- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

SEBRING, Fla. (AP) - The inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season continues this weekend with the Twelve Hours of Sebring at historic Sebring International Raceway.

The merger between the Grand-AM Series and the American Le Mans Series ensured that the two biggest sports car events in North America - the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring’s 12-hour endurance classic - would once again race consecutively to open the season under the same sanction (IMSA) with the same classes.

“The fact that we have Daytona and Sebring back-to-back on the TUDOR Championship schedule, for many, means its back to the way the good Lord always intended it to be,” said IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton.

This year’s race has a star-studded lineup that includes nine drivers from the IndyCar Series, including reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan and reigning series champion Scott Dixon, who are teamed together with Indy Lights winner Sage Karam in a Ford/Riley DP Prototype for car owner Chip Ganassi.

The race provides an opportunity for a milestone achievement for Rolex 24 winners Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais and Joao Barbosa, who drove the No. 5 Corvette DP entry from Action Express Racing to the overall Daytona victory. The last time the Rolex 24 winners also won at Sebring was 1998.

The Twelve Hours also is the second round of a special competition within the TUDOR Championship schedule encompassing the four longest races - the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Daytona kicked off the four-race competition. Following Sebring is the Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International in June and the 10-hour season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.

Qualifying for the Twelve Hours is Friday and the race begins Saturday morning.