After an extended run of green-flag racing, there were a number of caution periods in the fifth hour of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

With the temperature climbing to 84 degrees, Pipo Derani led at the end of the hour in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, followed by Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 (1.233s back) and Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.

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Patrick Pilet led GTLM in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR by 1.612s, passing Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R for the position, followed by Scott Dixon in the No. 67 Ford GT.

In GTD, Alvaro Parente led in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3, followed by Bryan Sellers in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (.787s behind), Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 93 Acura and Alessio Clemente Picariello in the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3.

The hour began under yellow due to a spectator pop-up tent that landed on the circuit. Two minutes following the restart, the yellow came out again for the stopped car of Alex Brundle. Another yellow came out for the fourth time only eight minutes later at 3 p.m. ET for debris on the front straight.

The cautions – and ensuing restarts – led to a number of problems.

First, Brundle slid off course in Turn 17 in the ninth-place United Autosports Ligier JSP2 prior to the initial restart, attempting to close ground on the wave-by.

On the following restart, John Edwards in the No. 24 Team RLL BMW M8 GTLM had contact with the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller, leading to extended stops for both cars.

Mike Conway was penalized for an improper pass in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, and had made his stop just as the fourth caution waved. During the caution, Derani beat Castroneves out of the pits for the lead.

Christina Nielson spun in Turn 17 coming to the next restart, resulting in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R pointing in the wrong direction. She was able to restart and continue, avoiding the need for another quick caution. The remaining 24 minutes of the fifth hour ran under the green flag.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is under caution for a bizarre incident four hours into the event following an extended green-flag run.

A pop-up tent from the spectator area blew onto the circuit in Turn 10, ending a nearly three hour, 15 minute run of green flag racing.

When the caution waved, Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi led Mike Conway in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R by 1.8 seconds, with Helio Castroneves third in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05, 17.8 seconds back.

James Calado led GTLM in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, while Alessio Clemente Picariello continued to dominate GTD in the No. 29 Montaplast Audi R8 LMS GT3.

The hour ended with the race under caution. Following pit stops, Castroneves took the overall lead, followed by Derani, who took over for Lapierre. Conway is currently fourth, followed by Edward Cheever III in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac. Nine cars remain on the lead lap.

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The caution brought the No. 55 Team Joest Mazda RT24-P back into contention, with Jonathan Bomarito currently third. Earlier in the hour, Harry Tincknell was assessed a stop-and-go penalty after the No. 55 Mazda was held accountable following contact with Misha Goikhberg in the No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Gainsco ORECA 07-Gibson. Moments later, Tristan Nunez had a long stop in the No. 77 Mazda with brake problems. Prior to the stops, both Mazdas led several times due to superior fuel mileage over extended green-flag runs.

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R also experienced issues with Jordan Taylor making an unscheduled stop to take on water. Ryan Hunter-Reay is currently driving in seventh position.

During the caution-flag pit stops, Oliver Gavin took the GTLM lead in the No. 4 Corvette C7-R, followed by Calado and Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche RSR.

Philipp Frommenwiler took the GTD lead in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3, followed by Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Jack Hawksworth in the No. 15 Lexus. Picariello fell back to eighth following his stop.

1015071841 LAT 20180315 RD 12 SEB 18116Eric Curran leads three hours into Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Both Mazdas briefly ran up front during green-flag pit stops, and racing continued under green-flag conditions for the second straight hour.

Curran led Jordan Taylor's No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R by .776s, followed by Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, 2.77 seconds back.

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Alessandro Pier Guidi led in GTLM in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, followed by Ryan Briscoe in Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR and Frederic Makowiecki in the No. 911 RSR.

In GTD, Sheldon van der Linde leads in the No. 29 Montaplast Audi R8 LMS GT3, followed by Corey Lewis in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Kyle Marcelli in the No. 14 Team 3GT Lexus RCF GT3.

Team Joest continues to show superior fuel mileage while also holding on with the lead Prototypes. Spencer Pigot led briefly midway through the hour before turning the No. 55 Mazda RT-24-P over to Harry Tincknell, with Oliver Jarvis then leading a lap in the No. 77 before pitting in favor of Tristan Nunez.

Jordan Taylor had a scare when he exited the pit at the 2h45m mark. Taylor had been leaving when he pitted in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, which was spewing steam during the stop. On his pit exit, Taylor had contact with Andy Lally's No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3, with both cars continuing.

Here's Lally's explanation after his stint:

Kuno Wittmer was served a stop-and-go penalty for an unsafe pit exact for contact with Gustavo Yacaman in the No. 52 AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JSP217.

The hour also saw Jan Magnussen take the defending GTLM race-winning No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R to the garage for the second time with alternator problems, with the car remaining in the paddock at the end of the hour.

LAT levitt lbgp 22949eA tweet Saturday morning from an ABC affiliate in Macon, Georgia revealed that 2018 will be ABC's swan song covering IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 but Hulman & Company president Mark Miles told that somebody jumped the gun.

"It's a little premature," said Miles. "But we hope to have something to announce before long."

Screen Shot 2018 03 17 at 8.53.10 AM
That tweet from Jeff Cox of WGKA (pictured above) has since been taken down.
Representatives from both networks had "no comment" for RACER.

NBC and ABC have been bidding for the rights to televise all the races beginning in 2019 – with both offering more broadcast network coverage. Currently, ABC airs five races on network and the other 12 races and Carb Day at Indianapolis are carried on NBCSN. Reportedly, ABC had offered 10 races on network and NBC as many as eight for next season.

But with the addition of NASCAR two years ago, NBC and NBCSN has ramped up its motorsports coverage, so this could be good news for IndyCar fans since it could free up more time for the IndyCar Series.

IMSASebring 2018 MarshallPruett Sat3171 2487Images from the 66th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger images.

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1015073799 LAT 20180316 18FON1LW 00638NASCAR officials are giving teams that have qualified at Auto Club Speedway the opportunity to start Sunday's race on sticker tires.

Friday night, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series managing director Richard Buck told teams they could purchase a new set of tires to start the race on. Teams that elect this option will need to return the tires they qualified on to Goodyear.

The reason for the move is to even out the 37-car field.

Thirteen teams failed to make a qualifying attempt Friday night because of inspection issues. Those teams will start at the rear of the field. However, per the NASCAR rulebook of starting the race on the tires you qualified on, those teams missing qualifying would have sticker tires versus the scuff tires those who participated in qualifying would normally be required to start on.

"The first time through there was a lot of failures at all of the stations; it was basically kind of split between chassis, weight and measures and the body scan," NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said during qualifying.

"The second time through it seems the most of it has been centered around the actual body scan itself – honestly, this is the most aerodynamic track that we've gone to, so kind of no surprise they would be pushing the limits here more than some of the other places on that."

1015073810 LAT 20180316 18FON1LW 0100The disparity between those on scuff tires versus the teams on stickers did not go unnoticed. Kevin Harvick said after qualifying that those who participated in qualifying were being punished. Polesitter Martin Truex Jr., who did not qualify at Atlanta because of inspection issues, spoke from experience when saying having the sticker tires is a huge advantage.

Among those who did not qualify were all four Hendrick Motorsports cars. Jeff Andrews, the vice president of competition, said the issue for all four cars was similar and only described it as being in the rear deck lid area.

"We've got to go back, we have to talk obviously, internally, and talk with NASCAR," said Andrews. "We felt like we were making changes in the area affected and just we were not seeing the results when we went back through."

 ONY92784Romain Grosjean hopes to join Fernando Alonso on the grid at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, and is still keen on making a NASCAR appearance.

Alonso will compete for Toyota in LMP1 having secured a drive for the full World Endurance Championship Super Season alongside his McLaren seat, having already competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona this year. Grosjean's teammate Kevin Magnussen came close to racing at Daytona and hopes to do so in 2019, and when asked if he racing elsewhere while still competing in Formula 1 appeals to him too, Grosjean told RACER: "Yes, Le Mans 24 Hours is one that I'm looking at.

"If there's a great opportunity I may just jump in [this year]. It would be five weekends in a row or something like that, but I've got to train for a triathlon first. I'm trying to do a first triathlon this year, so I have a deal with my wife who says if I go and do another race I have to drop that one! I'd pick Le Mans.

"I haven't even asked the team. If there's an opportunity I will ask the team for sure and we'll see what we can do. If they don't want me to race, fine, I can fully understand. There are already a lot of races.

"I would love to try NASCAR but it's difficult because of the skill and I need to test the car – I can't go to a race and think, 'Oh, I'll be all right, it's NASCAR.' It's a bit complicated. So we'll see what the future holds."

17WGI1bc3528Asked how likely he rates a NASCAR appearance for Stewart-Haas Racing, Grosjean replied: "50:50. I think so.

"The first year was really a wish from both sides and it didn't really work. Then they swapped to Ford, which they really had to focus on. So it's not that easy. I said I don't want to do any ovals because I don't feel comfortable, it's something very different from everything I know. So there's only two road races – Watkins Glen and Sonoma – and it just makes things difficult.

"It would probably have to be a request from the team and then I would be super happy to do it."

Grosjean says there are plenty of other categories he still wants to race in as well, having competed in ice racing during his F1 career.

"World Rallycross, I love it. It's really cool. The ice race trophy – Andros Trophy – I have done it a few times and will probably go back, even though it's 100% electric next year. They're going electric. Naturally aspirated engines are still going to be accepted but obviously they won't have any chance to win. Less spikes or whatever on the tires."

MontereyReunion 81317 Pruett 488sPorsche racing legend Vic Elford visits regales us with tales of winning the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona, the skills he gained in rallying that opened doors to Formula 1, Can-Am, Trans-Am, and more, plus testing and drifting the Porsche 917, the friendship he built with NASCAR founder Bill France, and the Briton closes by offering his thoughts on today's drivers and their cars. F1 sophomore Lance Stroll beware...

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