This weekend will see the full compliment of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s five classes race for six hours at Watkins Glen International. As of this writing, 40 teams are entered for the race, but that may change.
In the DPi class, seven teams are entered. In addition to the six full-time entries, Action Express Racing’s second with Jimmie Johnson at the helm is back. Once again, Johnson is joined by Simon Pagenaud and Kamui Kobayashi.
Since this is the shortest of the four Michelin Endurance Cup events, many of the pro teams are just running their regular two driver lineups. Exceptions are Action Express Racing, who has Mike Conway back in the No. 31 Cadillac in addition to the part-time No. 48 and Mazda Motorsports, who has brought Jonathan Bomarito back into the fold for the weekend.
While the available entry list does not indicate this, Wayne Taylor Racing will also run a third driver. WTR announced Tuesday (June 22) that Alexander Rossi will rejoin the team this weekend after running with them at Daytona and Sebring. The team was originally entered with just regular drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor.
The LMP2 class returns to action for the first time since Sebring in March. This was not the original plan, but the postponement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to August resulted in the class getting from the Belle Isle. Five teams are entered here.
There are no changes in teams entered in the class. The same five teams that contested the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring are entered here.
The only driver change in the class is at Tower Motorsport by Starworks, where James French has joined the team and will contest the remainder of the season. He replaces Timothe Buret, who had a huge crash at Sebring.
Driver is safe and walked away thanks to the amazing safety tech of the LMP2 platform. pic.twitter.com/BbMa0zc9Zo
— #IMSA / #Sahlens6HRS (@IMSA) March 20, 2021
There are nine cars entered in the LMP3 class, but it might be seven by the time practice gets underway. Why? A couple of reasons.
For one, Sean Creech Motorsports is up in the air right now. Lance Willsey, who has driven for the team for many years in IMSA Prototype Challenge before moving up this year, has left the team. That leaves the operation in flux. No drivers are currently listed with the team on the entry list.
Forty7 Motorsports is once again entered with their Duqueine-D08-M30-Nissan, but they only have one driver listed (Austin McCusker) when three are required for this weekend. It is similar to what the entry list for this team looked like at Mid-Ohio. They did not race there.
In reality, Forty7 Motorsports has zero signed drivers for the weekend. Last week, United Autosports announced that McCusker will drive their No. 2 Ligier JS P320-Nissan this weekend in the team’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in the LMP3 class (it’s a two-car effort since they’ll also be in the LMP2 class). He’ll be joined by Niklas Kruetten and Edouard Cauhaupe.
Kruetten was a last-minute entry at Sebring for WIN Autosport alongside Matt Bell and Rodrigo Sales. He ended up finishing sixth in class. Cauhaupe will be making his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut.
All three drivers are currently full-time in the European Le Mans Series’ LMP3 class, but for different teams. Cauhaupe is with United Autosports, while McCusker drives for Nielsen Racing and Kruetten for Cool Racing. Through three races, Kruetten’s Cool Racing No. 19 shared with Bell and Nicolas Maulini are leading the points with victories at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring and a second-place at Paul Ricard. Cauhaupe is fifth in his entry shared with Wayne Boyd (entered in LMP2 this weekend) and Rob Wheldon. They have a best finish of third at Paul Ricard. McCusker’s No. 6 entry that he shares with Nick Adcock and Max Koebolt is 11th in points with a best finish of sixth at Barcelona.
The endurance aspect of the weekend means that extra drivers are entered. No one is more notable here than Marco Andretti, who will make his LMP3 debut for Andretti Autosport alongside his cousin Jarett and Oliver Askew. Andretti is currently splitting time between this effort and the Camping World SRX Series.
Finally, we have the debut of Dawson Racing’s No. 84 under the D3+Transformers branding. Ben Devlin will drive alongside Dominic Cicero and Theodor Olsen. This team was originally announced as being an LMP2 team that was supposed to race full-time starting in 2018, but that never came to pass. Both Cicero and Olsen will be making their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debuts, while Devlin will be racing for the first time since 2016.
The GT Le Mans class has five teams entered. BMW Team RLL is back with their two BMW M8 GTEs, while WeatherTech Racing returns after skipping the non-points race at Belle Isle Park two weeks ago. The team returns the same lineup of Cooper MacNeil, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet that took the class win at Sebring in March.
Finally, there are 14 teams entered in the GT Daytona class, up from 12 at Belle Isle Park. Gradient Racing and Compass Racing are not part of that group of 14, having only committed to the WeatherTech Sprint Cup. Magnus with Archangel, PFAFF Motorsports and Wright Motorsports, who chose to skip Belle Isle, are all back.
CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing, who dominated at Belle Isle and won on the road before penalized for a fueling infraction, enters their first endurance event. Joining Richard Heistand and Jeff Westphal is Tyler McQuarrie, who normally drives for the team in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. This will mark McQuarrie’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut, but it is not his first top-flite sports car race. In 2001, McQuarrie drove two races in the American Le Mans Series’ GT class for The Racers Group alongside team owner Kevin Buckler.
NTe Sport is also back with their Audi R8 LMS GT3. However, of the four drivers that drove for the team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in January, only Don Yount is back in the car. He’s joined by Markus Palttala and Jaden Conwright. Palttala is best known in IMSA for his time with Turner Motorsport. Conwright is making his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut this weekend after previously driving for the team in Michelin Pilot Challenge last year with Ashley Freiberg.
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.