The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes center stage this weekend as Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta prepares to host the 10-hour Petit Le Mans race. There are 31 cars entered in the event, which will be oozing with talent from around the world and across various forms of racing. The NTT IndyCar series will once again be well represented, with six current drivers competing. In addition to full-time drivers Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Colton Herta, and Sebastien Bourdais, several other drivers with ties to the series will be competing this weekend.
The most prominent name outside of those full-time drivers is one veteran that could return to full-time status in 2021. Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves filled in for Arrow McLaren SP a few weeks ago at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the two Harvest GP road course races. While Castroneves is not expected to be in that seat next season (reportedly it will be Felix Rosenqvist) there are plenty of other seats that are available during this wild silly season in IndyCar. Helio and Ricky Taylor are regulars in the No. 7 Acura that has won three consecutive races and will have Rossi added to their lineup this weekend. Pagenaud will be paired with defending series champions Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya on the No. 6 Acura. Petit will mark the first IMSA starts for Rossi and Pagenaud since the Rolex 24.
Dixon will join points leaders Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Cadillac, where they won the Rolex 24 earlier this year. Hunter-Reay is returning to the No. 55 Mazda, joining Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell for the third time this season. Bourdais will be in the No. 5 Cadillac of Mustang Sampling Racing / JDC-Miller MotorSports where he will team up with Loic Duval with former IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier.
While a sixth IndyCar title is on the horizon for Dixon, he sees this as an opportunity to clear his mind ahead of next weekend’s finale. “It’s pretty nice, actually,” Dixon said. “The IndyCar championship was looking fairly easy there for a while, and through mistakes by myself and the team, we’ve made it a little bit tougher. It’s kind of nice to focus on something else and take your mind away from it, especially when you’ve got a lot of downtime going into the IndyCar final race.”
In the GTLM category, Herta will return to the BMW Team RLL, which he has driven for at the Rolex 24 and other endurance events in the past. The young phenom will join Connor De Phillippi and Bruno Spengler in the No. 25 car. The GT Daytona class will feature a mix of veterans and young talent, especially with the Aim Vasser Sullivan team. Former IndyCar driver Townsend Bell will be joined in the No. 12 Lexus by Kyle Kirkwood, who most fans are familiar with. Another former IndyCar driver, Jack Hawksworth, will be in the No. 14 sister car for Jimmy Vasser’s team.
Practice will begin on Thursday with three total sessions. Qualifying will begin at 12:30 PM ET on Friday, with the race start scheduled for 12:40 PM on Saturday. The temperature is expected to be around 61 degrees at the start of the race, with a 0% chance of rain. The 10-hour race will be held on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course in Braselton, Georgia. Below are a few more resources that will come in handy during the event.
Saturday’s coverage of the Petit Le Mans will begin at 12:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. Coverage from 6:30-9:30 can be seen on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com, and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The final 90 minutes of the race beginning at 9:30 will air on NBC Sports Network.