Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America Preview

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

In a race that is a crime against motorsports for how short it is, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the IMSA Road Race Showcase this weekend.

A two hour, 40 minute race on Sunday around the 4.048 mile road course has 35 cars that will contest the ninth race of the 2019 season with a couple of changes from the ordinary.

In the DPi class, there are only 10 entries instead of the normal 11. Juncos Racing is rebuilding a new Cadillac DPi following Victor Franzoni’s massive accident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The small squad are committed to finishing out the rest of the 2019 WeatherTech Championship but the first year team is still finding their way in IMSA competition.

In GTLM, Tommy Milner returns to the wheel of the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R with normal co-driver Oliver Gavin. Milner was nursing an injury sustained at Watkins Glen from a first lap incident. There are no other changes to GTLM.

The most changes belongs to GTD. Starworks Motorsport are back with their Audi R8 LMS GT3 entry but in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, Matt Campbell will be Zacharie Robichon’s co-driver. Campbell going to Pfaff means that his seat at Wright Motorsports will go to Dennis Olsen.

Paul Miller Racing has three drivers on the entry list but that’s because the team announced that Ryan Hardwick would be missing the rest of the 2019 season to undergo knee surgery to repair damage sustained at CTMP. Corey Lewis and Bryan Sellers will drive the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 entry which won the 2018 championship.

In the No. 57 Heinricher/Meyer Shank Racing entry, Bia Figueiredo replaces Christina Nielsen in the team’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo. Nielsen won GTD last year with Wright Motorsports.

Park Place Motorsports has team principal Patrick Lindsey joining Porsche factory driver Patrick Long in their No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3. The team was leading GTD last year when a late incident took them out of contention.

Lone Star Racing returns to IMSA competition with their AMG Mercedes GT3 entry piloted by Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach. This is the team’s fourth race this year following Mid-Ohio, Detroit, and CTMP.

After recent races in the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA has made Balance of Performance changes to DPi and GTD entries. Mazda’s recent run of success has seen them earn 20kg of weight added to them as have the Cadillac entries but the Cadillacs have an additional .6 mm added to the size of their engine air restrictors. The Acura pair from Team Penske each have 10kg added to them while the Nissan from CORE Autosport is unchanged.

To compensate for the above changes, IMSA gave the Cadillac teams an additional liter of fuel for their tanks while they have taken away two liters from the Mazda fuel tank capacity.

In GTD, Acura were given an additional 20 kgs of weight. Ferrari not only lost 10kgs but they gained a liter of fuel tank capacity and McLaren lost 30 kgs. McLaren’s weight loss comes as the manufacturer continues to develop their 720S GT3 car for the WeatherTech Championship, having made its debut earlier this year at Mid-Ohio.

Looking to the championship battle, Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya hold a slim three point lead over Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani of Action Express Racing. Cameron and Montoya won at Mid-Ohio and Detroit in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi entry and haven’t finished lower than third after their disastrous race at Sebring.

Porsche are dominating GTLM with the top two positions in the standings while the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia are third in points.

Moving down to GTD, the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman lead the points over the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley. The BMW team has come on strong the last few races jumping from 13th in points to second following great finishes in the last three races.

In the WeatherTech Sprint Cup, Hindman and Farnbacher are tied for the lead with Long in the GTD-only championship of all the sprint races. Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand are two points behind in the Sprint Cup standings with Robichon another two points behind in his Pfaff Motorsports entry.

The race starts Sunday at 2:35 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold but will be broadcast from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Below is an on foot perspective of the track from the Indy car weekend in June.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.