Sebring Preview 2022

Mid-March means a return to Florida and a return to the track for Michael Johnson, Stephen Simpson and the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team. 

The Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, part of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts, is the leg two of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season. The two-hour race, held at Sebring International Speedway, a 3.74-mile, 17-corner course in Sebring, Fla., is scheduled to go green at 4:25 p.m. on Thursday, March 17. 

All IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races are streamed live in the United States on Peacock. IMSA Radio also provides live audio coverage of select Michelin Pilot Challenge practice, qualifying sessions and full-length coverage of all races.

“I’m very excited to be back racing at the iconic Sebring,” said Johnson. “This track is vastly different than any other track we go to, but it showcases great racing. I have struggled here in the past, but I feel I have improved. I’m looking forward to running the Hyundai Elantra TCR and aiming for our first win here at Sebring!”

When last in action, in the official season opener, Johnson and Simpson navigated the Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Elantra N TCR car to a sixth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway at the 2022 BMW Endurance Challenge, which ended the team’s streak of three-consecutive podium finishes at the famed track. The team was leading for much of the second half of the race, including with less than just 10 percent of the race remaining, but an assessed drive-through penalty derailed its chances of a top three finish or victory. 

A year ago at Sebring, Johnson and Simpson raced to a fifth-place showing, falling just shy of a podium finish but in solid position to claim points in the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot standings. The duo started in the 12th position, moving up seven spots during the race, the most among the Hyundai entries.

The weather forecast for Thursday’s race is vintage Florida. The high temperature is projected to be in the mid-80s with partly cloudy skies. Winds are expected to be slight, coming from the west at seven miles per hour. Rain is probable bracketing the days of the race and the possibility exists it could spill over onto race day. 

“Michael and I had a very good two-day test here at Sebring International two weeks ago with our BHA crew,” said Simpson. “We were able to accomplish a lot, with everyone working very hard. I am looking forward to capitalizing on that test this weekend. A bit of inclement weather is due so it would not surprise me if we get rained on during some of the practices and the race, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m very confident in the tricky conditions and Michael is improving all the time. 

“I am looking forward to getting after it and continue our strong start to the year. A podium finish is absolutely the goal this weekend and hopefully the top step of the podium. Our BHA crew has been working hard in the shop and we feel prepared. Sebring is notoriously bumpy, so that’s a challenge from the set up point of view but that’s just part of the character of this place.”

Johnson, Simpson and the BHA team will switch coasts for the third installment of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season, the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120. Set for Saturday, April 30, the two-hour race takes place outside the central coastal town of Monterey, Calif. at the 2.238-mile, 11-corner WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.