IMSA is back.
It’s finally race week for the WeatherTech 240 At Daytona, which restarts the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship following a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus.
The two-hour, 40-minute race at Daytona International Speedway will broadcast live this Saturday, July 4, on NBCSN, the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC beginning at 6 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on IMSARadio.com, in addition to Sirius channel 216, XM 210, Internet 970 for the race.
It’s not just fans looking forward to real racing again. The teams and drivers are itching to get back as well. Here’s a look at what some of them had to say and what they’ve been up to.
GRT Magnus Confirms WeatherTech Sprint Cup Effort
It was good news from GRT Magnus teammates John Potter and Andy Lally last week – their No. 44 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 will be on the grid for each of the remaining 2020 GT Daytona (GTD) events, a change from what the team previously anticipated.
"We weren’t initially planning to be (in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup)," said Potter. "We had originally entered for just the full season, so the (Michelin Endurance Cup), plus the double-up races. And as of yesterday, we have entered the Sebring short race, so we will be at Sebring and for the full season."
The Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring is set to be the only non-WeatherTech Championship round for the GTD class, only counting towards the seven-round WeatherTech Sprint Cup. All other events reward points towards full-season WeatherTech Championship, in which Potter and Lally finished fourth last year.
Derani Not Concerned Following Offseason Changes by Action Express
It’s a different look for Action Express Racing in 2020. Previously a two-car team, only the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi remains in the stable with full season co-drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr. The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi is now operated by JDC-Miller Motorsports.
With such a shakeup not only within the team, but also the revamped 2020 WeatherTech Championship schedule, are there concerns as the season restarts?
"At the same time that I think having two cars is really helpful in terms of information, I think with a condensed weekend, it can also be something that can hold you back a little bit," Derani said. "In our case, we have a one-car team and everyone is focused on making the Whelen Engineering car go for the win.
"I would say considering that we’re going to only two-day weekends, two-day events, I think it can be beneficial for us that we are 110 percent focused on the one job that we have to do, which is take this 31 car to the victory lane. There’s positives and negatives, but I think in our case, I think it’s going to be a little bit more towards the positive side."
Class of 2020: McMurry Graduates from University of California Irvine
Matt McMurry took advantage of the racing hiatus this spring by completing his courses for a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Co-driving the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with Mario Farnbacher, McMurry has balanced racing with schoolwork for the last eight years. Now, he’s looking forward to channeling his efforts towards one of those.
"Through college, I was mostly involved in the automotive aspects of aerospace engineering," said McMurry, who interned last summer at Honda Performance Development. "Really the degree is mostly mechanical engineering and the final year focused on aerospace. Automotive engineering and race engineering have always been an interest of mine.
"Long term plans, I’m still focusing on racing. Now that I’m finally done with school, I can sort of focus all my efforts on racing, which is kind of a nice feeling. That’s the plan right now."
Both McMurry and Farnbacher are defending champions in the series, with McMurry being crowned the 2019 LMP2 class champion and Farnbacher the reigning GTD co-champion with Trent Hindman.
"When You Have a Third-Place Car, Bring It Home in Third Place"
The 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD battle could have looked completely different for Turner Motorsport if not for a handful of dreaded DNFs. Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley would go on to finish second in the standings but enter this year having learned from their luck in the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3.
"The worst thing you could do right now is DNF," Auberlen explained. "When you have a moment to strike and improve on your situation, the worst thing you can do is DNF… If all we would have done is come home in the points, we would have won the championship or been in contention for it.
"It’s so important, this is what Bobby Rahal always told me, ‘When you have a third-place car, bring it home in third place Don’t break it, don’t make it a 10th-place car. So, on any given weekend, make sure you optimize where that car can be and bring it home the best you can.’"
The duo brought it home from January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona with a sixth-place result.