PRUETT: 50 points for IMSA’s 50th Anniversary

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PRUETT: 50 points for IMSA’s 50th Anniversary

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PRUETT: 50 points for IMSA’s 50th Anniversary

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Entering its sixth season under the restored International Motor Sports Association banner, IMSA is riding an unprecedented wave of positivity. In honor of its 50th anniversary, here are 50 points of interest to follow as America’s defining endurance racing series launches its 2019 championship this week at Daytona.

  1. CADILLAC: After two years of keeping tight control over its all-conquering DPi-V.R, Cadillac has opened the books, making two new prototypes available to the rising JDC-Miller Motorsports team, plus one to the incoming Juncos Racing outfit. Together with the two Action Express Racing Cadillacs and Wayne Taylor Racing’s DPi-V.R, six of the growling V8-powered machines make for IMSA’s most successful and popular prototype solution.
  2. MICHELIN: Welcome home. Michelin’s tires have long been the international standard of excellence in sports car racing. With Michelin taking over as IMSA’s sole supplier in 2019, the entire WeatherTech Championship finally has the tires its teams have always deserved.
  3. PRUETT, MARSHAL: Scott Pruett may have retired following last year’s Rolex 24, but he’s back at the race where he co-owns the record for victories to serve as Daytona’s grand marshal.
  4. SPIRIT OF DAYTONA: The veteran Grand-Am team, which competed through the 2018 IMSA season as a member of the Cadillac DPi-V.R family, will be missing the Daytona grid for the first time in decades as it searches for sponsorship to resume operations. While SDR won’t be in the race, a number of its crew members are helping other teams this weekend in their quest for victory.
  5. NBC SPORTS: Passion for motor racing underscores the NBC Sports brand, which makes its new exclusive contract to broadcast IMSA’s races a perfect marriage of storytellers behind the cameras and the storytellers on the race track.
  6. MPC: Like IndyCar’s Indy Lights series, IMSA’s top training ground for future WeatherTech Championship GT competitors is ready to roll with a new name. Formerly known as the ‘Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge’ series, it’s been rebranded as the ‘Michelin Pilot Challenge’ series. Where the CTSCC had an easy nickname to use — the ‘Conti series’ — the new moniker lacks an obvious abbreviation unless, of course, the ‘Mishy series’ takes off…
  7. IPC: And don’t forget the IMSA Prototype Challenge series, which has undergone a rule change to make the singular use of the LMP3 formula a requirement for teams, drivers, and crew members with an eventual interest in joining the WeatherTech Championship’s DPi or LMP2 grid.
  8. TIME TRAVEL: 2019 is turning into a tribute tour as Acura Team Penske, CORE autosport, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Riley Technologies, Starworks Motorsport, and more will feature throwback liveries for one raceor the entire season — that pay homage to some of IMSA’s most memorable color schemes.
  9. RICARDO JUNCOS: Diversity among IMSA’s team ownership base has increased with the arrival of Argentina’s Ricardo Juncos. The IndyCar and Road To Indy entrant’s love for sports cars resulted in acquiring a Cadillac DPi-V.R and adding third program to his business. Living the American Dream, Juncos gives the series a Spanish-speaking owner who opted in for all the right business reasons, both of which are rare.
  10. IMSA’S 50: It’s the golden anniversary for IMSA, and what a mighty fine time to think back on all that made the series founded by John and Peggy Bishop, and the France family, such an amazing part of our racing culture.
  11. MEC: With the withdrawal of Tequila Patron from all racing sponsorships, its name has been removed from the masthead of IMSA’s former ‘Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup’ that awards separate championships for those with the best performances at the four long races on the WeatherTech Championship calendar. In a growing trend, Michelin filled the void and shortened it to the ‘Michelin Endurance Cup.’ Despite the title change, the MEC remains the same with endurance championship points being awarded at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, and Motul Petit Le Mans.
  12. YOUTH MOVEMENT: More young drivers than ever are choosing the WeatherTech Championship as the place to build professional careers. This year’s prime example is Pfaff Motorsports’ Scott Hargrove, a young Canadian driver who should, if all the necessary opportunities came his way, be an IndyCar star. A race winner in Indy Lights, the open-wheel road closed due to a lack of funding, and with a new door opened by Pfaff, Hargrove has gone from pondering a life working 9-to-5 to realizing his dream, albeit in a different form of racing than he originally pursued.
  13. BLUE OVAL CHANGES: Ford’s ultra-successful GT program enters its fourth and final season. Barring a reprieve, GTLM fans will have from now until October to watch the knee-high rockets in action. But don’t worry, Ford fans: a DPi has been in development for the 2020 season for quite some time.
  14. FITTIPALDI FAREWELL: Christian Fittipaldi’s long and illustrious career behind the wheel will reach its conclusion at the Rolex 24. The Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, Grand-Am, and IMSA pilot has been an amazing ambassador for the sport, and with his transition into a full-time role as Action Express Racing’s sporting director, his decades of knowledge won’t be lost.
  15. WTSC: The shift from 2018 to 2019 has seen a surprising amount of name changes and acronym adjustments within IMSA. One brand-new creation of interest is the WeatherTech Sprint Cup for entrants in the GT Daytona category. In an effort to offer a cost-saving alternative to competing in the full GTD championship, the WTSC strips the four expensive MEC rounds from the calendar to create another championship-within-a-championship. The WTSC kicks off in May at Mid-Ohio.
  16. CALM WATERS: IMSA’s leadership is unchanged, yet again, as the key architects and administrators of the WeatherTech Championship continue into another season.

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