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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Monterey CTSC Pre-Race Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s pre-race CTSC notebook from Monterey…

Photo: Mazda

Photo: Mazda

***This is a big weekend for Freedom Autosport’s Liam Dwyer, who made his Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. The U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant is joined by his fellow Marine Staff Sergeant Aaron Denning, the man who saved Dwyer’s life in Afghanistan. This will be the first time Denning has seen Dwyer race. Denning will wave the green flag for today’s third round of the season, which will be live streamed on starting at 1 p.m. PT and local time.

***Freedom Autosport has a second ST class Mazda MX-5 entered this weekend, with Tom Long and Britt Casey Jr. in the No. 25 car. Long will arguably be the busiest driver in the paddock this weekend, running the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire races with Mazda, and testing the new global 2016 Mazda MX-5 Cup car. Casey Jr. qualified the No. 25 car third, while the No. 26 car that Dwyer and Andrew Carbonell will share rolls off from seventh.

***CJ Wilson made a rare in-baseball season at-track appearance on Friday with his CJ Wilson Racing team, before pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night in San Francisco versus the Giants. The team is also doing a social media promotional campaign this weekend called “Fantasy Garage Selfie,” with its new partner on its GS class No. 33 Porsche 911, which Marc Miller and Tyler McQuarrie will share this weekend.

***Once again, Justin Piscitell entered the weekend in a last-minute call-up situation to share the No. 34 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5 alongside Christian Szymczak. But true to form, Piscitell opened the year with back-to-back poles in the two different cars, and added a third straight on Friday.

***Tim Bell Racing is a notable absence this weekend, but some of its drivers have found rides with Automatic Racing this weekend. Brett Sandberg will fill in for Steve Phillips alongside Rob Ecklin Jr. in the No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage, with Charles Espenlaub and long-time co-driver Charlie Putman in the No. 09 Aston Martin. Putman makes a welcome return to the cockpit in IMSA competition this weekend after severe injuries sustained last September in an ATV accident.

***The Bell Nissan 370Zs are among the cars absent this weekend; notable others missing include the No. 08 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche 911 (GS) and No. 95 Irish Mike’s Racing Hyundai Genesis (ST).

***As expected, the trio of Rennsport One Porsche Caymans has been added to the entry list for this weekend’s race. Daytona winners Spencer Pumpelly and Luis Rodriguez Jr. look for a bounce back weekend in their No. 17 Porsche Cayman following persistent engine issues in Sebring, and will start 13th in today’s race.

***Tyler Stone steps into the No. 88 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche Cayman alongside Nate Norenberg this weekend, with team owner and driver Jim Jonsin unavailable due to a prior business commitment.

***New Strategic Wealth Racing driver Corey Lewis will pull double duty between his No. 36 Porsche Cayman in Continental Tire ST and his No. 29 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán 620-2 in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America.

***Just four drivers, Long, Pumpelly, Miller and Jeff Mosing, will be pulling double duty between the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races this weekend.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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