The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the next stop for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – and yet another iconic North American motorsports venue on the inaugural 2014 schedule.
All four TUDOR Championship classes will compete in the Brickyard Grand Prix, a two-hour, 45-minute race at 5:45 p.m. today.
While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competed in the Brickyard Grand Prix the past two years, the unification of North American sports car racing now extends the opportunity to race at Indy to teams and drivers that formerly competed in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, including competitors formerly in the P2, GT, Prototype Challenge (PC) and GTC classes.
The race will be held on the repaved and revised 14-turn, 2.435-mile circuit, leveling the playing field for competitors who have never raced at the Speedway. In the past, the Rolex Series used a 2.534-mile layout.
Today’s Brickyard Grand Prix will return a number of familiar drivers from IndyCar, Formula One and NASCAR to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Eight veterans of the Indianapolis 500 – including four drivers from the 2014 event –will be joined by Giancarlo Fisichella – an eight-time U.S. Grand Prix competitor – and Scott Pruett and Andy Lally, who have raced in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400.
Prototype Challenge (PC) competitors Jack Hawksworth and Martin Plowman, along with GT Daytona (GTD) drivers Townsend Bell and James Davison, all were in the field for the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend classic.
Bell was running in his eighth Indy 500, and ran competitively until a late-race incident led to a 25th-place finish. Davison led the TUDOR Championship group with a 16th-place finish, with Hawksworth finishing 20th and Plowman 23rd.
Prototype driver Scott Sharp raced in 14 Indy 500s, winning the pole in 2001 and scoring five top-10 finishes. He is joined in the lead class by fellow Indy 500 veteran Christian Fittipaldi, who was Rookie of the Year and second-place finisher in his lone 500 in 1995. PC driver Bruno Junqueira led four of his six 500s, winning the pole in 2002 while finishing fifth in both 2001 and 2004.
Fisichella finished in the top 10 in all but one of his Formula One races at Indy, including a third-place finish for Renault in 2006. He scored his second GTE Pro victory for Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Pruett, who finished second in the Brickyard Grand Prix, in both 2012 and 2013, competed in four Indy 500s in addition to racing twice in the Brickyard 400.
Lally competed in the 2011 Brickyard Grand Prix – going on to win NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. He won the GT class in the 2012 Brickyard Grand Prix.
Prototype Challenge class
Jon Bennett is owner of CORE autosport, and co-drives the team’s No. 54 ORECA FLM09 with Colin Braun in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.
The pair has won four of the five PC races this season, including the classic Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. They hold a 17-point lead in the point standings over Renger van der Zande (169-152), while leading their class in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup by 10 points with only the season-ending Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda remaining.
Both drivers will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.
“Winning four races is a reflection of the strength of our team, our work ethic, and a bit of racing luck,” Bennett said. “Our past success does not transfer to future events. We start each event by focusing on the process that has worked for us in the past. We accept that race results can be altered by factors, both positive and negative, which are not in our control. This team philosophy helps us to manage the pressures of competition at every event.”