't necessarily mean driving our No. 2 car full‑time.  We've talked to him about, you know, we've got a seat for him at Indy if he wants one, and if we do the sports car program, we'd like him to be involved in it.

You know, at that point in time, he said, look, I really want to drive at least another season of IndyCar.  I don't want this to be my last season.  If it was last year, it would be a little easier to take, but this year, I still feel like I have some unfinished business.

And we agreed to just explore different options at that point, which is really what he's trying to do right now.  Finding out if there's a full season ride available, and we said that our offer is open to him and we'd love for him to continue with our team.

It's just something that we needed to decide whether we were going to position ourselves to do that for another year and miss the opportunity to have Josef as part of our team for the future.

So, a really difficult decision for us, because Juan has really been a big part of our success.  Despite where he finished this year, he pushed our guys very hard.  He's been a great guy to work with and would continue to love working with him in the future.  Really, the ball is in his court. It's not the first choice for him, but we'd like to continue some association with him if it makes sense for him.

Q.  When you were at Ed Carpenter Racing, that was always known as the little team that could. Now you're at the big super power team that always does.  And the resources that you have at Team Penske when you go around their shop and all that, now that that's going to be at your disposal, what goes through your mind?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think pressure is always present wherever you're at.  I always put pressure on myself with any situation I was in driving in IndyCar.  I think we had high expectations at ECR, and rightfully so.

I thought we had a lot of talented people there.  We had a really great process, great ownership and great partners.  Really had a lot of tools to be successful.  With that, there was a lot of pressure there to do a good job, for everyone involved, our partners, our ownership.

I don't foresee that shifting too much.  I think you're going to have that sense of responsibility anywhere you race, but it certainly is hard to not be inspired, I guess, or overwhelmed when you walk into the Penske establishment.  It's filled with a lot of great people, as well.  A lot of great partners. Tremendous support from the ownership.  I think that same type of pressure that I felt at ECR is really going to actually translate pretty well to what I feel here, as well.

Q.  Two of your teammates live in the area, live in North Carolina; Helio lives down in Miami.  Will you be relocating to North Carolina?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, I would think so.  I'd like to be close to the team and to be able to absorb as much as I can over the off‑season.  I think that's really important.  You've really got to integrate yourself well and give yourself the best shot to help the group, especially for me going into 2017.

So I haven't really had much time to go over that stuff.  This has been a pretty fast process and we're trying to just hit the ground running real quick now and today, and I'm absorbing everything I can as fast as I can here at the shop.  I'll try and sort out a living situation later on, but I would think at some point, yeah, I'm going to have to locate down here so I can be close to the team 100 percent.

Q.  Josef for you, when I look at it from a teammate situation, it's been a rotating door.  You either haven't had a teammate, you've had one‑off teammates, you've had sometimes road course, sometimes oval teammates.  How nice is it going to be having the consistent, not just one teammate, but three of the best drivers on the grid as your teammates?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Yeah, I think it will be great.  It's going to be a different challenge for me, I think, from an establishment standpoint.  You've got more guys to work with.  That brings more engineers to talk to.  It changes the discussion, the whole dynamic that you go through on a race weekend.

I'm excited for that.  It's going to be a shift for me, something I've not been used to.  But I don't want to discount what I've been up against in the past.  I've had a lot of help from my previous owner, Ed Carpenter.  He was a great teammate to me, very strong on the ovals, J.R.  Hildebrand, Spencer Pigot, Luca Filippi.  There's been a lot of camaraderie in the past for me and I've had a lot of great guys to work with and bounce things off of.

What's really going to change is there's going to be more of that.  There's going to be more available here at this group, which I think you can see why they operate at such a high level, when you get that many talented people together, it really helps elevate the whole program and you push each other a lot more.  It's going to be different.

I don't know what that's going to be like.  I'm excited for it.  I hope it pushes me to a new level.  I'm probably going to figure some things out about myself I didn't know and hopefully those are good things; the bad things, I'll try and fix them pretty quick.  But I think it's going to be a great change.

Q.  When would you expect to see Josef make his first test in the car?

TIM CINDRIC:  Monday morning in Elkhart Lake.  We'll be taking all four guys to Road America on Monday, so he'll get a chance.  It's really a unique opportunity because a lot of times when we make a change like this, it's a while before they get in the car.  We had scheduled a test independent of whether we made a driver change or not.

So that's not really the catalyst; the catalyst for us is to get some permanent road course testing in before the winter months, because we feel like it's something that we need to understand a bit better before we go into the off‑season.

So the timing was good for him and he will also be doing a test at Gateway later that week, as well. He's going to get some seat time right off the bat and be able to get in the trenches with our guys and get acclimated very quickly so that in the off‑season we can, I guess, speak from experience.

Q.  Congratulations.  You're a Detroit guy now.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Absolutely.  It's the Motor City.

Q.  Tell me, the makeup of the team, you have an Aussie, you have a Brazilian and a Frenchman.  Are you going to be able to merge with these guys?  Got a lot of competition up here with Team Penske.  How do you think the synergy will be and how tough is it to tell Ed that you were leaving and how did he take it?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think to take your first question, I don't know.  I mean, I've not had this type of dynamic with personalities before like we're going to have.  But I think you can definitely see there's a strong work ethic and a strong sense of team work here within Team Penske.

So I think the challenge aspect of having three other really talented drivers around me is only going to be a positive thing.  There's guys from all over the world that bring a little something to the table, and I'm going to try and do the same.

I'm going to try and bring a little something extra that these guys haven't seen before which helps the whole program.  And in return, I'm expecting to get a lot of that from those guys.  I'm excited for that mix.  I don't know what it looks like.  Don't know what it feels like yet.

Like Tim said, we're going to have an opportunity to do that really quickly, which is unique.  It just kind of worked out, great timing.  Excited to see what that brings.

On the inside, you know, it's very difficult.  It was really difficult ‑‑ it was almost easy up until the end of the season, because I didn't really put much time into it.  We really just focused on trying to win the championship, get back in the hunt after the whole Texas deal.

We had a great effort going all year with ECR, and so I didn't really spend much time thinking about it.  I waited to spend a week and take some time after the season finale to really assess everything; and I came to the conclusion of where I wanted to go and where I saw things and where they probably needed to head.

And when I had a conversation and made the decision with Ed, it was difficult.  I mean, it was a great partnership.  It was a great, great environment for me and to do something different is never easy, but I think at this point, it can be a very positive thing for the growth of my career, and I think ECR is going to come out great from it, as well.

Q.  Jokingly, in the spirit of the political season, I wonder if you can offer an endorsement for who might replace you at ECR.  You've worked with Spencer and J.R. and there's some interesting candidates out there for sure.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, fortunately I'm not in the position where I have to decide those things.  So you know, luckily that's down to the different people.

Like I said, Ed's got a great group with the ownership they have over there, so I'm sure they are going to make a great choice.  They have got a great team.

So I expect to be chasing hard to beat them.  I know what it's like on that side and they have a really good product.  I don't think it's going to be easy coming to the other side trying to beat them now.  So I have no idea.  I hope they make the best choice, and I'm sure they will, and we'll see where they land.

Q.  You mentioned this came together rather quickly.  But you also knew that the Penske organization had sort of been watching you for a few years there.  What's that dynamic like, and when did you kind of get the sense that if the numbers and the contract stuff could be worked out, that this was going to be the place that you wanted to be?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, you know, I don't think I did.  I think it was ‑‑ fortunately it was a short, but it was a short period of time where I was in limbo.  I actually didn't have a job.  So you hope it's going to work out.  But like I said, I didn't have much time to think about it during the season because we had such a great effort going.  We all really wanted to focus on trying to win the championship, which was the most important thing.

And then when I finally did start to think about it after Sonoma, really aggressively ‑‑ I knew there would be other opportunities.  I knew there would be other interests and I knew I wanted to try something different.  I knew that was something that I was looking at heavily, and I think at that point, you try and go a different direction and hope it all works out and fortunately this time, it did.

Q.  Josef seems a bit against the grain for some of your recent hires in that he's a little younger than Simon and Will and didn't bring two championships like Sam did.  What made him the guy even back when you spoke to him several years ago that you thought he was going to be a guy that you had to have eventually in your lineup?

TIM CINDRIC:  Well, he's shown me he's a winner.  He's shown me he can handle himself on the racetrack and off the racetrack, and that's really the core ingredient for us, is somebody that can work in our environment, because our environment is not for everybody.

But at the same time, as Roger has always said, it's hard to run a driving school with the expectations that are here and we need to also have somebody that we feel like can work within our group, our teammates and that kind of thing.

When you look at who we've hired over the years, it's been an important part of our structure, although it's not the No. 1 requirement, we want people that can drive race cars and represent our organization and those that we represent in the right way.  Felt like he fit that mold.

Obviously he's got a longer runway in terms of age than maybe some of the hires have or what‑have‑you, but that's really not the motivator, either.  It's more about how do we build the strongest team we have for the upcoming years.  We felt like, as I said, there's never a good time to make a change, especially when you've had success with the guys we've had.

You know, replacing Juan Montoya with anybody, that's a difficult call.  I'm sure if he doesn't end up racing for us in the future, he'll still be winning races and he'll still be one of the guys to beat.  You know, he's not done for sure.  So it's just a matter of us trying to understand what's best for us, and short‑term and long‑term, I guess that will all play out, but this is where we are.

Q.  Have you identified a potential long‑term partner or whether we can expect a sponsorship partner or whether we can expect to see the No. 2 in the kind of like variety that we have seen the last year like PPG, Verizon and DeVilbiss?

TIM CINDRIC:  Yeah, I would say there would be a few exceptions to that, additions or subtractions possibly.  Our 2017, our total lineup for every race isn't totally defined.  We needed to get this piece of the puzzle out there first.  But I don't see it being dramatically different.

Q.  Do you think that Joseph's personality, and obviously now reputation for sheer speed, do you think that that will help attract a more long‑term partner?

TIM CINDRIC:  We've got a lot of personalities around here, as you know (laughing).  I think he'll bring a different dynamic for sure, and I certainly see it as a positive going forward.  I think it helps the potential.  I don't think it hurts the potential in any way.

Q.  I wanted to ask whether you feel like, as someone referred to earlier, you're the only American and you're suddenly in a prominent position; whether you feel like kind of an almost patriotic sense of pride ‑‑ not just pride, but actual dependency, like the future of IndyCar is depending on you.  So many people say that IndyCar will spring to even greater prominence once we have an American champion again.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think a great championship is going to be built on a lot more than one person.  I can't see that coming to fruition.

There's definitely a sense of pride in being American, especially joining a team like Penske.  I think it's one of the most successful teams in the world and a team you dream about being a part of.  It really is, it's kind of the American dream, the team itself.

So to be a young, American guy; to get an opportunity to drive with this type of group, it's everything you could ask for.  It's everything you could dream of.  And I'm sure that's going to resonate well with some people.  I don't know how much that moves the needle or not.  I'm not the right guy to ask that.

But I think, yeah, I think for sure, you know, there's a lot of things that are going to help move the needle in IndyCar Racing, and I think you've already seen a lot of them.  I think we are on a good trajectory right now and there's a lot of excitement within the sport and what we are doing with IndyCar Racing.  I hope to add to that.

Winning races is all I care about.  It's my focus for the team and trying to help them win championships and the Indy 500 and I think if there's people that are interested in an American doing that and Team Penske, maybe it will help the cause.  But I don't know if that's the whole equation.

Q.  I know it's probably premature, but could you give a status update on Helio Castroneves?

TIM CINDRIC:  That's a broad question.  He's down there trying to fight the hurricane today.  If you're asking about our driver lineup for next year, this is the only change.

So yeah, he's a guy that as I've said before, he's been a big part of our team.  When you look at the definition of kind of team work and leading by example on and off the track, he's certainly done that. He's a guy that, like anybody else, his career is not forever, either.  He'll be the first one to tell you that.  He's a big part of where we've been.

He and I started with this team at the same time, so certainly a lot of loyalty there and on both fronts.

Q.  Everybody gets into racing and they know who Roger Penske is and they know that that name is synonymous with success.  Did you ever dream of driving for Roger?  Did you ever dream about this or envision this?  Did that ever enter your mind?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  I think for me, I watched everything when I grew up.  I saw NASCAR, Formula One, sports car racing, IndyCar racing, numerous Indy 500s on TV.  Never really got to the race to see it in person until later on in life.

But you always knew who the Marlboro cars were back in the day and they always had those iconic liveries and they always were well kept and they always were distinct within the field.  If I was going to give you the best answer, that's what stands out to me when I was younger, and I always thought, those are the coolest cars out there and I want to drive one of those.

You know, I got into racing actually relatively late.  I didn't start racing, truly, until I was 13.  So you know, it doesn't date back to me being four or five that I had this dream to drive for this team or that team.

I think the more and more I got immersed into racing and really started trying to learn about it and get my hands around everything and understand where I wanted to be; I think the more respect and history that I learned about Penske Racing and how amazing it would be to be able to drive for an organization like this; it's a huge honor to get this type of opportunity and to be a small piece of it.

So to answer your question, yes, it's probably just in a different way for me.  I think my career was a little different in the way it progressed up.  It's an honor.  I think this place is the American dream, and it's one of the best teams in the world.  So it's crazy to be a part of it now.

Q.  Just a quickie.  Roger likes to get on the phone and talk to drivers.  Did he actually get on the phone and offer you the job, and what was your quick response?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, I don't think I've talked to Roger on the phone until like 24 hours ago.  That was the first time I ever had a phone conversation with Roger, really, which was great.

Really, this team has been so easy to get immersed with, in such a short period of time.  I've had a lot of help from Tim in a short amount of time and Roger to try and sort through something and see if it would work and it was a very easy decision to make when it came up.  It was a quick process but it was very easy to see this was the direction I wanted to go.

So yeah, to answer your question, I think I've had help from a lot of people, Tim and Roger have just been great to me.  I don't know much about them to be honest with you.  I'm still learning.  We talk about just being here today trying to take everything in; I'm like trying to tread water right now as a young guy.  I don't know much about it and I'm trying to learn about everyone.  But they have been nothing but gold to me so far.  I can't tell you how easy it is to get to know these people and how well they take care of you.

Q.  Will Brian and Myron and the rest of the crew pretty much stay the same on the No. 2?

TIM CINDRIC:  I don't think our off‑season will be any different than in the past.  We'll sit down and consider all that stuff in the off‑season.  We'll have plenty of time after this testing.  So you know, certainly a believer in continuity to whatever extent makes sense.  But we'll evaluate things in the off‑season like we always do.

So I guess nothing is etched in stone.  But there haven't been any decisions made to make any changes, so I don't know if that really answers your question.  But first thing we need to get in place was who is going to drive the car, and then we'll go these next couple tests, and really after next week, we don't run for, really, probably until next year.

So we've got a lot of time to think about it and try and understand what's the best way forward.

Q.  I know loyalty is a big part of who you are and you've been with Ed and Sarah and that group for a long time.  Was there anybody, drivers, anybody else within the sport, that you sought for counsel to help you make this decision?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think you're always assessing things.  You're always talking to people that you're close to.  And for me, it wasn't a matter of, you know, this team, that team.

I think for me it came down to:  Do you ever want to do something different than what you're doing currently, and if you do, is that the right or wrong decision.

I think it would have been very easy for me to continue with ECR and have a lot of success and be very comfortable, and just have a great team behind me.

But for me, it came down to trying to make a decision if I wanted to try something different, and specifically, doing that while I was young still in my career.  If you're given that opportunity, do you want to take it?  That for me was the hardest part.

And there's a couple people that were close to me that I tried to bounce things off of and figure out if that was the right thing to do.  I don't want to get into who they were, but yeah, you always have people that are close to you that try and help you try to sort things mentally.

THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, everybody, for calling in.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...

Nice conference call this morning ... Josef Newgarden mentioned dreams but was not overly dreamy. Always focused.

American Driver, American Team ... American Dream.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Josef Newgarden, Penske Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Tim Cindric, Sonoma Raceway, Alexander Rossi, INDY 500, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, The EDJE, ECR, Roger Penske, 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pirelli World Challenge to be decided at Mazda Raceway this weekend.

Pirelli World Challenge SCCA Pro Race at Mazda Raceway. Press Release by Tom Blattler. Over 120 Drivers Set to Compete in 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championships Finale Weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Veterans Parente, Long Just Nine Points Apart in GT Title Chase SALINAS, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2016) – An incredible GT sports car point title battle between veterans Alvaro Parente and Patrick Long headline the Pirelli World Challenge Championships presented by Nissan this weekend (Oct. 7-9) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the 2016 season finale. One-hundred and twenty-two Pirelli World Challenge drivers are entered for the 2016 series finale this coming weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Champions across the series’ eight classes will be officially crowned October 7-9 as part of the Pirelli World Challenge Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Grand Prix presented by Nissan. GT and GTA drivers will race Round 20, while GT Cup pilots are set to race in Round 19. SprintX Rounds 5 and 6 will run, while Rounds 18 and 19 are scheduled in GTS. TC, TCA and TCB classes will run Rounds 11 and 12. The weekend marks the 15th time the series will race at the 11-turn 2.238-mile road course. Long Versus Parente for the Championship – GT Preview With over 10 world–renowned manufacturers represented by some of the top drivers in the world, the GT class features some of the best sports car racing on the planet. Sixteen drivers are entered for this weekend’s season finale race. With only one race left in the 2016 GT season and only nine points separating the two main protagonists in the battle for the class driver’s championship, it all comes down to this coming weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. McLaren Factory driver Parente enters the weekend with 1554 points and will look to add to an already impressive trophy mantle that includes the 2005 British Formula 3 Championship, the 2007 World Series by Renault Championship and the 2015 International GT Open Championship – he will drive the No. 9 K–PAX Racing McLaren 650S. Parente leads over Porsche factory driver Long, the former PWC 2011 GT Driver’s Champion, who comes into the weekend second in GT driver’s points with 1545. Long will pilot the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Wright Motorsports. Long also looks to help Porsche repeat as GT Manufacturer’s Champions in 2016 – Porsche comes into the weekend only one point behind McLaren 131–130. K–PAX Racing also brings two McLaren 650S GT3s for McLaren GT Academy Driver and 2015 GT Cup Driver’s Champion Colin Thompson, and young up–and–comer Austin Cindric. Thompson dominated in GT Cup last year winning 13 of 18 class races and will pilot the No. 13 K–PAX Racing machine. Cindric has raced in a number of series previously including Mazda’s Road to Indy’s USF2000 series and the Global Rally Cross Championship and will pilot the No. 6 K–PAX Racing McLaren 650S. Cindric scored his first career PWC pole earlier this season at Mid-Ohio, and scored two more poles at Sonoma. In addition, Cindric recently captured the ARCA stock car race at Kentucky Speedway. If Parente and Long falter, Cadillac teammates Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper will be ready to pounce. Four–time and defending 2015 GT Driver’s Champion O’Connell sits only 104 points behind Parente. The Cadillac Factory driver comes into the weekend on a roll after winning both races at Sonoma and he will need to match that performance if he hopes to win his fifth series championship. He will pilot the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS–V.R GT3. O’Connell’s teammate Cooper also has a shot at the championship – the 2015 GTS Driver’s Champion, comes into the weekend tied with O’Connell with 1451 points. Cooper will drive the Cadillac Racing No. 8 ATS–V.R GT3. Nissan Motorsports and Always Evolving enter two GT–R GT3s for JD Davison and Bryan Heitkotter. Heitkotter will drive the No. 05 Always Evolving/Replay XD/Nissan Nismo GT3 GT–R and comes into the weekend 5th in the championship points standings. Heitkotter won back to back races earlier this season at Utah. Davison comes into the weekend 10th in Driver’s Championship points – he will pilot the No. 33 AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT–R GT3. RealTime Racing comes into the weekend with two cars entered. Seven-time series Driver’s Champion Peter Cunningham owns almost every statistical record in PWC, but he moved out of his seat earlier this season to allow another accomplished sportscar veteran to race his Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing’s Acura TLX-GT. Spencer Pumpelly will pilot the No. 34 car. Teammate Ryan Eversley has been on a late season charge winning both races at Road America, and finishing second in Round 15 at Mid-Ohio. He sits 6th in the championship standings and will pilot the No. 43 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX–GT. Up–and–coming sportscar racer Kyle Marcelli has been in the mix all season long and comes into the weekend 8th in the championship with 1179 points. He will drive the No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8. Sports car veteran Jon Fogarty is in his second year in PWC and will pilot the No. 99 Gainsco Auto Insurance /Bob Stallings Racing McLaren 650S. Fogarty’s impressive racing resume includes 16 career Rolex Series victories, while being the 2007 and 2009 Grand–Am Rolex Sports Car Series Co–Champion. Fogarty’s best finish of the season so far was a 3rd in Round 2 at COTA – he comes into the weekend 12th in the championship standings. Calvert Dynamics Racing enters the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics/CurbAgajanian/Phoenix Performance/Brett King Designs/Boys Republic Porsche 911 GT3 R for Michael Lewis. Lewis joined the Calvert Dynamics team after his previous team, EFFORT Racing, announced a hiatus from competition in 2016. Lewis won back-to-back races earlier this year at St. Petersburg and sits 11th in the driver’s championship. Absolute Racing enters a Bentley Continental GT3 with 21-year-old Fabian Hamprecht piloting the No. 88 machine. Hamprecht’s resume includes races in the 2016 ADAC GT Masters series and the 2016 GT Asia series. He is set to make his first career PWC start this weekend. Alex Job Racing recently joined the series and will field the No. 97 Porsche 911 GT3 R for accomplished sportscar racer Gunnar Jeannette. In 2011, Jeannette won the LMPC Championship in ALMS. He has a long history at LeMans after becoming the youngest finisher on record in 2000 at the age of 18. Rounding out the 16-car GT field is Jonathan Summerton in the No. 66 DIME Racing Mercedes AMG SLS GT3. Summerton makes his first career PWC start. Summerton is a former winner of the 12hr race at Sebring. Champion Fuentes Looks to Add to an Impressive 2016 Campaign – GTA Class Preview At Sonoma, Martin Fuentes scored his seventh second place finish of the season to secure the GTA Driver’s Championship and the Sportsman Cup presented by B.R.M Chronographes. Along with the cup, Fuentes will collect a B.R.M championship chronograph at the awards banquet following the finale weekend at Laguna Seca. Fuentes will look to add to an impressive season having already scored nine wins. He will pilot the No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour/Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia. Michael Schein, in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, has spent the second half of the season on a charge closing the gap on Fuentes winning eight of the last 12 races. Schein has locked up a second place finish in the GTA Driver’s Championship and will look to close out the season with a strong result. Jorge De La Torre returns to the series after injuries sustained in an incident in a warm-up session at Lime Rock put him on the sidelines. De La Torre will pilot the No. 4 Delgac LLC/De La Torre Racing Motor Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3. Rounding out the 10–car GTA field is Brent Holden in the No. 14 GMG/Spyder/Mobil 1/Thermal Club GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, Drew Regitz in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing Audi R8 LM GT3, Andy Wilzoch, in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3R, Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3R Art Enterprises/Boston Athletic Club, Andrew Kim in the No. 78 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3, 79 Cooper MacNeil Hinsdale, IL WeatherTech/Alex Job Racing Porsche 991 GT3R, 82 Michael McCann North Canton, OH McCann Racing Dodge Viper GT3 Yeti GT3R/McCann Racing/Dodge Viper. Bragging Rights All That’s Left in GT Cup – GT Cup Preview GT Cup is a spec class with drivers piloting the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – the 2016 season has featured a tremendous battle between two young, up–and–coming sportscar talents. Alec Udell posted an impressive 12 wins this season behind the wheel of his No. 17 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and mathematically clinched the class championship at Sonoma. He moves over this weekend to compete in SprintX. Sloan Urry has put together another tremendous campaign in Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup competition and will, for the second year in a row, finish second overall in the championship. He will pilot the No. 20 Security National Mortgage/Avasis TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup this weekend and looks to try to notch his sixth win of the season. Corey Fergus, the 2015 TC Driver’s Champion, will pilot the No. 00 Byers Porsche/US LED/Motul/ Motorsports Promotions machine. Fergus had an impressive 2015 campaign scoring three TC wins and 13 top 5 finishes. He sits 3rd in class driver’s championship points with 1486. Rounding out the four-car GT Cup field is Alex Welch, in the No. 08 GMG/Red Beard Racing/Morgan Adams Foundation/Torque Branding Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Chris Thompson, in the No. 17 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Mills and Riddle Lead Championships Heading into MRLS – SprintX Preview The SprintX class featuring GT/GTA, GT Cup and GTS teams debuted earlier this season at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. The final two SprintX races, Rounds 5 and 6 are set for this upcoming weekend. Races are 60 minutes in length and feature mandatory driver and tire changes. Driver pairings are based on FIA driver criteria. For example, FIA listed Bronze drivers can drive with other bronze drivers as well as Silver, Gold and Platinum, while Silver drivers can be matched with Bronze, Silver and Gold drivers. Gold drivers can pair with Bronze and Silver drivers, while Platinum drivers can only be paired with Bronze level drivers. In SprintX GT, Michael Mills and John Edwards are set to share duties on the No. 46 Mills Racing/Airtech Vacuum BMW Z4 GT3. Mills is the former 2014 PWC GTA Driver’s champion, while Edwards has been competing in sportscar racing for the last number of years and won the 2008 Star Mazda Championship. Mills comes into the weekend leading the GT Sportsman Driver’s Championship with 396 points. The Mills Racing team also leads in the Team Championship with 786 points. David Ostella and Dion Von Moltke team up on the No. 23 M1 GT Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Ostella is a former Indy Lights driver and was the 2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion, while Von Moltke has 12 wins, 28 Podiums, and 94 top 10 finishes out of 109 sports car races in the years spanning 2008 to 2015. Ostella trails Mills by 34 points in the battle for the Championship. M1 GT Racing trails Mills Racing by 38 points in the battle for the Team Championship. Global Motorsports Group has entered the No. 14 Spyder/ Mobil 1/ Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 2016 GT Cup Champion Alec Udell and Sportsman Driver Championship contender Brent Holden. Udell makes his first career GT SprintX start while Holden comes into the weekend third with 356 points. Rounding out GT SprintX field are Lars Viljoen and Caesar Bacarella in the No. 24 Delgac LLC/De La Torre Racing Motor Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3, Andy Wilzoch and Darren Law in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3 R, Tim Pappas and PWC veteran Andy Pilgrim in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3R, Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette in the No. 79 WeatherTech/Alex Job Racing Porsche 991 GT3R, Michael McCann and Jim McCann in the No. 82 Yeti GT3R/McCann Racing/Dodge Viper McCann Racing Dodge Viper GT3, and Preston Calvert and Michael Lewis in the No. 98 Phoenix Performance/Brett King Designs/Boys Republic Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3R. In the GTS SprintX category, the No. 07 Adobe Road Winery/LaSalle Solutions/TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 will be driven by Max Riddle and Kris Wilson. Riddle leads the GTS SprintX Championship with 440 points. TRG-AMR also has the No. 09 BRM Chronographes/Rebounderz/Rohnert Park/Racing for Cancer/Pirata Della Strada/Simon Ward TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 entered for Derek DeBoer and Jason Alexandridis. DeBoer sits second overall with 416 points while Alexandridis sits 3rd overall with 392 points. TRG-AMR also leads the team championship with 880 points coming into the weekend. TRG-AMR also has the 04 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 entered for George Kurtz and Kenton Koch and the No. 77 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 Greg Milzcik and former PWC GT Driver’s Championship Brandon Davis. Performance Motorsports Group will enter a team with Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker piloting the No. 29 Ginetta GT4. Rounding out the GTS SprintX field are Aristotle Balogh and Greg Liefooghe in the No. 5 ART Racing/ Stephen Cameron Racing LLC Aston Martin Vantage GT4, the No. 54 X Border Foods and Wines Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 to be piloted by Scott Heckert and Chris Beaufait, and Jeff Courtney and Greg Palmer in the No. 66 JCR Motorsports Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo. In SprintX GT Cup, Jeff Burton and Enrique Bernoldi will pilot the No. 10 DXDT Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo, Ludovico Manifredi and Jonathan Summerton will drive the No. 27 ANSA Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, while David Askew and James Burke will pilot the No. 63 USALCO, LLC/DXDT Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. Sandberg Leads Aschenbach, Chase and Stacy in Title Battle – GTS Class Overview The GTS class has featured some of the best wheel–to–wheel competition seen in racing in recent years. And 2016 has been no different with nine different drivers piloting machinery from five different manufacturers scoring GTS race wins thus far this season. Brett Sandberg comes into the weekend leading the GTS Driver’s Championship with 1473 points after winning his third race of the season in Round 17 at Sonoma. He will pilot the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports X-Bow GT4. Teaming up with Sandberg is two-time TCA Driver’s Champion Jason Wolfe in the No. 12 ANSA Motorsports X-Bow GT4, and Bill Ziegler who will drive the No. 9 ANSA Motorsports X–Bow GT4. Wolfe will make his first career GTS series start this weekend. Leading the charge for Chevrolet is four-time series and two-time GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach piloting the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28. Since 2013, a Blackdog Chevy has claimed the GTS Championship – Aschenbach did so in 2013 and 2014, with Cooper winning in 2015. Aschenbach started off the season with a win at COTA in Round 1, and has since been victorious three more times including in Round 13 at Mid-Ohio. He comes into the weekend 111 points behind Sandberg with 1362. He will team with series veteran Tony Gaples who will pilot the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28 – Gaples sits 8th in the class championship with 865 points. Fifteen–year–old Rookie Parker Chase sits third in the GTS driver’s championship and will pilot the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4. He’s had an impressive rookie season and sits third overall in the championship with 1327 points. Parker’s best PWC finish of the season has been a second – a result he achieved in Round 6 at Barber, Round 8 at CTMP and Round 16 at Sonoma. He will look to score his first PWC career series win this coming weekend. Parker will team with Harry Gottsacker, in the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4. Jack Roush Jr. in the No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302, and 16-year-old phenom Nate Stacy in the No. 14 Rehagen Racing/Stacy Racing machine team up to lead the Ford charge. Stacy won his first career GTS win at Sonoma in Round 16 and sits fourth in the battle for the championship. Roush won back–to–back races at St. Petersburg and comes into the weekend 10th in the standings with 801 points. Roush Jr. and Stacy are also looking for good results this weekend to help Ford win the class manufacturer’s championship – Ford leads Chevrolet 105 to 97. Scott Dollahite, piloting the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, comes into the weekend 6th with 980 points. Dollahite has been a model of consistency this season recording eight top 5 finishes in 13 starts. Scott Heckert, who won Round 15 at Utah, will pilot the No. 54 SIN Cars/Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4. Teaming with Heckert is Jade Buford who has won three races in six starts this season in the No. 45 SIN Cars SIN R1 GT4. Heckert sits 5th in the championship, while Buford sits 13th. Canadian team Mantella Autosport Inc. brings a two–car effort to Laguna Seca with Anthony Mantella in the No. 8 Gulf X–Bow GT4, and teammate Martin Barkey in the No. 80 MBRP Sportlab/Sawmill Creative car. Mantella secured his first career PWC win earlier this year at Utah in Round 14 and he finished second in Round 17 at Sonoma. He comes into the weekend in 9th with 825 points while teammate Barkey is in 11th with 800 points. TRG–AMR brings three Aston Martin Vantage GT4s to Laguna Seca. Max Riddle, will pilot the No. 07 Adobe Road Winery, LaSalle Solutions machine – he won Round 8 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. George Kurtz, will drive the No. 04 Crowd Strike TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4, while Greg Milzcik will race the No. 77 TRG-AMR North America Aston Martin Vantage GT4. The 24-car GTS field includes PWC veteran James Sofronas in the No. 4 GMG Racing Porsche Clubsport GT4, Aristotle Balogh in the No. 5 ART Racing/Stephen Cameron Racing LLC Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Kevin Marshall, in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4; Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 Schomp/Premiere Copy Klenin Performance Racing Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4; Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 Motorsports Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo; Ron Ballard in the No. 93 AK&J Sealants/RT Motorsports, LLC Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo and Andrew Aquilante in the No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302. Grahovec Leads Wittmer in Race for Championship – Touring Car Preview Toby Grahovec, in the No. 26 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR comes into the weekend first in the TC driver’s championship with 960 points. Grahovec has two wins this season – in Round 2 at COTA, and Round 4 at CTMP and has yet to finish outside of the top 5 in 10 races this year. Grahovec is also helping BMW in the battle for the Manufacturer’s Chamiponship with 78 points, only one behind Mazda coming into the weekend. Montreal’s Nick Wittmer will drive the No. 91 Honda Ste–Rose Racing Honda Accord. He brings an impressive resume having previously won a number of sports car racing championships including back–to–back Canadian Touring Car Championships in 2009 and 2010. Wittmer won Round 3 at CTMP and Round 5 at Lime Rock Park and sits second in the driver’s championship with 765 points. Patrick Gallagher comes into the weekend 3rd with 673 points and will drive the No. 54 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX–5. Shea Holbrook will pilot the No. 67 Shea Racing Honda Accord V–6 Coupe – she sits fourth in class with 617 points. In 2014, Holbrook won five races in TCA and finished second overall in class. Teammate Jason Fichter in the No. 7 Shea Racing Honda Accord V–6 Coupe comes into the weekend 8th in the championship. Anthony Geraci, in the No. 69 S.A.C. Racing/European Granite & Marble Group, Inc. Mazda MX–5 recorded his first career Pirelli World Challenge win at Lime Rock in Round 6 and sits 5th with 600 points. Gallagher and Geraci are helping Mazda to challenge BMW for the Manufacturer’s Championship – Mazda currently sits first with 79 points. The 23-car field also features Tony Rivera, in the No. 97 Brass Monkey Racing/Tiburon Motorsports Nissan 370Z, Vesko Kozarov, in the No. 3 Nissan/Nismo/Stance CA Sport Nissan 370Z, a to-be-named driver in the No. 34 Nissan/Nismo/Stance CA Sport Nissan 370Z, Daniel Moen, in the No. 73 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX–5; Dinah Weisberg in the No. 50 REDCOM Laboratories/Red Line Oil/Power Brake BERG Racing Mazda MX–5; Gino Carini, in the No. 27 Palermos Screaming Sicilian Pizza/Marenzo Construction Group/Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR; John Weisberg, in the No. 5 Power Brake/REDCOM/Red Line Oil/Powerflex/Mann's/Miller/MCS BERG Racing Mazda MX–5; Steve Burns, in the No. 43 VP Racing Fuels/Works Garage/Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang; Kevin Krauss, in the No. 88 Alyses Outlier/Scion Group Porsche Cayman; Paul Street, in the No. 93 Honda/HPD/Megan Racing/RV6 Performance/Gargae 56 Performance/SPEC Clutch/PR2/MOMO Team HMA Honda Accord V-6 Coupe; Brian Lift, in the No. 99 Call One Outlier/Scion Group Porsche Cayman; Max Fedler, in the No. 05 PLENCO Molecule/Summit of Everest Motorsports BMW M235iR; Adam Poland, in the No. 33 Edge Addicts Doghouse Performance Mazda MX-5; Henry Schmitt in the No. 87 BMW of San Francisco/MINI of San Francisco/Clear Guard Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235R; Aristotle Balogh in the No. 19 ART racing Stephen Cameron Racing LLC BMW M235iR, and Randy Hale in the No. 17 TransAero, Inc Hale Motorsports Mazda MX-5. Goulart Looks to Close out TCA Championship at Laguna Seca – TCA Class Preview Elivan Goulart, in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup, has had a dominating 2016 season thus far winning five of 10 TCA races, and he’s finished in the top 5 in each of the other five races. He leads the TCA Driver’s Championship heading into the weekend with 1039 points. Goulart’s performance has also helping Mazda clinch the class Manufacturer’s Championship. Joey Bickers, in the No. 49 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX–5 Cup, comes into the weekend sitting 2nd with 791 points. He won back-to-back races earlier this year at Road America. Eric Powell, in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup, enters the weekend 3rd in the driver’s championship with 711 points with his best results coming at Lime Rock (two 2nds). Powell teams with Warren Dexter, in the No. 22 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup, and Perry Richardson in the No. 21 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup. Matthew Fassnacht will pilot the No. 74 S.A.C. Racing/Equity Residence Mazda MX–5 Cup sits 4th with 665 points. Others to watch in the 13–car TCA field include Jay Salinsky, in the No. 16 Fuse Lenses/Regenexx Cayman/Red Line Oil/Redcom/BERG Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup; Daniel Williams, in the No. 36 S.A.C Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup; Samantha Tan, in the No. 38 GPI Global Samantha Tan Racing Honda Civic SI; Mason Filippi, in the No. 48 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX–5; Paul Whiting in the No. 51 PWR & LDL Speed Shop Honda Civic SI; Daryl Harr, in the No. 71 Mobil 1 WestWorld Motorsports Inc. Toyota FR-S and Forrest Landy, Atlanta Motorsports Group/, in the No. 9 Mazda MX-5 Cup. Groenke, Morse and O’Gorman Vie for Championship – TCB Class Preview Touring Car B–Spec or TCB is the most cost-effective class category of the series and features some of the most entertaining door–to–door racing on the planet. Canadian P.J. Groenke in the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic enters the weekend leading in the championship with 858 points. As the most experienced competitor in class – Groenke finished 6th overall in the TCB championship last year and is set to make his 59th and 60th PWC career starts in California. While he hasn’t yet recorded a race win in the series, he has come very close in the last nine races finishing each of them in the top 5 to score valuable championship points. Teaming with Groenke is Michael Johnson, in the No. 24 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic. Rookie Henry Morse, age 15, in the No. 14 Hale Motorsports MorseGPS powered by CalAmp/MazdaSpeed/FreeM USA/Corksport Performance/Rolling Hills Prep Mazda2 recorded his first career series win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Round 3. He comes into the weekend trailing Groenke by only 13 points. Tom O'Gorman, in the No. 94 TNIA/Black Armor Helmets Honda Fit, vaulted up into third in the Championship standings with back-to-back wins at Road America and Utah. He comes into the weekend with 796 points. Ted Hough in the No. 68 Breathless Racing Mazda 2 scored a win earlier in the season at Circuit of the Americas and comes into the weekend 4th in the TCB Driver’s Championship with 644 points, while Jasper Drengler, in the No. 01 Drengler Racing/Chimney Mechanix Honda Fit comes into the weekend 5th in the standings with 636. Rounding out the 10-car TCB field are James Wilson, in the No. 55 Black Armor Helmets/Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda 2 and Patrick Wilmot, in the No. 18 The Precision Motorsports Group Honda Fit, Nic Lougee in the No. 29 4R Motorsports MINI Cooper and Will Rodgers in the No. 65 Solvang Brewing Co/Kelly Benefit Strategies/Foundation Fighting Blindness Hale Motorsports Mazda 2. Event/Circuit: 11-turn 2.238-mile road course Qualifying: Friday, October 7, 2016 12:30 PM - 12:45 PM TCA-TCB Qualifying 12:50 PM - 1:05 PM TC Qualifying 3:35 PM - 4:05 PM Pirelli World Challenge - Sprint X Qualifying Saturday October 8, 2016 9:00 AM - 9:25 AM Pirelli World Challenge - GTS Qualifying 10:25 AM - 10:45 AM Pirelli World Challenge - GTA-GT Cup Qualifying - Group 1 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM Pirelli World Challenge - GT Qualifying - Group 2 Race Lengths: 60 minutes (SprintX) 50 minutes (GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS) 40 minutes (TC/TCA/TCB) Live Internet Telecast (on Saturday October 8, 2016 11:45 AM – 12:35 PM Race # 1 TC-TCA-TCB 1:55 PM – 2:55 PM Race # 1 GTS 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Race # 1 SprintX Sunday, October 9, 2016 8:45 AM – 9:25 AM Race # 2 TC-TCA-TCB 10:50 AM – 11:50 AM Race # 2 GTS 1:05 PM – 2:05 PM GT-GTA-GT Cup Race 3:15 PM – 4:15 PM Race # 2 SprintX All times listed above are Pacific Television (on CBS Sports Network): GT: Oct. 16, 3 PM TC: Oct. 23, 3 PM GTS: Oct. 23, 4 PM SprintX: Oct. 23, 5 PM All times listed re: CBS broadcasts are Eastern. Press Release used by Permission of Tom Blattler.