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Points Leaders Will Start from Pole in Prototype Championship Finale

Points Leaders Will Start from Pole in Prototype Championship Finale

Naveen Rao put himself and teammate Matthew Bell in prime position to wrap up the IMSA Prototype Challenge championship, claiming the pole in qualifying Thursday for the season finale.

Rao logged a lap of 1 minute, 17.898 seconds (117.383 mph) with four minutes left in the 15-minute qualifying session and held on for the top spot in the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma M30. Teammate Steven Thomas made Rao sweat, turning a lap within 0.09 seconds in the No. 11 Norma to lock up the front row for K2R Motorsports.

Rao and Bell hold a six-point lead over Dakota Dickerson in the Prototype Challenge standings going into Friday’s three-hour race. Dom Cicero, Dickerson’s co-driver in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3, qualified the car fourth on the grid. Rao and Bell will clinch the championship with a podium finish.

The race starts at 9:10 a.m. ET Friday and streams live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Andretti Autosport Announces Prototype Challenge Entry for Jarett Andretti in 2021

The legendary Andretti name is returning to sports-car racing in 2021. Andretti Autosport announced it will field a Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) entry in the IMSA Prototype Challenge with Jarett Andretti driving.

Retired IndyCar great Michael Andretti – the son of racing legend and three-time Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner Mario Andretti – is chairman and CEO of Andretti Autosport, which has fielded winning teams in IndyCars, Formula E, rallycross and more. Jarett Andretti is the son of the late John Andretti, Mario’s nephew and a winning driver in IndyCar, NASCAR and drag racing. Jarett Andretti just finished a championship-winning season in the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX series.

“To say I’m excited to be joining IMSA and the Prototype Challenge for 2021 would be an understatement,” Jarett Andretti said. “In December of last year, Dad and I had many discussions about series we should grow into for 2021, and he felt strongly about the LMP3 cars and that it would be great for my development as well as our sponsors. We set that goal to move to Prototype racing and have been lucky to have a great partner, Gallant, join the team this year as an associate and then grow into a primary sponsor for 2021 and beyond.”

Andretti Autosport will race a new Ligier JS P320 in the six-race Prototype Challenge, which will feature classes for new-specification and 2020 spec LMP3s in the 2021 season.

“We are very happy to have Jarett join the IMSA Prototype Challenge for 2021,” Michael Andretti said. “He has shown impressive talent with the GT4 series and we can’t wait to see what he can do in the LMP3 cars.”