Three Cars Are in the Hunt for the Season Title with the Bronze Drivers from Each Tied for the Trueman Lead
By John Oreovicz
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There’s plenty of tension surrounding the close battle for Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class honors in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. But there’s another significant prize on the line in the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans this weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Bronze-rated drivers in LMP2 compete for the Trueman Bronze Cup, named after gentleman racer Jim Trueman, who also owned Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for many years. The prize for the Trueman Cup is an invitation to race in the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Two of the three drivers who find themselves atop the current Trueman Cup standings have tasted champagne as the LMP2 Pro-Am winner at Le Sarthe – Steven Thomas in 2022 and George Kurtz in 2023.
Thomas and co-driver Mikkel Jensen top the WeatherTech Championship LMP2 standings with 1,680 points in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA LMP2 07, with Paul-Loup Chatin and Ben Keating just 20 points back in the No. 52 ORECA fielded by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. Meanwhile, Kurtz and Ben Hanley are still within striking distance in the No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR machine, an even 100 points behind Jensen and Thomas.
The Trueman rankings are separate from the season standings, and they find Thomas, Keating and Kurtz knotted at 1,770 points each. So, whoever’s team finishes best at Michelin Raceway on Saturday earns the award and Le Mans invite.
Like Trueman himself, this year’s Trueman Cup contenders are lifetime car and racing enthusiasts whose success in the business world allowed them to pursue opportunities behind the wheel. Thomas, 56, is an attorney for the TAFS law firm; 58-year-old Kurtz is co-founder, president and CEO for data protection firm Crowdstrike, while Keating, 52, oversees the Keating Auto Group of 28 Texas dealerships.
Keating has developed into a successful full-time racer, competing in IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship. His accomplishments include the WeatherTech Championship LMP2 class title in 2021, preceding consecutive victories at Le Mans on the way to LMGTE Pro-Am class championships in WEC in 2022 and ’23 for Aston Martin and Corvette, respectively.
Each of the top three LMP2 teams has taken at least one turn leading the championship this season. The No. 11 TDS Racing led after WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in May, the No. 04 Crowdstrike rose to the top after Watkins Glen International in June and the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen moved up front after winning at Road America in August.
With its second win of the season last month at Indianapolis, the No. 11 reassumed the lead, albeit by the narrow margin.
Of the Trueman Cup contenders, Keating is the only one to have triumphed at Michelin Raceway, taking the GT Daytona (GTD) class win in a Dodge Viper in 2016. The Texan is eager to return to the track this week and chase the LMP2 season title, the Trueman award and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup crown for LMP2, which sees the same three teams clustered within four points going in.
“It is nice to have so many different things to fight for,” Keating said. The (season) championship, the Michelin Endurance Cup and the Trueman award that gives the auto-entry to Le Mans are all in play, and they are all different races, which makes it really interesting. We will push hard.”
Practice begins Thursday for the WeatherTech Championship at Michelin Raceway, with qualifying to set the starting grid the next day. The 26th annual Motul Petit Le Mans starts at 11:40 a.m. ET Saturday. Flag-to-flag coverage is available on Peacock (in the U.S.) and IMSA.com (internationally), with USA Network joining at 6:30 p.m. through to the finish.