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Preview: Weekend of March 15-16-17, 2019

Preview: Weekend of March 15-16-17, 2019

This weekend we are watching three races from Sebring – the WEC race, the Sebring 12-hour race and the GT4 Michelin Pilot Challenge on Friday morning preceding the WEC race later that same day.

The Sebring Raceway is a permanent road course developed on the site of the WWII airfield called Hendricks Army Airfield. The first race was a six-hour handicap race in 1950 which was won by the diminutive Crosley Hot Shot, an American sports car of the day. The first 12-hour race was held in 1952 and it has been held annually ever since, except for 1974. In some years the 12-hour race was part of the world sports car championship. Now it is run to IMSA prototype rules which are not compatible with the FIA World Endurance Championship rules. This year, a WEC race will be held on the Friday and the traditional 12-hour race, run to IMSA rules, will be on Saturday.

The Formula One season gets underway at Melbourne, Australia on a street circuit around Albert Park Lake. Since the world championship Formula One race was first held here in 1997, it has been held at this venue each year since. The F1 Australian GP was previously held at Adelaide from 1985 to 1984. The Australian GP has been the first race of the season since 1996. Jacques Villeneuve made his F1 debut here in 1997; he won the pole and he very nearly won the race. The Australian Supercars series will run a supporting event for the Grand Prix.

The NASCAR circus will be at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Cup race on Sunday and the Xfinity race the day before. This oval was built on the site of a former Kaiser Steel Mill by Roger Penske and it opened in 1996. The site is not far from the former Ontario speedway oval and the Riverside road course. Once the home of an Indycar race and two NASCAR weekends, the track currently hosts only a single NASCAR race. The last Indycar race was held here in 2015.

Friday, March 15:
1. IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Sebring Raceway
• 3.74-mile circuit; 120-minute race duration
• TV: imsa.tv (internet streaming) at 11:55A-2:05P
• The winner here last year was the duo of Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy in a Roush/KohR Mustang GT4.
• This is the second race of the 2019 season. The first race, at Daytona, was won by Paul Holton and Kuno Wittmer driving a Compass Racing McLaren GT4

Click HERE for the entry list

2. FIA World Endurance Championship, Sebring Raceway
• 3.74-mile circuit; 1000 miles/267 laps
• TV: Discovery-Velocity channel at 3:30P-12:30A (also on the FIA WEC Premium Season App – for a fee)

• This is a ‘super-season’ for WEC as it adjusts its calendar to end with the classic Le Mans 24 hour race. The current 2018 season began last year at Spa-Francorchamps and then the Le Mans 24 race and it will end with the 2019 running of the Le Mans 24. Next time the season will start with the first race after Le Mans and it will end with the Le Mans race the following year.
• The Sebring 1000 Miles race will be the sixth race of the current season. This is the first time a world sports car championship race has been run at Sebring as a stand-alone event separate from the traditional 12-hour race here.
• The most recent WEC race was the 6 Hours of Shanghai on November 18 and it was won by the No. 7 Toyota hybrid prototype driven by Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez with the sister car, the No. 8, finishing in second place 1.4 seconds adrift.
• In addition to the LMP1 prototype class which includes the Hybrid class Toyotas and the gasoline powered ICE prototypes making up the rest of the class, there are classes for LMP2 prototypes, LMGTE pro and LMGTE Amateur (GT cars).
• The most recent World Sports Car Championship race held at Sebring was the 2012 edition of the Sebring 12-Hours. It was won by the team of Allan McNish/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello driving an Audi R18 TDI

Click HERE for the entry list

Saturday, March 16:
3. IMSA WeatherTech Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sebring Intl. Raceway
• 3.74-mile circuit; 12-hours race duration
• TV: Discovery-Velocity channel at 10:30A-11:00P
• This race is the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech series
• the opening round of the 2019 season was the Rolex 24 at Daytona which was won by the No. 10 Cadillac DPi prototype driven by Renger Van Der Zande/Jordan Taylor/Fernando Alonso/Kamui Kobayashi. Note that Alonso is NOT driving in the 12-hour race this time; he is committed to driving the No. 8 Toyota in the Sebring 1000-mile race the previous day.
• Last year the Sebring 12-hour race was won by Pipo Derani /Johannes van Overbeek/Nicolas Lapierre driving the No. 22 Nissan DPi prototype.

Click HERE for the entry list

4. NASCAR Xfinity Production Alliance Group 300, Auto Club Speedway
• 2.0-mile oval; 150 laps = 300 miles; Stages: 35/35/80 laps
• TV: TSN1 at 5:00P-7:30
• Last year, this race was won by Joey Logano driving the No. 22 Penske Ford
• The most recent race was held last weekend at Phoenix (ISM Raceway) and it was won by Kyle Busch in a Joe Gibbs Toyota Supra.

Click HERE for the entry list

Sunday, March 17:
5. FIA Formula One Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, AUS
• 5.303 km/3.296 mi; 58 laps = 307.6 km/191.2 mi
• TV: 1:05A-3:30 on TSN1/3/4/5
• This is as always the first race of the F1 season. Last year it was won by Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes over Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari). Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari was third)

Click HERE for the entry list

6. NASCAR MENCS Auto Club 400, Auto Club Speedway
• 2.0-mile oval; 200 laps = 400 mi; Stages: 60/60/80 laps
• TV: FOX/TSN1/5 at 3:30P-7:00
• Last year’s race here was won by Martin Truex in the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota. Ths year, Truex is driving for Joe Gibbs in the No. 19 Toyota
• Last week the MENCS race was won by Kyle Busch giving him a two-race sweep of the NASCAR races at Phoenix. This weekend he is going for his 200th NASCAR win (all three national series combined) and, given that he is also entered in the Xfinity race the day before, he could actually make it 101 wins if he were to win both races.

Click HERE for the entry list

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