Friday, April 30, 2010

Briscoe to Lead Field for Saturday's Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas

Photo Credit: Jim Haines

The last IZOD IndyCar race before preparations for the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th, Kansas Speedway represents the team's only oval tune-up in 2010 season. With teams fully Intended in being competitive on the 2.5 mile Brickyard, the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 lured a season-high 27 drivers and race cars. Joining the field this race is Jay Howard in a second Sarah Fisher Racing vehicle as well as John Andretti driving a #43 car in a joint venture between Richard Petty, Window World and Andretti Autosport.

As the first oval, IZOD IndyCar teams will receive their first competitive orientation to a new qualifying procedure for all ovals in 2010. Similar to the Indy 500 four-lap qualifying setup, the average of all four lap times will determine the starting order.

Taking right turns out of the equation for IZOD IndyCar drivers, the Kansas Speedway event for 200 laps around the 1.5 mile oval is guaranteed to provide the fastest average qualifying speeds of the early season. Taking the pole at a storming 212.146 mles per hour average per lap within a four-lap window, the #6 Penske Racing car in the hands of Ryan Briscoe grabbed honours. "It's great to win the pole. Team Penske has picked up from where it left off at Homestead last year. That's a good sign. Hopefully it's a sign of speed to come at Indy, as well." Briscoe asserted in a post-qualifying response.

The first of what proved to be a strong effort for the entire Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team, Scott Dixon placed a second-fastest qualifying effort. At a four-lap average time which accumulated at almost a mile per hour slower, Dixon is confident the his #9 car will make it up in the race tomorrow. "We come into this event with confidence and it is a nice place to race." Dixon said.

Some drivers are also viewing the Kansas Speedway race as a potential confidence builder after some less than stellar road course appearance. One of those drivers in need of a strong showing on ovals is 2009 IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti. With only one podium finish to show for 4 road course starts in the #10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing car, Franchitti posted a 3rd place, his best 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series start since pole position in the Sao Paulo season opener.

4th and 5th place sported some surprise appearances of smaller IZOD IndyCar Series teams. Delivering the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing #06 to the best start of the year, Hideki Mutoh successfully transferred his 2 years of oval expertise from Andretti Autosport to N/H/L Racing. 4th overall in the session, Mutoh happily commented on the full team effort. "I'm very proud to be a member of this team and I know they have been working very hard in the off season to build new things for ovals. It looks like it worked out today." In 5th place on the grid for the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300, Alex Tagliani is continuing to make waves with the first year FAZZT Race Team.

Other qualifying stories through the Friday Kansas Speedway session reflects on the reversal of fortunes for two drivers, one moving up on the grid and the other down. Struggling through the initial four road and street races, Danica Patrick and placed her #7 Andretti Autosport car in a respectable 9th position, leading the four-team. On the other hand, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson had a lousy outing in Kansas Speedway qualifying. The slow #22 car actually caught the driver by surprise as Wilson felt comfortable with the vehicle's handling. "I can't believe we were not quicker. I'm going over the data with my engineers right now to see if there is any drag on the car and fix that."

In a final but imporant note, overall IZOD IndyCar point standing's leader Will Power will start 7th on Saturday afternoon. Having raced only Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season, his performance on the tracks he had missed with the #12 Verizon Penske Racing team last year might pose the greatest challenge to the Australian.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Scheduled to run Saturday, broadcast of the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 will take place on ABC at 1:00PM.

2010 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway IZOD IndyCar Series Starting Grid

1. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
2. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
3. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
4. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
5. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
6. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Enterprises
7. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
8. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
9. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
10. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
11. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
12. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
13. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
14. 67 Sarah Fisher/United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
15. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
16. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
17. John Andretti/American/ Team Window World
18. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
19. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
20. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
21. 66 Jay Howard/England/Sarah Fisher Racing
22. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
23. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
24. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing
25. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
26. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
27. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Race Preview: 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Heath Calhoun 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Track Length:
0.75 Mile
Highest Banking: 14 Degrees
Listed Race Distance/Actual Race Distance: 300 miles
Laps: 400
Previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Events Held:
107 races

2009 Pole Winner:
Brian Vickers
2009 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

Lead Changes in Past 5 Spring Richmond International Raceway Races

2009: 21
2008: 4
2007: 24
2006: 12
2005: 21

Cautions in Past 5 Spring Richmond International Raceway Races

2009: 15
2008: 11
2007: 14
2006: 11
2005: 9

Top 5 Lap Leaders In Last 10 Races

1. Denny Hamlin 899
2. Kevin Harvick 679
3. Jeff Gordon 504
4. Kyle Busch 398
5. Kasey Kahne 249

Top 5 Average Finishers In Last 10 Races

1. Kyle Busch 6.0
Tony Stewart 6.8
Denny Hamlin 8.5
Kevin Harvick 9.1
Mark Martin 9.9

Wins at Car Make In Last 10 Races


Cars Entered for 2010 Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400: 46

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quarterly Evaluation: First 4 Races of 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Season

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

With the first four races of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series completed, drivers, teams, and race fans are beginning to realize the major players to North America's open wheel racing tour. At the front of the field we have already seen the three-car team of Roger Penske winning three events. Recognizing Penske Racing as part of a 25 car make up of this season's grid, there is 25 different stories playing out through the 2010 season.

Placing a quarter of the season in the books (there is actually 17 races on the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule but this is close enough to quarter distance) XSL Speed Reporter has compiled an evaluation to help establish the drivers' current performance after four races in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar circuit. While the finishing results have played an integral part in establishing gradings, considerations were made to acknowledge the individual drivers and teams whom have just entered the series for 2010 more favourably. Conversely, this quarterly evaluation has also shown the under-peroformance of some veteran drivers so far this season.

Will Power- A+

Without a doubt, the Australian driver Will Power has found his transition back to a full season for IZOD IndyCar Series to be a dream. Finishing on the podium for all four events so far including two victories, Power's performance on road and street courses has been stunning. It will be worth seeing if Power's luck will hold as the IZOD IndyCar Series takes on the first ovals of 2010. Will Power has yet to score a major open wheel race on an oval.

Ryan Hunter-Reay- A

Showing great potential as a devoted American open wheel driver, the off-season announcement naming Ryan Hunter-Reay to the fourth car for Andretti Autosport was welcomed sentimentally as the driver shuffled through three IndyCar teams in the previous two race seasons. Starting off the year with a strong 2nd place in the opening race at Sao Paulo. A feel good story moment resulted as Ryan Hunter-Reay brought his #37 Andretti Autosport machine to the winner's circle at Long Beach. In a recent conference, Ryan Hunter-Reay shed light on the situation saying "When everything kind of goes right like that, to get a win out of it, to be the fastest car on the track, it was a very cool weekend. Long Beach was great. But there's no sense of fulfillment on the team. Come Tuesday we were done with it. We need to go on and win some more races, that's for sure."

Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy

Justin Wilson- A-

Moving from Dale Coyne Racing to the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing organization, the team has dedicated itself to improving their game with the entrance of last year's Waltkins Glen race winner. Finishing in runner-up positions at both St Petersburg and Long Beach, Wilson and the #22 Z-Line Designs car has been knocking on the door for victory in 2010. In describing the young season, Justin Wilson responded favourably on the 2010 start with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "It's been a great start to the season and exactly what I was hoping for. The Z-Line Designs 22 car has been pretty quick."

Helio Castroneves- B+

Breaking the two-race winning streak set by his teammate, Castroneves delivered his #3 Penske Racing car into victory at Barber Motorsports Park with the Brazilian's typical enthusiasm. Along with Will Power as drivers finishing in the top-10 for the first 4 events, Helio Castroneves is seated 42 points behind Power in the driver's point standings. Eluded from the IndyCar championship with three runner-up points finishes to show for his hard work, expect Castroneves to take any opportunity to close the points gap. Helio Castroneves will also be vying for a record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory in a little more than one month's time.

Photo Credit: Den Helrigel

Scott Dixon- B

With a season best second-place earned at Barber Motorsports Park, Scott Dixon and the Target/Chip Ganassi team has remained muted by their Penske Racing rivals from last year. The two-time IndyCar champion posted three finishes in the top-six broken only at St Petersburg. Fifth in the driver championship standings, do not count the New Zealand driver out contention to take it all in 2010. In 2009, Dixon recorded a 16th and 18th finish in the first two events to come only 11 points short of the championship to teammate Dario Franchitti. Four of Dixon's five wins for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing came on ovals.

Alex Tagliani- B

Starting on the front row for the Sao Paulo season opener, the newly-formed FAZZT Race Team built around Canadian Alex Tagliani made an early announcement that the race organization's #77 car was not going to be a field-filler. While the Sao Paulo IndyCar debut didn't end as strong as it began for Alex Tagliani, St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park races ended with top-10 finishes respectable for a new team. Tagliani and the FAZZT Race Team should remain an interesting story for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series.

Mike Conway- B

The sophomore year for Conway has been a productive outing in the #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car. Placing in the top 10 for all races but St Petersburg, the British driver's qualifying speed at Barber Motorsports Park nested him a front row starting position alongside Will Power. Joined by fellow Brit Justin Wilson on the team for 2010, Conway's new teammate has been very satisfied with grouping. "..Mike's a good guy. It's a good, fun, relaxed atmosphere. There's no edge on the team. There's no ego, so we're able to concentrate on making cars go quicker."

Marco Andretti- B-

Spending five seasons in the team now wholly-owned by his father Michael, Marco Andretti has been facing greeter pressure to perform than even his teammates. Leading two of the four races starting the 2010 season, a near win resulted at Barber Motorsports Park when Andretti led the most laps before forced to pit late for fuel. Finishing 5th in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Andretti is in high spirits throughout the 2010 IZOD IndyCar schedule. "There’s so much for to focus on it really keeps you on your toes. But the ovals have a speed and intensity all their own so I do think it’s important for the series to stay balanced." Marco Andretti commented the XSL Speed Reporter interview.

Vitor Meira- B-

Rejoining the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 after suffering injuries in last year's Indy 500, Vitor Meira's return was marked with a strong finish for the once powerful AJ Foyt Enterprise's racing team. Meira's season highlight (and likely career highlight) was a 3rd place finish in the season-opening IndyCar race in his home country. Apart from that race, the rest of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season has seen the #14 of Vitor Meira hovering around mid-pack. Out for much of the 2009 campaign, Meira missed most of the oval tracks last season but has a long-standing history which should elevate the AJ Foyt Enterprise's car.

Dan Wheldon- B-

Returning to his Panther Racing #4 car, Wheldon 2010 season has started admirably with a 5th in San Paulo and a 9th at Long Beach. While the Brit has soon to be a force on both road courses and ovals, his first year with Panther Racing last season saw the Panther Racing car preferring the oval tracks in 2009. Dan Wheldon is continuing to pose a top-5 threat on almost any course on the IZOD IndyCar circuit.

Mario Moraes- C+

Named to drive a 3rd KV Racing Technology car within only a week to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series starting, Mario Moraes came into this year proving himself a worthy driver in the latter stages of 2009. Regretfully, a first lap accident at Sao Paulo and a poor finish at St Petersburg kinked the driver's momentum. Moraes' potential did reemerge at the Grand Prix of Long Beach moving up 9th spots to take 6th place in the event. Excelling on the ovals last season, Mario Moraes might be an outside shot for a first career victory in 2010.

Simona De Silvestro- C+

One of many new drivers who were given their seats within a month before the season started, Simona de Silvestro is starting to challenge Danica Patrick as the leading lady of IndyCar racing (at least on track so far). Among the rookie drivers, de Silvestro is demonstrating herself to be very pivotal candidate for the 2010 IndyCar Rookie of the Year award. However, with the ovals coming up, de Silvestro is facing a massive career milestone as starts the Kansas race. With road courses making up the final seasons of the Cooper Tire Atlantic Series, the 21 year old Swiss driver's approaches her first circle track experience with the same attitude with the road races, simply wanting to finish the event.

Tony Kanaan- C+

Exhibiting speed which practice for at least one session at every event this season, Tony Kanaan and the #11 Andretti Autosports team has yet be able to impress in 2010 races. With the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series starting on four straight road-type courses, Kanaan's lackluster results so far can be reasoned with through reviewing the Brazilian's career stats. His aptitude like many long-time IRL drivers is presented on oval tracks over road courses. In fact, Tony Kanaan's last win came at Richmond International Raceway in 2008.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Raphael Matos- C+

Though the year started with a career best 4th place run at Sao Paulo, the 2009 IndyCar Rookie of the year's race finishes in the de Ferran Luczo-Dragon Racing have been getting steadily worse. Despite the recent difficulties, Raphael Matos has caught alive a 13-race streak of running at the end of IndyCar races. Matos sits 9th in the points standings and will be eager to return to top-10 contention heading deeper into the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule.

Dario Franchitti- C

For a reigning two-time IndyCar champion, Dario Franchitti title defense is proving tough. Franchitti's season highlight so far includes a pole on the streets of Sao Paulo and a 3rd place at the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. In an article inside the latest issue of PRN Magazine, Franchitti expected the season to feature strong efforts from old and new faces in the IZOD IndyCar series. Including Dario Franchitti, the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is looking at the return to ovals as being a 2010 turning point mounting a challenge to Penske.

Hideki Mutoh- C

Having spent two seasons with Andretti Autosport, Hideki Mutoh moved to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing sharing a mutual goal to find a place in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Since joining the series in 2008, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing went from the prime operation in Champ Car to being another mid-mark team in IndyCar. Finishing 20th in the first event, Mutoh has improved steadily with a 13th place at Long Beach. As the Japanese driver treks to the ovals with N/H/L Racing, expect Mutoh's experience in circle track racing improve the team's previously lackluster game off road courses.

Mario Romancini- C

Migrating from the Firestone Indy Lights Series with a respectable 2009 effort which included two victories, the Brazilian Romancini was promoted to the big show in 2010 by Conquest Racing. Failing to finish two races, Mario Romancini best finish in the rookie campaign is a 13th at St Petersburg. Just one point ahead of Simona de Silvestro as the highest-placed newcomer in the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2010, Romancini's season in Indy Lights offers him a conceivable advantage having some experience on oval tracks.

Danica Patrick- C-

Posting her only top-10 finish with a 7th on the streets of St Petersburg race, Patrick's 2010 IndyCar campaign has been less noisy than her stock car debut earlier this season. Before citing Danica Patrick's diversification in motorsports as contributing to the slow start for the #7 Andretti Autosport team, Patrick's performance on road courses have remained a weakness since the tracks were introduced to IndyCar. Returning to the ovals, Patrick has the right to be optimistic heading into the month of May.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

EJ Viso- C-

Following a rookie season in 2008 which saw Viso hitting everything but the pace car, the Venezuelan driver earned a major career milestone in 2010 by finishing all of the first four events. EJ Viso has shown himself to be an incredibly fast driver, he's raked up 2 top-10 qualifying runs so far this season, but him and his KV Racing Technology team have to find more race pace into the rest of the year.

Ryan Briscoe- C-

Since the costly championship-losing miscue on the Twin-Ring Motegi race late last season, the Penske Racing driver continues to appear haunted by the incident into the new season. Having a chance to win the Sao Paulo Indy 300, Ryan Briscoe #6 car was leading in the late laps before mistiming his braking through turn five. Unable to break through for a top result until a 5th place at Long Beach, Ryan Briscoe can build his 2010 season if he can reestablish his podium-finishing capabilities.

Takuma Sato- C-

Playing in the big league of open wheel auto racing since 2002, Sato left Formula 1 for IndyCar officially in February. Despite his experience in the fast-running, hard-braking Formula 1 cars, Takuma Sato his found the KV Racing Technology car to be an entirely different challenge. Retiring from the first two events, Sato bad luck continued at the Barber Motorsport Park race where a throttle cable broke costing him 22 laps to the leader which was was unable to recover. The last round at Long Beach would result in an uneventful 18th place finish for Takuma Sato offering him a building block after four races in 2010.

Alex Lloyd- D

Dale Coyne Racing added two drivers late in the off-season signing Milka Duno and Alex Lloyd. Driving the #19 Boy Scouts of America car, the British driver has found it difficult to earn merit badges in the first races of his inaugural IndyCar season. Alex Lloyd's most dramatic appearance in 2010 has come at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for devious reasons. With Lloyd being lapped by leaders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson, the #19 car collided with #22 Dallara causing Wilson to pit for replacement front wing.

Graham Rahal- D

The second-generation driver was batted all over the place in the off-season prior to the Streets of Sao Paulo premiere for the 2010 IndyCar Series. Unfortunately, when the green fell on the first race of the season, the Rahal name was nowhere in the running order. Thanks to a deal with Sarah Fisher Racing to drive the #67 car, Graham Rahal returned for the St Peterburg round. Placing 9th in his debut with the team, the limited road racing experience for Sarah Fisher Racing contributed to tough outings for Rahal at Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach. Grateful for his opportunity with Sarah Fisher Racing, Graham Rahal is once again searching for a ride. Expect his name to return for Indy 500 qualifying potentially with Sarah Fisher Racing or another team.

Bertrand Baguette- Incomplete

Having not started the start two races with Conquest Racing, the Belgium driver Baguette immediately faced an uphill battle. Having only 20th and 25th place results for 2010, it is unsure where Bertrand Baguette and the Conquest Racing team will sit in deeper into the season.

Milka Duno- Incomplete

Starting into her first full season campaign, Milka Duno is venturing to some race courses for the first time in her open wheel career. However, Duno's early showing in the Dale Coyne Racing team through the first four races have been dismal. At Barber Motorsport Park, she spent much of the race as a moving chicane contributing to some IndyCar fans questioning the Venezuelan's driving talent. Duno will return to the more familiar ovals seeking some confidence-building runs for 2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Harvick Noses Ahead of McMurray to Win Aaron's 499 at Talladega

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

The first restrictor plate race since the Daytona 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup cars entered the Aaron's 499 more seasoned than at Speedweeks this past February. Providing a NASCAR Sprint Cup record 88 lead changes between 29 different drivers, the 2010 race at Talladega Superspeedway was one of the most contentious battles of the still young stock car racing season.

Because of severe weather warnings in the Talladega county region, NASCAR's halting of race activities Saturday also erased Sprint Cup qualifying for the race. The Aaron's 499 field was set on car owner points following the event at Texas Motor Speedway last Monday. While the #48 Lowes Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson with Matt Kenseth's #17 Ford starting alongside, 8 lead changes transpired in the first 10 laps settting the tone for the event. Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano were some of the drivers taking 5 bonus points for leading the Talladega race through early hustling. Also grabbing the top spot in the Aaron's 499 race was the #88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Taking the lead first on lap 30, Earnhardt Jr would take the 1st place position 5 separate occasions for 8 laps total. Besides the time out front of the field, the #88 Hendrick Motorsports car appeared very comfortable for Dale Jr as he could move through the field with ease for much of the Aaron's 499 event.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

A rather tame race through the first 75 lap distance, only the competition caution on lap 20 broke up the green flag dicing of Sprint Cup cars. The first caution for an on-track incident came when the Denny Hamlin's #11 FedEx Toyota slid off the frontstretch through the infield grass. Losing ground in this early race predicament, Hamlin recovered into the Aaron's 499 event to a top-5 finish for his #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Five laps following the restart for the Hamlin spin-out, a multi-car frontstretch accident claimed the first collection of vehicles in the race. Initiated when the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch bumped the #36 Chevrolet of Johnny Sauter, the crash caught Matt Kenseth's Ford, Michael Waltrip driven #55 Toyota, Max Papis in the #13 Toyota and the #2 Dodge of Kurt Busch along with others. Out of the race due to the accident, Waltrip quipped in the garage to a Fox Pit Reporter that Kyle Busch fails to practice the race conduct he preaches.

Into the last 30 scheduled laps, the battles for the lead ceased as drivers were counting down to the final laps. Maintaining a single file pack, two driver would enjoy the longest lead runs in the Aaron's 499. Jeff Burton led 17 laps and Jamie McMurray 23 circuits towards the end. However, as the drivers braced for their final moves vying for the race victory, the Aaron's 499 would go into extra innings. Originally scheduled for 187 laps, the 3 periods of green-white-checker finishes extended the distance to 200 laps (over 31 miles further than anticipated).

The entire scenario started as Jeff Burton, Scott Speed, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon wrecked within the frontstretch tri-oval. While not contributing to the crash, the #24 Dupont Chevrolet was susceptible to damage due to a run-in with a friend turned apparent foe. The #48 of Jimmie Johnson squeezed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon down below the yellow line on lap 183 placing the #24 Chevrolet in a very precarious position. Adding for fuel to an increasingly harsher fire between the Hendrick Motosports teammates, Gordon and Johnson have been making headlines as late after an on-track run-in at Texas on last Monday.

Entering into extra laps, the race restarted on lap 188 with Tony Stewart challenging McMurray only for the #1 Chevrolet to slip away until a second massive accident in turn 3 aborted the white flag call. Triggered when the Joey Logano's #20 Home Depot Toyota aggressively bump drafted the #39 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman sending Newman out of control exiting turn 3. Talking 9 out cars, the #47 Toyota of Marcos Ambrose, Brad Keselowski in the #12 Dodge, Bobby Labonte's #71 Chevrolet and the #83 Red Bull Toyota of Brian Vickers were among the cars collected. Also listed in receiving damage in the lap 189 crash, the #19 Ford of Elliott Sadler and the #77 Dodge of Sam Hornish Jr were also involved in the first major wreck at lap 84.

Because the extended distance, there were several cars and teams fretting about fuel economy into the final laps including both Earnhardt-Ganassi machines driven by Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya. The second checkered flag attempt was thwarted when the #16 Roush Fenway Ford of Greg Biffle encountered fuel pick-up issues resulting in an incident where the #48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson misjudged the slowing Ford and collided on the backstretch.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

With fuel economy a growing worry for the #1 Earnhardt-Genassi Racing team, the race restarted for the third and final time with Jamie McMurray receiving the launch he needed with help of the #29 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick. In a two-car draft, the pair of Chevrolets broke away into the white flag lap. Coming around for the final run down the front stretch tri-oval, Harvick searched for a way to pass McMurray's #1 Chevrolet. In a daring move, Kevin Harvick brushed the rear bumper of McMurray in such a way that made the #1 car just enough out of control to break his momentum. The yellow #29 Chevrolet ducked to the bottom of the track entering into a dead heat with the #1 car racing the last 50 meters to the start/finish line.

Though electronic timing made the declaration for victory anti-climatic, it wasn't until a photo finish until at the line where Kevin Harvick and the Richard Childress Racing fielded #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet were comfortably named winners of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron's 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway. With the #29 sponsor Shell/Pennzoil announcing a move for Penske Racing in 2011, Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress and the entire #29 RCR team celebrated knowing that the future is still yet to be determined.

Settling for second place, Jamie McMurray narrowly missed an opportunity to claim his 3 straight restrictor plate victory. Commenting on the pass in post race, McMurray provided some insight on the move from the #29 car. "I really thought that Kevin was going to go high. I felt like I was close enough to the yellow line that there was a lot more racetrack to the right, and it seemed like you could stall guys out more on the outside than you could the inside. And so I was really guarding against the outside, and when he went left, it did, it really loosens the car up. It's hard to explain to you guys that aren't in cars, but when there's someone directly behind you and they pull their car out of line really fast, it's like you pull a parachute in your car."
Both Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolets made it on fuel as Juan Montoya finished in 3rd place.

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

With Denny Hamlin finishing 4th after the before mentioned troubles, the top-5 was rounded out by the the #5 Chevrolet of Mark Martin. Emerging at just the right time, Martin overtook his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to become the highest finishing driver in the camp. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson encountering late race problems while Dale Earnhardt Jr faded to 13th place as the #88 was shut out of the draft.

Inside the top 10, David Ragan posted a strong 6th place finish in the #6 UPS Ford. His first top-10 run of the 2010 Sprint Cup season, Ragan is fighting to regain the 2008 form that almost sparked a birth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

In the final position within the top-10 finishers, the #09 Chevrolet of Phoenix Racing was driven up 27 spots by Mike Bliss. Falling short of the major victory at Talladega just one year before, Mike Bliss' quiet 10th place run comes as team owner James Finch placing a 'For Sale' sign on the doorstep of his entire racing operations Friday.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points following the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway has Jimmie Johnson retaining the lead by only 26 points over the new 2nd place runner Kevin Harvick. Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers showed the sharpest rise and fall in the points after Talladega. Mark Martin moved up 4 spots while Jeff Gordon lost 5 positions in the season standings.

Sprint Cup teams prepare to leave the restrictor plate race behind for a Saturday night affair at the Richmond International Raceway short track.

Aaron's 499
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Finishing Order
1) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
2) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
3) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya TUMS Chevrolet
4) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
5) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
6) 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
7) 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
8) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
9) 18 Kyle Busch Pedigree Toyota
10) 09 Mike Bliss Phoenix Construction / Graceway Chevrolet
11) 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
12) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
13) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
14) 00 David Reutimann Alabama National Champions / Aaron's Toyota
15) 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota 200
16) 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice Matterhorn Chevrolet
17) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
18) 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
19) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia / Best Buy Ford
20) 7 Robby Gordon Monster Energy Toyota
21) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
22) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
23) 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet
24) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Penske Truck Rental / AAA Dodge
25) 98 Paul Menard Turtle Wax / Menards Ford
26) 37 Robert Richardson Jr. Mahindra Tractors USA Ford
27) 26 David Stremme Air National Guard Ford
28) 17 Matt Kenseth Valvoline Ford
29) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
30) 38 Kevin Conway Extenze Ford
31) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
32) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
33) 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley / Bostitch Ford
34) 12 Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge
35) 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation / Office Depot Chevrolet
36) 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
37) 47 Marcos Ambrose Bush's Best Baked Beans / Kingsford Toyota
38) 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
39) 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron's 55th Anniversary Toyota
40) 13 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
41) 36 Johnny Sauter Baldwin Automotive Chevrolet
42) 87 Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports Toyota
43) 66 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Severe Weather Cancels All NASCAR acitivity at Talladega for Saturday

For the second straight weekend, a major NASCAR event has seen its Saturday festivities completely interrupted by rain showers. Unlike the situation at Texas, the stock car racing sanctioning body was reacting to a much more dangerous weather system which has the likelihood of thunderstorms of even the chance of stirring up tornadoes. Heeding to threats of severe weather, acting under the advisement of National Weather Service as well as the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency, NASCAR has elected to cancel qualifying for the Sprint Cup series Aaron's 499 and postpone the Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series event.

Using points to settle the NASCAR Sprint Cup field for tomorrow's Aaron's 499, 43 entrants were effortlessly placed in the race while 2 race teams and drivers were forced to go home early. The #35 Chevrolet of Aric Almirola and the #46 Dodge driven by Terry Cook packed their haulers and rolled out of the Talladega Superspeedway infield area. While Saturday is a bust, clear weather on Friday allowed teams to receive ample practice time to work on their race day setup.

With weather necessitating another double-header for the major NASCAR touring series on Sunday. The Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series event will run following the Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup event. Fortunately for drivers and teams, tomorrow's weather forecast in Talladega is suggested to be partly sunny.

Reigning NASCAR Canadian Tire Champ Ranger to Run K&N Series in 2010

Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR

For the balance of 2010, Canadian stock car driver Andrew Ranger will be packing his bags South to go racing in the East division of NASCAR's K&N Pro Series. Announced Friday April 23rd, Ranger will pilot the #35 Chevrolet for NDS Motorsports. Having competed in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at California's Irvindale Speedway on January 31th this year, Andrew Ranger announced that his venture South will be extended through the remaining 8 races on the 2010 K&N Pro Series East season.

Winning the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series points title two of the past three years (2007 and 2009) tallying 9 career victories on the tour, 23-year old Roxton Pond, Quebec native Andrew Ranger has earned superstar status as a stock car driver in Canada. In 2006, Ranger chose after two seasons in the unstable Champ Car World Series to transition from agile but fragile open wheel cars to the heavier more contact-oriented sport of stock car racing. Beyond front-running efforts in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series which resulted in 9 wins, At least 2 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams trusted the young Canadian to drive a vehicle in the second-highest echelon. Last year on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve NASCAR Nationwide race in Montreal, Ranger led the race for 10 laps inside the #11 Toyota before delivering the car to a stunning 3rd place finish. Despite his podium performance, that was the only race Andrew Ranger was offered to run in the Nationwide Series for 2009.

With plans to run the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division, Ranger hasn't ruled out possibilities to run a limited Canadian Tire Series schedule for 2010. However, a quick review comparing series calendars leaves few opportunities for Ranger to compete in his home country to race this year. With many NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events running on the same race weekends as the K&N Pro Series East races, the best chances of seeing the reigning Canadian division champion could perhaps come on the road courses. Free weekends from the K&N Pro Series includes the June 13 at Mosport International Raceway, the streets of Toronto July 17th and the Edmonton City Center Airport race on July 25th. The September 11th round on the Barrie Speedway oval is also available. Interesting to keep in mind, one conflict date for Andrew Ranger occurs on the major NASCAR weekend on Montreal in late August. Scheduled to race at Gresham Motorsports Park on August 28th, it seems unlikely that Canadian Ranger will elect to miss this opportunity to shine on home soil; particularly after the show he provided in the #11 car in last season.

Ranger's first race in the #35 Chevrolet for NDS Motorsports will come at Iowa Speedway on May 23rd.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dakoda Armstrong Wins ARCA Race at Talladega

The first event for a triple-header of stock car action at the superfast Talladega Superspeedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards races for supremacy for a 250 mile event on mid-afternoon Friday.

Some years ago, the ARCA Series stock car races on restrictor plate races were untamed affairs with no-fault novice drivers committing themselves to the tight, fast characteristics of 190 mile per hour racing.However, the quality of the ARCA Racing Series field has improved with major NASCAR race teams increasingly relying on the stock car sanctioning body as a farm team to developing new driving talent. Grant Enfinger and Tim George Jr are two of these development drivers eagerly auditioning for a bigger role in their auto racing future. Reflective of the increased talent in the ARCA Racing Series, winner of the last two event of this 2010 season, Steve Arpin, has been granted with his first ride in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend.

Claiming pole with an average speed of 186.499 miles per hour around the 2.66 mile oval, Penske Racing development driver Dakoda Armstrong in the #22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge led the field through the first 32 of 94 laps with Venturini Motorsport cars of Mikey Kile and Canadian Steve Arpin riding behind. Impacted by two cautions for single-car wrecks through the event's early stage, the Talladega ARCA 250 would be shaken on lap 50 by an massive crash on the front stretch involving at least 9 cars.

With drivers James Buescher, Ricky Carmichael and the winner of ARCA's Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart ending up with vehicles damaged beyond repair, the #60 Dodge of Patrick Sheltra suffered substantial impact onto the left portion of the front end. Patched by the #60 team, Sheltra's car continued to race. Through the final race rundown, nine cars overall would reported out of the event due to accidents. A hefty toll, there were actually 10 other cars reported out due to mechanical problems from engine, overheating or transmission issues. As 250 miles continues to remain a test of maturing drivers running on limited resources, almost half of the field did not make it the checkered flag.

Since lap 52, Roush Fenway Racing development driver Grant Enfinger in the #09 Ford was leading with the Steve Aprin's #55 Toyota pushing. Into the final 10 laps, Enfinger held first spot but the #22 Dodge of Dakoda Armstrong headed a three-car draft freight train. Closing on the #09 Ford, Armstrong received a spirited push from the embattled #60 Dodge of Patrick Sheltra. In the last lap, Grant Enfinger was overwhelmed by Armstrong and Aprin down the Talladega backstretch. Armstrong, receiving a final nudge from Sheltra, was able to pass Enfinger into turn 3 to take the race lead once and for all. As a scramble occurred for the top-5, the #55 car of Steve Arpin inadvertently cut off the #16 of Joey Coulter.Spinning through turn 4, both cars avoided noticeable damage with Arpin finishing 15th and Coulter trailing in 16th place.

Gaining a first victory in his 12th ARCA Racing Series start in the Talladega ARCA 250, Dakoda Armstrong had the experience of championship caliber NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Paul Andrews wrenching the #22 Dodge.

Persevering through the lap 50 accident, Patrick Sheltra finished 2nd in an aerodynamically-challenged #60 Dodge. The #31 Chevrolet of Tim George Jr, the #81 Toyota of Craig Goess and Mikey Kile's #25 Toyota rounded out the top-5 finishing positions.

Race Preview: 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

Track Length:
2.66 Mile
Highest Banking: 33 Degrees
Listed Race Distance/Actual Race Distance: 500.8 miles
Laps: 188
Previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Events Held:
81 races

2009 Pole Winner:
Juan Pablo Montoya
2009 Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

Lead Changes in Past 5 Spring Talladega Superspeedway Races

2009: 57
2008: 52
2007: 42
2006: 56
2005: 33

Cautions in Past 5 Spring Talladega Superspeedway Races

2009: 9
2008: 8
2007: 8
2006: 8
2005: 8

Top 5 Lap Leaders In Last 10 Races

1. Jeff Gordon 316
2. Tony Stewart 210
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr 175
4. Denny Hamlin 175
5. Jamie McMurray 115

Top 5 Average Finishers In Last 10 Races (Drivers have run 10 or more race at track)

1. Kurt Busch 13.1
2. Jimmie Johnson 13.8
3. Tony Stewart 16.1
4. Brian Vickers 16.3
5. Matt Kenseth 17.2

Wins at Car Make In Last 10 Races at Track


Cars Entered for 2010 Aaron's 499: 46

Canadian Steve Arpin Driving for JR Motorsports at Talladega

Photo Credit: ARCA

Announced on Wednesday, JR Motorsports has named Canadian stock car standout Steve Arpin as driver of the team's #7 Chevrolet for this weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.

A real capital opportunity for the Fort Francis,Ontario native, Steve Arpin has been catching eyes driving the Venturini Motorsport #55 Toyota in the ARCA Racing Series. Currently leading that series' points standings after four races, Arpin is riding a hot streak of two straight victories claiming. Steve Arpin claimed his first ARCA stock car win at the high-banked short track at Salem Speedway before following it up with a 1st place at the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway. Driving a Toyota wearing Mike's Hard Lemonade sponsorship, Arpin will also be attempting to drive for 3 straight victories for Friday's ARCA Racing Series event at Talladega.

“It's been a busy week leading up to this race at Talladega. I’ve been trying to keep my mind focused and centered on what I do best, which is driving a racecar. The biggest thing is how thankful I am to Dale Jr., Kelley, and the Eurys for putting this opportunity in front of me. It’s really cool they would be willing to take a chance on me, and I hope we can get some solid results out of it.”
Arpin reacts as he prepares for his debut with the JR Motorsports team. For the Aaron's 312 race, Steve Arpin is humble on his expectations for the upcoming race. "Anytime you go into a race weekend, you want to do well. But I also want to be realistic for myself and for his No.7 Chevy team. For it to be a good weekend, we have to finish all of the laps." Arpin said without discounting a chance to claim a top-15 place as a quality effort. Jamie McMurray, Aprin's teammate driving the #88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, looks forwards to the young Canadian's entry into the team saying "I'm excited for Steve (Arpin). I'm looking forward to working with him as JRM teammates this weekend".

Naming Arpin to the #7 ride for this weekend, JR Motorsports is fighting through the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series to balance developing young prospects with sponsor-pleasing performance on track. Kelly Bires was released from the team two weeks ago quite unexpectedly after just 5 NASCAR Nationwide Series races in the #88 Chevrolet. Steve Arpin's addition to the JR Motorsports roster for Talladega has possibly shown that their is still some interest in development drivers.

Since 2007, the red maple leaf flag has flown with the names of many drivers at Talladega. In the last couple NASCAR racing season's, Jacques Villeneuve, JR Fitzpatrick, Patrick Carpentier, and Mario Gosselin have been Canadian drivers who have taken a spin around the high-speed, high-banked Alabama oval in one of NASCAR's top-three divisions.

Depending on the possible performance at Talladega, Steve Arpin could also be auditioning for an additional ride in the #7 Chevrolet for the NASCAR Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway next week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Denny Hamlin Becomes Top Gun in Texas Sprint Cup Race

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Walking on a light hobble off-track, Denny Hamlin found his #11 Fed-Ex sponsored Toyota a great equalizer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Charging from 29th place through enduring much of the 500 mile distance, Denny Hamlin and the Joe Gibbs Racing team took victory in a race which seemed destined for being another Hendrick Motorsports celebration.

Delayed roughly 20 hours as rain flooded the race festivities Sunday
, the Samsung Mobile 500 started Monday a little past noontime. The #14 Office Depot Chevrolet of Tony Stewart taking full advantage of his pole position leading the first 15 laps. Committing the first pass for the lead, Greg Biffle #16 Ford belonging to Roush Fenway Racing grabbed the top spot from Stewart holding the place until a planned competition caution on lap 28. In all, the Samsung Mobile 500 would see a lively array of lead changes with the top position changing hands 29 times in total.

While Biffle would lead another 9 laps past the midway point of the Samsung Mobile 500, the race's lead would soon fall into long-term possession of Hendrick Motorsports cars Including the #14 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart running a Hendrick-built race car.

Stewart took the lead through a field-wide dive into pit lane and led everyone to the lap 32 restart. After 18 laps out front, the #14 came under attack of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson led 28 laps before one of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates mounted a charge on the #48 Chevrolet. The AMP Energy #88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead on lap 76 to a wide cheer of some 90,000 spectators (it remains fuzzy for whether the majority of the applauds came for Earnhardt Jr leading or for fact Jimmie Johnson was passed on track). Although Earnhardt Jr would only lead 4 laps in this stint before a yellow flag flew, the #88 car would spend an additional 42 laps at the front in Texas.

As the race flowed smoothy through the mid stages, the green flag stayed out for 116 laps requiring Sprint Cup cars to roll down pit road as the field rotates under full speed. Within this run, the #24 National Guard/Dupont Chevrolet belonging to Jeff Gordon would emerge gifting Rick Hendrick with seeing three of his cars fighting for the lead of the race. However, as Gordon reached the front of the NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, his #24 car nestled in the lead for a race-topping 124 laps.

Breaking the long green run, Juan Pablo Montoya collides with the turn 2 wall in his #42 Chevrolet bringing out a caution on lap 233. With just over 100 laps remaining in the Samsung Mobile 500, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr made up the top-3 cars. With the Hendrick Motorsports trio choosing to stop for four tires, Stewart's #14 pit crew moved their driver/owner into the lead by changing only right side tires.

Battling for second shortly after the restart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon provided an entertaining duel for position. Seemingly forgetting they were teammate, Johnson's #48 and Gordon's #24 car made contact down the front-stretch. Exchanging some cross-feelings over the contact through radio transmissions with crew chief Steve Latarte, Gordon certainly put on a good act in reacting to side-by-side driving with Johnson. While Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolet continued to move forward to snatch the lead 12 laps later, damage on the #48 car required Jimmie Johnson to pit prematurely.

At lap 310, the caution flag came out for a 6th time as top-10 runner David Reutimann suffered an engine explosion. Setting up the final laps to the checkered flag, the lead cars pitted with many making a gamble for two tires only. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were the sole frontrunners taking four tires sacrificing track position for use of preferable grip.

The #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet of Jeff Burton won the fight off pit road to earn top spot for a lap 316 restart with Tony Stewart starting alongside in the double-file lineup coming to green. While Burton ran off, fierce pressure in the final stages of the race including Dale Earnhardt Jr and the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch pounced on Stewart leaving the #14 to fight hard to regain momentum. Unfortunately, as the field came through turn 3 close contact first with Jeff Gordon and a clip later out of turn 4 from the #99 Ford of Carl Edwards resulted in the #14 Chevrolet setting off a pile-up which severely damaged 9 cars. Of the cars caught in the crash were Gordon, Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer.

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

After a 19 minute red flag, the field restarted with only a dozen laps remaining. While Burton led the final restart, the Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin drew side-by-side with the #31 Chevrolet to overtake Burton down the frontstretch. Losing the preferred first place spot, Jeff Burton fell to 12th at the end of the event.

In the final laps, a Hamlin victory came under attack by a super fast Jimmie Johnson. On four fresh tires, the #48 Chevrolet ate into the Toyota's lead to the end but ran out of laps to properly contend with Denny Hamlin.

Despite the combined efforts placed by three of Hendrick Motorsports' four cars, the late laps of the Samsung Mobile 500 ended with the Joe Gibbs Racing team celebrating their late-race placement. For the 2nd time in 3 races, Denny Hamlin's season has come alive after a start which saw the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota finishing outside of the top-10 through the first 4 races. This victory for Joe Gibbs Racing was also the first for Toyota as the Japanese car maker reduces the number of tracks the manufacturer badge has left to be featured in the winner's circle.

Behind 2nd place Johnson, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate to Hamlin Kyle Busch brought the Interstate Batteries sponsored #18 to 3rd. Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-5 for the 2010 Samsung Mobile 500.

In 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup points, Jimmie Johnson stay in the lead for the standings gaining an advantage over Kenseth who finished 20th place in the race. Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch all improved their place in the Sprint Cup standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aarons 499 on the 2.66 mile oval.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Samsung Mobile 500
Texas Motor Speedway

1) 11 Denny Hamlin     FedEx Ground Toyota
2) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
3) 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
4) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
5) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
6) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
7) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
8) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
9) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
10) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Post-it Ford
11) 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY ROTC Chevrolet
12) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
13) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia/Best Buy Ford
14) 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Dodge
15) 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
16) 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
17) 47 Marcos Ambrose Scott Branded Products/Kingsford Toyota
18) 19 Elliott Sadler Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford
19) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
20) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
21) 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
22) 13 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
23) 71 Bobby Labonte Perry for Governor Chevrolet
24) 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
25) 21 Bill Elliott Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
26) 7 Robby Gordon Monster Energy Toyota
27) 38 Kevin Conway Extenze Ford
28) 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
29) 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
30) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
31) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Special Forces Chevrolet
32) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
33) 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Ford
34) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
35) 98 Paul Menard Quaker State/Menards Ford
36) 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburer Helper Chevrolet
37) 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
38) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
39) 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General Stores Toyota
40) 87 Joe Nemechek Crosby Roofing Toyota
41) 66 Michael McDowell PRISM Motorsports Toyota
42) 09 Mike Bliss Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
43) 55 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport Pull Off Victory in Long Beach

Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy

With NASCAR races in Texas postponed by rain and the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix race on the wet Shanghai International Raceway, The IZOD IndyCar Series weekend racing action in Long Beach, California was performed under dry, sun-baked temperatures. Capping the race weekend which involved the Firestone Indy Lights and American Le Mans Series in a spectacular race on Saturday, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach main event for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series started with polesitter Will Power leading Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson into turn one.

The #12 Verizon Penske Racing car of Power held the lead through the initial laps as the Long Beach track and race was not availing drivers with any great increases in passing opportunities than the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race at Barber Motorsport Park. The green flag allowed Power to separate himself from much of the field with exception of the IZOD-sponsored #37 Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay and the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing #22 car of Justin Wilson.

On lap 16, the move of a race occurred as the front running cars of Power and Hunter-Reay entered Long Beach's turn 11. Arcing through the corner, Will Power's #12 car came off the corner slowly allowing Ryan Hunter-Reay and later Justin Wilson to pass Power. While Will Power backslid through the grid as his #12 Dallara-Honda crawled up to speed, the car recovered to race pace shortly. For what might have been a costly incident, the #12 Penske Racing team driver cited a gear-selection problem as culprit. Will Power maintains a podium position run almost throughout the following laps.

Photo Credit: Steve Swope

As the race laps ticked, there was no movement within the top three positions. However, the path of these leaders would not be entirely smooth sailing. Passing the lapped car of IndyCar Series full-season rookie Alex Lloyd driving the Dale Coyne-owned #19 car on lap 53, Justin Wilson had has front wing broken when the #19 took away a passing line. Coming to the attention of his #22 Z-Line Designs pit crew, a replacement nose assembly and rejoined the IndyCar field. An unpopular move, the driver #19 Boy Scouts of America car issued a Twitter understand. "Want to apologize to Justin. It was the corner after Ryan went by and I just didn't know he was there. Glad he recovered well!" Lloyd said.

The only caution of the Toyota Grand Prix of Grand Prix came out as result of an on-track collision between Mario Romancini and Graham Rahal. While Romancini will race again on the Kansas Speedway oval in two weeks, Graham Rahal is possibility going to be a healthy scratch to the IZOD IndyCar lineup in Kansas unless another ride will open up soon. Summing up his disappointment on his Twitter page, Rahal said "Incredibly frustrated. Horrible end to a bad weekend. Dollar General guys have been incredible, unfortunately we just couldn't get it right."

The last retirement of the race came on lap 65 as the FAZZT Race Team and Alex Tagliani were forced to park their entry after showing promise on several occasions on stop watches. After setting some fast laps through practicing Alex Tagliani's Long Beach race got off to a troubling start when Marco Andretti made light contact with the FAZZT Race Team #77 Dallara. Only damaging the tire ramp, the two cars continued without any measurable aftereffects of the accident. With a refueling issue on pit road during lap 29, Tagliani's race ended later on lap 65 when contact broke the front suspension of the #77 car.

In the end, Ryan Hunter-Reay muscled his #37 IZOD Andretti Autosport car across the start/finish line. Passing Will Power into the final laps, Justin Wilson elevated himself to a 2nd place finish for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. Will Power takes 3rd place in the event securing a podium finish in all four IZOD IndyCar Series races so far for 2010.

The first Andretti Autosport team win since Tony Kanaan at Richmond in 2008, the trophy from this race was a deeply personal win for the driver. Dedicating this win to his recently dearly departed mother, Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrated an emotional victory at Long Beach with the support of Andretti Autosport drivers and crew members. Planting a hug on the winning American driver, car owner Michael Andretti and teammate Danica Patrick both proudly congratulated Ryan Hunter-Reay. As the day concluded, Ryan Hunter-Reay posted a twitter message saying "Huge win today, finally going to bed. Thank you all so much for your support. It means so much."

Taking a week off, the IZOD IndyCar Series returns May 1 for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The first oval for the tour, this race is also being viewed as a preparation for the Memorial Day classic Indianapolis 500.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Final Race Results

1. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
2. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
3. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
4. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
5. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
6. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
7. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
8. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
9. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
10. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
11. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Enterprises
12. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
13. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
14. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
15. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
16. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
17. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
18. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
19. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
20. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
21. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
22. 67 Graham Rahal/United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
23. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing
24. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
25. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rain at Texas Motor Speedway Moves NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races to Monday

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With Texas rain showers having postponed the NASCAR Nationwide O'Reilly 300 on Saturday, the precipitation continued to soak the Texas Motor Speedway Sunday effectively scrubbing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500. For the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, this is the second time in the past three races of 2010 that rain has rescheduled the start to Monday.

Having planned to run the rain-out NASCAR Nationwide Series event tonight (Sunday) after the Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500, the schedule has transitioned to Monday with the Sprint Cup race starting at noon Eastern time with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race set to follow at 5 p.m. later in that day. It appears very likely that both races can be completed tomorrow with Monday weather for Fort Worth, Texas showing only a slim chance for rain showers.

With Tony Stewart starting on his 1st pole in over 4 years, the NASCAR Sprint Cup will roll live on Fox while ESPN will show the Nationwide series' O'Reilly 300 with Joey Logano leading the field to green.

Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe Scores First Career Indy Lights Victory

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

An entree to the Sunday serving of IRL (indy Racing League) racing action at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Firestone Indy Lights Series warmed up the California street course. Capturing the first two races of the 2010 ladder series, Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Jean-Karl Vernay, the third round has yet to provide a challenge to the Frenchman. Sunday's Long Beach race for the Firestone Indy Lights Series would see the emergence as a potential season-long competitor.

Grabbing his second pole of the young season, 23-year old Oakville, Ontario, Canada driver James Hinchcliffe piloted his Team Moore Racing #2 car to a 1 minute, 14.6261 second lap time to claim the preferential position for the start. Previously scoring pole position at the opening Firestone Indy Lights round on the streets of St Petersburg ended with Hinchcliffe getting wrecked by Phillip Major through the race's first lap. In the Long Beach event, James Hinchcliffe avoided early race misfortune to lead flag-to-flag for his first victory in the Firestone Indy Lights in his second year of series competition.

With the race yellow flagged four times, the Hinchcliffe launched away from 2nd place finisher fellow Indy Lights tour sophomore Charlie Kimball driving for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. Jean-Karl Vernay missed his third-straight win of the season but retained a strong hold on the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Series point standings. After three rounds, France's Vernay stands 28 markers over top of American driver Kimball in points.

With his previous best finish coming last year in the Mid-Ohio round, James Hinchcliffe completed his climb up the Firestone Indy Lights finishing roster. This top finish at Long Beach allows Hinchcliffe to be crowned the first Canadian driver to win in the IRL version of the open wheel support series since its formation in 2002.

Button Masters Weather Again to Win the Chinese Grand Prix

Under threatening skies, the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix underwent final pre-race preparations with Formula 1 teams remaining on slick tires. Completing their warm up lap as the 24 f1 cars filed into grid, drivers Sebastian Vettel and teammate Mark Webber held the front row ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso as well as the Mercedes piloted by Nico Rosberg. As the lights went out, it was the 3rd place Ferrari bypassed the pair of Red Bull-Renaults to lead the field into the first corner. However, upon review of the start, it was revealed that Alonso accelerated before the signal lights went dark. With the Ferrari committing a foul, Alonso was eventually sent to pit road to serve a drive-through penalty. "I made a serious mistake at the start as my reflexes let me down and I left early." Alonso would admit in a post-race interview. With much of the race ahead, Alonso was able to make-up for his uncharacteristic gaffe.

Other than the Ferrari start, the first lap involved some additional drama as Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi locked up his rear brakes slowing for turn 4. The rear of the Force India broke sideways siding collecting the BMW Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Sebestien Buemi. Heading wide through the turn, Rubens Barrichello narrowly misses the tingling race cars in his William-Cosworth. Liuzzi cited problems placing heat in the braking system during the pre-race formation lap as contributing to his loss of control.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

The multiple-car crash on lap 1 drew the safety car allowing teams to switch their slick tire with wet weather Bridgestone rubber. This safety car period ended after four laps with Nico Rosberg leading Jenson Button and the Renault of Robert Kubica. With Rosberg padding to the interval between him and Button through over a dozen laps, Rosberg made a critical misstep on lap 20 spinning his Mercedes GP car in the final corner. While Nico Rosberg recovered, the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button stormed by the slowed factory Mercedes GP racer.

On lap 25, the safety car came out once again as the remaining Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Jaime Alguersuari lost its front nose and wing assembly on track. The race restarted with a last set of pit stops looming for the Formula 1 cars. While Jenson Button would maintain his lead through the cycling as pit stops, the McLaren team went to work on teammate Lewis Hamilton's car. Running third before the stop, Hamilton's stop for intermediate thread tires allowed the McLaren-Mercedes to spring ahead of Nico Rosberg after the round of pit stops were completed.

Through the late laps, both McLaren-Mercedes race cars ran on the edge of control as Button and Hamilton struggled to sink their worn tires into the wet Shanghai track. Once possessing an almost 10 second lead over 2nd place, the interval shrank to 1.5 seconds by the time the McLaren teammate's crossed the start/finish line. Holding on, Jenson Button win in China made him the first multiple winner of the 2010 Formula 1 season.

Coming home 2nd, Lewis Hamilton brought his McLaren-Mercedes to a season-best finish. Complimenting his teammate Button for the victory, Hamilton felt the call for intermediate tires left something on the table. "...I think the whole team deserves this incredible one-two result. I hope the spectators and viewers enjoyed it, too!

Driving another dedicated race in the Mercedes GP team car, Nico Rosberg grabbed his second-straight podium finish in the Chinese Grand Prix. Also interesting to note, Rosberg's placement allows Mercedes-Benz engined car to own the podium for the race.

Photo Credit: Lotus Racing

Despite pitting 5 times through the Chinese Grand Prix including , Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was within striking distance of Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg. In fifth, Robert Kubica is still making the most of a growing year for the Renault F1 team. Along with Kubica's run, Renault F1 rookie Vitaly Petrov put together an overall strong effort in his young career finishing 7th and in the points. Driving against some seasoned veterans through the wet Shanghai International Circuit, Petrov passed drivers including Michael Schumacher for position.

As for the Red Bull Racing team, the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix will certainly send the Formula 1 team into a frenzy isolated the mistakes made after starting so promisingly on the front row. Losing the lead off the start, Sebestian Vettel never recovered the top spot and faded to 6th in the final results while Mark Webber could only gain 8th place.

Thanks to the two wins in four races, Jenson Button leaves China with the lead in Formula 1 points. Leading by 10 points, Button is holding off the very consistent Nico Rosberg who in turn is just a single point ahead of both Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

With a three-week break before the 2010 Formula 1 season gears for their first European round with the Spanish Grand Prix, the volcanic ash cloud activity over European skies has some officials concerned with flight arrangements. However, current reports place the likelihood of air travel being interrupted through three weeks as possible but not entirely creditable. Nonetheless, some teams will probably find the trip back to European countries from China could be complicated.

2010 Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix
Finishing Order

1. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
5. Robert Kubica Renault F1
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault
8. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
9. Felipe Massa Ferrari
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
13. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
14. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
15. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
16. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
17. Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
19. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
20. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari
21. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
22. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
24. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

Paul Tracy Returns to Indy with KV Racing

To the rejoicing cheers of open wheel racing fans (especially Canadian fans) Paul Tracy has been officially named as an entry to the 2010 Indianapolis 500. Announced at a press conference in Long Beach (the site of his first IndyCar victory in 1993), 41 year-old Tracy will pilot a fourth car within KV Racing Technology backed by insurance company Geico. The second year in a row driving the #15 car, Paul Tracy started 13th and finished 9th in the 2009 Indy 500.

Attempting to make his 7th start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, many fans of Paul Tracy would assert that the Canadian driver is actually an Indy 500 winner. In the 2002 race, Tracy running a one-off IRL event for his CART organization Team Green. Fighting his way up to second with only two laps to go, Paul Tracy ran down the lead Penske Racing car of Helio Castroneves. Having closed the distance on Castroneves, Tracy drew alongside the Penske-owned vehicle out of turn 3. At the same time, a two-car crash occurred on the other end of the track drawing caution on lap 199 just as Tracy peaked in front of Castroneves. In what has been the most controversial outcome in Brickyard race history, Helio Castroneves was declared the leader at the point of caution despite inconclusive evidence that the caution truly came out before Tracy's pass. Protesting the result, Team Green and Paul Tracy filed an official appeal. The IRL continuously defended the race results placing Castroneves in the lead and Tracy in 2nd place at the point of caution. It has long been believed that Paul Tracy was a victim of the than separated state of open wheel racing in North America.

With Paul Tracy only confirmed for the 2010 Indianapolis 500, it's reasonable to stay tuned for some announcements placing the popular driver in additional 2010 IZOD IndyCar events. Specifically, the two upcoming IZOD IndyCar rounds in Toronto and Edmonton are likely to see "The Thrill from West Hill" return to entertain his home country fan base.

Adding to an ever-filling contingent of drivers contending for 1 of 33 prized starting spots in the 2010 Indianapolis 500, the upcoming qualifying in the coveted Brickyard is shaping into a suspenseful outing for the IZOD IndyCar Series racers. On top of the regular 25-car field with teams and cars committed for the 2010 full-season, a growing list of quality Indy-only entries is certainly going to provide a high stakes competition simply to make the 500 mile race.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Will Power Secures 3rd Straight IZOD IndyCar pole at Long Beach

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Unleashed on the hot California street circuit on Saturday afternoon, the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams focus on achieving the best possible starting position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

With 25 Indy cars taking to the 1.968 mile Long Beach streets for qualifying, the 3 rounds of timed times wrapped with the Firestone Fast Six. Prevailing on the final session of qualifying, Australian Will Power posted top time with a blazing 1 minute, 9.3185 second lap. More than 4/10th of a second faster than second place, the #12 Verizon Penske Racing car arrived as a favourite front-runner for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Having defended his 2009 pole run, Power's effort on the temporary street course added his 3rd consecutive pole of this 2010 IZOD IndyCar season. "We certainly have the car figured out, and I'm very happy that the Verizon car is P1 again." Power said in a post-race press conference.

Showing speed potential again on the temporary tracks after topping Friday practice, Ryan Hunter-Reay backed up Friday's performance with a 2nd fastest time on Saturday afternoon. Driving his #37 Andretti Autosport car for Sunday, Ryan Hunter-Reay is also entered in the American Le Mans Series event running a LMP Challenge car.

Behind Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson brought the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing #22 car to 3rd place through qualifying. While Penske Racing has been enjoying a potentially record-setting season, the growing Dreyer and Reinbold Racing team has shown some great progress with driver Justin Wilson teaming with Mike Conway. Through qualifying this season, the team has placed one of their two cars in the top-3 fastest competitors since St Petersburg.

With Will Power posing another very strong effort for the #12 Penske Racing car, car owner Roger Penske profited heavily from his entire three-car team as Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe joined his teammate in the Firestone Fast Six. Narrowly missing the Justin Wilson's 3rd place mark, Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner Helio Castroneves will start 4th tomorrow just one spot ahead of Ryan Briscoe.

Completing the Firestone Fast Six, Tony Kanaan will start 6th in his #11 7-Eleven sponsored car for Andretti Autosport. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti provided a 9th fastest time at Long Beach while Danica Patrick starts deep in 20th place. In 2009, Patrick posted her highest road course finish on the Long Beach circuit crossing the line in 4th place.

2009 winner of the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix race Dario Franchitti slotted in 12th fastest on the race track for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. Teammate Scott Dixon compared better to the field with an 8th place run but it remains apparent that the #9 and #10 cars on the IZOD IndyCar Series tour are having a hard time matching their 2009 vigor. With Scott Dixon claiming a runner-up position at Barber Motorsports Park, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is turning the corner back to American open wheel racing victory lane.

Under severe pressure to perform at Long Beach on Sunday will be Graham Rahal. Driving for the 3rd time and final scheduled time with Sarah Fisher Racing, the results have been less than desirable. With a highest finish of 9th at St Petersburg, Rahal in Long Beach qualifying could only beat 3 cars on track rounding up 22nd in the starting lineup. Rahal commented in post race saying "It's again been a very frustrating day, and I think that pretty well caps it off. Never have I ever been the slowest one in qualifying in my entire career. It's pretty frustrating; we just can't seem to get the car to react to any changes that we make."

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

With the race set to roll 1:15 p.m. local time (4:15 p.m. Eastern time), street course of Long Beach presents some passing opportunities. However, like many race tracks, considerable ground can be made up in the pits. Reminiscing about next week's IZOD IndyCar round at Barber Park Motorsport, Will Power is mindful to never discount the importance of pit road strategy. "Strategy can screw you, but it also can go your way. So we've got to read that well tomorrow."

Television coverage for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar race of Long Beach starts on Versus at 3:30 p.m. for American viewers. Canadian viewers will have to catch the race on TSN2 at 5:00 p.m.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Starting Lineup

1. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
2. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
3. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
4. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
5. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
6. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
7. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
8. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
9. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
10. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
11. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
12. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
13. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
14. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Enterprises
15. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
16. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
18. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
19. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
20. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
21. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
22. 67 Graham Rahal/United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
23. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing
24. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
25. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing