The Whelen Engineering Cadillac team is in the hunt for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar DPi Championship heading into the season finale Petit Le Mans to run at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Nov. 10-13.
Whelen Engineering Cadillac drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani and the Action Express Racing team sit just 19 points out of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship driver and team points lead. With points awarded for qualifying, pole sitter is awarded 35 points, the team will have to unload with a fast No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Mike Conway will return as the third driver for the team as they attempt to win the Championship which they last won in 2018.
“I’m really excited to be heading into the last race at Petit Le Mans with a real chance of winning this Championship,” Derani said. “We’ve won this race in the past, so the Whelen Engineering Cadillac is going to be very competitive. We’re looking forward to this race because it’s one of the most fun tracks to drive. It’s really fast. The race is going to start midday and we’re going to have a lot of nighttime driving this year. It’s going to be a very interesting race with a Championship on the line. We want to win the race. We’re going with that mindset. We’ve won the last three out of four races. If we win the race, it’s going to guarantee us the Championship. Hopefully, it’s going to be a good weekend. We’re proud to be heading into the last race with a real chance of fighting for this Championship, especially after the difficult beginning to the season.”
Kevin Magnussen will be making his last start in the No. 01 V-Performance Academy Cadillac DPi-V.R at Petit. Along with teammate Renger van der Zande, the Chip Ganassi run team is looking to add another win to go along with their lone victory of the season in Detroit. Six-time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon returns to the team as the third driver for Petit.
“Petit Le Mans is a fantastic race. It is fast and finishes in the dark,” van der Zande said. “I’ve won it twice. At the tracks you do well, you tend to love to race there, that is how it is with Petit Le Mans for me. If I have to pick one event which is pure motorsport in North America Petit Le Mans is at the top. It is hard racing. There is always something happening. The Chip Ganassi Racing team has been testing there, so we are prepared. There is always fuel savings and some fast racing there, so we will have to control ourselves for the final segment. We are looking to finish the season on a high note.”
JDC-Miller Motorsports reunites the French Connection with Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval joined again by Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. The trio won Sebring in March and are looking to add another win on the season when the green flag drops at 10:10 a.m. ET on Saturday.
“I’ve been looking forward to Petit Le Mans,” Vautier said. “It is one of the trickiest races of the year. It is a narrow track and managing the traffic can be a challenge. Racing for 10 hours you have to be on guard. We are not sure what the weather conditions will be, could see rain and some cold and it will be dark longer as well. As a team we had a strong Long Beach. We were able to test at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and hopefully with that data we can continue our podium streak from Long Beach. Lot on the line for Cadillac with the 31-car competing for the championship. We will focus on our race but help them if we can.”
The No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R returns with seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson, WEC Champion Kamui Kobayashi, and IndyCar Champion Simon Pagenaud. The team has been a factor at the front of the field but is still looking for their first podium finish of their four-race IMSA WeatherTech season.
“I am really excited for this weekend’s race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed the two days of testing we had there a few weeks back. Although I have been there before in a Cup car, the lap times were about 20-23 seconds a lap slower than what I experienced in the Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. So, the two days were very useful to me to learn the racetrack and get a good feel for things. There is also a new wrinkle with the race being held in mid-November with daylight savings time and the early sunset. We will be spending a majority of the race driving at night. There is really no lighting around it [the track]. We have to rely on the lighting from the 48 Cadillac and our competitors. Daytona is really my only experience driving at night. A lot of new lessons to be learned coming at Road Atlanta. We have an amazing team we are running with and some great drivers running with me in Kamui and Simon. We will also be pulling for the 31 Cadillac in the Championship as well.”
Cadillac Motul Petit Le Mans Driver Line-up:
No. 01 V-Performance Academy Cadillac DPi-V.R, Renger van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen, Scott Dixon
No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval, Sebastien Bourdais
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway
No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R, Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince