This week, ten IMSA championships will be decided at Road Atlanta. We’re going to break down what the scenarios are. Some are easier said than done. Of note, IMSA drivers can earn a maximum of 36 points in a race for a victory. Second is worth 33 points, then 31 for third. Fourth gets 29, and fifth gets 27. From then on down, the points drop off one per position.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
It is a near dead heat in the Prototypes between the two Action Express Racing entries. The No. 31 of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran have a one-point lead over the No. 5 of Jõao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. If both cars don’t run into issues, then it would likely be whoever finishes the race first will take the title. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that Action Express Racing will take the title. The Taylor brothers (Jordan and Ricky) are only seven points out. That is the difference between winning and finishing fourth. The chances are good that four or five cars are going to be on the lead lap at the end of the race on Saturday.
In the spec prototype division, Starworks Motorsport‘s Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow have a ten-point lead over PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports‘ Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon on the strength of four wins. With only seven cars entered in Road Atlanta, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ only hope to win the title would be for the No. 8 to run into problems and finish last in class.
GT Le Mans:
Despite some mid-season struggles, Corvette Racing‘s No. 4 driven by Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin remains on top of the standings. Four victories, including both Daytona and Sebring at the beginning of the season, have given Gavin and Milner an 11-point lead in the standings over Ford Chip Ganassi Racing‘s No. 67 for Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook. Gavin and Milner will win the title with a seventh-place finish or better on Saturday.
The big exclusion penalty for Magnus Racing at VIR completely changed the complexion of the GT Daytona championship. If Andy Lally and John Potter had gotten their points for finishing third at VIR, they would be 11 points out in second. Scuderia Corsa‘s Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen would have to sweat out the ten-hour distance.
That’s not the case. Balzan and Nielsen enter the weekend 32 points ahead of Riley Motorsports‘ Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen. All Balzan and Nielsen need to do is qualify for points. In Nielsen’s case, since she’s a silver-rated driver, she will have to drive a minimum of three hours on Saturday. If Nielsen accomplishes that, they’ll walk out of Road Atlanta Saturday night as champions.
Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup
First, an explanation. The Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup is a “championship within a championship” inherited from Grand-Am after the Grand-Am/ALMS merger. The four extra-distance races (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta) incorporate a drivers and teams championship to recognize continued excellence.
Points are awarded at multiple times during the race. In the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in January, points were awarded every six hours. For Saturday’s Petit Le Mans, they will be awarded three times. That will be at the four hour mark, the eight hour mark, and at the finish. The driver and team leading when the points are awarded gets five points. Second-place gets four points, third gets three points and everyone else that’s on-track gets two.
Currently, Action Express Racing’s No. 5 of Barbosa and Fittipaldi have 35 points. That’s good enough for a two-point lead over Tequila Patron ESM‘s Pipo Derani, Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp. Action Express’ No. 31 of Cameron and Curran is six points out of the lead.
Kenton Koch has done all three previous Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races, but he’s done them with two different teams (Daytona and Sebring with JDC/Miller MotorSports, Watkins Glen with Performance Tech Motorsports). As a result, he has the solo points lead right now. Koch’s advantage is two points over PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Kimber-Smith, Alon and José Gutierrez. JDC/Miller MotorSports’ Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller are five points back.
Due to Koch’s split run between the Nos. 38 and 85 this season, the PC class is the only class that could have split champions. In the team championship, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has a three-point lead over JDC/Miller Motorsports. There is a four-way tie for third between Performance Tech Motorsports, BAR1 Motorsports‘ No. 20, Starworks Motorsport’s No. 8 and CORE autosport‘s No. 54, which has withdrawn from the championship.
GT Le Mans:
Officially, the entire class is still alive for the championship, depending on a number of factors.
Currently, the No. 4 Corvette of Gavin and Milner lead the standings, but by only one point. Four separate teams are tied for second. Those are the No. 25 BMW Team RLL entry for Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, the No. 67 for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (Briscoe and Westbrook) and both Porsche North America teams (Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy in No. 911, Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki in the No. 912). Its anyone’s game.
Alex Job Racing-Team Seattle‘s Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas have the lead, but by only one point over Magnus Racing’s Lally and Potter. Scuderia Corsa’s Balzan and Nielsen are another point back with Stevenson Motorsports‘ Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell one point behind the No. 63. Its wide open.
IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
Grand Sport is probably the easiest championship to figure out of the ten. Multimatic Motorsports‘ Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson have a 31-point lead over CJ Wilson Racing‘s Marc Miller and Danny Burkett. All the team needs to do to win the title is start the race and run one of their drivers for 45 minutes. Both drivers have to do it in order to get points.
Here, things get a little more complicated. Freedom Autosport‘s Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer have an eight-point lead over Rennsport One‘s Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly. Third is Murillo Racing‘s Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing, ten points behind.
Quite simply, if McAleer and McCumbee finish fourth or better, they will defend their championship from last season no matter what. If Murillo Racing’s No. 56 wins, they claim the title by finishing fifth or better. HART‘s Chad Gilsinger in fourth, 20 points back, is still alive as well. However, he would require the frontrunners to have issues.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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