Sunday, January 31, 2016
What a finish, huh? Sure, the Prototype and overall finish was kind of in the bag for the #2 ESM Ligier-Honda through the final stint, as nobody had anything for Pipo Derani (he led a race-high 149 laps out of the 736 run). And the LMPC race was basically toast with a half an hour to go, as the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports car won by four laps (though it was touching to see a visibly choked up Kenton Koch tell the Fox Sports crew, "we frickin' won it!" in victory lane). But the other two classes made up for that comparative lack of drama.
In GTLM, the two Corvettes cleared the #912 Porsche in the last half hour and then went to work on each other. Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette tried multiple times to get around Oliver Gavin in the #4, even getting around briefly once into Turn 1, only to leave his braking a touch too late, slide wide and Olly to slip by again. Eventually, the #4 car crossed the line about 3/4ths of a car length ahead of the #3, an impressive finish by one of the most storied teams in American sports car racing history.
And in GTD, Rene Rast in the #44 Magnus Racing Audi was nursing his fuel through the last stint, allowing the #28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini to get by with about nine minutes remaining. This situation flipped on its head five minutes later, though, as the Lambo sputtered and ran low on fuel through the infield, allowing the Magnus Audi back by. But, the question was whether the Magnus car would make it to the end or similarly sputter and have to come in as well. The tension on the Magnus webcast was incredibly high, with Sean Heckman chattering non-stop, obviously nervous but also not wanting to jinx anything. The scene in the Magnus pitbox as the #44 wheeled through the tri-oval for the last time was incredible, with the entire team erupting at once into ecstatic screaming and hugging. Nobody was quite sure if the car would make it until it was literally within sight of pit lane. What a finish. And anybody who saw the Magnus Racing 2016 video (have I talked about that at all here?) should be thrilled for those guys to be so richly rewarded with a great result after a horrible 2015.
So, we had a great finish to a fantastic 24 hours of racing. And to boot, we had an outstanding Blogathon here at GBS. Thanks to Mike and Allen for everything here all weekend, and I can't wait to do this again next year. Or maybe before then. I suppose we'll have to see. But perhaps I should just start with post #1 of my 584 part series about the best racing video games I've ever played...
See you all again soon.
Speedgeek - 27 + 2 + 7 + 18 + 5 = 59
Mike - 30 + 9 + 3 + 13 + 3 = 58
Wedge - 13 + 7 + 5 + 15 + 3 = 43
The only remaining scoring comes from tonight's NFL Pro Bowl. We all have Team Rice. Wedge is eliminated, and I can't win.
If 7 or fewer TDs are scored, Speedgeek wins. If 8 or more TDs are scored, Speedgeek and I tie.
Update: Wedge nailed it with 11 touchdowns. Speedgeek and I tie at 60 points each.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for hanging with us, especially anyone who was around throughout the night. I'm hoping I can do my best to make 2016 a good year around here, and I'll have some Super Bowl stuff coming up. I'll post a points update in a bit.
I'm buckling in with a beer (a Fat Bottom Ruby Red, my first beer of the day after the Highland Double Chocolate Milk Stout/Crackerjack fiasco last night) and putting some TV on in the other room to keep our little one occupied for the next hour. I'm sure there'll be a bathroom disaster with 4 minutes to go, but I guess that's why they invented DVRs.
#1 - people who want to say, Baylor is terrible, my school never does this, is delusional
#2 - I feel like the biggest change for this decade is truth through evidence. The biggest stories this year are things caught on camera, things leaked through press and internet and its only going to grow. Basically its getting harder and harder to eliminate evidence and its just showing more and more of us are terrible people and not what glossy thing people have built up in their heads.
#3 - the thing I really don't get in al the NCAA coverups like this and Winston etc. What do the police get out of covering up several sexual assaults for Baylor? I doubt Baylor as paying them, or giving them tickets, they are literally helping destroy girls lives because they want a team they root for to win a meaningless competition... That's worth covering up sexual assault? And even if you care about games so much, Baylor isn't winning any championships. This is as bad as NC faking classes so their team could finish 6-6.
I've now got that on in the background while the 24 Hours continues to run.
The announced series includes the 1989 Earthquake World Series, the Boston college game fixing scandal, Randy Moss, the Hernandez brother who left Cuba to both play in MLB and more.
This series has covered so many great stories, and many of these are up theres as the best documentaries ever made, not just about sports but overall. The Two Escobars comes to mind when you wonder about some of the best documentaries ever made.
some they have done have seemed repetitive or not as good, but none have been terrible. there has even been fake 30 for 30 trailers made that while a joke I'd love to see. Seeing the new list just makes me want more though, there are so many good stories to be told so if I can make a wish list and hope that someone at ESPN sees this and attempts even one of these, then here goes; here's 30 more ideas I'd love to see them do.
1. Who Needs Milk?
Promo line: What if I told you one time someone was willing to take their ball and go home?
The CART/IRL Split. There is so much to be said in this story, I'm very surprised ESPN/ABC hasn't tackled it especially since they still broadcast IndyCar. Tell the story of "The Split." So many characters, and a clear start and conclusion.
When the owner of the biggest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500, isn’t invited into the board for CART the organization that does the season of races; he finally decides to just start his own racing series. At the time the sport was so large that both sides packed 400k+ to their competing races on the same day. The U.S. 500 with the “professional” drivers had the amateur crash before their start, but after it finally got off, winner Jimmy Vasser uttered the famous “Who Needs Milk?” in victory lane which basically set the tone for how everyone felt about each other. Over time the fans got tired of it though, they just wanted it fixed and it showed in dropped attendance, but the owners had deep pockets and proved they could care less about the fans and took everything personal, they took the battle for over a decade including going to bankruptcy court rather than give up the fight. By the time it finally got back together in 2008, careers, attendance, TV ratings, technology, and competition had been severely damaged. Now it’s finally healing and moving forward.
2. Jamaica, They Have a Bobsled Team
Promo: What if I told you it was a night of drinking got Jamaica into the Winter Olympics?
Yes it was actually two Americans making a bet in a bar “I bet you I could get Jamacia into the Winter Olympics.” Most people sadly only know the movie Cool Runnings for the frame of reference to this actual good story, and sadly almost 95% of the movie is made up. About the only thing Disney got factually correct was that there was a Jamaican bobsled team in the Calgary Olympics.
That being said the real story is worth telling, they couldn't get any sprinters to work with them so they went to the Jamaican military to find willing competitors. Money was never an issue for these guys, they had backers. They had to do some qualifying competitions before Calgary. Also while its true the sanctioning bodies said they thought they should do more competing first, the teams in Calgary welcomed them with open arms. Sports on Earth did a great short documentary, it just needs to be further expanded to show how they really made it and competed well in 2 man bobsled (the only thing they originally planned on doing), and on the spot decided to go for the 4-man competition.
It can also touch on how teams were astonished at how well they did, realizing that there was a benefit to having real strong athletes push and go faster. They basically revolutionized the sport when most people originally thought it was a joke.
Promo: What if I told you there was a time before you could simulate every possibility of a football game?
Changing the game and the curse
4. The Man Who Invented Donuts
Promo: What if I told you a racecar driver could win back to back championships, and that might be the least impressive sporting feat on his resume?
The story of Alex Zanardi, not just his racing career but going on to win Olympic medals after losing his legs in a terrible crash.
5. War Games
Promo: What if I told you that war changed everything we remember about sports?
We often forget what really happened. Germans invent torch relay. American racism means we don't even congratulate Jessie Owens. Germans were happy, not mad about Owens, they even cheered him, but at the same time they dominated the games too. There's even a movie coming out now about Jessie Owens that is sure to play up the angle that he humiliated the Nazis, but its just not true, its American war popaganda that lives on to this day because we won the war. The germans dominated that Olympics, Owens was but a blip on the radar.
6. Wife Swap: Baseball Edition
Promo: What if I told you that 2 Yankees would never be remembered for anything they did on the field?
Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swap wives, families
Promo: What if everyone everywhere told your city to just give up, and you refused?
The story of the New Orleans as a city and Saints rebuild at the same time after people everywhere literally said they should both close up shop and give it up. The season they played in 5 different home stadiums, the owner finally "got it" and embraced the city, they got the island of misfit players, which fit the cities mentality and it finally worked.
8. “Danny Almonte”
Promo: What if I told you that an honest effort to teach our youth took a backseat to winning?
9. Ellis, D.
Promo: What if I told you an All-Star and World Series Champion would be remembered for those details second to what happened the night he pitched against the San Diego Padres?
Story of Dock Ellis. It looks like a documentary may have been made recently about this so I need to check it out but for those who don't know. Dock Ellis was a baseball player, a very good one, who fought for racial equality on "The Team That Changed Baseball" the first MLB starting lineup of all minorities, one who threw a no-hitter... apparently while on LSD because he didn't realize he had to pitch that night.
10. Vale Tudo
Promo: What if I told you once upon a time we decided to say "anything goes."
There really needs to be a documentary on the first UFC tournament, or the first tournaments before they because a proper sport with rules. There's tons of great bits and pieces like the fact they originally though of putting a moat around the ring, some fighters tried to sabotage each other, people pulling out at the last minute. One dude got entered because he happened to be in the hotel on the right night.
11. USA’s inability to win the World Baseball Classic
Promo: What if I told you that after inventing a game, we could never beat anyone at it?
That promo line could also be about England and the World Cup I suppose, but they did won a World Cup many years ago, we still can't win the WBC.
12. Tragedy and Triumph
Promo: What if I told you the unthinkable would happen in front of all our eyes, and then something unthinkable would happen again years later.
Monica Seles and her comeback
13. Gorilla Ball
Promo: What if I told you the game changed so much and so often that the players couldn't even keep up?
About the College World Series in the 90s and early 2000s which changed rules and formats so often and even eventually decided to leave Rosenblatt Stadium after a century. LSU dominated Gorilla ball which forced changed in bats, then pitches dominated, then the double elimination format was abandonded for4 the final game, then it wasn't, then it was again, and finally we got to the end solution of all rounds being double elimination and a full field of 64 teams.
14. “What’s in a name?”
Promo: What if I told you there are no Lakes in L.A. and no Jazz in Utah
Cover the 80s and 90s sports expansion and shitty stadiums. So many terrible stadiums were built in a rush to expand the sports and move teams to new cities and leaving old fans in shock and with old stadiums that are vacant. Now so many team moves are simply to give them back to where they originally were and fans are better.
See #3 in this list as an example
15. The 1997 Marlins
Promo: What if I told you a team could be constructed for 1 purpose and immediately done away with
Seriously we need to know more about how they literally bought a World Series and immeaditely disassembled all that work.,
16. Baseball’s steroid era
Promo: What if I told you that we'd ignore the obvious problem to chase happiness
Baseball's steroid era needs a proper documentary about how we all knew what was going on and ignored it because we like home runs. it should start with the Simpsons Mark McGuire bit "Do you want to know the truth, or do you want to see me hit a couple dingers?"
17. Carried Off
Promo: What if I told you history would always remember the moment, but never realize it was unecessary
Kerri Strug and the fact that she didn’t even have to do the last vault, not many people know this but her famous vault on 1 leg wasn't even needed for the US to win that gold medal, but thats hindsight. The documentary should really cover Bela Karosi frankly and gymnastics in general.
Other honorable m,ention ideas:
18. Malice at the Palace
19. The 1994 MLB Season
Strike doesn't happen we likely have aq Expos championship and they never move.
20. Bob Knight at Indiana
21. Iron Mike
The mans career does need to talk about his rise and fall largely due to Don King.
22. The Price of Rings
Athens, Beijing, Sochi Olympics, current issues, SLC bribing and the fact that Atlanta was the last private Olympics that didn't cost the public anything.
23. Trading Votes
SLC Olympic ice skating voting scandal, how it forever changed the scoring of multiple sports to go to point systems.
Promo: What if the fairy tale story we were told, didn't have a happy ending and actually never hapened?
Can we talk about the fact that Gabe Ruettiger made most of his story up and Disney bought it all. Joe Montana famously said the whole this was bullshit. And Ruettiger has since gone on to be arrested for fraud.. yet Rudy still gets to live as a great movie without a retraction.
25. Set Up and Close –
the advent of situational pitchers (7th 8th and 9th inning pitchers)
26. Lord Stanley’s Cup
Check out these great articles, how does this not deserve a documentary?
27. Changing History
Promo: What if I told you hollywood lied to you.
Why can’t Hollywood just tell us what happened about every true story sports movie. I'm a huge stickler for this because eventually people remember the story rather than the truth, just like Cool Runnings above, and the fact that Paul Revere never rode through town saying the British are coming,.
28. Dutch Dynasty
There needs to be a documentary about speed skating in the Netherlands
29. Cleveland Sucks
Not sure where this documentary ends since they never win a championship in anything,
30. Lords of the game
Promo: What if I told you that for over a decade the game almost didn't seem fair...
Since 2003 Wimbledon, 50 tennis majors have been contested... 42 of them have been won by 3 just men: Federer, Nadal and Djokovich. We need to wait but Djokovich is likely to keep this going and may beat Federer's major title record too.
We've got a fantastic last 150 minutes to come.
(Do they even still do that?)
Did you know that Wedge has had a drafted blog post for over a year now for a pretty good topic? I'm not gonna tell you what it is either. But whenever he finishes it, it'll be great. Trust me.
Prop bet: What happens first?
Cubs win the World Series
Wedge finishes that draft
I'm a Djokiovic fan, but Murray is easily my #2 dude. And I know I brought this up earlier, but I'd just like to point out that the Australian Open final is kind of unfair. We would never take the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament, have one game on Saturday, one on Sunday, and then the championship game on Monday. Both winners get that day off. I believe Murray had a huge disadvantage, and as a viewer, I'd rather see two players with equal rest time. I know Djokovic is pretty unstoppable right now, but still... I wish they'd consider changing this system.
Sadly for the fighters it ends in a "No Contest" but worse likely injury.
Speedgeek - 47
Wedge - 36
Mike - 36
Speedgeek is slaughtering us. While I managed epic lows in UFC (and probably soccer as well) as expected, I also managed to LOSE ground on basketball! When the tennis and racing are my only hopes for winning, you know something went wrong. Other than Depaul and Tulane, I felt pretty good about my basketball picks, yet I barely cracked .500.
There are still four soccer games today, the Pro Bowl tonight, and LOTS of points still on the race track. With the final times getting double points (12, 8, and 4), Wedge and I still have a shot. Looks like my hopes lie with the 90 and the 2, while Speedgeek has the 5 and the 10. Wedge's best shot right now is the 01.
In GTLM, the #3 and #4 Corvettes are basically nose to tail with the #912 Porsche, while the #25 BMW, the #68 Ferrari, the #72 Ferrari and the #911 Porsche are all also on the lead lap.
In GTD, there are eight or nine cars on the lead lap, led by the #44 Magnus Racing Audi (yay).
In LMPC, well, the #85 has a nine lap lead on the #26.
Uh, oh, the #31 Corvette DP just pulled back to the garage area. Things are changing by the minute here.
- Patrick Long's hair
- Any interview with either of the Taylor brothers
- Any driver/team member that speaks with a crazy German accent
- Andy Lally doing Andy Lally things
- Basically anything that happens in the Magnus Racing pit (including the excellent webcast going on at MagnusRacing.com, which is currently featuring noted "guy killer" Spencer Pumpelly putting together Legos while discussing the movie "Pootie Tang")
There's more, that's just scratching the surface. But this race is fantastic.
So far this morning, we've already had wheel to wheel battles in the top-3 in Prototype/overall, the top-3 three cars covered by less than 10 seconds in GTLM, up to 10 cars on the lead lap in GTD, and Justin Bell playing with Lego guys in the Magnus Racing pits. This race is shaping up to be everything I could ever want.
Mike may have to step out for a bit (he's earned some time out of "the office"), but I'm gonna be here.
On the 1992 Honda Accord that I had to finally give up in July, I had to use packing tape to keep the back windows up! And then somehow wasps still managed to get in and would all die behind the back seats on top of the speakers that didn't work. My kids were terrified to ride in the wasp car. The DEAD WASP car.
I wonder if any of these cars have dead wasps in them?
And they're showing my 44 car in the pits right now. Except... um... I thought these dudes were made out of Legos...
We have brought up in the past about how one guy has more rest than the other, and I have to think that might have something to do with it. I watched Murray battle hard just yesterday, while Djokovic got an extra 24 hours.
Either way, Djokovic grabs his 6th Australian Open title, and I'm going to work on the current coffee situation around here.
On a side note, I may not be around as much in the final 1/3 here. I'm hoping the racing dudes on the blog settle in with some coverage of the action down the stretch. I'll try to keep chiming in here and there though.
Navage... More like... Savage?
- Scott Pruett is leading! Hi to everybody's families everywhere! Including my own (who are all in bed)!
- The #02 and the #60 have both plummeted down the leaderboard for some reason. I can't wait for this travesty of a product placement/lesson movie to be over so I can see what happened.
- I'm sort of lying. I'm actually kind of enjoying "Crackerjack". The beer might be helping.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Plot from IMDB: A lovable loser must choose to either repeat his family history, change it or just go play softball.
"There ain't no place like the South...." First words. Jeff Foxworthy. I guess we're doing this.
So Bill Bailey IV is Crackerjack. Foxworthy is calling this a Southern folk tale. Or did he say fairy tale? Did he just say "little person"?
So the men in Bill's family have a history of running out on their families. Will Bill run out as well? Will he choose softball over his fiance? DO WE CARE?
So far the softball team names are: Big Stix and the Master Batters. And I swear, they just said, "He's a Master Batter. Once a Master Batter, always a Master Batter."
There is some fat girl bullying Bill. I have no idea why. I don't know what is happening in this movie. Foxworthy's film is too deep!
New team name: Man Munition?
Rumble on the muddy softball field. You know, cause Bill really takes his softball seriously. "This is our battlefield."
Like, lots of different people had to write this, they had to hold cameras, they had to do casting, they editied film... How did ANY of these people think this was going to be a good movie??
So... he swore off football, maybe he got drunk(?), and then he ended up at a church. Then he blacked out? So now random church mobsters are at his house to... make him... I don't know!
Oh, does the church want him for his softball skills? That actually seems like a good solution. No one would give him crap about his softball if he were playing for Jesus, right??
OK. Jesus mascot. Not bad.
In slow-pitch softball, why would you put your best player at pitcher? Or even better... WHY PLAY SLOW-PITCH SOFTBALL?
Church league rules! No alcohol, no profanity, only ONE home run per game! And the Jesus mascot gets in on the brawl.
There's this one guy who doesn't talk and just always looks at Bill weird... I think he's an angel.
Look, in case I'm making it sound like the script and general story of this film are terrible, but maybe the music is OK... there is a song playing right now that keeps saying, "Pee-can pie."
Never mind. The angel dude talks. And is probably not an angel. But he has a new hood for Bill, who wrecked his last one. So maybe he IS an angel. I'm sticking with the angel theory.
I think this one lady is a prostitute. Or maybe SHE is an angel. Someone is definitely an angel here.
Crackerjack is not only a star adult softball player. He also collects quarters and Cabbage Patch Dolls.
I mean, this song is just the "Pee can pie" song, but he's singing "Honey bee" instead. Same song, dude. I promise.
You don't even want to know. You just don't.
45 minutes left?!?! Maybe 26 minutes of that is credits.
I kinda miss the good ol' days, when Bill's only problems were his commitment issues and the Master Batters talking crap. This church drama is stressing me out.
Hold the phone... Bill Bailey just got kidnapped BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY. Oh wait, it was just his two friends in camouflage.
Guys, have a seat, cause I'm about to blow you away. They're eating at the GOLDEN CORRAL. Jeff Foxworthy is one committed bastard. I hope they get a $2.99 to-go box!
DIP IT IN THE FOUNTAIN. ALL OF IT. DO IT.
In other news, Speedgeek and I seem to be testing limits of the Captcha system in the comments here:
PLOT TWIST: Jeff Foxworthy is the angel! Golden Corral is heaven! The chocolate fountain is the RIVER OF LIFE. The filthy, disgusting, but CHOCOLATE river of life.
Bill babysits a kid. "Did he behave?" "Like an ANGEL." I'm telling you. It's coming.
Also, I realize I'm not really commenting a whole lot on the plot here, but it's really quite simple. Church dudes help Crackerjack find balance in his life, and he commits to his pregnant fiance. And he runs into a small lake for some reason.
I wonder if IHOP is open.
There's ONE thing I don't get... (that's a joke, I don't get anything in this film)... Why does he collect dolls?
There's 15 minutes left. They're building up to something huge. Yet, if the screen went black, and a message popped up saying, "Sorry, we ran out of money and couldn't finish Crackerjack," I'd be like, "Eh, oh well. When does the Australian Open final start?" That's not what Foxworthy wanted to hear, I bet. Not with all this sad violin music playing!
Why is he standing on his car like it's the Titanic?
Hey, it's Pedro!
No movie can reach its true peak without a Piggly Wiggly bag.
Oh... the old "engagement ring in the Golden Corral roll." Been there, buddy.
Hooray, we did it. I wish I could say Foxworthy made a decent movie, but... this one was pretty rough. Definitely better than Fumbleheads though.
Thanks to Speedgeek for joining me this time! Made it even better.
Thanks to anyone else who followed along or who is checking out the archived final notes.
And with yet another song singing about "pee-cans," I'm gonna turn this off now.
Important note: AT&T Uverse is not the best Internet I've ever had. I hope to get through the movie with no issues, but I apologize in advance if we get out of sync at any point.
We are officially 1/3 of the way through. My LSU Tigers let the upset of the season slip away. I've been getting knocked around various Mario Kart tracks by players with names like Papa, Daddy, Aunt Sylvia, and Uncle Paul. And I'm about to get set up to watch a movie that claims Jeff Foxworthy as both its narrator and executive producer.
What have we seen so far?
The Delta Wing Flies
The Delta Wing was incredibly fast early on, and led a good portion of the early going, but wound up hitting a car that was stationary in the infield, and is out with tub damage. One thing is for certain, we'll be seeing more of the Delta Wing at the front of fields before the season is over, especially at tracks where straight line speed is important.
So Have the P2s
The Michael Shank #60 has led a bunch of laps, and currently sits in 6th overall. In addition, the #2 ESM car sits in 3rd, so the P2 cars are very much in this for a possible victory.
More Tangles Than a Hair Salon
I just saw a recap of the race thus far, and it looks like it's been non-stop incidents. I know it hasn't been, from what I've actually seen the last 90 minutes, but there has been a LOT of contact for a race that isn't even close to midnight yet.
The New Car Blues Is a Thing That Is Real
One of the Mazda Prototypes was out after just 11 laps, and the GTLM Ford GTs have been beset by issues. The GTD Lamborghinis are still hanging in there, as are the new GTLM/GTD BMW M6s, but we've got a long way to go.
Lots of Battling
Every class except for LMPC has a lead margin of less than 10 seconds, but I suppose some of that is to be expected with as many cautions as there's been. But the action has been fast and furious, and I don't see that ending any time soon.
So, I'm settling in, and I should have at least a timing and scoring screen going, along with maybe the IMSA.com stream, in addition to the Netflix stream of Crackerjack. I've had a Green Flash Single Hop IPA, and the fridge is still well stocked, so let's get to it.
So apparently having a car stopped in the middle of the track isn't enough for a caution flag... I feel so bad for the Delta Wing's team, which dominated the front 4 hours of this race only to lose it because there was a stopped car with no lights sitting out on the track. Frankly we're lucky there wasn't a major injury
Friday, January 29, 2016
The No-Hopers#50 Highway to Help Riley DP-BMW - This feels a little like shooting fish in a barrel or something, but these guys show up and race every year, and every year, I say that they have no hope of winning. Well, I'm doing that again this year. But, I do have to say that this car finished in the top-30 last year (in 30th), so at least it seems like they manage to run more laps every year. Bryan DeFoor, David Hinton, and Thomas Gruber join multi-time class winner Dorsey Schroeder and 1996 overall winner Jim Pace. Good luck to you fellas. Odds - 1,000 to 1.
The Pack#0 Panoz Delta Wing Racing DWC13 - Really, outside of the #50 Riley-BMW, everybody else of the 12 entries has a pretty good shot of contending, if not winning. The least chance of the remaining 12 would be the Delta Wing, though. I'm not saying this off of speed (the Delta Wing finished with a top-5 lap time in five of the seven sessions of the Roar Before test, leading one session and never winding up further down than seventh), but because even up through the end of 2015, the Delta Wing has struggled to finish races. That isn't to say that they haven't worked out a bunch of their bugs over the off season, just that it's unlikely that they caught everything to the point where the car can be fast AND bulletproof. Full season drivers Katherine Legge and Sean Rayhall are joined by Andy Meyrick and Andreas Wirth. Odds - 100 to 1.
#70 Mazda Motorsports Mazda-Lola - I said in last year's Prototype class preview that the Mazdas had made "a quantum leap" over 2014. If that was true for 2015, it's even truer in 2016. Mazda has ditched the Skyactiv diesel engine for a more conventional 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo unit, and they have instantly found all of the pace that they've lacked the last two years. By the middle of the Roar Before test, the Mazdas were regularly in the top-5 fastest cars in class. So, now, the speed is there, but the reliability of a new package? There's the rub. And why I have a hard time picturing one of the red cars in victory lane on Sunday afternoon. Joel Miller, Ben Devlin and Tom Long are on driving duties for the #70, and they'll probably enjoy being MUCH closer to the front than they were last year. Odds - 50 to 1.
#55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda-Lola - See above for #70, substitute in Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez and defending Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot on the driving roster. Odds - 50 to 1.
#37 SMP Racing BR01-Nissan - Yeah, this car might be on the "pole" (though it was actually outqualified by eight other cars, it'll get to start up front due to IMSA putting all the Prototype cars up front), but the BR01 has never raced in America before, and only has one season of World Endurance Championship racing behind it. Yeah, that WEC season consists of 72 hours worth of racing, but everything else in the class that I haven't named yet has years of development. Maruizio Mediani, IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin, Kirill Ladygin and Nicolas "I've driven basically everything, and driven it fast" Minassian will put up a good fight, as long as the car hangs in there. Odds - 15 to 1.
#60 Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Ligier JS P2-Honda - The Michael shank team is a crowd favorite every year, and they seem to contend for a good chunk of the race every year. Heck, they even won this thing outright just four years ago. But even though the Ligiers have been SUPER fast (the #60 Shank car was fastest in four of the seven sessions of the Roar Before test, and second fastest in another session; the #2 ESM car was fastest in one of the three sessions that the Shank car wasn't fastest), something tells me that the Ligiers are still going to be a bit too fragile on the Daytona high banks to get the job done. The team's regular drivers of John Pew and Oswaldo Negri are joined by Shank Daytona regular (and NASCAR driver) A.J. Allmendinger, and they've added the extremely experienced (and talented) Olivier Pla as their fourth driver. This is a team and car that I'm more than ready to be wrong about come Sunday afternoon. Odds - 12 to 1.
#2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2-Honda - You can basically take everything that I just said about the Shank Ligier and apply it to the ESM Ligier. Team owner/sponsor Ed Brown is the only "weakness" of any sort in the driver lineup for the #2, but he's plenty experienced and quite quick for a guy who wears the hat of "owner/sponsor". He can hold his own just fine. And the rest of the drivers (Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Luis Felipe "Pipo" Derani, the last of whom was the fastest in the last session of the Roar Before test) will more than hold up their end of the bargain. They might just be a rabbit for the first half of the race, but if the car holds out, they could be there at the end. Odds - 12 to 1.
#31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP - The sister car to the defending series champion #5 Action Express Racing car, the #31 came into its own last year, and regular drivers Dane Cameron and Eric Curran were a force to be reckoned with at more races than not. That should also hold true for 2016 as well, and with IndyCar driver extraordinaire Simon Pagenaud and Sunoco Whelen Challenge prize winner and British GT champion Jonny Adam joining them, the #31 should be right on the front running pace. Can they topple the sister car and the Ganassi juggernauts? We will see. Odds - 10 to 1.
#02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford DP - This is where things get controversial. The multi-time Daytona 24 Hour winning Ganassi cars were hardly noticeable during the Roar Before test, only scratching into the top-5 in one session. So, it seems like the defending champion cars have been overtaken by the Corvette DPs, the Ligiers and possibly even the SMP car and Delta Wing in the speed department. But the drivers have all done this sort of thing before, and speed almost never is the deciding factor in this race. But if the Ganassi cars spend the first 22 hours just trying to stay on the lead lap, will they be able to position themselves properly to take on the leaders in the final stint or two? And in that final stint, will they be fast enough to actually make a pass for the lead or hold the lead? Drivers Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray are the defending champs of this race, so you know they can get it done, but can the car? Odds - 9 to 1.
#01 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford DP - The above entry for the #02 applies for this car as well, but substitute in the international superstar driving lineup of reigning World Endurance Championship LMP1 champion Brendon Hartley, newly "retired" WEC/F1 driver Alexander Wurz, longtime BMW factory driver and new Ganassi Ford GT WEC convert Andy Priaulx and young Canadian FIA Formula 3 driver Lance Stroll. That's a freaking lineup, folks. Odds - 9 to 1.
#10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP - The title for "longest team/car title" goes to one of the more likely cars to win the race overall. These guys came ever so close to winning this race last year, winding up on the lead lap at the end of 24 hours, only to be disqualified for a drive time violation (Jordan Taylor drove more than four of the last six hours of the race, which is a no-no). They'll probably have worked out that little glitch, and the car should be just as fast as always. Regular drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor are joined by usual endurance teammate Max Angelelli, along with ex-Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello. The #10 will be in this one right down to the end, too. Odds - 8 to 1.
#90 VisitFlorida Racing Corvette DP - The #90 squad contended for the championship right down to the end of 2015, only to lose out at the final race at Road Atlanta. And they contended for wins at more races than they didn't. And arguably, they may have reloaded with an even stronger driving team this year, with new full time drivers in Marc Goossens and Ryan Dalziel, who is probably no longer thought of as "the most underrated sports car driver in America" due to having about 14 of those types of articles written about him in the last 24 months. They're joined for this race by IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is...ahem...hunter-reay-ing for his first win at Daytona. Too much? Sorry. It's be a long week of writing, and I'm getting punchy. Anyway, I can see this race coming right down to a last lap duel between several cars, and one of the two that keeps popping up in this imaginary scenario is the #90. We'll get to the other in a second... Odds - 8 to 1.
The (Slight) Favorite#5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP - This team feels like it's won just about everything over the course of the last couple of years, with the sole exception being last year's Daytona 24 Hours (they finished second, just 1.3 seconds behind the winning Ganassi car). Their winning everything means that it's all too easy to imagine them winning again. They've tinkered precious little with their formula, bringing back Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa as their regular drivers, but they're bringing in two "new" drivers for Daytona. First up is Felipe Albuquerque, a factory Audi LMP1 WEC driver. The other guy is a guy named Pruett, who I understand has a family that he's fond of. There are no weaknesses here to be found. Anywhere. Odds - 7 to 1.
Whew! We made it! Really, I'm about as excited for this year's 24 Hours as I have been in a few years, or certainly since the sports car "merger" of 2014 (adding in a bunch of new cars will do that to a guy). I just think that this is going to be a fascinating race, rife with uncertainty and surprises. I hope you'll all join us as we put our special brand of nonsense and occasionally accidental lucid thoughts up here. It's going to be a great race/Blogathon.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Past Blogathons have seen me live-blogging about films like "Driven," "Hockey Mom" (legitimately aka "Chicks With Sticks"), and last year's "Fumbleheads."
But what in the world have I gotten myself into this year with this "Crackerjack" nonsense? Not only does it look terrible, which is how it got picked. But I'm kind of having trouble finding much info about it, which is weird, since it was released just a few years ago and clearly has Jeff Foxworthy's name on the cast list. (The same Jeff Foxworthy who is currently advertising the Golden Corral $2.99 take home box! Yum! Can I fill the whole box with questionable chocolate from the fountain?!)
Part of the trouble with "Crackerjack" is that there seems to be a somewhat decent film of the same name that was released in 2002. What might further confuse people is that the 2002 film is about bowling, so it is also a sports flick. But I suspect that some of the 2013 film's 6.2 rating on IMDB is a result of some confused fans of the older movie. The one-star total on Netflix seems more realistic.
The kinds of "reviews" I have found for the "Crackerjack" we'll be watching all look something like this:
"This is just the kind of stupid movie that this site's software uses when it can't find anything that you would really be interested in!" - random Netflix user
"Awesome Movie! Some genuine laugh out loud moments. Great Southern Charm. My Wife and I loved this movie. Feel good adult Christian movie." - KDGAMER, Fandango
"This movie currently being filmed in Savannah GA. My church is in a few scenes as well as many other areas in town." - D, comingsoon.netWhat does any of this even mean? I realize the last one's not even a review, but that's the kind of stuff that exists in Internet land. Either way, it all adds up to pure anticipation for us here at GBS.
Hopefully after Saturday night, future "Crackerjack" viewers will have new info to read before diving in!
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
The "Little Hopers"#21 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The Lamborghini Huracan is newly legal for the GTD class, and no less than five of them will be on the grid at Daytona. Lambos actually managed to top the time sheets for three of the seven sessions of the Roar Before test a couple weeks ago. So, why do I have this car effectively dead last in my "most likely to win" odds? Simple: only two drivers (Emanuele Businelli and Jim Michaelian) have been announced, and the car spent the entire Roar Before bringing up the tail end of the time sheets. Strike one and strike two, they're out. Wait. Mike is telling me that there are three strikes per out. My bad. I guess I'll have to start watching Cubs games again this year so that I can remember the little details like that again. Odds - 100 to 1.
#51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 GT3 - I've heard of two of the drivers (Matteo Cressoni and Marco Cioci, the latter of whom I think Allen actually owned for a race or two in our All Racing Fantasy League a couple years ago, and I had never heard of him before I saw his name in Allen's waiver wire e-mail), but not the other two (Peter Mann and Raffaele Giammaria). I don't like those sorts of odds, even if they're driving one of the proven Ferrari 458s. Odds - 100 to 1.
#007 TMG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - Well, I've heard of one of the drivers in this car. Wait, "Sergio Perez" isn't actually driving the car? Then, why's he listed on the driving roster? Well, OK, then, I'm oh-for-four in having heard of any of the drivers (the other four being Santiago Creel, Ricardo Perez de Lara, Lars Vijoen and Antonio Perez, who is apparently the brother of Sergio). Nope, nope and nope. Odds - 100 to 1.
#28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - I'm pretty sure I've actually heard of all five drivers in this car (Rolf Ineichen, Franz Konrad, Marc Basseng, Lance Willsey and Fabio Babini), but my knowledge of all of them basically ends at "I've heard of you". That might get you on the podium after 24 hours, but on the top step? Doubtful. Odds - 100 to 1.
The Field#98 TMG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - The V12-engined Aston Martin has been lightning quick over a single lap during the last couple of seasons. But it hasn't been all that fantastic at maintaining that speed over an entire race distance in that same time period. And with the #98 Aston only breaking into the top-10 lap times in class twice out of seven sessions at the Roar Before test (with a best of 5th in class), I'm not certain that even the single lap pace is there for the Aston anymore. The driving squad (Paul Dalla Lana, plus Aston factory drivers Richie Stanaway, Matthias Lauda and Pedro Lamy) are all more than fast enough, but I just don't know about the car's ability to hang with the fastest in the class. Odds - 60 to 1.
#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 - The longstanding BMW entrants of Turner Motorsport have ditched their normally aspirated V8-engined Z4s for the twin-turbocharged V8 M6 GT3. Which is cool, and the cars look awesome, but they struggled at the Roar Before test, only scraping into the top-10 times in class in the very last session when only 14 GTD cars even participated. Between a possible lack of pace and a higher probability of the "new car blues", I'm not feeling all that hopeful for the GTD Bimmers, even with the capable driving crew of Bret Curtis, Ashley Freiberg, Jens Klingmann and Marco Wittman. Odds - 60 to 1.
#97 Turner Motorsrpot BMW M6 GT3 - See above entry for the #96 M6, substitute in drivers Michael Marsal, Maxime Martin, Markus Palttala and Jesse Krohn. Odds - 60 to 1.
#30 Firkadelli Racing Porsche GT3 R - It's a Porsche, which means that it should last the distance. And the #30 did appear in the top-5 times in class twice during the Roar Before test. But the driving lineup (Klaus Abbelen, Patrick Huisman, Frank Stippler, Sven Muller and Nurburgring "Ring Taxi" queen Sabine Schmitz) isn't among the most well known in the field. Not that that means that they can't win, but there is some serious firepower in this field. Just staying running with few problems for all 24 hours isn't likely to cut it, you're going to have to stay with the leaders to have a chance to win. Odds - 50 to 1.
#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The #16 Lambo showed a flash or two of speed at the Roar Before test, finishing one session in second in class, but it had a hard time staying on track. Hopefully the teething problems have come and gone, but a 24 hour race is not a place where "hopefully" will cut it, especially with such a stout top half of the grid. All the drivers in this car are solid, though, so look for Justin Marks, Corey Lewis and Kaz Grala to mix it up as long as the car lasts. Oh, and also their other driver, Spencer Pumpelly, even though I have to downgrade their odds slightly, due to the fact that he allegedly killed a guy. Odds - 51 to 1.
#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 - This pick is not based upon anything around the team. The car should be OK (it did appear in the top-5 in class in one of the Roar Before sessions), the drivers are all good (Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn, Pierre Kaffer and Christopher Haase have all won races at this level or higher), the team has certainly gotten it done and won races before in the past. But since the GBS crew started talking about the Flying Lizards a couple of years ago, they basically haven't won a damn thing. Sorry, guys. This one is all our fault. Odds - 50 to 1.
#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 - The Ferraris were THE car to have in this class, no more than a season or two ago. But based on the times at the Roar Before test (if it seems like I'm putting more stock than usual in those times, it's because I am...with so much new machinery, it's my only metric of who's quick and who isn't right now), the 458 GT3 has lost a step to a bunch of the competition. The #63 Scuderia Corsa car only featured in the top-5 in class once, but it lingered back in 10th or so most sessions. Drivers Christina Nielsen, Jeff Segal, Robert Renauer and Alessandro Balzan can all get the job done, but will the car have the pace? Odds - 50 to 1.
#9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 - The Audis looked fast at the Roar Before test, but the #9 Stevenson Motorsports car was one of the slower Audis. I'm not sure why that is, since the driving crew of Boris Said, Tristan Vautier, Dion von Moltke and Kenny Habul should be able to hang with anybody (though Habul's name is the one that sticks out from that crowd as not being "quite like the others"), but maybe the long distance experience of Boris, Tristan and Dion will bring this car to the front. Odds - 30 to 1.
#93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R - Right here is where things get tough. The top-10 cars in this class look to be covered by a placemat. Or maybe half of a napkin. It's basically almost too close to call from here on out, but I'll be brave and stick my neck out. I'll put the #93 Viper in this slot, if for no other reason that it was the slower of the two Vipers at the Roar Before test, and that it wasn't in the top-10 in class lap times in most of the sessions. Team owner Ben Keating is joined by Gar Robinson, Jeff Mosing, Eric Foss and Damien Faulkner, all of whom can bring it. Odds - 20 to 1.
#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3 R - Another case of "somebody has to go this far down the list". The #73 Park Place Porsche usually was hovering down in 8th, 9th or 10th in class at the Roar Before, so that's why they're here. But the driver squad (Patrick Lindsey, Matt McMurry, Norbert Seidler and longtime Porsche driver extraordinaire Joerg Bergmeister) is about as good as it gets. Odds - 15 to 1.
#6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 - Arguably one of the absolute top driver lineups on the grid (Lawson Aschenbach, Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis and Matt Bell, and seriously, which of these guys is the "am" again?) in a car that was fast at the Roar Before test. But Stevenson Motorsports is making the big step up from the Continental Tire Sports Car Series to the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, and a 24 hour race is a tough debut. I just think that some of the longer time entries are going to have their stuff better sorted out to avoid the issues that pop up over 24 hours. Odds - 15 to 1.
#44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 - This one hurts. I desperately want to put these guys a few spots higher, with better odds than this, because 1) the Audis have been fast in testing, 2) the drivers (John Potter, Andy Lally, Marco Seefried and Rene Rast) are probably one of the top-5 groups on the grid and 3) their annual season preview video, which is usually excellent, absolutely blew my mind this year (if you've read this far, go ahead and go watch it...even if you've already watched it, I won't be insulted if you go watch it again...and again...right now...go watch it again). But something silly and usually out of their control seems to befall this team every year (like last year, where they hit a possum on track and it wound up going through the radiator and lodging itself in the "front trunk" of their Porsche). With a sky full of anvils seemingly waiting to fall on them, it's hard to see them winning. Though I hope maybe their video turned the tide of racing karma and they pull this one out. (Now go watch their video again.) Odds - 15 to 1.
#11 O'Gara Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The car carrying the defending GTD series champions (Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler), plus one time Indy Lights star (and nephew of 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever) Richard Antinucci, plus Edoardo "Don't Call Me Joe" Piscopo. They've traded in their usual Ferrari 458 for one of the quick new Lambos, but the team is a new one to the IMSA WeatherTech Series in O'Gara Motorsport. Given that some of the other teams in the field have been around longer, it's hard to see these guys winning, though much stranger things have happened. Odds - 15 to 1.
#33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R - This car was usually a rocket ship at most of the races last year, and I see nothing changing at Daytona (they clocked in with the second fastest time in class in two of the sessions at the Roar Before test). And the driving crew is just as strong as last year, with team owner Ben Keating (doing double duty with the #93 Viper), Jeroen Bleekemolen and Dominik Farnbacher being joined by Continental Tire Sports Car Series standout Marc Miller. These guys will definitely contend, right down to the end. Odds - 12 to 1.
#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R - It's a Porsche. And the driver lineup is stacked (team owner Tim Pappas, plus former Pirelli World Challenge standouts Nicky Catsburg and Andy Pilgrim...OH, plus Porsche factory driver Patrick Long). Victory is a real possibility for this car. Odds - 12 to 1.
#48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - An Audi team for the last two years, Paul Miller racing has traded their car in for one of the new Lambos. Their driving lineup is just as loaded up as always, with Mirko Bortolotti, Bryan Sellers, Bryce Miller and Madison Snow. To me, this feels like the strongest chance for a non-Porsche to win. Odds - 10 to 1.
#23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 R - As I've basically alluded to about five times already, even with the new machinery on the grid, the newly revised Porsche feels to me like it's the car to beat this year. Years of experience at Daytona plus quick times in testing equals almost certain victory. Or almost certain proof that I'm dumb. Of the Porsche teams, the one with probably the most experience is the Alex Job squad, so it should come as no surprise that I'm putting those guys right up at the top. The #23 car is about as strong as you could want, with Ian James, Alex Riberas, Mario Farnbacher and Wolf Henzler at the wheel, so there's basically nothing missing here... Odds - 10 to 1.
The Extremely Slight Favorite#22 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 R - ...with one exception: the guy sponsoring the series is driving the #22 car. HA! I kid. Well, really, the guy sponsoring the series (David MacNeil of WeatherTech) actually IS driving the #22 car, but I'm not suggesting any kind of underhanded business that'll put this car into victory lane. What's going to put this car into victory lane is the other four drivers (sports car stars Leh Keen and Gunnar Jeannette, Aussie V8 Supercar superstar Shane van Gisbergen, and David MacNeil's son Cooper, who himself is quite the "shoe", very much fitting in with the rest of that storied lineup) plus the team work from Alex Job Racing. Oh, plus the fact that it's a Porsche and Porsche has won its class at Daytona about 2,342 times. All of this added together means that this car gets the nod from me. Odds - 9 to 1.
So, we've got three classes down and one more to go. I won't have the Prototype preview done before qualifying happens tomorrow, so I guess I'll get the extra hindsight of knowing who's on the pole. Good for me! And good for you, too, I guess. Anyway, check back soon for the last of the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours class previews!
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Once again, our Blogathon coverage will include our Pick 'Em Challenge, where the three GBS writers pick winners for many of the events taking place this weekend.
We will be playing Mario Kart again this year. We'll be starting at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, which is an hour before racing coverage goes off of FS2, and will play until 11:00. If you want to join us, add Mike's network ID: radiantradish. Leave a message here if you want us to look for you.
We will also be screening and live-blogging during Crackerjack, a wacky (and likely awful) softball movie that is available to stream on Netflix. We'll be pressing "play" on Netflix at 11:30 p.m., so feel free to watch along with us and comment on the live-blog post. Bad movies are fun!
A special event for us this weekend is the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which will take place throughout the day on Saturday. My LSU Tigers will host No. 1 Oklahoma, while Kansas will face Kentucky, and Iowa State will travel to Texas A&M. Overall, there are 10 games in the challenge, in addition to lots of other basketball being played around the country.
Below are highlights of the live events available to watch during the weekend. All times are Eastern.
Saturday, January 30
Rolex 24 at Daytona (FS1)
X Games Aspen (ABC)
Iowa St. at Texas A&M (ESPN)
Mississippi at Kansas St. (ESPNU)
Tennessee at TCU (ESPN2)
La Salle at Dayton (NBCSP)
Xavier at DePaul (CBSSN)
NCAA Football: Senior Bowl (NFL)
PGA Golf: Farmers Insurance Open (CBS)
Rolex 24 at Daytona (FS2)
Texas Tech at Arkansas (ESPNU)
Boston College at North Carolina (ESPN2)
Murray St. at Tennessee-Martin (CBSSN)
Oklahoma at LSU (ESPN)
UFC Prelims (FS1)
Tulane at Tulsa (ESPNU)
Georgia at Baylor (ESPN2)
Alabama at South Carolina (SECN)
St. Joseph's at Rhode Island (CBSSN)
Kentucky at Kansas (ESPN)
NHL Skills Competition (NBCSP)
UFC: Johnson vs. Bader (FOX)
Memphis at SMU (ESPNU)
Oklahoma St. at Auburn (ESPN2)
San Diego St. at UNLV (CBSSN)
Providence at Georgetown (FS1)
Spurs at Cavs (ABC)
Mississippi St. at Missouri (SECN)
Grab Bag Sports: Blogathon Mario Kart 2016!
X Games Aspen (ESPN)
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine (ESPNU)
Pepperdine at BYU (ESPN2)
AMA Supercross in Oakland (FS1)
Bull Riding: PBR in Anaheim (CBSSN)
Grab Bag Sports at the Movies: Crackerjack (streaming on Netflix)
Sunday, January 31
Australian Open Men's Final (ESPN)
Rolex 24 at Daytona (FS1)
Skiing: FIS World Cup (NBCSP)
Soccer: Carlisle United vs. Everton (FS2)
Rolex 24 at Daytona (FS2)
Soccer: Milton Keynes vs. Chelsea (FS1)
Villanova at St. John's (FOX)
X Games Aspen (ESPN)
Rolex 24 at Daytona (FS1)
Maryland at Ohio St. (CBS)
PGA Golf: Farmers Insurance Open (GOLF)
Beyond Blogathon on Sunday
Bulls at Clippers, NFL Pro Bowl, NHL All-Star Game
Monday, January 25, 2016
The Lesser Contenders#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE - This certainly isn't for lack of driving talent (the roster boasts ex-F1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta and Ferrari factory sports car drivers Toni Vilander and Davide Rigon), but the Ferrari 488 GTE is a brand new car. And by "brand new", I mean that the Risi team missed the entire Roar Before test because the build of their new car was not yet completed. In the ensuing two weeks, they have finished the car, but it's had scant time to get on a track. Unless the turbocharged 488 GTE is insanely reliable right out of the box, the Risi guys are almost certain to have a bad case of "new car blues" (aka, everything going wrong because you haven't shaken out all the bugs yet). Frankly, I'll be surprised if this car makes it to Hour 12. Odds - 40 to 1.
#72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GTE - The SMP Ferrari actually got on the track during the Roar Before, which gives it a leg up on the Risi car, and it actually climbed up into the middle of the pack in a session or two. So, the speed might be there or thereabouts, even though the limited running of the Ferraris is liable to still jump up and bite this car as well. Factory Ferrari sports car drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Andrea Bertolini and James Calado are joined by Russian Viktor Shaytar, who did decently in the World Endurance Championship last year. A capable crew that'll be let down by a car that's not quite ready. Odds - 30 to 1.
#68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE - Another Ferrari team that'll be battling a new and yet-to-be-developed car. The #68 actually made it onto the track for the Roar Before test as well, but except for one session where the car was the fastest, the #68 was down in the lower reaches of the GTLM class on the time sheets. It's another driving roster that's full of talent (Ferrari ace Alessandro Per Giudi, capable Brazilian Daniel Serra, ex-DTM and Aussie V8 Supercar driver Alexander Premat and ex-Ganassi/ex-Delta Wing pilot Memo Rojas), that'll be wishing the 488 was about six months further along on its development curve. Odds - 30 to 1.
The More Definite Contenders#100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM - The new, twin-turbocharged BMW M6 GTLM is, like the similarly twin-turbocharged V8 Ferrari 488 GTE, a brand new car. So, given that two of the manufacturers that are battling in this class are bringing less made over models that are well sorted out, it'll take some astonishing luck on the part of the teams with the brand new cars to overcome years of development. That said, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW guys are some of the best in the business, and the M6 was quick at the Roar Before test, even topping the time sheets at times. The squad of the #100 car (which includes Lucas Luhr, Kuno Wittmer and Americans John Edwards and Graham Rahal) are as quick as anybody, but will their new rocket ship let them down? Odds - 25 to 1.
#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM - See above, substitute in the longtime superstar BMW driving roster of "Bad Bill" Auberlen (nobody calls him that except for probably me), Augusto Farfus (look up #farfusfacts on Twitter sometime for some tasty folklore about that guy), Dirk Werner and Bruno Spengler. Odds - 25 to 1.
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT - The new Ford GT looks unbelievable. And it was super fast at the Roar Before test, regularly within a tenth of a second or two of the top running teams. But, and I know this sounds like a broken record, it is a brand new car. I mean, BRAND. NEW. The engine is the same basic EcoBoost V6 unit that Chip Ganassi Racing has been using in its Daytona Prototype for the last couple of years, but the rest of the car is so new that they have yet to appear on the road. If any team in the US can develop a car from scratch, it's Ganassi, but have they had enough time to work out all the bugs that'll pop up during a 24 hour race? Full season drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Muller and 3rd driver and IndyCar ace Sebastien Bourdais sure hope so. But I have some doubts. Odds - 20 to 1.
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT - See above, substitute in full season drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook and 3rd driver Stefan Mucke. Odds - 20 to 1.
#912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR - The Porsches were, how can I say it...not as quick as the front runners the Roar Before test. But they weren't that far off of the front runners, and they return in 2016 with a car that is not completely different from their 2015 car (more than can be said for the Ferraris and BMWs, let alone the all-new Fords). Given that I watched one of the GTLM Porsches trounce the field in the wet at Petit Le Mans last fall, you'd have to be an idiot to rule them out for at least a class victory at Daytona. So, while I think they're not the favorites, due to their very, very slight lack of pace, I am certain that they'll run all 24 hours and give the leading squads something to worry about. Unless they crash into each other, like the Porsches did last year in the early going. The #912 is driven by Earl Bamber (an overall winner at Le Mans in 2015 in the 919 P1 Prototype), Frederic Makowiecki and Michael Christensen, who are all Porsche factory drivers, but I'm giving a slight edge to the sister car. Odds - 10 to 1.
#911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR - Like I said, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy schooled the field (the ENTIRE field, prototypes included) at Road Atlanta last fall, and they've added ex-McLaren factory driver to the Porsche factory driver ranks and to the roster of the #911. That is a crazy stacked lineup. Odds - 9 to 1.
The Favorites#3 and #4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.Rs - The 'Vettes led the way for what felt like most of the Roar Before test, leading three of the seven sessions, but almost always having at least one car in the top-3. The car is coming back with minor tweaks from last year instead of revolutionary changes. Oh, and it's the defending champion of the race, along with being the defending champions of the Sebring 12 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They've gotta be the heavy favorites in GTLM. The #3 is being driven by Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller (who we're used to seeing in a prototype at Daytona, and P1 Audis in WEC competition). The #4 is being driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler (who we're used to seeing standing atop the podium at Le Mans in an Audi uniform). You can basically flip a coin between these two cars for your class winner. Odds - 3 to 1 (both cars).
Another class down, and a fascinating one at that. New cars abound, and they all look quick, but the question will be "who can make it 24 hours with no problems?" Which, I suppose, is always the case in a 24 hour race, but feels even more valid here, given the level of totally new equipment. Halfway through our previews, with two more (huge!) classes to come!
Sunday, January 24, 2016
As in years past, I'll be posting my own special brand of class previews (here is where you question my definition of the word "special"), taken on in the order of least interesting class (to me) to most interesting class (to me). And as in years past, the mantle of "least interesting" falls, almost by default, to the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class. As usual, it's still a class full of basically identical cars powered by Chevrolet V8 engines. Zero mechanical diversity = "not as interesting", it's pretty much that simple (to me). As always, the driving crews for each car must be staffed with at least one "amateur" driver, and many of the teams have at least one more "am" driver, some of whom are "pros" cunningly disguised as an "am" within the inscrutable FIA/IMSA driver ranking system. And that sentence right there is exactly how much I'm going to talk about the driver rating system for the remainder of the week. With all of the formalities out of the way, let's get to the rundown. And as always, don't go adding up those odds. It'll just give you a headache.
The Long(er) Shots#88 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 - Teams in this "lowest" category of likelihood to win can take solace in that when the prohibitive class favorite CORE Autosport car broke late in the 2015 race, the class was won by the car I ranked second least likely to win, at 40 to 1 odds. The moral of the story, I'm an idiot, and I should never bet any amount of money on racing, ever (to clarify: I have never had any money riding on any of my odds that I've set here). That aside, I have to say that the #88 Starworks car (not to be confused with the #8 Starworks team car, which I'll get to in a bit) doesn't look quite as strong in the driving department as many in the rest of the class. The driving crew is headed up by defending FIA European Formula 3 champion Felix Rosenqvist, making his American racing debut, but the driving superlatives pretty much end right about there. Maro Engel brings a long and mostly undistinguished career in DTM German Touring Cars and Aussie V8 Supercars (zero top-5s in 42 starts in DTM from 2008 to 2011, one top-10 finish in 36 starts in Aussie V8s in 2013). Sean Johnston has done some stuff in America and Germany, but with his webpage and Facebook pages only seeing sporadic updates since 2014, it's hard to tell exactly how much success he's had. And Mark Kvamme brings six total previous starts in IMSA competition. This is a hard one to see much success coming from. Odds - 30 to 1.
#38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 - Jim Norman (that's Dr. Jim Norman to you and me) has plenty of experience in racing, even scoring a class win in the lightly subscribed GX class in 2013. James French is an up and comer in IMSA, with plenty of LMPC starts. Brandon Gdovic is the reigning Lamborghini Gallardo World Champion. And Josh Norman (Dr. Jim's son) has been racing Lamborghinis with his dad the last year or so. But this team is (mostly, minus French) short on LMPC experience and also shy on experience at Daytona. Hard to see this car beating a bunch of the teams with the more heralded lineups, unless everything goes right. Odds - 30 to 1.
#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 - Yeah, yeah, this was the car I was so very wrong about last year. But I also have a hard time that Tom Kimber-Smith and crew will be able to capture lightning in a bottle two years in a row. Right? The wildly experienced and fast TKS will be joined this year by Robert Alon (who has had some success in IMSA Prototype Lights), 19-year old Mexican driver Jose Gutierrez, who has had one win and one pole in 34 Pro Mazda championship starts, and Nick Boulle. I believe the latter three have a grand total of zero LMPC starts. Hmmm. Odds - 30 to 1.
The Field#20 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 - At press time, only three of the five drivers on the roster have been announced, so it's kind of hard to pin this team down. But, those three that have been announced should be plenty capable. Johnny Mowlem is quick in basically anything. Tomy Drissi has been driving for what seems like forever, with a storied past in Trans Am and sports car racing, and has plenty of wins in his past, including in LMPC. Marc Drumwright has five previous starts in an LMPC. That should put this team solidly in the hunt, but it's hard to see exactly where. Until those last two drivers are known... Odds - 20 to 1.
#26 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 - Adam Merzon has one LMPC start (coming at Petit Le Mans in 2014). Don Yount got a couple of LMPC starts with BAR1 at the end of 2015. John Falb had three starts in IMSA last year after a season in IMSA Prototype Lights. That doesn't sound like a ton of experience, but the team is bolstered by Ryan Lewis, who has been kicking around (and winning) in LMPC for years, and Pirelli World Challenge factory Acura driver Ryan Eversley. If karma has anything to say about things, then Eversley built up enough goodwill among the racing gods over the off season by hosting the amazing "Dinner With Racers" podcast with Sean Heckman to see this team to the podium. Will reality bear that out? I dunno, but I'll give Eversley (and karma) the benefit of the doubt. Odds - 15 to 1.
#85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca FLM09 - Now, we're getting serious. Really serious. Stephen Simpson has a long list of experience, including the A1GP championship that was a favorite here at GBS. Mikhail Goikhberg did the entire 2015 IMSA Sports Car season after winning the 2014 IMSA Prototype Lights championship, and had three podium finishes and one LMPC class pole to show for his rookie season in IMSA's top class. Kenton Koch is the reigning 2015 IMSA Prototype Lights champion, after winning 11 of 14 races (though he's making his LMPC debut at Daytona). And Chris Miller has plenty of LMPC experience (and success). In addition to this, all but Koch were in this car as it drove to third in class last year. Repeat success is not tough to see for this car. Odds - 8 to 1.
#8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 - This car is just about a "who's who" of who's been good in LMPC over the last 2-3 years. Alex Popow and Chris Cumming have multiple wins in LMPC. Renger van der Zande is widely hailed as one of the fastest in this type of car anywhere. And their "extra" driver is none other than IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth, who himself has won races in LMPC. Yep, they'll be up in the very front of the lead pack all day, unless calamities strike. Odds - 8 to 1.
The Favorite#54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 - Yeah, I know, this is a total broken record thing by now. Every year, they're my (and most everybody's) favorite to win the class, but when they win the class season championship every year and win Daytona just about every year (except for last year, when late misfortune struck and relegated them to second in class, just 10 laps behind the winner), you'd be a fool to pick anybody else as your favorite. Jon Bennett, Mark Wilkins and Colin Braun (who was the fastest in LMPC at the Roar Before test a couple weeks ago) all return, but James Gue has been swapped out for prototype ace Martin Plowman. Yikes. What can you even say? Odds - Even money.
OK, that's one down and three to go. And it's gonna get juicy in the other three classes. Stay tuned.