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George's News and Notes December 14, 2018

George's News and Notes December 14, 2018

Do you remember the ads that we used to see about how Dale Earnhardt Jr was never going to drive anything but the No. 8 car? Back then we saw evidence of Dale Jr fans' loyalty in images of people trimming their decorative trees on '8's and even people with No. 8 tattoos. Of course, all that loyalty to Dale in the No. 8 car went away when he split with his step mother and joined Rick Hendrick to drive in a No. 88 car. Now that Dale Jr has retired, we have Alex Bowman in the Hendrick No. 88 car. Of course, DEI has long since vanished but Richard Childress, for whom Dale Senior drove in the No. 3 car, has decided to assign the No. 8 to the Cup car that Daniel Hemric will drive for him in 2019. Hemric made two starts for RCR in 2018 racing under the No. 8 designation. After Dale Jr left DEI at the end of the 2007 season, DEI ran the No. 8 on one of its cars the next year with Mark Martin and Aric Almirola as drivers. The DEI team merged into Chip Ganassi's operation for 2009 and Almirola drove a No. 8 entry for the merged team for the first seven races of that year but the No. 8 has not been used since then until this year.

Daytona 500 pace truck

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a two-time Daytona 500 winner, will drive the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pace truck to lead the field to green for the 61st running of The Great American Race. This is the first time the Daytona 500 will be paced by a pickup truck. “I’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of success at Daytona over the years, and now I can’t wait to get out on that track in a Silverado,” said Earnhardt Jr. “Away from the track I’ve driven Chevy trucks all my life, and I’m excited to have this unique experience of pacing the Daytona 500 with the Silverado.”

Next year Jamie McMurray will be replaced at Chip Ganassi Racing by Kurt Busch, who is bringing Monster Energy sponsorship to the team. McMurray has been a Ganassi driver for the last nine seasons. He started racing in NASCAR Cup in 2002 when he subbed in a Ganassi car for the injured Sterling Marlin, winning at Charlotte his second time out(I was there). McMurray has been hired by FOX as a NASCAR analyst for the FOX network next year. His primary assignment will be to appear on FOX's ‘NASCAR Race Hub’ and ‘NASCAR Race Day’. NASCAR Race Hub is normally aired on weekday evening (Monday through Thursday) while NASCAR Race Day, as the name implies, is broadcast on the day of the race being previewed. Both of these programs can be seen in Canada on the Fox Sports Network which is available on many (but not all) television cable services. Fox Sports has built a new virtual studio (whatever that is) in Charlotte and both of these programs will be produced there (not at the race track).

Dumoulin Charlotte Dec 7

A week ago NASCAR honoured all its second-tier champions at a banquet in Charlotte, NC. Canada's Louis-Philippe DuMoulin (from Trois-Rivieres, QC) was awarded his trophy for winning the 2018 NASCAR Pinty's Series championship. Dumoulin and the #47 team collected the following awards: a second NASCAR Pinty’s driver Championship; The Dodge Quick award; The Goodyear Tire award; Crew Chief of the year award to Robin McCluskey; Partner of the year award to WeatherTech Canada; Car owner of the year award to Marc-André Bergeron. L-P DuMoulin had previously win the series title in 2014 in a team led by Mario Gosselin. The team’s results included three race wins, seven podiums, eight top-5 and twelve top-10 finishes in the 13 races. Dumoulin led 423 (21%) of the total 2022 race laps over the season and finished on the lead lap in 12 of the 13 races. He also led the championship standings after the first, third and fourth races, and from race 7 to the last one (race 13). His record shows the competitiveness of the series won by Dumoulin with only seven points ahead of the runner-up Alex Tagliani (523 points to 516).

Pfaff Motorsports, which is based in Woodbridge, ON, has announced its plans to compete in the full season of the IMSA WeatherTech series, running in the GT-Daytona class with Canadian drivers Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon. The team will add the German driver Lars Kern for the endurance events in this series with Norwegian Denis Olsen being added as a fourth driver for the Daytona 24-hour race.

The open-wheel series known as Pro Mazda has been renamed Indy Pro 2000 for 2019 in response to Mazda ending its sponsorship of this Road to Indy race series. Indy Pro 2000 will be a continuation of the Pro Mazda format using the same spec chassis, the Tatuus PM-18, and the same spec engine, the 275 HP 2.0-litre Mazda MZR-PM18A. The championship series will consist of 16 rounds of racing at nine different race events (seven of the nine weekends, including Toronto, will feature two races for these cars). The Indy Pro 2000 series is one step below the Indy Lights series on the Road to Indy ladder.

Canadian Lance Stroll has been formally announced as one of the two drivers in the Racing Point F1 team for next year. This team began the 2018 season under the Force India name. Mid-season, the team went into financial difficulties and it was kept going by a massive injection of funds, much of that coming from Stroll's father, Lawrence Stroll. He will be replacing Esteban Ocon, who has left the team, while the Mexican Sergio Perez will continue in the other Racing Point entry.

World Endurance Championship veterans Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi have been named as co-drivers with Jordan Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing team entry for the 2019 Daytona 24-hour race at the end of January. Renger van der Zande, who is Taylor's usual teammate in the No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-VR, will be the fourth driver in the team's entry. Alonso drove this car at Daytona in 2018. Kobayashi is one of the drivers in the all-conquering Toyota Gazoo Racing team in the WEC.

At this time we know of no plans for IMSA to broadcast its WeatherTech series races in Canada, including the round from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next July 9. Last year these races were broadcast in the United States on FOX's FS1 and/or FS2 channels -- and these broadcasts were made available on the FOX Sports Racing cable channel in Canada (on many - but not all - television service providers - TSPs). In addition, the video of the race broadcast with the audio from the IMSA radio broadcast was made available online via IMSA.TV (or IMSA.com). This year, the race broadcasts will be carried on NBCSN in the US, a channel which is not available via TSPs in Canada; hopefully we will still be able to get the race broadcast via an online connection to IMSA's website (IMSA.com). In addition, I expect that the renamed IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series (formerly the IMSA Continental Tire Challenge) will be broadcast on a two-week delay basis (as before) on the NBCSN channel in the USA with a live broadcast available as before via an online direct connection.

As for the Pirelli World Challenge, this year it will feature its headliner race series under the name Blancpain GT World Challenge America. The Blancpain competition will feature a two-driver, 90-minute SprintX style format. The CBS Sports Network will carry LIVE coverage of the majority of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America season, as part of a significant increase in TV coverage for SRO Motorsports America next year. The CBS Sports Network is a television channel which is available on some Canadian TSP connections. Up to seven events will be featured live on the network, with the two-hour packages for Blancpain GT America to include a recap of Race 1 and the full 90-minute Race 2 of the new-look format. The remaining races not shown live are expected to be same-day tape-delayed. In addition, Canadians who cannot get the CBS Sports Network channel will be able to watch these broadcasts streamed live on the website (world-challenge.com). The Pirelli World Challenge will again be part of the May 18-19 Victoria Day weekend at Canadian tire Motorsport Park and will include the Blancpain GT World Challenge America GT3 races in that weekend.

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