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Daytona Saturday Notebook

Sportscar365’s pre-race notebook for WeatherTech 240 at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***The 2021 Lexus LC 500 luxury performance coupe (pictured above) will serve as the official safety vehicle for this evening’s WeatherTech 240. The 5.0-liter naturally aspirated, direct-injection V8, which includes a patriotic livery, will lead the field to the green flag as the all-new LC 500 convertible gets ready to debut in Lexus showrooms later this summer.

***Thunderstorms could impact the start of the race, with the final few minutes of DPi qualifying having been halted due to lightning strikes within the vicinity of Daytona International Speedway. Teams were greeted to heavy rain on Friday afternoon during the unload period as well.

***Paul Holton admitted to IMSA Radio that co-driver Corey Fergus’ pole in GT Daytona came as a bit of a surprise. “We’ve never tested here,” said Holton. “IMSA didn’t have any data on us here. We don’t even have a Daytona gearbox; we’re running our FIA gearset. I think we’re all really happy with that.”

***It marked McLaren’s first pole in WeatherTech Championship competition. 

***Renger van der Zande had a scary moment in Practice 2 when his Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R sustained a right-rear tire puncture in the tri-oval while at 193 mph. The Dutchman kept the Rolex 24-winning car out of the wall, although the DPi contender sustained bodywork damage.

***Van der Zande’s new-for-2020 co-driver Ryan Briscoe qualified the Konica Minolta-sponsored car in fifth.

***BMW Team RLL surprised the paddock with its No. 25 BMW M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi and Bruno Spengler now running in a red livery, an identical color scheme that took Spengler to the inaugural IMSA iRacing Pro Series title.

***Both BMWs are carrying #ForzaAlex stickers in support of Alex Zanardi, who remains in an induced coma in an Italian hospital following his handcycling accident last month.

***IMSA President John Doonan has hinted that the IMSA iRacing Pro Series, which featured a large portion of the real-life WeatherTech Championship drivers, could return during the off-season.

***Longtime Corvette Racing crew chief Dan Binks, who “retired” from the team during the racing downtime, joined Amy Ruman’s Trans Am operation last weekend at Mid-Ohio, helping take Ruman to a seventh place finish in her Corvette. Binks played a major role Corvette Racing’s success over his 18-year run with the Pratt & Miller-run team.

***Meyer Shank Racing will not be present at the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring later this month, due to the event only counting towards IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup points for GT Daytona class cars. Sportscar365 understands that the Ohio-based team never had the Sprint Cup on its 2020 schedule.

***It will result in only a single Acura NSX GT3 Evo being present for Sebring, in the hands of Gradient Racing.

***NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger told Sportscar365 that an additional customer team in GTD is still possible for later in the year, with a decision from a car owner having been “delayed” in recent weeks.

***Both this evening’s race and the Sebring round will be open to a limited number of fans who are Florida residents, although with restricted access. Sportscar365 understands that next month’s event at Road America will also likely permit fans, although a final decision on specifics will come following IndyCar’s trip to the Wisconsin track in two weeks’ time.

***While new to top-level IMSA racing, the crew behind Team Hardpoint are no strangers to the paddock, with engineer John Horton and team manager and crew chief Gary Biehl combining for more than 50 years of sports car experience in North America.

***The Hardpoint Foundation has continued to raise money for paddock-specific causes. More than 40 out-of-work ‘fly in’ crew members have received grants through the foundation and its “Flatten the Curve” initiative. Click Here for more information on how to donate.

***IMSA has announced an additional category for its long-term partnership with VP Racing Fuels, with the company’s new Stay Frosty coolant line now becoming the “Official Performance Coolant of IMSA” in a seven-year deal that will conclude following the 2027 season. The original partnership between IMSA and VP Racing Fuels began the inaugural year of the series in 2014.

***Ebullition Brew Works has joined Compass Racing as “strategic partner” for the team’s McLaren GTD program. The San Diego-based craft brewer has created a special line of hard seltzer drinks for the newly California-based team named “Compass Racing POG”, which is part of a new line of beer alternatives from the company.

***MSR also has a new sponsor on board this weekend with TODAQ on the No. 57 Heinricher Racing-entered Acura. The global tech firm is a supplier of “secure digital title, custody, and P2P transaction settlement solutions.”

***Hertz is no longer a sponsor on the pair of factory Porsches in GTLM. The auto rental company filed for bankruptcy last month and has been in the spotlight for its $11 billion worth from 500,000 vehicles it still holds as a master lease.

***WeatherTech founder and CEO David MacNeil will be serving as the grand marshal for the second consecutive race at Daytona, with MacNeil set to give the command to start engines. He waved the green flag to get Rolex 24 at Daytona underway in January.

***Watch the WeatherTech 240 live on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET, with coverage in the booth led by Kevin Lee, Calvin Fish and Brian Till. Dillon Welch and Parker Kligerman will be on pit road, socially distanced. International coverage will be carried by IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam, which can be found on

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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