Monday, January 31, 2022

Musings From the Weekend: Getting the Most Out of It

Ten years after its first 24 Hours of Daytona victory, Meyer Shank Racing won its second with Hélio Castroneves, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist. Robert Wickens returned to competition and was third in the TCR class in the Michelin Pilot Challenge season opener from Daytona. Mark Wilkins deserves recognition for his final stint in the #33 Hyundai after swapping with Wickens. Colton Herta is going to Sweden. More NASCAR races are in Joey Hand's future. Kimi Räikkönen will be team principal for Kawasaki's Motocross World Championship team. Oliver Askew said Formula E was the "most fun I've had." Eat it, IndyCar. Dan Ticktum is already being blamed for things in his new series. Here is a rundown of what got me thinking.

Getting the Most Out of It
NASCAR's most anticipated event in the last year because NASCAR comes up with an anticipated event every season, whether it deserves it or not, is almost here!

This time the anticipation is deserved with NASCAR's Clash moving to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It is the first time NASCAR has raced in a true stadium in over 50 years and it is one of the most historic in the United States. 

We do not know how this race will turn out, but it is something we have never seen in contemporary NASCAR, plus it is the debut race for the new car. There is plenty to be excited about. There is one problem. The NASCAR race is the only event taking place. Over a million dollars has been spent to convert a football stadium into a racetrack, and it will get used for one event in terms of a race. 

This is NASCAR's event, but this has been compared to the NHL's Winter Classic, when a hockey game is brought outside to a stadium, football or baseball. While the Winter Classic is the main event, these rinks do play host to other games. It becomes a weekend, or even week or in some cases weeks of hockey. There have been alumni games for the two NHL teams playing. College rivalries are played. Even high school teams get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only play outside but play outside in a historic stadium! It is a great way for the sport of hockey to shine from the highest level to the developing stars of tomorrow in that local area. It becomes a community event. 

For NASCAR, only the Cup guys will get on the track. This is year one, and in fairness, the first Winter Classic in Buffalo only had the NHL game. The extra events have come in the years since, but in the future, NASCAR should take advantage of this track and turn it into a week of racing and give other series a chance. I even have a few suggestions. 

Midget Car Race
We are fresh off the Chili Bowl, arguably the most important midget car race in the United States, and the Clash oval is a quarter-mile. The Chili Bowl is a quarter-mile, albeit a dirt oval. Midget cars are used to running on a track that small, and we see midget car races take place in arenas across the Midwest and other parts of the United States during the winter months. 

This is set up for a midget car race. Make it one night, and an invitational. We don't need 400 cars entering this like the Chili Bowl. Invite the top 50 or 75 midget car drivers in the world. Have five heat races, take the top three from each for the A-Main, and then break up the remaining 35 to 60 drivers into mains and have a smaller bowl of alphabet soup before determining an A-Main winner. 

Legends Car Race
Same vain as a midget car race. Legend cars are made for quarter-mile ovals. Invite the top 50 or 75, run some heats, have some preliminary main events, and then have an A-Main to decide the best of them all. 

I am not sure how popular Legend cars are in California. It does seem to be something that has stuck to the Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks (i.e. Charlotte and Atlanta) and has not grabbed the same national traction that you would think it would have. There are some Legend cars in California, but I am not sure enough to become a big event and I am not sure teams are going to cross the country unless there is a big prize for winning it all.

NASCAR Modifieds
Same as midget cars and Legends cars. Modifieds run quarter-miles. The series runs the quarter-mile Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. This Clash event could be the season opener. Like Legends cars, I am not sure the modified teams would want to travel across the country for one race, unless it was a massive prize. The furthest west the modified series will go in 2022 is New Smyrna, Florida! Can you believe it? I looked it up. New Smyrna is at 80.9270º W while Martinsville is at 79.8725º W, only 1.0545º further west, which is about 55 miles! 

Anyway, nobody considers a trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida a trip out west. That gives you an idea how much of an Eastern series the modifieds are. 

It sounds great, but logistics might make it unfeasible. Even though it might be the best possible race of the weekend.

NASCAR West or East Series Race
Or ARCA West or East Series, whatever they are called now. NASCAR's regional series are used to running on quarter-mile ovals. This would just be another race for these series, but it would be a great season opener for these cars. It could be a 100-lap race, a few Cup guys could enter, and it would be a fun preliminary event. It would give some drivers that don't normally get such a spotlight onto a bigger stage. NASCAR should want to give its developing drivers and local heroes a moment in the sun. 

Celebrity Race
Los Angeles is known for being the playground for the rich and famous. With it being in their backyard, NASCAR should bring get a dozen celebrities and hold a 25-lap. The Grand Prix of Long Beach once held a celebrity race. This would be contained and require less training. 

I am not sure what car could be used. I am sure they could get a few Toyota Camrys and make those safe enough to race. 

Go-Kart Race
Find a local rent-a-kart place and get a dozen or two-dozen to race. A quarter-mile is plenty small enough for a 15-minute race. I want to see the actual Cup guys race these. But I would also make it open for one fan to race against the Cup guys. Set aside a day, have all the people who sign up qualify and race and the winner of that competition would get to run against 20 Cup drivers and get the chance of a lifetime. 

It would be the most neutral race and would be the one chance to truly decide who is the best driver in NASCAR. 

Formula E Race
You are probably wondering how Formula E and NASCAR cross paths, and they do not, but it would make a lot of sense for Formula E to run in a stadium. 

1. Formula E should run an oval event. There is no point in why it shouldn't. It needs to broaden its identity. 

2. A quarter-mile would be small enough and slow enough that I do not think Formula E would have to worry about a horrific accident. Formula E cars are just glorified go-karts anyway. 

3. Formula E's goal is running in city centers. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum could not be any more centered in a city. I understand Formula E wants street races, mostly because it does not have the vision beyond following what every other single-seater series has done before it, but this could be something different for Formula E. A 45-minute sprint race around a quarter-mile stadium course. 

If NASCAR can fit 23 cars on track, Formula E can fit 20 cars. It would be different, the drivers would get to do something different, and I think it would be a lot of fun. The drivers would get a kick out of it for sure. 

We don't know the future of this race, if it will remain in a stadium and possibly go around the country following the Super Bowl wherever it is held, or if it will return to a proper racetrack, possibly Daytona, but if NASCAR does this in the future, it should be more than the Cup Series with a practice day and race day. If it is going to cost a million dollars a year to convert a stadium into a racetrack, it should be a racetrack for more than two nights and be for more than one series 

It should be at least four days of action, Thursday through Sunday, with a different series featured each night. The track was ready this past weekend. It could be two weekends, six days of action, Friday through Sunday each weekend, building up to the Cup race. That might be overkill, but this should be more than the Cup Series for two days. More than 36 drivers should get the chance to say they raced in the stadium.  

If stadiums are the future for the Clash, NASCAR should expand the weekend and truly reach out to the grassroot series, making it an inclusive event that raises all boats. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Meyer Shank Racing, but did you know...

The #81 DragonSpeed Oreca-Gibson of Colton Herta, Patricio O'Ward, Devlin DeFrancesco and Eric Lux won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the LMP2. The #74 Riley Motorsports Ligier-Nissan of Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Michael Cooper and Kay van Berlo won in LMP3. The #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche of Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr won in GTD Pro. The #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche of Jan Heylen, Ryan Hardwick, Zachary Robichon and Richard Lietz won in GTD.

Nyck de Vries and Edoardo Mortara split the Riyadh ePrix races.

Eli Tomac won the Supercross race from Anaheim, the fourth different winner in four races this season. 

Coming Up This Weekend
NASCAR's Clash from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Race of Champions from Sweden.
The delayed Kyalami 9 Hours.
Supercross will be in Glendale, Arizona.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Best of the Month: January 2022

The 24 Hours of Daytona is complete and with the end of that race comes the end of the first month of 2022. January might not be the liveliest month in terms of motorsports action, but there are a few notable events to keep us going. It is a proper warm-up for the year. 

Getting My Head Around This Year
We are one month into 2022, but this year is going to be different. A lot has changed and we haven't even got to any of it. January has been a typical January. Dakar, Supercross, the 24 Hours of Daytona. That is how it is supposed to be, but the changes will occur as a steady stream over the next 11 months. 

With some time before we must face the new, let's prepare. 

Schedule Changes
IndyCar in February? 

Saudi Arabia in March?

Australia in April?

NASCAR on Easter Sunday? 

That is just the highlights of first third of the year. 

IndyCar will have its earliest start since 2004 with St. Petersburg opening the season on February 27. That is a few weeks earlier than usual and then its usual season opening spot, in mid-March, will be at Texas, which is in its second new month in as many years. 

After that, IndyCar's schedule will be rather routine. Long Beach will be April 10. Barber will be May 1, but that is partially because of when Easter falls. From there, the season is the same, two Indianapolis races in May, Belle Isle, albeit only one race, Road America, Mid-Ohio, and hopefully Toronto in July. 

We know about NASCAR's big change with the Clash taking place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but that schedule is a little different. Austin will be in late-March after being in May for year one. The Bristol dirt race will take place on the night of Easter Sunday, a massive change for NASCAR, as it has usually avoided the holiday, but now it is hoping to ingrain itself with the holiday as other sports have with other holidays. 

NASCAR will add a new track, Gateway on the first Sunday in June, Richmond's second race will move from September to August and become a night race. Big shifts come in NASCAR's playoffs. Kansas moves from the middle race of the semifinal round to the middle race of round one. Texas moves from the opening race of the semifinal round to the opening race of the second round. Las Vegas moves from the opening race of round two to the opening race of the semifinal round. Homestead returns to the playoffs after two years out of it and it will be the middle race of the semifinal round. 

Some calendar changes are because of good reasons, a world returning to normal, but even that is not guaranteed. We need to see how the world turns over the next few days, weeks and months. 

In Formula One, Saudi Arabia shifts from the penultimate round to the second round of the season, hopefully ahead of Australia. May leads off with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, in-between the European rounds of Imola, Barcelona and Monaco. 

Montreal is on the schedule for its mid-June date while Singapore and Suzuka are lined up in October. 

We may get a Super Sebring weekend, as the FIA World Endurance Championship plans to open the season on a Friday afternoon into night. Spa-Francorchamps in May and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June are slated to take place. It will be a relaxing schedule in a way. A month after Le Mans is Monza, two months after Monza is Fuji, and two months after Fuji is Bahrain. Six races in eight months, not a bad gig. 

On two wheels, MotoGP plans on spending a weekend in Indonesia in March. It will still have a healthy European backbone, which could see the return to Finland, third time being the charm after two false starts. The Asian-Pacific swing is still on the schedule, a back-to-back with Japan and Thailand with another Australia-Malaysia back-to-back after that. 

Team Changes
Drivers have moved around ahead of 2022. 

Meyer Shank Racing has new drivers all over the place. Simon Pagenaud and Hélio Castroneves are in the team's IndyCar while Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist will be in the Acura sports car in IMSA. 

Jack Harvey has moved to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Takuma Sato moved to Dale Coyne Racing. Romain Grosjean moved to Andretti Autosport. Penske is down to three cars. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is up to three cars. A.J. Foyt Racing is up to three cars. Conor Daly will be full-time at Ed Carpenter Racing. Ed Carpenter might be down to one race. 

Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Sébastien Bourdais, Max Chilton and Ed Jones are about to be out of the IndyCar fold. 

Bourdais is now a Ganassi driver in IMSA with Renger van der Zande. Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn are in the other Ganassi entry. 

Brad Keselowski now owns part of a team, Roush Fenway Racing to be specifically. Kurt Busch is driving for Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. A Burton is driving for the Wood Brothers. A Cindric is driving for Team Penske. Richard Petty is no longer owning cars... I guess... I don't think, people keep purchasing teams Petty "owns" and then keeping his name on the door. 

Valentino Rossi and Kimi Räikkönen are no longer in their respective series. 

George Russell is moving to Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas moves to Alfa Romeo, where his teammate will be Formula One's first Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou. Alexander Albon fills at Williams in place of Russell. Come to think of it, the only two drivers from the 2021 Formula One grid not on the 2022 grid are the Alfa Romeo drivers, as Antonio Giovinazzi has moved to Formula E. 

Andrea Dovizioso will be on a Yamaha. The top two from Moto2 will be Tech3 KTM teammates with Remy Gardner and Raúl Fernández trying to get along. Valentino Rossi's team will be on grid with his half-brother Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi each on their own Ducati. Darryn Binder joins Brad Binder in MotoGP. 

New Cars
NASCAR and Formula One each have experienced regulation changes and we will have new cars! With new cars come the unknown. 

We have no clue who will be good. Mercedes and Red Bull could each suck. Williams could be winning races. Haas could be on the podium. There could be nine different race winners. 

In NASCAR, anybody could win races. There could be 20 winners in the first 26 races. Kaulig Racing could be nine races and Hendrick Motorsports could only have two victories. Joe Gibbs Racing could go winless while Spire Motorsports could have six victories. Trackhouse might get both its drivers in the playoffs while Team Penske only has one driver make it. 

That is hard to imagine all of that happening, but we aren't sure. These aren't the old cars with dedicated fabricators from each team welding together chassis and strengthening the car. The chassis and the parts are coming from one source. Everyone is virtually getting the same thing. 

Speaking of new cars, Peugeot is returning to the FIA World Endurance Championship. The French manufacture will miss the season opener at Sebring, but it plans on having two Peugeot 9X8s on the grid. Not a new car, but Corvette will have a full-time WEC entry for its C8.R as IMSA has moved away from the GTE-spec GT Le Mans class. Team Penske will also be on the WEC grid in LMP2, as it prepares for the Porsche LMDh contender. 

Late Night Races
With the pandemic, there have been fewer international races, especially in the Asian-Pacific area. Formula One hasn't had a Pacific round since October 13, 2019. MotoGP hasn't been to the Pacific since Australia on October 27, 2019. WEC hasn't left Europe or Bahrain since February 23, 2020. 

While it is sad not to have races at Albert Park, Suzuka, Philip Island, Fuji, Buriram, Singapore, Sepang and so on, it has been easier on the body and the sleep schedule. There have been no late nights or early start times. 

That will change and it will take some adjusting. I am not sure I can do it. After conditioning myself for the races for all these years, two years off might have broken me. I am not sure I can force myself to get up after a three-hour or four-hour nap for a race at 2:00 a.m. ET. I might become reliant on the recording and watch it when I first get up but have to avoid spoilers. I am unsure what my life as become and will only find out when we get there.

February Preview
Leading off the month of February will be the first Race of Champions in three years. The 2022 edition will be held in Pitea Havsbad, Sweden on an ice course. This is the first Race of Champions held on ice and the first Race of Champions in Europe since 2015. 

There are still a few open spots, but we know 19 drivers that have been announced for this year's edition. How does this year's field shape up?

Best Nations' Cup Result: 1st (2007-12, 2017-18)
Sebastian Vettel: 
Tenth appearance
Seven Nations' Cup championships
2015 Champion of Champions

Mick Schumacher: 
Second appearance
2019 Nations' Cup Runner-Up
Quarterfinalist in the Champion of Champions (lost to Esteban Gutiérrez).

Best Nations' Cup Result: 1st (1999, 2006)
Valtteri Bottas: 
First Appearance
This is the first Race of Champions with a Finnish driver since 2011 when Juho Hänninen competed for the Nordic team with Tom Kristensen. Nordic lost in the finals to the German pair of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher. Hänninen was third in his group for Champion of Champions behind Schumacher and Jenson Button. 

Mika Häkkinen: 
First Appearance
This is the first Race of Champions with a dedicated Finnish team since Beijing 2009 when Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen competed. 
Finland has produced the most Champion of Champions winners (Five: Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, Harri Rovanperä, Marcus Grönholm, Heikki Kovalainen).

Team Latin America
Best Nations' Cup Result: 2nd (2018)
Hélio Castroneves: 
Fourth Appearance
2018 Nations' Cup Runner-Up
Only one quarterfinal appearance in the Champion of Champions competition (Miami 2017)

Benito Guerra, Jr.: 
Third Appearance
2019 Champion of Champions
Guerra, Jr. has not made it out of the group stage in the Nations' Cup in his previous two appearances.

United States of America
Best Nations' Cup Result: 1st (2002)
Jimmie Johnson: 
Fourth Appearance (first since 2007)
2002 Nations' Cup champion (with Colin Edwards and Jeff Gordon)
Johnson has never made it out of the first round of the Champion of Champions competition. He has never participated under a group format, only single-elimination bracket format.

Colton Herta: 
First Appearance
Herta replaces Travis Pastrana, who was injured in a stunt driving accident last week.

Best Nations' Cup Result: 1st (2000, 2004)
Sébastien Loeb: 
Ninth Appearance
Three-time Champion of Champions (2003, 2005, 2008)
2004 Nations' Cup champion (with Jean Alesi)

Best Nations' Cup Result: 1st (2005, 2014, 2019)
Johan Kristoffersson: 
Third Appearance
2019 Nations' Cup champion (with Tom Kristensen)
2018 Champion of Champions semifinalist and 2019 Champion of Champions quarterfinalist. 

Tom Kristensen: 
Record-extending 16th Appearance
Three-time Nations' Cup champion (2005 with Mattias Ekström as Scandinavia, 2014 with Petter Solberg, 2019 with Kristoffersson)
Five-time Champion of Champions runner-up (2005, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, most runner-up finishes)

Best Nations' Cup Result: Semifinals (2007)*
Petter Solberg: 
Sixth Appearance
2014 Nations' Cup champion (with Tom Kristensen for Nordic)
2018 Champion of Champions runner-up

Oliver Solberg: 
First Appearance
Son of Petter Solberg
Competes under the Swedish flag, his mother's nationality, in World Rally Championship competition

Best Nations' Cup Result: Semifinals (2003)*
Timmy Hansen: 
First Appearance
2019 FIA World Rallycross champion

Mattias Ekström: 
Seventh Appearance
Three-time Champion of Champions (2006-07, 2009)
2005 Nations' Cup champion (with Tom Kristensen for Scandinavia)*

United Kingdom
Best Nations' Cup Result: 2nd (2009-10, 2014)*
David Coulthard: 
13th Appearance
Two-time Champion of Champions (2014, 2018)
2014 Nations' Cup runner-up (with Susie Wolff)

Jamie Chadwick: 
First Appearance
Two-time W Series champion. 2015 British GT4 champion. 

* - England won in 2015 with Jason Plato and Andy Priaulx

Other events next month:
NASCAR has a race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Daytona 500.
IndyCar begins its season at St. Petersburg.
Plenty of Supercross races.
The entire Asian Le Mans Series season will take place over two weekends in the United Arab Emirates. 
Rally Sweden returns to the World Rally Championship schedule.
Formula E returns to Mexico City.

Friday, January 28, 2022

2022 IndyCar Team Preview: Meyer Shank Racing

We are into the second half of 2022 IndyCar team previews, and we move to Meyer Shank Racing. In its second season with at least one full-time entry, MSR expanded to two cars on a part-time basis in 2021. It paid off. The team got its first victory, and it was the biggest race in IndyCar, the Indianapolis 500. A historic victory already, it was taken to a higher level because it was Hélio Castroneves' fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in Castroneves' first race with the team. 

Meyer Shank Racing will run two cars full-time this year. Castroneves will be one of the drivers, and the team is making a change. Jack Harvey is gone and entering is Simon Pagenaud, the past champion and past Indianapolis 500 winner reunites with his past Team Penske teammate.

2021 Meyer Shank Racing Review
Wins: 1 (Indianapolis 500)
Poles: 0
Best Start: 2nd (St. Petersburg)
Championship Finish: 13th (Jack Harvey), 22nd (Hélio Castroneves)

Simon Pagenaud - #60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda
The 2021 season started with a ho-hum day at Barber Motorsports Park for Pagenaud. He qualified 15th and spent most of the race outside the top ten, eventually finishing 12th. He bounced back at St. Petersburg with a third-place finish after starting fourth. The results continued with four more consecutive top ten finishes from the Texas doubleheader through the two May Indianapolis races. He had a charge from 26th to third in the Indianapolis 500. 

However, results went downward once the season entered the summer. He was eighth in the second Belle Isle race, and it was his only top ten finish in a six-race period. He did not start in the top five for nine consecutive races. He took a strategy gamble in the August IMS road course race, and he led seven laps because of it, but it cost him late and dropped him to 16th. 

Things were better at Gateway, qualifying fourth and finishing eighth. He was on an impressive drive from 23rd on the grid at Portland, but a spin when trying to pass Will Power cost him a top ten result. He finished the season with finishes of eighth and fifth, but it ended up being his second winless season in four years and third in seven seasons with Team Penske.

Numbers to Remember:
6: Meyer Shank Racing will be Pagenaud's sixth IndyCar team.

11: Victories with Team Penske from 2015-2021.

3: Drivers had more victories than Pagenaud from 2015-2021 (Josef Newgarden 20, Scott Dixon 16, Will Power 16).

12: laps led in 2021, Pagenaud's fewest in a full season in his IndyCar career.

What does a championship season look like for him?
Pagenaud starts with top five finishes in the first two races of the season in St. Petersburg and Texas. He goes a step further and gets on the podium in Long Beach before a top ten finishes at Barber Motorsports Park. 

Riding that wave of momentum, he wins the Grand Prix of Indianapolis for a fourth time in his career. Then he finishes in the top five of the Indianapolis 500 after qualifying in the top five. Back on the streets, he wins again in Belle Isle and heads into summer with another top ten finish at Road America. 

Over the Independence Day weekend, Pagenaud wins at Mid-Ohio for the Ohio-based Meyer Shank Racing. He returns to Toronto and wins there, his second consecutive victory at the track before scoring one top five finish and one top ten finish at the Iowa doubleheader. 

He is in the top ten again for the second IMS road course race and picks up another top ten finish on the streets of Nashville. The rest of the field might be closing in, but then he wins at Gateway to strengthen his grip on the championship. He is in the top five at Portland and an eighth-place finish is more than enough to secure the championship at Laguna Seca.

What does a realistic season look like for him?
As good as Pagenaud has been in recent seasons, the problem is he has only been good. He has been outside the top five in the championship in three of the last four seasons and led fewer than 100 laps in each of those three seasons. He still has a remarkable finishing percentage, but his average finish has been worse than tenth the last two years after being below 9.0 in seven of the previous eight years. 

There is nothing wrong with finishing sixth and seventh consistently, and Pagenaud can keep that up. It might not be at the same rate he had with Penske and there will likely be fewer days with him fighting for a podium spot, but good results are still possible with Meyer Shank Racing. 

Last year's Indianapolis 500 victory aside, MSR has come close to a few victories on road and street courses. Pagenaud is more than capable of turning a good qualifying day into a victory. He turned Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports into a contender when he returned to IndyCar full-time in 2012. IndyCar has tightened up since then, but Pagenaud can still make it up and not only break into the championship top ten but challenge for a top five spot. 

Hélio Castroneves - #06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda
Shifting from Team Penske to Meyer Shank Racing, and stepping away from full-time sports car competition, Castroneves was set for a half-dozen IndyCar starts in 2021 with his new team. The first start was to come at the Indianapolis 500.

For the first time entering the Indianapolis 500 with a team other than Team Penske, Castroneves looked more comfortable than ever. He made the Fast Nine and wound up eighth on the grid. In the race, Castroneves spent the entire race in the top ten. He worked his way into the top five. Castroneves remained in the lead pack and in the closing laps, it was clear Castroneves would be one of the contenders. It became Castroneves vs. Álex Palou after the final round of pit stops. 

With two laps to go, Castroneves took the lead into turn one. He held off the counterattack from Palou, using traffic to his advantage, and Castroneves became the fourth driver to win four Indianapolis 500s. 

After his brush with history, Castroneves was off until August at Nashville. He was ninth mostly through survival. He ended the year with a few rough results, finishing outside the top twenty in the August IMS road course race, Portland and Laguna Seca. He was a surprise third in qualifying at Long Beach but wound up 20th after being caught out after multiple cautions before making a pit stop.

Numbers to Remember:
13: IndyCar starts since his last full season in 2017.

8: Finishes of 20th or worse in those 13 starts.

16: Top ten finishes in 17 starts during his final full season in 2017.

What does a championship season look like for him?
Back as a full-time driver, Castroneves starts with a top five in St. Petersburg and then he wins at Texas, and it is a dominant victory with over 2/3rds of the laps led. He gets a top ten in the next two races at Long Beach and Barber.

In Indianapolis, he starts the month of May with a podium result in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. In the Indianapolis 500, Castroneves qualifies on the front row, leads over 80 laps, and he picks up his fifth Indianapolis 500 victory, handing Castroneves a solid championship lead. He has an off day at Belle Isle, but he will be back in the top ten at Road America. 

Mid-Ohio sees Castroneves back in the top five before another top ten result in Toronto. He wins the first Iowa race and finishes third in the other. Nashville doesn't go great, but he bounces back with a podium at Gateway. He closes the season with a pair of top five finishes at Portland and Laguna Seca.

What does a realistic season look like for him?
Castroneves has been one of IndyCar's best drivers over the 21st century, but since he stepped back from full-time competition, his results have been suspect. He might have won the Indianapolis 500 last year, but in the few road and street course races he has done he has not been a factor over the last few seasons.
Though he was a regular top five championship finisher at Penske, I am not sure Castroneves can accomplish that at MSR. His road and street course pace was lacking last year. There were a few bright moments, and he will be running the car on a regular basis and not as a part-timer, but IndyCar has gotten tougher since he was last time full-time, and Castroneves will turn 47 years old this season.

This might be a tougher season than many think it will be for Castroneves. Championship top ten would be an incredible accomplishment. It is more likely Castroneves will be fighting between 11th and 15th in the championship, but he could even finish outside the top fifteen. MSR has done a phenomenal job in IndyCar, but a two-car program is a big step. The team made questionable strategy choices last year with Jack Harvey. If Castroneves is off, the team could take bigger risks that do not pay off.

There will be one or two good road/street course events, but those races will be Castroneves' greatest struggle. Oval races should be where he gets his best results, but with only five oval events, they can only do so much for his championship standing. 

The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season begins on Sunday February 27 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. NBC's coverage will begin at noon ET.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

2022 24 Hours of Daytona Preview

The first month of 2022 ends with the first major event in North American motorsports, and it is extra special this year. This will be the 60th 24 Hours of Daytona and there are 61 cars entered for this year's race, a 14-car increase from the year before. 

This year's field is different with the GT Le Mans class and GTE-spec cars retired, and the GT field being entirely GT3-spec cars split between the GT Daytona Pro class and GT Daytona remaining pro-am. With this class structure change, there will be 35 cars between the two GT classes. GT Daytona Pro will have 13 cars while GTD will have 22 cars. Daytona Prototype international remains the smallest class with seven cars between five Cadillacs and two Acuras. There will be ten LMP2 entries and nine LMP3 entries.

Daytona is the opening round to the 2022 IMSA Sports Car Championship season, and we already have one race under its belt, with the 100-minute qualifying race setting the grid on Sunday.

The schedule remained relatively unchanged from previous IMSA seasons. After Daytona will be the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19 before Long Beach on April 9 for DPi and the two GT classes only. Laguna Seca hopes to have a spring date on May 1 with LMP2 rejoining the series ahead of Mid-Ohio on May 15, which will see LMP3 replace GTD Pro. On June 4, DPi and GTD will race at Belle Isle. 

Watkins Glen starts the second half of the season, and all five class will be on track together for the six-hour race on June 6. A week later, every class but LMP2 plans on being at Mosport. The GT-only Lime Rock Park round remains July 16. 

Every class will be together for Road America on August 7 before the second GT-only weekend at Virginia International Raceway on August 28. Petit Le Mans closes the season on October 1. 

This is a transition season for IMSA ahead of the LMDh class introduction in 2023, but there is plenty to be excited about. We will look over all 61 entries for the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona, why each entry could win this race, why each entry will not win this race, and full season prospects for each car. 

Daytona Prototype international
#01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Drivers: Renger van der Zande, Sébastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Álex Palou

Why this car could win: If it wasn't for two tire punctures in the closing hours, the #01 Ganassi Cadillac might have won the 24 Hours of Daytona last year. This lineup has three previous Daytona overall winners in van der Zande, Bourdais and Dixon, plus the reigning IndyCar champion in Palou. There is not a weak link in this lineup, and Ganassi has a history of winning this race.

Why this car will not win: Palou is entirely new to the DPi class and could not be up to speed, forcing CGR to lean heavily on its other three drivers while other teams can go four deep for the entire race. That and tire punctures could come up again.

What to expect for the full season: Van der Zande has his third different co-driver in three seasons and fourth different in five seasons with Bourdais replacing Kevin Magnussen, who will focus on the Peugeot Hypercar program. Ganassi had a good year in 2021, as it returned to prototype competition, but it was not a quintessential Ganassi season. Cadillac is supporting this team. Bourdais can drive anything, and he is focused. This team will win multiple races and will likely lead Ganassi back to the top of the IMSA world.

#02 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. 
Drivers: Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Marcus Ericsson, Kevin Magnussen

Why this car could win: Bamber has two overall Le Mans victories, and Lynn has a 12 Hours of Sebring victory. Ericsson might not have raced at Daytona, but he did test the car last year in a reserve role just in case the additional driver was needed. Magnussen knows the car and did well last year. Ganassi has a history of winning with the least likely of its entries.

Why this car will not win: It is a bit of a rag-tagged group. Magnussen is the only driver with significant experience with the car. Ericsson has no endurance race experience. 

What to expect for the full season: Bamber has IMSA experience but not much prototype experience, though he did win the World Endurance Drivers' Championship with Porsche. Lynn won his only IMSA start with Wayne Taylor Racing at the 2017 12 Hours of Sebring, but he has been bouncing sports car racing, most recently driving for Aston Martin in the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE-Pro class. There will some good days, but a few times where this pair will be feeling things out.   

#5 Mustang Samplings JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Drivers: Tristan Vautier, Richard Westbrook, Loïc Duval, Ben Keating

Why this car could win: This car won at Sebring last season and Vautier and Duval are back together. Westbrook has a Daytona class victory with the Ford GT program and twice he has finished on the overall podium. Keating is pulling double-duty again at Daytona, splitting this DPi entry with an LMP2 entry. Keating has driven made different cars in many different classes.

Why this car will not win: Keating's double-duty efforts have been mixed, and he will likely do the bare minimum in terms of DPi time requirements early in the race but leave the team down to three drivers for majority of the race against some deep entries.

What to expect for the full season: After a lackluster 2021, Vautier will be paired with Westbrook. This is Westbrook's first full-time prototype ride since 2015 when he was second in the championship with Spirit of Daytona. It is hard to think this team will suddenly be a championship contender. It is fourth of four Cadillac entries. It should have a few good days but be off the podium more times than it is on it.

#10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05
Drivers: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi, Will Stevens

Why this car could win: Because it has won the last three years at Daytona! It is a proven winner. It has won with Cadillac and Acura. Taylor and Albuquerque did a great job last year and nearly won the title. Rossi contributes positively to the team and Stevens has done well in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and he has a 24 Hours of Le Mans class victory.

Why this car will not win: Because no team has ever won the 24 Hours of Daytona in four consecutive years. Numbers alone are against this team and there are other top entries in this class.

What to expect for the full season: Taylor and Albuquerque went to the wire for the championship last year and were possibly one block away from the title. It is Wayne Taylor Racing. They are not going anywhere. The team is going to win races, it will express frustration when the rulebook is accurately interpreted against its favor, and it will have a chance at the championship at Petit Le Mans.

#31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Drivers: Pipo Derani, Tristan Nunez, Mike Conway

Why this car could win: Derani is the defending DPi champion, and he has won this race before. Conway just won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and his second world championship with Toyota. Nunez has plenty of experience in this race having driven with Mazda.

Why this car will not win: It is the only three-driver lineup in a class filled with four-driver teams. Nunez is a big change to this trio. Daytona has not been kind to this team the last two years.

What to expect for the full season: Derani has Nunez replace Felipe Nasr, who has moved to the Penske Porsche program ahead of the 2023 LMDh launch. Nunez is good, but he is no Felipe Nasr. This car will still be competitive and win races. Derani will continue to be ruthless, but I have my doubts it can match what the Derani-Nasr duo accomplished. 

#48 Ally Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Drivers: Mike Rockenfeller, Kamui Kobayashi, Jimmie Johnson, José María López

Why this car could win: Rockenfeller, Kobayashi and Johnson all ran together last year and finished second. Kobayashi has been first, first and second in his three Daytona starts. He and López won Le Mans last year as well as the world championship with Mike Conway.

Why this car will not win: Though it has experience, this lineup isn't as sharp as some other teams. López will be running Daytona for the first time, and this is a new car for him. Rockenfeller only ran Daytona last year. There are now two Ganassi cars to worry about. It will be hard for this car just to be one of the top three Cadillacs let alone be the best of this seven-car class. 

What to expect for the full season: This Action Express Racing entry will run the Michelin Endurance Cup races with Rockenfeller, Kobayashi and Johnson. It had a few good days in 2021. It could steal a victory. It will be interesting to see how the team handles Sebring with Johnson having to run the IndyCar race at Texas the following day.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Racing Acura ARX-05
Drivers: Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist, Hélio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Why this car could win: Jarvis had some blistering success with Mazda and knows Daytona very well. Castroneves won this race last year and Pagenaud was runner-up. Blomqvist did exception in the FIA World Endurance Championship last year with Jota Sport. 

Why this car will not win: This lineup is completely new. Meyer Shank Racing hasn't shown the same top pace as some of the other teams. 

What to expect for the full season: Shank is seeing a shakeup with Jarvis moving over from Mazda and Blomqvist joining the team. Jarvis is a quality driver and does not make many mistakes. Blomqvist did well last year in LMP2 competition between WEC and Asian Le Mans Series. MSR was feeling out the Acura last year. Results could improve but still not see a leap forward.

#8 Tower Motorsport Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: John Farano, Louis Delétraz, Rui Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg

Why this car could win: Delétraz and Habsburg both had great years last year in LMP2 in WEC and the European Le Mans Series. Farano is back for another year in IMSA, and he was respectable in 2021. Andrade had three podium finishes in four Asian Le Mans Series races. This will be Habsburg's third Daytona start.

Why this car will not win: Delétraz and Andrade are Daytona rookies, and there are a few better lineups top to bottom in this class.

What to expect for the full season: Delétraz is coming off an ELMS LMP2 championship. Farano had good results last year and finally got a victory at Petit Le Mans. Pretty much every LMP2 entry looks good on paper. It will be a highly contested championship and Tower Motorsport will throw its weight around.

#11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Steven Thomas, Josh Pierson, Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell

Why this car could win: Bomarito and Tincknell have a great relationship from the Mazda program, including four podium finishes in all four Endurance Cup races last year with two consecutive victories to close out the Mazda program. Thomas did well in LMP2 last season. Pierson was fourth in the U.S. F2000 championship at 15 years old and he will be driving in WEC this year for United Autosports, where he will attempt to become the youngest 24 Hours of Le Mans participant. 

Why this car will not win: It is hard to argue against this car, but this is Pierson's first endurance race, and he is 15 years old. This team could be spread thin going into the closing hours. 

What to expect for the full season: Bomarito will lead this entry moving from the Mazda DPi program. Thomas nearly won the championship last year with Tristan Nunez, another former Mazda driver. This entry should be on top and could take the championship. 

#18 Era Motorsport Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Dwight Merriman, Kyle Tilley, Ryan Dalziel, Paul-Loup Chatin

Why this car could win: Era Motorsport won last year with this exact lineup. That's all you need. It also was second at Sebring and Era Motorsport won at Road America last year.

Why this car will not win: Repeat victories do not happen all the time and there might be a few strong entries.

What to expect for the full season: After being split with a European Le Mans Series program in 2021, Era will focus on IMSA in 2022. It should be competitive. Merriman has not been one of the stronger amateur drivers. It will be difficult to win the championship. 

#20 High Class Racing Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Dennis Andersen, Andres Fjordbach, Fabio Scherer, Nico Müller

Why this car could win: Andersen and Fjordbach have plenty of experience racing together. Scherer won twice in WEC last year with United Autosports. Müller has won in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

Why this car will not win: Andersen and Fjordbach haven't had the greatest success in other series. Müller's sports car experience is limited to mostly GT3 competition.

What to expect for the full season: High Class is moving to IMSA from WEC. The Danish team wasn't the strongest in WEC. IMSA might not have as many LMP2 entries, but the quality makes it hard to see how High Class will see great improvement from its WEC results.

#22 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: James McGuire, Guy Smith, Phil Hanson, Will Owen

Why this car could win: United Autosports wins everything in LMP2 racing, from WEC to ELMS. There is not a real weak link in this team. Smith has an overall Le Mans victory. Hanson has a Le Mans class victory, and won the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 drivers two seasons ago

Why this car will not win: McGuire is the least experience of the four. It is a long race, and anything can happen. 

What to expect for the full season: United Autosports will contest the Endurance races, and it would not be a surprise if the team won multiple times in its short, four-race campaign. 

#29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Frits van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde, Dylan Murry, Rinus VeeKay

Why this car could win: Van Eerd and van der Garde have spent years racing together. VeeKay is coming off a good IndyCar season and ran Daytona last year with DragonSpeed. Murry had five podium finishes in LMP3 last season.

Why this car will not win: It is a new race for the team and half its drivers. 

What to expect for the full season: The team is making a big change from WEC to IMSA full-time. However, Racing Team Nederland has been underperformed compared to expectations in WEC. It has a few good races and then falls off. This time could be one of the best in the class and control the championship or it could be off the podium on a regular basis. It should win a race or two, but its other results could be disappointing. 

#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen, Scott Huffaker, Nicolas Lapierre

Why this car could win: Keating and Jensen are defending LMP2 class champions. Lapierre is great. Huffaker has a good winning percentage in IMSA competition.

Why this car will not win: It is hard to make an argument against this entry. It is a 24-hour race, anything can happen, and someone just might be better. 

What to expect for the full season: It looks like this will be only an Endurance Cup entry, as Keating will also run full-time in the GTE-Am class in WEC.

#68 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus-Gibson
Drivers: François Heriau, Oliver Rasmussen, Ed Jones, René Rast

Why this car could win: Rast is quick in everything from sports cars to DTM to Formula E. Jones made his Daytona debut last year. Rasmussen has done well in a few European junior series. Heriau has won in the LMP3 class in the European Le Mans Series.

Why this car will not win: Half of this lineup is making its Daytona debut. Jones does not have any prototype experience. Rast is new to the car as well. 

What to expect for the full season: Daytona-only.

#69 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus-Gibson
Drivers: John Falb, James Allen, Luca Ghiotto, Tijmen van der Helm

Why this car could win: Falb is a successful gentleman driver. Allen has plenty of LMP2 experience and has won in the European Le Mans Series. Ghiotto is branching out to sports car racing after being an impressive driver in Formula Two. Van der Helm is 17 years out and raced in Formula Three last year.

Why this car will not win: Too inexperienced for Daytona. 

What to expect for the full season: Daytona-only.

#81 DragonSpeed USA Oreca-Gibson
Drivers: Eric Lux, Devlin DeFrancesco, Patricio O'Ward, Colton Herta

Why this car could win: This feels like it should be a DPi entry, and it nearly was. Herta and O'Ward are two of IndyCar's brightest stars and both already have sports car success. DeFrancesco was respectable in Indy Lights, and he has run this race before. Lux has over ten Daytona starts.

Why this car will not win: This lineup almost feels too good to be true. It looks great on paper but could be tripped up on the asphalt.

What to expect for the full season: DragonSpeed will have an entirely different lineup at Sebring, with Henrik Hedman returning with Juan Pablo Montoya and Sebastián Montoya. Hedman and the senior Montoya will contest the full LMP2 season, as Daytona does not count toward the overall LMP2 championship. It is just another impressive entry in a Pro-Am class. Montoya is good, but DragonSpeed does have a history of living down to expectations. It could win a race and then not be on the podium the rest of the season. 

#6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine-Nissan
Drivers: Efrin Castro, Moritz Kranz, Ayrton Ori, Joel Miller

Why this car could win: Miller brings over factory Mazda experience. Kranz has LMP3 success from around the globe. Ori has run the Daytona road course before.

Why this car will not win: There are stronger lineups in this class.

What to expect for the full season: Both Muehlner cars will only run Daytona. 

#7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine-Nissan
Drivers: Mark Kvamme, Austin McCusker, Trenton Estep, Antoine Doquin

Why this car could win: Kvamme, McCusker and Estep all have plenty of experience from IMSA's support series.

Why this car will not win: The car had about three separate incidents in the 100-minute qualifying race. How will it last 24 hours?

What to expect for the full season: This was a late addition to the Daytona entry list, and its full season plans are unknown. 

#13 AWA Duqueine-Nissan
Drivers: Orey Fidani, Kuno Wittmer, Lars Kern, Matthew Bell

Why this car could win: Fidani and Wittmer ran together in the Michelin Pilot Challenge GS class last year. 

Why this car will not win: This is the first race for this team in LMP3.

What to expect for the full season: AWA is moving up from the Michelin Pilot Challenge GS class. Wittmer has won in IMSA's top series. Fidani is making a big step into the LMP3 class. There will be growing pains this season. 

#26 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine-Nissan
Drivers: Nolan Siegel, Cameron Shields, Charles Crews, Ugo de Wilde

Why this car could win: Siegel and Shields have both driven in the Road to Indy system. De Wilde won races in ELMS and the Michelin Le Mans cup last year. Shields had the fastest time in class at testing last week.

Why this car will not win: The speed could be there, but the experience is lacking. Twenty-four hours is a long race, potentially too long for this group.

What to expect for the full season: This is a Daytona-only team.

#33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier-Nissan
Drivers: João Barbosa, Malthe Jakobsen, Seb Priaulx, Lance Willsey

Why this car could win: Barbosa is a past Daytona winner. Willsey got a taste for LMP3 racing last year. Priaulx was Porsche Carrera Cup North America champion in 2021. Jakobsen had good seasons in ALMS and ELMS last year.

Why this car will not win: I am not sure the experience is there to win this race.

What to expect for the full season: Barbosa and Willsey will be full-time. Things started well with a runner-up finish at Daytona, but Willsey pulled out halfway through the season, and results slid back in the two races following Daytona. There are a few stronger cars in this class. Race victories will be difficult. A few podium finishes would be a good season. 

#36 Andretti Autosport Ligier-Nissan
Drivers: Jarett Andretti, Josh Burdon, Rasmus Lindh, Gabby Chaves

Why this car could win: Andretti showed good speed last year. Burdon has won in the Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 class. Lindh has been successful in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series while also being a forgotten Road to Indy hopeful. Chaves is an under-appreciated talent.

Why this car will not win: This team found a lot of ways to lose races last year in its limited IMSA outings. Twenty-four hours is plenty of time to screw something up.

What to expect for the full season: Andretti Autosport showed good pace last year in the few events it contested, but in each race, it did not have what it took over an entire race. Things should click a few times and Andretti Autosport should pick up a few victories.

#38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier-Nissan
Drivers: Dan Goldburg, Hikaru Abe, Garett Grist, Nico Pino

Why this car could win: Grist has plenty of sports car experience after the last few years and Pino has been running junior formula series in Europe. Pino had the second fastest time in class from testing last week and the car started second in the qualifying race.

Why this car will not win: The car retired after 22 laps in the qualifying race and the depth doesn't stand up well to other lineups in this class.

What to expect for the full season: While running at Daytona, it appears Performance Tech's focus will be the IMSA Prototype Challenge season. 

#54 CORE Autosport Ligier-Nissan
Drivers: Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, George Kurtz, Nic Jönsson

Why this car could win: This lineup has a lot of experience together. Bennett and Braun won at Daytona in the Prototype Challenge class in 2014 and were third overall in a LMP2 car in 2018. Jönsson strengthens this lineup with two decades of sports car experience from IMSA and beyond.

Why this car will not win: A mechanical issue prevent CORE from running the qualifying race. You would hope that is its one problem out of the way before the race, but it could bite the team again. 

What to expect for the full season: Bennett and Braun were second in the class last year. CORE will be at the front again and pushing for the class championship. 

#74 Riley Motorsports Ligier-Nissan
Drivers: Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Kay van Berlo, Michael Cooper

Why this car could win: It won this race last year. Fraga and Robinson dominated this championship. Cooper has been one of the best drivers in the GT World Challenge America series for the last decade. Van Berlo won the 2019 ELMS LMP3 championship, has won in the Asian Le Mans Series as well and he was second in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America championship last year.

Why this car will not win: Repeating is hard to do, and something could go wrong. 

What to expect for the full season: Robinson won the LMP3 championship last year, and he will be back with Fraga full-time. I don't expect much fall off, but the class will be more difficult than last year. The team will win fewer than five races.

GT Daytona Pro
#2 KCMG Porsche GT3R
Drivers: Laurens Vanthoor, Patrick Pilet, Dennis Olsen, Alexandre Imperatori

Why this car could win: It is a combination of Vanthoor, Pilet and Olsen, and Imperatori is not a bad driver either. This are some of the best drivers Porsche has to offer and they all have endurance race success. Vanthoor has won an IMSA championship in two of the last three years. Pilet won at Daytona in 2014.

Why this car will not win: It is a one-off program. Other than that, I don't have any other concrete reasons to give against this entry.

What to expect for the full season: KCMG will be at Daytona but could run other races later this season.

#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD
Drivers: Antonio García, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg

Why this car could win: This trio won at Daytona last year. García and Taylor won the GTLM championship the last two years. Taylor has won at Daytona in three of the last five years. There is too much successful to ignore.

Why this car will not win: It is the first race for the Corvette C8.R GTD and it is against thoroughly tested GT3 competition. Both Corvettes struggled in the qualifying race.

What to expect for the full season: García and Taylor won the final GTLM championship, but this is the first year of Corvette in this GT3-ish spec. Corvette will figure it out, but this class is much tighter than GTLM was last year. A championship could be out of reach, and this could be one of Corvette's worst seasons in a long time. 

#4 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD
Drivers: Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, Marco Sørensen

Why this car could win: This entry was second last year behind the #3 Corvette. Tandy and Milner won three of the final four races last year and made it a strong GTLM championship right until the end. Sørensen has twice won the GT World Endurance Drivers' Championship with Aston Martin.

Why this car will not win: Same as reason as the #3 Corvette, it is a new car and might not be ready for the fight. 

What to expect for the full season: The #4 Corvette will not be full-time in the GTD-Pro class in 2022, as Corvette will have the #3 Corvette focused on the full IMSA season, while the #4 Corvette team of Milner, Tandy and Alexander Sims will be full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the GTE-Pro class.

#9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R
Drivers: Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, Felipe Nasr

Why this car could win: Pfaff was the GTD championship last year and it has drafted in two great Porsche drivers in Campbell and Jaminet, both of whom have already had endurance race. Campbell has a Le Mans class victory. Jaminet has been on the podium in two of his previous three Daytona starts. The team has added Nasr, reigning DPi champion. 

Why this car will not win: Nasr is new to GT competition. He has the least experience with the car and it is a three-driver lineup. They cannot afford a weak link.

What to expect for the full season: Pfaff won the GTD championship last year and the Campbell-Jaminet duo is dangerous. It has all the talent in the world, and it should win multiple races. This is one of the championship favorites. 

#14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3
Drivers: Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat, Kyle Kirkwood

Why this car could win: Hawksworth has been one of the quickest drivers in GTD for the last few seasons and is responsible for much of Lexus' success. Barnicoat has been a McLaren GT3 driver for the last few years with one success, but he also had good results in junior formula racing and won in the LMP2 class in the Asian Le Mans Series. Kirkwood has been with the program for the last few years, and he has won in nearly everything he has raced.

Why this car will not win: This is Barnicoat's first race with the team and Lexus does not have a great track record at Daytona.

What to expect for the full season: Hawksworth has been a frequent race winner in the GTD class. Barnicoat will be new to IMSA, but he has had success in many different series. Lexus should get a few victories and could be a championship contender the entire season. 

#15 Proton USA Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Dirk Müller, Patrick Assenheimer, Austin Cindric

Why this car could win: Müller won this race in 2017 with the Ford GT program, which came after a Le Mans class victory the year before. He has been one of the best GT drivers in IMSA for the last decade. Assenheimer has won races in the Nürburgring Endurance Series and has been a ADAC GT Masters regular. Cindric is one of the best road course drivers in NASCAR and has many laps on the Daytona road course in recent years. This car was third in the qualifying race.

Why this car will not win: There are many good cars in this class. This team feels a little rushed together. It is Assenheimer's first Daytona start and Cindric has not had much time in the car.

What to expect for the full season: A late addition to the Daytona grid, this car is a one-off entry.

#23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Drivers: Ross Gunn, Álex Riberas, Maxime Martin

Why this car could win: Gunn is coming off a GTD Sprint Cup championship while Riberas is a known quantity in IMSA. Martin has won in the WEC and has plenty of endurance race experience. 

Why this car will not win: It didn't quite have the pace to match the Porsches and the Mercedes in the qualifying race.

What to expect for the full season: Heart of Racing expands into GTD Pro with Gunn moving into the pro class with Riberas. Both are experienced and have had IMSA success. It should be a competitive entry, but this is a tight class. There is good chance a team win multiple races and be outside the top five in the championship. 

#24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3
Drivers: Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann, Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde

Why this car could win: Eng won this race in 2019. Wittmann and van der Linde both come over with plenty of Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters success with van der Linde also have more sports car experience. Yelloly has spent the last few years driving in GT World Challenge Europe and ADAC GT Masters.

Why this car will not win: BMW took the bottom two positions in the qualifying race and that is an incredible mountain to overcome in a week.

What to expect for the full season: This is a new car, and it could be fast out of the box, or it could cause headaches. It doesn't appear BMW knows what the full-time lineups will be for either car. Eng has never been full-time in IMSA, neither has Wittmann or Yelloly. Yelloly and van der Linde ran the qualifying race but van der Linde has been announced for Daytona-only and Yelloly has been announced as an Endurance Cup driver. 

#25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3
Drivers: Connor De Phillippi, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Jesse Krohn

Why this car could win: BMW won in the GTLM class two of the previous two years. Edwards, Farfus and Krohn won this race together in 2020. De Phillippi and Farfus won this race together in 2019. BMW M Team RLL has had a car on a class podium for nine consecutive IMSA endurance races.

Why this car will not win: Same reason as the sister car above.

What to expect for the full season: Edwards, De Phillippi and Farfus are all IMSA experienced drivers. Edwards won the Michelin Endurance Cup in GTLM in 2020. Edwards and Farfus was on the podium in all four of their starts in 2021. De Phillippi was on the podium twice. I expect De Phillippi and Edwards to be split up at some point if both cars are full-time. If only the #25 BMW is full-time then this duo could be in a for a good season, but after the qualifying race results the team will have some work to do.

#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3
Drivers: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon

Why this car could win: It is a quartet of WEC drivers, all of which have won their share of endurance races and Pier Guidi and Calado are reigning World GT Endurance Drivers' Champions. 

Why this car will not win: It is a one-off entry, and the car was 11th in the qualifying race.

What to expect for the full season: Risi's season is unknown beyond Daytona, but it is believed the team will at least contest the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

#63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Drivers: Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen

Why this car could win: Caldarelli and Mapelli are a championship pair from the GT World Challenge Europe series. Bortolotti and Ineichen both have their own endurance race success, including in this race. This team won the qualifying race after it appeared a Porsche or Mercedes was destined to take the victory.

Why this car will not win: The fastest car doesn't always win, any of the 13 GTD Pro entries could win, we will likely see nine of these cars still on the lead lap entering the final three hours, one slip late could be devastating in the race result.

What to expect for the full season: This will be Daytona-only.

#79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3
Drivers: Cooper MacNeil, Julien Andlauer, Matteo Cairoli, Alessio Picariello

Why this car could win: Some of Porsche's best drivers are together and they ran well in the qualifying race. 

Why this car will not win: The other Riley Motorsports entry in class is better. It will come down to what MacNeil does behind the wheel.

What to expect for the full season: MacNeil and Andlauer will be the full-time pair. MacNeil won a few races last year in GTLM. Andlauer has been one of Porsche's top young drivers for a few years now. MacNeil might not be the fastest driver, and GTD Pro is a deeper class than GTLM was last season. The #79 Porsche might get a victory but should take a step back.

#97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Cooper MacNeil, Daniel Juncadella, Maro Engel, Jules Gounon

Why this car could win: Some of Mercedes' best drivers are together and they ran well in the qualifying race.

Why this car will not win: The other Riley Motorsports entry in class is better. It will come down to what MacNeil does behind the wheel.

What to expect for the full season: This car will not be full-time.

GT Daytona
#12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3
Drivers: Frankie Montecalvo, Aaron Telitz, Richard Heistand, Townsend Bell

Why this car could win: All these drivers have experience with this car. Telitz has had great success in this car, albeit with Hawksworth as his co-driver. Bell has previously won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the GT class, and he has won at Le Mans. This car was third in the qualifying race.

Why this car will not win: There are some stronger teams in this field. Lexus has a poor track record at Daytona, with only three top five finishes out of a possible ten since the program was introduced in 2017.

What to expect for the full season: With GT Daytona splitting into a Pro and Pro-Am class, this should be one of the class favorites with Montecalvo and Telitz full-time. Telitz had many victories with Jack Hawksworth. Lexus should continue winning races in 2022.

#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R
Drivers: Ryan Hardwick, Zachary Robichon, Jan Heylen, Richard Lietz

Why this car could win: Heylen and Hardwick are coming off of a Michelin Pilot Challenge GS championship driving for Wright Motorsports. Robichon is coming off a GTD championship with Pfaff Motorsports. Robichon was first or second in the final five races of last season. Lietz is one of Porsche's most decorated GT drivers of the 21st century, including a Daytona class victory already to his name.

Why this car will not win: It gets beat straight up. It is hard to find a fault with this car, but it could just be another team's weekend. 

What to expect for the full season: Heylen and Hardwick are already a championship pairing. The chemistry is there. Wright Motorsports could be a sleeper for this season. A few race victories would not be unthinkable. 

#19 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Drivers: Bill Sweedler, John Megrue, Giacomo Altoè, Jeff Segal

Why this car could win: Segal and Sweedler together at Daytona in 2014 with Level 5 Motorsports. Altoè won the 2019 International GT Open championship.

Why this car will not win: There are just too many good teams.

What to expect for the full season: Depending on the Daytona results, this could be an Endurance Cup entry. 

#21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3
Drivers: Simon Mann, Luís Pérez Companc, Nicklas Nielsen, Toni Vilander

Why this car could win: Nielsen and Vilander have been successful in WEC, and Vilander has his own outstanding résumé in North America. Pérez Companc and Mann have both competed in WEC and have run the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Why this car will not win: Strong professionals, not the strongest amateurs. 

What to expect for the full season: This is a Daytona-only entry. 

#27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Drivers: Roman De Angelis, Ian James, Darren Turner, Tom Gamble

Why this car could win: De Angelis is the defending GTD Sprint Cup champion. James and Turner and veterans that strengthen this lineup. Gamble has won in ELMS.

Why this car will not win: Aston Martin was not the quickest car in testing and struggled notably. 

What to expect for the full season: The defending GTD Sprint Cup champions has expanded its program. De Angelis will not have Gunn, but Gamble as his full-time co-driver. Gamble is only 20 years old and his only IMSA start was last year at Petit Le Mans in LMP3 with United Autosports. Gamble has won in LMP3, but this is a new challenge, and the results are likely to dip compared to 2021.

#28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Michael de Quesada, Daniel Morad, Linus Lundqvist, Maximilian Götz

Why this car could win: Alegra has won this race before. Morad and de Quesada have plenty of Daytona experience to lead the way. Götz is coming off the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters championship and he has raced endurance races all around the world. Lundqvist was third in the Indy Lights championship last year with a few victories. 

Why this car will not win: This is a sleeper in the class. It could be beat straight up, but Alegra will put up a fight.

What to expect for the full season: It will be an Endurance Cup entry.

#32 Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Mike Skeen, Stevan McAleer, Scott Andrews

Why this car could win: It was fifth in the qualifying race and all these drivers are experienced in IMSA competition.

Why this car will not win: It could be a team in turmoil after the dismissal of Guy Cosmo on Tuesday after he drove the car in the qualifying race! A fourth driver will likely be necessary to complete this lineup.

What to expect for the full season: This will be a full-time team after running four races last year. The results were not spectacular. There have been a lot of changes in the GTD class this year, and it could be open for some different cars at the front. 

#34 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3R
Drivers: Kyle Washington, James Sofronas, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Klaus Bachler

Why this car could win: It is an all-around good lineup with Bleekemolen and Bachler leading the way. Sofronas has won his share of sports car races in a few different series. 

Why this car will not win: It doesn't have the speed to keep up with the rest of the field.

What to expect for the full season: This will not be a full-time entry. GMG Racing will be full-time in Michelin Pilot Challenge's GS class.

#39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Drivers: Robert Megennis, Corey Lewis, Sandy Mitchell, Jeff Westphal

Why this car could win: Lewis is coming off a good season in GT World Challenge America, and he won at Daytona in 2020. Megennis is venturing into sports car racing after dabbling while running in Indy Lights. Mitchell was the 2020 British GT GT3 champion and was third in 2021. Westphal has won in IMSA before.

Why this car will not win: It is a little too inexperienced to think it will top this class. 

What to expect for the full season: Megennis moves into the full-time role alongside Westphal. The team had a few top five results last year. CarBahn could make a move forward and get on the podium in a few races. 

#42 NTE Sport Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Drivers: Don Yount, Benjamin Hites, Jaden Conwright, Markus Palttala

Why this car could win: It will be on the racetrack and Lamborghini has won three of the last four years in GTD at Daytona.

Why this car will not win: It might be the third best of four Lamborghinis in class and Lamborghini might be the fourth or best of nine manufactures in the class. 

What to expect for the full season: NTE Sport is expanding to a full-time operation after running the Endurance Cup races last year. The full-time lineup has not been determined. The team is running a Lamborghini instead of an Audi. Expectations are low for this young team in a deep class. Top five finishes would be significant for this group. 

#44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Drivers: John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Jonathan Adam

Why this car could win: It is a past Daytona class winner. This lineup has experience with one another. Adam has global success driving for Aston Martin.

Why this car will not win: There have been a rough few seasons for Magnus Racing and this is another new car the team is learning.

What to expect for the full season: Magnus Racing will focus on the Endurance Cup events.

#47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari 488 GT3
Drivers: Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Antonio Fuoco, Alessio Rovera

Why this car could win: This lineup has run together in ELMS and WEC, in GT cars and LMP2 entries. Fuoco has won in Formula Two and other top junior open-wheel series, and he has transitioned nicely into sports car racing. Rovera won the Endurance Trophy for GTE-Am Drivers last year in WEC. Cetilar Racing competed last year at Daytona.

Why this car will not win: It was a mid-pack car last week in testing. It will be difficult to break ahead of the Mercedes.

What to expect for the full season: This is another Endurance Cup entry.

#57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Mikaël Grenier, Lucas Auer

Why this car could win: It is the defending 24 Hours of Daytona GTD winner. Ward and Ellis have loads of experience together. Auer is a world-class driver that has won in the DTM. On top of it, this team won the qualifying race last week and Mercedes took four of the top six positions.

Why this car will not win: Repeating is hard to do, and this is Auer's first Daytona start with the Austrian having limited endurance race experience. 

What to expect for the full season: Ward and Ellis will contest the full seasons. Those two ran in GT World Challenge America last year and were respectable while Ellis also ran in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and won a race. This will be a more difficult field than GTWCA, however, Winward could get on the podium a few times and a race victory is not crazy.

#59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3
Drivers: Lance Bergstein, Jon Miller, Patrick Gallagher, Paul Holton

Why this car could win: Holton and Gallagher have been successful in Michelin Pilot Challenge and have some experience in IMSA's top series. This car was second in the qualifying race. The McLarens showed good pace across the board in testing.

Why this car will not win: The 24-hour race is a lot longer than the 100-minute qualifying race. I don't know if the depth will be there for this entry.

What to expect for the full season: It is crucial to know Crucial Motorsports will be in the Endurance Cup races.

#64 Team TGM Porsche 911 GT3R
Drivers: Ted Giovanis, Hugh Plumb, Matt Plumb, Owen Trinkler

Why this car could win: This group has run together in the 24 Hours of Daytona before, and all these drivers have plenty of Michelin Pilot Challenge experience. 

Why this car will not win: This class is too deep for the #64 Porsche.

What to expect for the full season: This will be a Daytona-only entry.

#66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3
Drivers: Kyffin Simpson, Till Bechtolscheimer, Marc Miller, Mario Farnbacher

Why this car could win: Farnbacher is a two-time GTD champion driving an Acura. Miller and Bechtolscheimer have driven together in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series. Simpson is an up-and-coming junior series driver who has won in many categories in the United States.

Why this car will not win: It feels a little too inexperienced to win and it wasn't that competitive in the qualifying race. 

What to expect for the full season: This will be another Endurance Cup participant. 

#70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3
Drivers: Brendan Iribe, Frederik Schandorff, Ollie Millroy, Jordan Pepper

Why this car could win: Iribe and Millroy have spent the last few years racing together between the Asian Le Mans Series, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and they won the International GT Open Pro-Am championship. Pepper won the GT World Challenge America championship with nine victories from 12 races.

Why this car will not win: This is the team's first time at Daytona. All four drivers are making their Daytona debuts. That is not a recipe for success.

What to expect for the full season: Inception Racing will be full-time for the first-time in IMSA. Iribe has experience in other series. This is a big leap into IMSA. Podium finishes will be hard to come by, let alone race victories.

#71 T3 Motorsport North America Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Drivers: Franck Perera, Mateo Llarena, Maximilian Paul, Misha Goikhberg

Why this car could win: Perera and Goikhberg bring the experience, and both have class victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Llarena is making his second consecutive Daytona appearance, as the Lamborghini junior driver competed in LMP3 last year.

Why this car will not win: There are too many better teams it must overcome. 

What to expect for the full season: The German team will only be running at Daytona. 

#75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
Drivers: Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz, Raffaele Marciello, Fabian Schiller

Why this car could win: SunEnergy1 Racing has a history of showing up to endurance races and being competitive. This year is no different. Stolz and Marciello are two top quality GT3 drivers. This car was fourth in class last week in the qualifying race.

Why this car will not win: It will have stiff competition from the other Mercedes in class. 

What to expect for the full season: As of now, this appears to be a Daytona-only entry.

#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3
Drivers: Robby Foley, Bill Auberlen, Michael Dinan, Jens Klingmann

Why this car could win: Foley and Auberlen is one of the best combinations in this class. Klingmann adds global endurance race experience and has a history driving for this team. Dinan has competed in the GT World Challenge America series.

Why this car will not win: It is stuck in its funk that cost Turner a shot at the GTD title last year. It already had an incident in the qualifying race. 

What to expect for the full season: More race victories and another championship push. If it wasn't for a pair of difficult results late in 2021, Auberlen and Foley could have taken the title last year. This is the first year of the new BMW M4 GT3. There are a few unknowns, but Turner should be toward the front.

#98 Northwest AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Drivers: Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard, Charlie Eastwood, Nicki Thiim

Why this car could win: Dalla Lana is one of the best gentleman drivers in the world. Eastwood and Thiim have both had success in WEC with Aston Martin. Pittard is an emerging young driver.

Why this car will not win: Pittard and Eastwood are new to this event. It has other stiff Aston Martin competition that it will have to beat first before it can win the class. 

What to expect for the full season: This is a Daytona-only entry, but Dalla Lana, Pittard and Thiim will run together in the GTE-Am class in WEC.

#99 Team Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3R
Drivers: Rob Ferriol, Katherine Legge, Stefan Wilson, Nick Boulle

Why this car could win: Legge and Ferriol spent last year racing together and Legge has won plenty of IMSA races. Wilson has raced in IndyCar and has won in Indy Lights. Boulle has Daytona experience.

Why this car will not win: There are better cars in this race. Wilson is new to sports car racing. 

What to expect for the full season: Legge has multiple victories in the GTD class, and this will be the second season with Ferriol. There is a lot of room for improvement from 2021. Top five results will be great days for this duo.

There will be three practice sessions on Thursday January 27. Cars will first be on track at 11:05 a.m. ET for a 90-minute session. There will be an hour and 45-minute session at 3:20 p.m. before a night-time session at 7:15 p.m., also lasting an hour and 45 minutes. A one-hour warm-up session will take place on Friday January 28 at 11:20 a.m. ET. 

The 60th 24 Hours of Daytona will begin at 1:40 p.m. ET on Saturday January 29.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2022 Formula E Season Preview

After just over five months off, Formula E is set to begin its eighth season of competition. The 2022 season will see more races than ever before, new venues and new countries visited, a few new drivers and a few team changes. Audi Sport Team Abt is out of the championship after being one of the charter members and winning the inaugural race in Beijing back in 2014. BMW has withdrawn its factory support. The season opener is only a few days away, and there is a lot to cover. 

Formula E expands, as the 2022 schedule is the longest in series history with 16 races. There will be three new venues visited, and a return to Asia after the championship has been contained to Europe, the Middle East, and North America since the start of the global pandemic in March 2020.

Diriyah opens the campaign for the fourth consecutive season, and for the third consecutive year it will be a doubleheader, the first of six doubleheaders in 2022, on January 28-29. Two weeks later, Formula E returns to Mexico City on February 12.

There will be nearly two months off after Mexico City, but when Formula E returns, the European portion of the schedule will begin. Rome hosts a doubleheader on April 9-10. Three weeks later, Monaco hosts the series for a single race on April 30. Berlin will host another doubleheader on May 14-15.

The first of three new events takes place on June 4 in Jakarta. A month later, Formula E goes to its second consecutive new venue, Vancouver on July 2. 

Once in North America, the series will head east to Brooklyn for its first of three consecutive doubleheaders to close out the season on July 16-17. A fortnight later the series will be in London on July 30-31. The final doubleheader will be the final new venue of the season, Seoul, which will be the fifth different season finale host in eight Formula E seasons, and the first Asian venue to close a season. The final races will be held on August 13-14.

Qualifying Format Change
The 2022 season will see a change in the qualifying format. After using the Super Pole, group qualifying format, which saw groups broken up by championship position and had the top championship drivers qualifying first with the bottom of the championship drivers going out last, Formula E has adopted a new knockout format.

Qualifying will still start with two groups broken up via championship position with odd-numbered positions in Group A, and even-numbered positions in Group B. Each group will have a ten-minute session with the top four drivers from each group advancing to the knockout round. 

The knockout round will start with four quarterfinal matchups with the fastest in each group going against fourth from the other group. Second-fastest from each group will face third-fastest from the other group. The four winners will advance to the semifinal round with the two winners from that round advancing to the final. 

The fastest in the final will take pole position with the other finalist on row one. The semifinalists will lineup on row two with the fastest of the two taking third on the grid. The quarterfinalists will occupy fifth to eighth on the grid in order of their fastest time from that round. 

If the pole-sitter comes from Group A, the cars that failed to advance from the group stage will fill the odd-numbered positions from ninth to 21st with Group B taking the even-numbered positions from tenth to 22nd. If the pole-sitter comes from Group B, then the Group B cars will take the odd-numbered positions with Group A filling the even-numbered spots on the grid.

Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
Stoffel Vandoorne: #5 Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrows 02
What did he do last season: Vandoorne won the fourth race of the season in Rome. He had two third-place finishes and won three pole positions, the most in 2021. The Belgian scored points in six races and finished ninth in the championship on 82 points.

What to expect in this season: Vandoorne led Valencia testing in November. This might be Mercedes' final season before withdrawing from Formula E, but I expect it will continue to be at the top and winning races. Vandoorne will be more in the championship fight than last season. Multiple victories are highly possible.

Nyck de Vries: #17 Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrows 02
What did he do last season: De Vries won two races, the Diriyah season opener and the first Valencia race, and he had two runner-up finishes. Though he only scored points in seven of 15 races, De Vries' 99 points was enough to win the Formula E championship.

What to expect in this season: With how the 2021 championship played out due to the qualifying format and the top drivers constantly being rotated into the worst qualifying groups, the championship was closer than it should have been. Without that qualifying format, de Vries likely would have still been champion, but with a more dominant season. He should win multiple races again, and possibly more than last season. Both Mercedes drivers are top tier drivers for the 2022 title. 

Team Notes:

De Vries' 99 points in 2021 was the fewest for a Formula E champions, despite 2021 being the longest season with 15 races. The previous longest season was 13 races in 2018-19, which was the season with the previous fewest points for a champion at 136 points for Jean-Éric Vergne. 

Vandoorne has 39 Fan Boosts in his Formula E career, third most all-time and he has won Fan Boosts in every start of his Formula E career.

Mercedes is looking to become the third team to win consecutive Teams' Championships joining Renault e.dams and Techeetah.

Jaguar TCS Racing
Mitch Evans: #9 Jaguar I-Type 5
What did he do last season: Evans did not win a race, but he finished third in five races. He scored points seven times and stalling at the start of the Berlin finale ended his championship hopes. He wound up on 90 points, fourth in the championship.

What to expect in this season: Evans should continue to be toward the top of the field and should be competing for podium finishes. There should be a race or two where he is fighting for a race victory. The team must be a little more consistent to turn Evans into a championship contender.
Sam Bird: #10 Jaguar I-Type 5
What did he do last season: Bird won twice, the second Diriyah and second Brooklyn race, and he was runner-up in the first Rome race. While he finished in the points six times, he retired from six races and was disqualified from another. His final championship finish was sixth with 87 points.

What to expect in this season: Bird always finds a way to win in Formula E. I don't expect that to change. Unfortunately, Bird always finds a way to fall out of the championship battle. Jaguar looks good but has some work to do to be great. If it cleans that up, Bird could break through and get that elusive championship. If not, expect him to be somewhere in the top ten of the final standings. 

Team Notes:

Bird is the only driver with more than three victories to not have won championship with 11 victories. 

Bird is the only driver to have won a race in every Formula E season. 

Evans' five podium finishes without a victory last year tied Nick Heidfeld's record for most podium finishes in a season without a victory. Heidfeld did it in the 2016-17 season. 

DS Techeetah
António Félix da Costa: #13 DS E-TENSE FE20
What did he do last season: Da Costa's only victory was at Monaco, and he had two points podium finishes. His seven points-paying finishes earned him 86 points and eighth in the championship a year after topping Formula E.

What to expect this season: After consecutive Teams' Championships, 2021 was a down year for Teechetah, however, 2022 should be a more competitive season. Da Costa should be further up the running order. It will be tough to reclaim the title, but he will not be as inconsequential.

Jean-Éric Vergne: #25 DS E-TENSE FE20
What did he do last season: Vergne won the third race of the season in Rome, but he only picked up one other podium finish and he rounded out the top ten in the championship on 80 points. It was the worst Formula E championship finish in Vergne's career.

What to expect in this season: Better results and more pole positions. Prior to the 2021 qualifying format, he won three pole positions in 2017-18 and twice in 2019-20. With Techeetah, Vergne has been a regular contender until the final races. He will be up there and winning races.

Team Notes:

Vergne is 100 laps led from becoming the first driver with 500 laps led in Formula E history.

Vergne has at least one victory in each of the last five seasons, all with Techeetah.

Da Costa's last five victories have all come from pole position. 

Envision Racing
Robin Frijns: #4 Audi e-Tron FE07
What did he do last season: Twice Frijns was runner-up and he scored points in seven races, five of which were top five results, but Frijns fell ten points off his fellow Dutchman de Vries, fifth in the championship.

What to expect in this season: Frijns should win a race or two. He was one of the better drivers in 2021 and if it wasn't for the qualifying format, he would have had a better chance at fighting for the title in the Berlin doubleheader finale. We will see two Dutch drivers trading blows for the championship.

Nick Cassidy: #37 Audi e-Tron FE07
What did he do last season: Cassidy took his first Formula E pole position in the fourth race of the season, but he was outside the points in each of these races. His results improved in the middle of the season with a pair of runner-up finishes and a pair of fourth-place finishes. Despite this success, Cassidy was 15th in the championship on 76 points.

What to expect in this season: The New Zealander will have plenty of strong races and regularly score points. There will be days he is the top Envision finisher, but Frijns will be difficult to beat, and Cassidy's Formula E inexperience will get the better of him in some battles. Overall, his sophomore season will be an improvement.

Team Notes:

Frijns has four runner-up finishes since his most recent victory in the 2019 Brooklyn season finale. 

Envision Racing is in the middle of a 25-race winless drought. Its previous longest drought was 14 races from the 2016 Buenos Aires race and the 2017 first Brooklyn race.

Frijns is the only driver other than Sam Bird to win for Envision Racing. 

Envision Racing has finished in the top five of the Teams' Championship in every Formula E season, but it has never finished better than third.

Avalanche Andretti Formula E
Jake Dennis: #27 BMW IFE.21
What did he do last season: Dennis won the second Valencia race and first London race, but his next best finish was fifth on three occasions. He was third in the championship on 91 points.

What to expect in this season: Dennis quietly won two races in 2021 and quietly had a shot at the championship. BMW has pulled its funding from the Andretti Formula E operation, but the team is keeping the drive train. We know this car can win. We also know there are races where it out to lunch. Dennis showed good pace in testing. If the team can limit the bad days, Dennis could make significantly more noise than last year.

Oliver Askew: #28 BMW IFE.21
What did he do last season: Askew made five IndyCar starts for three different teams with his best result being ninth in the penultimate round of the season at Laguna Seca driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He also started every IMSA Sports Car Championship round in the LMP3 class for three different teams and won the class at the 24 Hours of Daytona driving for Riley Motorsports. 

What to expect in this season: Moving from internal combustion engine racing and IndyCar, Askew is out of his element, but his testing results were promising. There will be some rough days, but it will click on a few weekends, and he will get top ten results. However, it is likely Askew will be outside the championship top ten and there will be distance between him and Dennis.

Team Notes:

Askew will become the fourth American to start a Formula E race and the first since Scott Speed at Berlin in 2015. 

All three previous American drivers all drove for Andretti Autosport. 

Speed has the only podium finish for an American in Formula E, a runner-up in Miami in 2015, Speed's Formula E debut.

With two victories in 15 starts, Dennis has the third best winning percentage in Formula E history at 13.333% behind only Sébastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi.

ROKiT Venturi Racing
Lucas di Grassi: #11 Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrows 02
What did he do last season: Di Grassi won twice, the first Puebla race and the first Berlin race, but while he finished with a Formula E leading nine points-paying finishes, he had only one other top five finish, a third in the first Brooklyn race. He was seventh in the championship on 87 points driving for Audi.

What to expect in this season: After a difficult 2019-20 season, di Grassi bounced back in 2021. After six seasons in the Audi Team Abt lineup, this is a significant change for the Brazilian. Di Grassi has been one of Formula E's best. He will have a formidable challenge in his own team with Edoardo Mortara. The battle will be for best in the team.
Edoardo Mortara: #48 Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrows 02
What did he do last season: Mortara won the second Puebla race and had three other podium finishes. Mortara entered the Berlin finale second in the championship, but he collided with Mitch Evans' stall car and was taken out of the race. Mortara maintained second with 92 points in the final standings.

What to expect in this season: Mortara was quick in testing, but despite Mortara coming up just short of the Drivers' Championship. Venturi was still only seventh in the Teams' Championship. Mortara will be good, somewhere in the top ten in the championship, but I am not sure the team will be consistent enough to have him come out on top.

Team Notes:

Venturi had both cars finish in the points twice last season. 

Di Grassi is one of two drivers to have started all 84 Formula E races. The other is Sam Bird. 

Only twice has Mortara finished in the points in three consecutive races, Santiago-Mexico City-Hong Kong 2019 and then the final two races of 2020 in Berlin and the 2021 season opener in Diriyah. 

TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
André Lotterer: #36 Porsche 99X Electric
What did he do last season: While Lotterer was second in the second Valencia race, it was his only points paying finish in the first nine races. He finished the season with five points-paying finishes in the final six races, but he could only manage 17th in the championship on 56 points.

What to expect in this season: Lotterer and Porsche just seem to be unable to get out of their own way. In the last two seasons, the pairing finds a way to get one or two great results, and then it falls off. The team has been characterized with slow starts and better finishes. Testing results were not fantastic. The team will score points, but not in handfuls. 

Pascal Wehrlein: #94 Porsche 99X Electric
What did he do last season: Wehrlein opened the season with four consecutive points finishes, the longest streak of the 2021 season, but he was disqualified for a technical infraction after finishing first on the road in the first Puebla race. He scored points in nine races, including six top five finishes, but ended with 79 points in 11th.

What to expect in this season: Like Lotterer, a few strong races, but some otherwise disappointing races. Wehrlein will score points, but not enough to keep up with the big boys. A Puebla repeat could occur, but without the exclusion from the final results.

Team Notes:

Lotterer became the driver with the most points without a victory last season. His 249 points surpassed Nick Heidfeld's previous record of 214 points. 

Wehrlein has the fifth-most points all-time without a victory with 119, three behind Loïc Duval and nine points behind Stéphane Sarrazin. 

After having only one double points finish in its first 20 races, Porsche had three double points finishes in the final six races of 2021.

Mahindra Racing
Alexander Sims: #29 Mahindra M7Electro
What did he do last season: Sims was second in the second Rome race. He scored points in only five races, ending up 19th in the championship with 54 points.
What to expect in this season: Mahindra is coming off finishing ninth in the Teams' Championship each of the last two years. Testing results were encouraging, but Sims has finished 13th, 13th and 19th in the championship in his three Formula E seasons. I am not sure he will score his career best championship finish. If he does, it is a stretch to think he will crack the top ten.

Oliver Rowland: #30 Mahindra M7Electro
What did he do last season: Driving for Nissan, Rowland had two podium finishes and he had seven points-paying finishes, netting him 77 points. He also won one pole position. He was 14th in the championship.

What to expect in this season: Rowland is making a big shift to Mahindra. He was fourth in Valencia testing, but Mahindra yo-yoed a bit over the two test days. He has been consistently good in Formula E, and had a few standout results last year when Nissan had a bad year. He should come out best in the team, but I think bottom half of the top ten is the best he can do in the championship.

Team Notes:

Alex Lynn's victory in the second London race was Mahindra's first since the 2019 Marrakesh race, 34 races prior. 

Sims has never had more than one podium finish in a single Formula E season.

Rowland has won at least one pole position in each of his three full Formula E seasons. 

Nissan e.dams
Maximillian Günther: #22 Nissan IM02
What did he do last season: Günther won the first Brooklyn race for BMW i Andretti Autosport, but it was his only podium finish despite finishing in the points nine times. He was 16th in the championship.

What to expect in this season: After finishing tenth out of 12 teams in 2021, Nissan's testing did not leave much to be excited about. It had a few good days in 2021, but those were rare. Good days will remain hard to come by, and it those will likely not come with Günther.

Sébastien Buemi: #23 Nissan IM02
What did he do last season: Buemi had by far his worst finish in Formula E. He scored points in only three races, while he was disqualified twice, and ended up with 20 points, 21st in the championship out of 25 drivers.

What to expect in this season: Nissan might not be the strongest team, but Buemi is not going to be as bad as he was in 2021. He should lead the Nissan team, but for Buemi to get back into the top ten of the championship he will need a string of fortunate races.

Teams Notes:

Buemi had zero podium finishes last season after having at least four podium finishes in his first seven Formula E seasons. 

Günther will become only the fifth driver in Renault/Nissan e.dams history joining Buemi, Nicolas Prost, Pierre Gasly and Oliver Rowland. 

Nissan enters 2022 on a 16-race winless drought. The longest drought in team history is 27 races from the second Berlin race in 2017 and the first Brooklyn race in 2019. 

Buemi is 27 laps led from becoming the first to 500 laps led in Formula E history.

Dragon/Penske Autosport
Sérgio Sette Câmara: #7 Penske EV-5
What did he do last season: While he was fourth in his second race of the season, Câmara's only other points finish was eighth in the second London race, the antepenultimate race. He was 22nd in the championship on 16 points. 

What to expect in this season: Testing was not great for Dragon. Sixteen points will be hard to match in 2022, and a fourth-place result appears to be unfathomable. 

Antonio Giovinazzi: #99 Penske EV-5
What did he do last season: Giovinazzi completed his third full Formula One season driving for Alfa Romeo. He scored points at Monaco and Saudi Arabia, a tenth and a ninth respectively for three total points. He had finished every race before retiring from the Abu Dhabi season finale. 

What to expect in this season: The Italian is moving from one of the bottom teams in Formula One to one of the bottom teams in Formula E. He had two points-paying finishes in 2021 driving for Alfa Romeo. Two points-playing finishes might be a great season in 2022 with Dragon.

Team Notes:

Dragon Racing has had a midseason driver change in six of seven Formula E seasons. 

Dragon Racing's six points finishes was its most since it had seven in the 2017-18 season. 

Dragon Racing's double top five finish in the second Diriyah race last season was its first double top five finish since the 2015-16 finale at London when Jérôme d'Ambrosio was third and Loïc Duval was fourth.

Câmara has yet to have a podium finish in 21 Formula E starts. If he does not score a podium finish in the first three races of 2022, he will have the most starts in Formula E history without a podium finish.

NIO 333 FE Team
Oliver Turvey: #3 NIO 333 001
What did he do last season: Turvey scored in the opening two races at Diriyah, a tenth and a sixth, and those seven points matched his output from the previous two seasons combined. However, he only scored six more points all season, an eighth in the second Valencia race. Turvey was 23rd in the championship.

What to expect in this season: While Turvey had one good session in Valencia, NIO was regularly at the bottom of the timesheet in testing. Turvey did prove last year he could put together a few results. Some of those might have been aided with the qualifying format. If he cracks ten points again, it will be a great season. 

Dan Ticktum: #33 NIO 333 001
What did he do last season: Driving in Formula Two with Carlin, Ticktum won at Monaco and Sochi and finished in the points of 19 of 24 races. He was on the podium for three feature races, runner-up results at Bahrain and Silverstone with a third in Monza. He was fourth in the championship on 159.5 points, 93 points behind champion Oscar Piastri. 
What to expect in this season: Ticktum was at the bottom of every test session. Any points scored will be a victory but knowing Ticktum the frustration will get the better of him. 

Team Notes:

NIO had six points finishes in 2021 after having a combined three points finishes in the previous two seasons. 

NIO has not had a top five finish since Berlin 2018, 41 races ago. 

Turvey has made 72 starts with NIO. He has scored 107 points, or 1.486 points per start.

The Formula E weekend from Diriyah will begin on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ET with the first practice session. The second practice session will be 5:30 a.m. ET on Friday before qualifying at 7:40 a.m. Race one will take place at noon. 

On Saturday, practice will be at 5:30 a.m. before a 7:40 a.m. qualifying session and a noon race.