Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Five: Petit Le Mans and Dover

Four championships will be decided in Georgia while four drivers will have their championship hopes end in Delaware. One race will last ten hours and run for around 1,000 miles. The other will be 400 miles and should take around three to three and a half hours to complete.

Petit Le Mans- Prototypes
All four class championships in the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship are undecided as the teams head to Road America for the season finale Petit Le Mans.

Six teams enter with a shot at the Prototype championship. The #90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook lead the championship with 279 points. The #90 won at Laguna Seca and the 6 Hours of The Glen and has finished third at Daytona, Sebring, Long Beach and Austin. Mike Rockenfeller joins Valiante and Westbrook for the third time this season. He was in the car at Daytona and Sebring. The two Action Express Racing Corvette DPs trail the #90 by six points. The #31 Corvette DP of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran won at Belle Isle and Road America and finished second at Mosport. Max Papis will be the third driver in the #31. The defending champions João Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won at Sebring in the #5 Corvette DP and finished second at Daytona and Road America and also finished third at Belle Isle and Watkins Glen. IndyCar race winner Sébastien Bourdais will be the third driver in the #5.

Scott Pruett and Joey Hand are eleven points behind the #90 in the #01 Ganassi Ford-Riley. Pruett and Hand scored their first victory at the most recent round at Austin. They finished second at Long Beach and Watkins Glen and third at Road America. The 2015 IndyCar champion and 2015 24 Hours of Daytona winner Scott Dixon will be the third driver in the #01. The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP of Ricky and Jordan Taylor are 16 points back. The Taylor brothers won at Long Beach and Mosport and finished runner-up at Sebring, Laguna Seca and Austin, however, their penalty at the 24 Hours of Daytona for exceeding driver time limits is still haunting their season as it cost them 15 points. Max Angelelli returns to drive the #10. The #60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-HPD of Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and John Pew are 29 points back with a second at Belle Isle and thirds at Laguna Seca and Mosport. Matt McMurry will round out the #60's driver line-up, however the team might not be able to start Petit Le Mans after a practice accident on Thursday night.

Prototype Challenge
Four driver combinations are still alive for the Prototype Challenge championship.

Colin Braun and Jon Bennett have a second consecutive title within their grasps as the drivers of the #54 CORE Autosport Oreca are coming off their second victory of the season at Austin and have 289 points. They also won at Mosport while finishing second at Daytona, Sebring and Laguna Seca. Anthony Lazzaro will be the third driver in the #54. The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca Mike Guasch and Tom Kimber-Smith are 12 points behind the CORE duo. Guasch and Kimber-Smith won at Daytona, Sebring and Lime Rock Park while finishing second at Watkins Glen. Andrew Palmer will be join Guasch and Kimber-Smith in the #52.

The #11 RSR Racing Oreca of Bruno Junqueira and Chris Cumming trail by 14 points. They won at Laguna Seca and Road America with runner-up finishes of Lime Rock Park and Austin. IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth and Formula Three driver Gustavo Menezes will be additional driver in the #11. Mikhail Goikhberg is 31 points behind Braun and Bennett. Goikhberg will drive the #85 JDC/Miller Motorsports Oreca alongside Chris Miller and Rusty Mitchell.

GT Le Mans
Patrick Pilet leads the GTLM championship are three victories in the last four races. The French driver has 279 points and will drive the #911 Porsche 911 RSR with 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nick Tandy as his co-driver. Three points behind Pilet is the #25 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW Z4 GTE of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, who won at Long Beach and Austin. DTM driver Augusto Farfus will be the third driver in the #25. The #3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio García won the first two races of the season at Daytona and Sebring but has only two podiums since Sebring and trail Pilet by ten points. Ryan Briscoe will be back in the #3.

The #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer have yet to win this season and are 13 points behind Pilet. The #62 has three runner-up finishes this season at Sebring, Long Beach and Austin. Defending FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers champion Toni Vilander will be the Risi's third driver. The #24 RLLR BMW of John Edwards and Lucas Luhr are 21 points behind Pilet. Jens Klingmann will join the Laguna Seca winners Edwards and Luhr. Jörg Bergmeister is the final driver alive for the GTLM title. The German driver trails his Porsche teammate by 27 points and Bergmeister will be joined in the #912 Porsche by another Le Mans winner, Earl Bamber.

GT Daytona
The top two driver combinations in GT Daytona have yet to win a race this season. Christina Nielsen leads the GTD title by one point over Christopher Haase and Dion Von Moltke. Nielsen has four runner-up finishes in the #007 TRG Aston Martin. She finished second at Sebring, Belle Isle, Road America and VIR. Kuno Wittmer, who has been Nielsen's co-driver since Watkins Glen, and Brandon Davis will be the other drivers in the #007. Haase and Von Moltke's lone runner-up finish in the #48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS came at Laguna Seca and the German-South African duo finished third at Belle Isle, Watkins Glen and Austin. Bryce Miller will be in the third driver in the #48.

The #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell are four points behind Nielsen and won at VIR two races ago. The only other podium for Sweedler and Bell was third at Sebring. The #33 Riley Motorsports Viper of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating have won two of the last three races and trail Nielsen by 11 points. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen will join his brother and Keating in the #33. The #23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche Mario Farnbacher and Ian James are 14 points back. Farnbacher and James won at Sebring and Belle Isle and Alex Riberas returns for the first time since Sebring. The #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil are 18 points back and will be joined by Andrew Davis. Keen and MacNeil's only podium this season was a second at Daytona.

Spencer Pumpelly and Patrick Lindsey trail by 26 points in the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche. Pumpelly and Lindsey won at Laguna Seca and Madison Snow will be their third driver. The #44 Magnus Racing Porsche of Andy Lally and John Potter have a slim shot at the title, as they are 31 points back. Their best finish this season was second at Watkins Glen. Robert Renauer will be Magnus Racing's third driver this weekend.

The final race of the first round of The Chase will take place at Dover International Speedway.

Matt Kenseth locked himself into the second round with his victory at New Hampshire last week. He joined his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in the second round. Kenseth leads the points with 2099 points and Hamlin trails him by six points. Carl Edwards and Joey Logano are tied on 2089 points. Kenseth, Hamlin and Edwards are the only drivers to finish in the top five of both Chase races. Jimmie Johnson rounds out the top five, six points behind Edwards and Logano.

Ryan Newman is sixth with 2074 points. Kurt Busch trails Newman by a points with Brad Keselowski a point behind Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. a points behind Keselowski. Jeff Gordon rounds out the top ten on 2068 points. Jamie McMurray is ten points back of Gordon with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a point behind McMurray but only a point ahead of 13th.

Kyle Busch and Paul Menard are currently tied for 13th, one point outside the final position to advance to round two. Championship leader entering The Chase, Kevin Harvick finds himself 23 points outside of the second round after running out of fuel at New Hampshire while leading with three laps to go. Clint Bowyer is 39 points outside of the top twelve.

Jimmie Johnson has the most all-time victories at Dover with ten, including the Dover race earlier this season. Johnson has won each the spring and autumn Dover races five times and has swept the Dover races twice, in 2002 and 2009. Jeff Gordon has five Dover victories with his last Cup victory coming one year ago at Dover. Ryan Newman has three Dover victories with Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each having two. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. all have one Dover victory.

Joey Logano has only led one lap in 13 Dover starts. That came in the 2010 autumn race. Kevin Harvick's average finish at the track is 14.7. Denny Hamlin has only six top tens in 19 Dover starts while Jamie McMurray has only six in 25 starts. Clint Bowyer has 12 top tens in 19 starts but only two top five finishes. Paul Menard has finished in the top ten in two of the last three Dover races after one in his previous 13 starts at the track.

1. Over or Under: 3.5 cars finishing on the lead lap in Petit Le Mans?
2. Over or Under: 2.5 2015 Indianapolis 500 starters finishing between the four class podiums?
3. Over or Under: 2.5 finishing position for the #17 Team Falken Tires Porsche?
4. Over or Under: 0.5 Americans winning the GTD championship?
5. Over or Under: 175.5 laps led by the driver who leads the most laps in the Dover race?

Last Week's Over/Unders
1. Over: Alexander Rossi finished 18th.
2. Over: Two Brits finished in the top eight at Aragón. Cal Crutchlow was seventh. Bradley Smith was eighth.
3. Under: Two podiums for BMW at Nürburgring. Maxime Martin won race one. Bruno Spengler was third in race two.
4. Over: The average green flag in the Cup race at Loudon was 25.9 laps.
5. Under: José María López's championship lead is 75 points after Shanghai.

1. For the second consecutive year, at least one American wins Petit Le Mans overall.
2. All three cars on the PC podium finish ahead of the GTLM class winner.
3. The GTLM winner finishes within 15 laps of the overall winner.
4. There will be a repeat winner in GTD.
5. Jamie McMurray does not advance to the second round of the Chase.

Last Week's Predictions
1. A driver who did not score points at Singapore and is not named Lewis Hamilton will score points at Suzuka (Correct. Nico Hülkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado finished in the points).
2. A rider who has yet to retire from a race this season will at Aragón (Correct. Danilo Petrucci retired for the first time in 2015).
3. At least five drivers will be championship eligible after the Nürburgring round (Wrong. Four drivers are championship eligible).
4. A Chevrolet driver will clinch a spot in the second round (Wrong. Toyota's Matt Kenseth clinched the spot).
5. Someone scores their first WTCC victory of the season at Shanghai (Wrong. José María López and Yvan Muller won).
Overall: 2/5 Running Tally: 10/20