Monday, June 25, 2012

Midwest Dirt Tracker Wins at Sonoma

Bowyer enjoying the limelight

SONOMA, CA - "I just kept thinking, 'He's a dirt late model racer from the Midwest -- there's no way he can be able to run the road course,' but he did," said Kurt Busch of Clint Bowyer’s win at the Sonoma 350. With 15 laps to go in the 350-mile road race and running 2nd, Kurt Busch kept strong pressure hoping to force Clint Bowyer into a mistake. Unfortunately for Busch, he was the one who made the mistake.

Boyer's Toyota was dominate most of the race.

In past races, the tires at turn 11 could be knocked out of place by drivers wanting to straighten the turn out. This year however, NASCAR had them bolted down. With only eight laps to go, Kurt Busch thought he could pull off the old stunt. This time however, Busch hit the barrier hard and broke his Panhard rod, shattering any chance for a win, and giving Tony Stewart an opportunity to pass. “Honestly I don't know how he kept it on the racetrack,” Stewart said. “Every time he'd go into a corner, the rear end would shift. We kind of got [the pass] by default to a certain degree. But, unfortunately, we just weren't close enough to finally take the front.”
Kurt Busch gave Bowyer a run for his money.

Stewart put up a good fight at the end, but it was just too-little-too-late, allowing Bowyer his sixth SPRINT Cup win, first of the season and with Martin Truex placing 4th, the best ever two-car finish for Michael Waltrip Racing. “To have this dirt-[track] boy from Kansas in victory lane is big, trust me,” said Bowyer. “Damned glad he didn't have it,” speaking of Stewart. Bowyer said of the extra lap. “You know how many races I'd have won if it wasn't for that damned guy in front of me? He could have beat me.” (Read more: )
Tony Stewart had a chance in the final lap - but too-little-too-late

Front row qualifiers Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Gordon were outside the top five in Sunday’s race. Ambrose’s car developed handling problems early in the race and Jeff Gordon, who had the fastest car in practice, somehow managed to run out of gas just before his second pit stop. "We went about a half a lap too far there on that one run," Gordon said. "I think we made the car a little bit better and just used a little bit more fuel in that second run and ran out, unfortunately. It never fails, you run out just as you pass pit entrance. We were lucky to get back to pit road and get it fueled up."
Marcos Ambrose qualified for the pole, but the car faded early.

It is interesting to note that the dominance of road-course “ringers” like Boris Said is coming to an end. There were 4 ringers entered in the race, with only 3 qualifying for the Sunday event. Said managed the best finish at 29th. As the regular SPRINT Car drivers become more adept at turning right as well as left, the “mid-west dirt-trackers” are more than holding their own on the road courses. "That's the toughest thing," Said commented. "To come in here, no matter how good a race car driver you think you are, these guys for sure are the best in the world, in my opinion. To do it twice a year is just tough. I haven't sat in one since Watkins Glen last year, and that wasn't my best result. But still, I relish the challenge. I feel like it's a privilege that I get to do it, and I think I've had a great career doing it. Maybe I haven't won a lot of races, but I love competing. If we were competitive and maybe ran in the top 15, that would be like a win."

Though not as competitive as in the past, Boris still enjoys the SPRINT Car rides.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Audi Sweep at Le Mans! Diesel-Hybrids 1-2; Diesel 3.

 LE MANS, FRANCE – It was certainly an impressive 24 hours for Audi. Sweeping all three podium spots with diesel engines, and the top 2 finishing cars hybrids at that! The #1 Audi e-tron diesel hybrid of Lotterer/Treluyer/Fessler took the checkered flag followed by the #2 Audi hybrid of Kristensen/McNish/Capello. The #3 Audi powered by a “conventional” diesel rounded out the podium. The Toyota hybrids ran well, but both suffered accidents, and placed no better than 4th. "This is no doubt a historic victory for Audi, explained Audi’s Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “We were the first to win Le Mans with a direct-injection turbo gasoline engine and the first to be successful with a diesel engine. (Read more: )

It is remarkable to note that the #2 Audi piloted by McNish was involved in a serious accident with a lower classed Porsche requiring the car to be nearly rebuilt. "I'm devastated, said McNish. “I'm sorry for our team: Dindo, Tom, the engineers and the mechanics. They did a perfect job throughout the race. Despite a few problems we were in contention for victory up to my accident.” (Read more: ).

 The Toyotas were both involved in important wrecks. The most spectacular was the #8 Toyota hybrid of Anthony Davidson which flipped in the air and smashed into the tire barrier at the end of the Mulsanne straight when it was clipped by one of the Ferrari GTE cars (Video ). Davidson was hospitalized and sustained two broken vertebrae. The #7 Toyota hybrid piloted by rookie Nakajima made contact with the innovative Nissan Deltawing causing it to hit the wall and ending its Le Mans effort with only 75 laps under its Deltawing. The accident happened as 5 P1 cars were overtaking the Deltawing. The 5th place Toyota tried to make a passing move on the 4th place Toyota, and seemingly not seeing the Deltawing, turned in and slammed into the Nissan ( Video ).
The privateer P2 class was won by the American No.44 Starworks Motorsport HPD ARX 03b driven by Kimber-Smith/Ryan Dalziel/Enzo Potolicchio. The next three spots were taken by the Oreca Nissans of by TDS Racing, Pecom Racing, and Signatech Nissan. "At Sebring we had a brand new car and we won, said Dalziel of Starworks. “At Spa, we had to do some work on the car but the Honda Performance Development chassis is perfect. We haven't got the pace of the Oreca chassis but we could do triple stints. I think that was the key to our success.”
The production based GTE class saw competitive racing even though it appeared that Ferraris dominated with 1st, 2nd, and 4th place finishes. The #51 AF Corse 458 Italia of Bruni/Fisecella/Vilander finished on top two laps ahead of the Luxury Racing 458 Italia. The #97 Aston Martin Vantage placed third completing the podium finishes. The #74 Corvette looked to be very competitive this year, but a series of mishaps including a foiled pit stop where the right-rear wheel was not properly secured cost them any serious

The GTE-Am amateur class saw an exciting finish with the Larbre Competition Corvette, prepared by Pratt and Miller Racing, drag raced to the finish with the IMSA Performance Porsche RSR of Poms/Anarac/Armindo. The pole-sitting #80 Flying Lizard Porsche RSR entry of went out in hour ten battling suspension issues then finally, an accident. The #79 Flying Lizard entry managed a 4th place finish.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Montreal GP - Hamilton is Lucky 7!

MONTREAL, CANADA – Formula One has sure had an interesting season. Coming into the Montreal GP, there have been 6 separate winners in six races. Canada was going to be no different with Lewis Hamilton crossing the finish line first in his McLaren, and becoming the seventh winner this year. Romain Grosjean came in second in his Lotus with Sergio Perez third for team Sauber. Sebastian Vettel initially led from the pole position, but Hamilton was able to keep him in close range. Following the first set of pit stops starting on lap 16, Vettel was the first to come in, then Hamilton on lap 17 and Alonso on lap 18. Alonso came up on top on after the stops, but Hamilton was able to rocket past the two gaining the lead.
Hamilton easily held the lead and was able to put a few seconds between him and the Ferrari. However, a poor pit stop for the McLaren resulted in him coming up in third place. It looked bleak for the Brit as it appeared that Renault and Ferrari had planned a one-stop strategy. But the one-stop strategy proved to be a poor one on lap 62 as he blasted past Vettel and reeled in and past Alonso by lap 65. The degrading tires on the Ferrari and Renault were taking their toll on lap times. This gave Grosjean in the Lotus and Perez in the Sauber opportunity to move into second and third place. Vettel finally made the choice to come in for tires on lap 63 and was also able to shame the Ferrari. “I always knew today’s race was going to be incredibly tough. So, in the first stint, I was really pleased that I could keep up with Seb [Vettel], and at that point I already felt sure I’d be involved the fight for victory. Our strategy was always for a two-stopper: we knew it was going to be the fastest way to get to the finish. I looked after my tires really well today, and I used them knowing we were going to two-stop.
The win puts Hamilton back on top with 88 championship points, followed by Alonso with 86 and Vettel with 85. The win had extra meaning for Hamilton as Montreal was the track that saw his first win back in 2007.
In related news, ticket sales for the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas went on sale this past weekend. Legal battles between the race founder/promoter and the race investors were put to rest late Friday in an out-of-court settlement. It was also announced that racing great Mario Andretti has been named the Circuit Ambassador.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Embarrasment For Motor City

DETROIT, MI – In what can only be labeled as embarrassing, Detroit’s Belle Isle Grand Prix lasted only 40 of a planned 90 laps due to poor track conditions. The Motor City race circuit began delaminating and breaking up as long strips of black sealant used to fill seams began lifting as the open wheel IndyCars ripped up the pavement. On some corners, the lifting sealant folded up to form dangerously large chunks which led to a violent crash by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Motorsports. Luckily, James was unhurt. “I hate to say it, but I don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Hinchcliffe. “The lap before the accident a big chunk hit my wing in Turn 9. I was going to turn in, a piece of [track] folded over, and you’re just a passenger at that point.”
Following the accident, the yellow flag was shown on lap 40. The cars continued circulating until lap 45, allowing the officials to call it a completed race. Upon initial inspection by Race Director Beaux Barfield, the race was expected to restart, but that was not to be.
On top of the order at the race conclusion were the Target-Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. The Dallara-Hondas made a respectable showing in their street-course debut as IndyCar rookie Simon Pagenaud finished third in his Dallara-Honda. "Tremendous day for Honda," he said. "Also, I've got to thank my team, [Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports], and it's amazing to be a one-car team and fighting against Penske and Ganassi. I've found like it's living in a dream."
For Detroit, the weekend has to be considered a major disappointment. Not only was the state of disrepair of the Motor City infrastructure placed in the spotlight of the world stage, the only US-built engine in the series could not manage a podium finish. Detroit resident Sherrie Van Horn knew she would have to deal with the broken-up streets outside her home, but was surprised to hear the at the Belle Island suffered the same fate. "It's too bad," she said at the track. "This was the city's chance to shine.” Some race fans were surprised when the cars were parked after only 45-laps, but Jack Michaels of Royal Oak said he wondered and worried before the race how organizers could make the streets worthy of the Grand Prix. "I've driven those streets," he said. "I'd be worried driving fast ( ).”
As an American, I have to declare that this is completely unacceptable in the greatest country on this earth. China and India display fabulous race facilities (pictured) during Formula One races, but we have to show the degrading infrastructure of Detroit. Is this the legacy of the famed “Auto-Bailout?”