What to Watch For: Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Get ready for a 100-minute street fight on Detroit’s 2.3-mile Belle Isle Park circuit featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machines and the production-based GT Daytona (GTD) race cars battling for the new-for-2019 WeatherTech Sprint Cup title.

Live coverage of Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic will air beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, as well as race coverage on SiriusXM Radio Channel 202 (Streaming 972).

A tight points race for the DPi class reaches halfway when the checkered flag falls Saturday afternoon, while the race for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup for GTD entries will take on a bit more definition in the this second round of the seven-race championship. Here’s a closer look at what to expect, whether you’re watching or listening from afar, or if you’ll be on Belle Isle (tickets are still available at DetroitGP.com):

Drive for Five Different Winners

Four different DPi teams have won the first four races to start the 2019 WeatherTech Championship season and if a fifth different team wins this weekend it will be the first time that’s happened since the 2015 WeatherTech Championship season.

Here’s who’s won so far in DPi: the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi.V.R of Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona; Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March; Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi in April’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach; and Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi in the Acura Sports Car Challenge earlier this month.

Any of those aforementioned teams could win again this weekend (more on that in a bit), but there are plenty of candidates to extend the streak of different winners this weekend. Look no further than No. 7 Acura Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor, who are currently second in the WeatherTech Championship DPi standings, trailing leaders Nasr and Derani by just four points, and are eager to return to a Belle Isle victory lane they’ve both visited multiple times before (Taylor in sports cars and Castroneves in IndyCar).

There’s also the pair of Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi machines – the No. 55 of Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell and the No. 77 of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez – who both are hungry for breakthrough victories and could do it at a place where they’ve shown plenty of speed in the past. We’re also approaching the part of the season where No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi co-drivers Colin Braun and Jon Bennett charged toward the front last year and could be poised to do it again with their new-for-2019 Nissan ride.

And Then There’s Cadillac…

Of course, by virtue of the fact that General Motors has won IMSA races in Detroit every year since the first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race on Belle Isle back in 2007, the Cadillac DPis must be considered favorites again this weekend.

Last year, Nasr and Curran extended GM’s win streak with their victory in the No. 31 Cadillac for Action Express Racing. The year before, it was brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor winning in the No. 10 Cadillac for their father’s Wayne Taylor Racing team. In fact, either the WTR or Action Express teams have won every race on Belle Isle going all the way back to 2012, which bodes well for the Nos. 5, 10 and 31 teams.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as this weekend’s field will have six Cadillacs racing in the shadow of GM’s world headquarters at the Renaissance Center. Joining the party this year are the pair of JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPis – the No. 84 co-driven by Simon Trummer and Stephen Simpson and the No. 85 shared by Misha Goikhberg and Tristan Vautier – as well as the No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac co-driven by Will Owen and Victor Franzoni, who is making his DPi debut this weekend.

Will one of these teams extend GM’s Detroit dominance?

Meyer Shank Acuras Going for Motown Threepeat

Two years ago, Katherine Legge and Andy Lally made history in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, co-driving to the first victory anywhere in the world for the Acura NSX GT3 race car in the No. 93 entry for Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, Legge scored a repeat Detroit victory, this time co-driving the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing NSX to the win with Mario Farnbacher, who incidentally was also a previous GTD class winner in Detroit when he won in 2015 alongside co-driver Ian James in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle Porsche.

Both Legge and Farnbacher are back with the Meyer Shank team again this year, albeit in different cars this time around. Legge is sharing the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Racing NSX with two-time GTD champion Christina Nielsen, while Farnbacher and Trent Hindman share the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian NSX.

Will one of them score a third win this weekend? One of many drivers they’ll have to beat is Lally, who is sharing the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with John Potter. Lally, Legge and Farnbacher are the only three drivers on the 12-car GTD entry list with previous victories at Belle Isle.

WeatherTech Sprint Cup: An Explainer

There’s only one class in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic that will be earning points toward the 2019 WeatherTech Championship, and that’s DPi. The GTD class is competing for points toward a separate championship this weekend, the seven-race WeatherTech Sprint Cup.

The new-for-2019 championship for GTD only encompasses the class’ seven races two hours and 40 minutes in length or shorter: Mid-Ohio, Detroit, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park, Road America, VIRginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. What makes this weekend’s race unique is the fact that Detroit is the only GTD race that doesn’t also award points toward the overall WeatherTech Championship.

Prowess on Pit Road is Key to Detroit Success

We’ve seen plenty of action on the Belle Isle street circuit over the years – look no further than last year’s race, which featured seven overall lead changes and three in the GTD class for evidence of that – but the racing axiom, “Races are won and lost in the pits,” definitely applies this weekend.

Track position is vital here, which means teams will be looking to limit their time on pit road. For GTD, each team should be able to comfortably make it to the finish with only one, appropriately timed pit stop. It could be a different story for DPi teams, which may need two stops if there’s not any full-course caution periods.

Regardless, any driver standing in Scott Fountain after the race celebrating a victory will owe a huge thank you to their pit crew.



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