Sunday, September 26, 2010

Winning from Pole, Jimmie Johnson Wins All at Dover

Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR

Entering the AAA 400, Jimmie Johnson's 2010 season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season has been a roller coaster ride. Five wins prior to the end of June, the four-time Sprint Cup champion and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports team were, at one point, in peril of even making the 2010 Chase for the Cup. Since the July race at Daytona, the #48 Chevrolet had recorded 6 finishes of 22nd or worse. Because of this winless streak starting just before his wife gave birth of his daughter Genevieve Marie, Jimmie Johnson had yet to win a Sprint Cup race as a father.

Collecting his 3rd pole of 2010 on Friday, Jimmie Johnson attacked the one-mile Dover International Speedway prior to the AAA 400 race. Taking the green flag on Sunday, the #48 Lowes Chevrolet led the first 13 laps of the event before fellow front-row starter AJ Allmendinger in the Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Ford assumed the lead at Dover. Between Allmendinger and Johnson, those two drivers would led 334 of the race's 400 laps.

As Allmendinger led the early going of the AAA 400 at Dover, 2008 Dover spring race winner Martin Truex Jr was again showing strength this season in the #56 NAPA Toyota after a 3rd place start. By lap 100, Truex had worked his way into the runner-up place passing Johnson's #48 Chevrolet. Also running well within the first one-quarter of the race event was Juan Pablo Montoya who was maintaining his 5th place starting spot.
A very clean event, the AAA 400 was slowed only 4 times by caution and just one of those cautions was because of an accident. On lap 53, an incident involving the #39 Chevy of Ryan Newman and David Reutimann's #00 Toyota resulted in the Toyota suffering more serious damage than Newman's Chevrolet. With two yellow flags for debris and one for a damaged light, the race's flew through 1/3 distance with Allmendinger hold a lead of more than 4 seconds over second place after lap 150.

Unfortunately, Allmendinger's hopes of victory were thrown off kilter by a mis-timed pit stop on lap 172 when the #43 car driver cited poor handling as the reason to arrive for early service. What made AJ Allmendinger's stop so ill-timed was the debris caution that would slow the field 17 laps later trapping the #43 Ford a lap down in 27th place. Taking advantage of the wave around to get back to the lead lap, Allmendinger and crew worked hard to regain position but would never challenge within the top-five again in the AAA 400. The #43 Ford would come home 10th in the final running order.

Just as Allmendinger's hopes for a Dover victory were ended, Martin Truex Jr would encounter problems shortly afterwards. On lap 208, Truex Jr's day went south when a loose wheel forced the #56 NAPA Toyota to pit road. As the car appears to stall leaving the pits, driver and crew determine a rear axle shaft has broken forcing the Michael Waltrip Racing car to the garage after a spectacular performance in the first half of the AAA 400. Martin Truex Jr would be sent back out on the track to eventually finish at Dover 17 laps down in 34th position.

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/ Getty Images

Because of the downfall of Allmendinger and Truex Jr, Jimmie Johnson was effectively on easy street with a very fast #48 Chevrolet Impala parading the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. The Busch brothers did provide an occasional change of scenery. Kurt Busch's #2 Dodge would led for 3 laps while the #18 Toyota of younger Kyle Busch led a 46 lap stint through lap 293 to 338.

At the end, there was no stopping a hungry Jimmie Johnson planting his #48 Chevy into victory lane at Dover. His 6th time winning on the 'Monster Mile', Johnson finished 2.6 seconds ahead of Jeff Burton on the track. In regards to placement within the Chase points, Johnson now finds himself in second place 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. Unable to lead a lap at Dover, Hamlin rolled across the line 9th.

As Johnson moved up 4 places in the Chase standings, drivers Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick lost positions on lackluster runs. Though Gordon finished 11th, several Chase contenders leapfrogged the #24 car driver at the end of the 400-mile event. Working harder again because of a weak qualifying spot, Harvick's efforts from 33rd to 15th were not enough to prevent a 3 spot dive.

Joey Logano and Paul Menard, two non-chase drivers, also enjoyed some very respectable finishes in the AAA 400 at Dover. The track where he made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut just a little more than 2 years ago, Logano finished 4th in his #20 Home Depot Toyota. Menard, teammate to longtime race leader AJ Allmendinger with Richard Petty Motorsports, come home 7th leading the team's efforts.

Next for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour is the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway with the green flag dropping on Sunday 1 P.M.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
AAA 400
Dover International Speedway
Race Results


Pos #    | Car #     | Driver              | Sponsor/ Car Make

1)            48          Jimmie Johnson        Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
2)            31          Jeff Burton               Caterpillar Chevrolet
3)            20          Joey Logano             Home Depot Toyota
4)              2          Kurt Busch               Miller Lite Dodge
5)             99         Carl Edwards            Aflac Ford
6)             18          Kyle Busch               Interstate Batteries Toyota
7)              98         Paul Menard             Sylvania/Menards Ford
8)              39         Ryan Newman          Haas Automation Chevrolet
9)              11         Denny Hamlin            FedEx Express Toyota
10)            43         AJ Allmendinger         Insignia HDTV Ford

Other Notables:

11)            24          Jeff Gordon               DuPont/Law Enforcement Museum Chevrolet
12)              5          Mark Martin              Delphi/ Chevrolet
14)           42          Juan Pablo Montoya  Target Chevrolet
15)           29           Kevin Harvick          Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
18)           17           Matt Kenseth           Crown Royal Ford
19)           16           Greg Biffle                3M Ford
21) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
23) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
25) 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
34) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota

Shepherd Claims First NASCAR Win at Kawartha; Kennington First Championship

Photo Credit: Matthew Manor/NASCAR
 After 12 races in the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season, the final race at 0.375 mile Kawartha Speedway wraps up Canada's major stock car racing tour with drivers still desiring to prove themselves. As some drivers will want to end the 2010 season with a hard-earned top result, two drivers have a championship honour where only one driver will hold the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series crown. DJ Kennington or JR Fitzpatrick sparred all season long in the points with Fitzpatrick's #84 Chevrolet gaining an advantage on road courses while Kennington's #17 Dodge found the edge on oval tracks.

Though JR Fitzpatrick is skilled on ovals, the circle tracks appeared to be a liability to the Cambridge, Ontario native's title hopes. With three ovals concluding the 2010 NASCAR Canada season, Fitzpatrick continued to lead points following the first of those races at Barrie Speedway. However, a moment of lost power at the Riverside Speedway race in Nova Scotia gave Kennington's Castrol Edge car the edge needed to take the points lead entering Kawartha with a 40-point margin.

Prepared to make JR Fitzpatrick's job hard to reclaim the points lead at the last minute, DJ Kennington nailed down the fastest lap in qualifying for the Kawartha 250 race with the preferential lead at the start. As Kennington beat out Ron Beauchamp Jr to take pole, JR Fitzpatrick timed into the field 8th place with odds for the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series title apparently dwindling.

Once the flag dropped, Kennington led the first 53 laps until the second caution provided an ideal time for the #17 Dodge to pit. After one lap where Donald Chisholm stayed out for 1st place, Kennington would resume at the front for an additional 25 laps.

Showing himself to be the class of the field, the #17 Dodge would relinquish the top position for the Kawartha 250 running order without the knowledge the Castrol Edge time in the lead had concluded the this late afternoon event. Breaking DJ Kennington stranglehold on the lead position of the Kawartha Speedway, Brad Graham in the #19 Dodge took the front spot for 11 laps. Following Graham, 2nd place in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series points JR Fitzpatrick emerged to take the top spot on lap 91 gaining a valuable 5 point bonus for leading.

Involved in the first two cautions of the Kawartha 250, the #7 Dodge of Peter Shepherd appeared to be having a lousy outing at the 0.375 mile track. A young Canadian stock car driver limited to only a partial schedule this season, Shepherd started 6th in the event hoping to parlay some fast practice speeds into a solid race run. Despite being caught up in two incidents, Shepherd and his #7 car crawled back on both occasions placing himself into contention not only for a top-10 run but perhaps a victory. Several laps after a restart, Peter Shepherd launched past Fitzpatrick on lap 109 to lead for the first time in the Kawartha 250.

Transitioning through the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series finale, DJ Kennington was 11th and JR Fitzpatrick was 17th on lap 130 following a caution called for the #13 car of Trevor Monaghan. Through the final 120 laps, both drivers proceeded back into the top-5 for the final laps as Fitzpatrick run 2nd on track with Kennington in 4th. While Fitzpatrick's 2nd place position in the white flag lap wasn't effort to catch DJ Kennington in the points, insult to injury was added by the #02 Ford of Kerry Micks. Fighting for the runner-up spot into turn 4, Micks impacted with the #84 Chevy leading to Fitzpatrick's car spinning. With the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season starting at Delaware Speedway with Micks looping Fitzpatrick, some bad feelings fester on the impact as Micks takes the 2nd spot and the #84 of Fitzpatrick crosses the line in 15th place.

Winning the Kawartha 250 as a dark horse, Peter Shepherd led 124 of the race's 250 laps in his #7 Dodge taking the lead for the final on lap 214 en route to the checkered flag. Experienced in NASCAR south of the border when the Brampton native was hired by Roush Racing from 2006 to 2007, this win at the Kawartha Speedway is his first touring series trophy from a NASCAR-sanctioned event.

Photo Credit: Matthew Manor/NASCAR

Placed in 3rd in the final results in the Kawartha 250, DJ Kennington triumphed in the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship points. Taking honours 87 points ahead of JR Fitzpatrick at the end, Kennington and the #17 Dodge team celebrates a long-fought first national stock car championship. A mainstay the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series since the foundation in 2007, Kennington was more importantly long-time competitor in tour's predecessor series known as the CASCAR Super Series. Since the mid-1990s DJ Kennington campaigned a #17 Dodge with Castrol sponsorship starting as a very young driver. Still only 33 year old, Kennington is officially the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion.
In the final race of the season, Mark Dilley and Don Thomson Jr. rounded out the top-5. 6th through 10th consisted in the order of Scott Steckly, Jason Hathaway, Jeff Lapcevich, Ron Sheridan and Ron Beauchamp Jr.

Dominant Kyle Busch Wins Nationwide Dover Event; Breaks Series Record

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/ Getty Images for NASCAR

For the 11th time of the 2010 season, a NASCAR Nationwide Series was claimed by Toyota golden child Kyle Busch. Making the series into his own personal playground whenever his NASCAR Sprint Cup series obligations would allow, Busch's win at Dover International Speedway again showed how much of an unbeatable force the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is for these particular races.

When green dropped for the Dover 200 on the concrete one-mile, Kyle Busch's teammate Joey Logano's #20 Toyota led the 43-car field. Starting 2nd, the #18 Toyota Camry swept by the 20-year old Logano for the lead on turn 4 of lap 4. Busch would be completely free of the #20  exiting turn two. Little did many know at the early stage of the 200-lap affair at Dover, the lead change between Joe Gibbs Racing served as one of only three passes for the lead in the event.

Besides the attention that Kyle Busch was creating at the front, IndyCar star Danica Patrick drew eyeballs once again driving the #7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. Though practice provided a glimmer of optimism when Patrick was 12th fastest. However, the Dover 200 continued to add to the difficult part-time rookie season for Danica Patrick qualifying 42rd out of 43 cars. Because of 150 MPH average laps and the close quarters of Dover International Speedway, the #7 Chevy was lapped quickly with crew chief Tony Eury Jr accepting admitting a good day for Patrick's first outing at the track would have her finish 3-4 laps down. Unfortunately, Patrick's day at Dover would result with bad luck when a tire failure tore apart her car's front-right fender. After an extended time behind the wall to repair the #7 Chevy, the JR Motorsport team succeeded in finishing the event but ended the Dover 200 92 laps behind.

As Patrick's car brought out the first caution of the event, few drivers had been able to even keep pace with the #18 car. Providing the only adversary to Kyle Busch through the event was the #60 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards. While never leading a lap on the day, Edward ran second to Busch for a considerable time at Dover. However, Busch only major challenge through the Dover 200 would suffer inconvenience into the second half of the event due to a pit stop mishap. Costing Carl Edwards a chance to effectively battle Busch to the end, the #60 finished 3rd at Dover.

With four cautions slowing the Dover 200, one yellow flag eventually transferred to a red flag for a major crash in turn four. On lap 136, the #88 of Elliott Sadler slid into the turn 4 wall appearing initially to be a single-car wreck. Unfortunately, as the #88 JR Motorsports Chevy coasted down the 26 degree banking, the #27 Baker Curb Racing Ford being driven by Drew Herring crashed into Sadler violently without a chance to avoid the #88 car. Both drivers were alright following the accident finishing 32nd and 33rd. Stopping the race for nearly 11 minutes, NASCAR resumed the race once the track had been cleaned of debris and fluids.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images

A less serious turn 3 wreck involving the #22 Dodge of Brad Keselowski and the #66 Toyota of Steve Wallace served as a chance for contenders to Kyle Busch to emerge but no one could catch the #18 Toyota. Winning more than 1/3rd of the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series races so far this season, Kyle Busch's  Dover 200 trophy was earned after leading 192 of the race's 200 laps. Along with dominating the one-mile concrete track, Busch surpassed the NASCAR Nationwide Serise record for most victories in a season. The previous record of 10 wins was earned by Sam Ard in 1983.

Reversing positions from the start, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano finished 2nd. Edwards, Reed Sorenson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-5 in the final running order. Other performance of note belong to some up and coming drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Trevor Bayne finished 6th in this #99 Toyota while rookie of the year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr captured 11th in the Dover 200.

The next race for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will take place last week at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Alonso Splashes to Signapore GP Pole

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP
Last racing at the high-speed, scenic course of Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, the 2010 Formula 1 cars challenge this week is a 3.148 mile street course in Signapore's Marina Bay. The only night race on the Formula 1 circuit, the Singapore Grand Prix adds the additional spectacle of artificial lighting shining down on the high-speed race machines.

Though an entirely different track from the historic Monza circuit, the results out of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix saw Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari team repeating their pole-sitting efforts. Also unlike the Italian Gran Prix weekend, the wet track at Marina Bay led to longer than usual laps as teams were forced to rain setups. Posting fastest time in the Q1 session, Alonso's main opponent through the Saturday night time trial session came from Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. Vettel took the Q2 fast time transitioning into the final session where the Ferrari posted a lap time at 1 minute, 45.390 seconds beating out Vettel's Red Bull-Renault by less than 7/100th of a second. The 2008 winner of the Singapore Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso would have his victory overshadowed by the conduct of his then-team Renault F1 which eventually led to the team's Team Principal being suspended.

In 3rd and 4th, the McLaren-Mercedes cars continue to show presentable into the late stages of the 2010 season as the team remains in tight constructor championship battle with Red Bull Racing separated by only 3 points entering Singapore. Defending Signapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton found an edge on the defending Formula 1 champion teammate Jenson Button. The second Red Bull-Renault driven by current F1 driver points leader Mark Webber placed 5th in qualifying promising a heated battle for Singapore Grand Prix points.

While success found one of the Ferraris in Formula 1 at Singapore, Felipe Massa suffered a gearbox failure immediately after taking to track for an initial timed run in the first qualifying session. Unable to post a time, Massa finds himself directly opposite of his teammate Alonso on the Formula 1 grid.

Starting Sunday at 8 P.M. in Singapore, the race time in the North American eastern time zone will be at 8 A.M. Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

2010 Formula 1
Singapore Grand Prix
Qualifying Results

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

Jimmie Johnson Prevails with NASCAR Sprint Cup Pole at Dover

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images
After a frighteningly bad start to the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire last weekend, Jimmie Johnson and his #48 Lowes-sponsored Hendrick Motorsports team conquered the "Monster Mile" in NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying for Dover International Speedway's AAA 400. Taking a late draw in the qualifying order, Johnson overcame a 19th fastest time in the Friday morning practice session to beat out AJ Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr for the third 2010 pole for the #48 Chevrolet. Driver fastest in practice Ryan Newman could only muster a 14th place run during the time trial at Dover.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase leader Denny Hamlin starts 4th for Sunday's race, 2nd place challenger Kevin Harvick (elevated to the position after a 150 point NASCAR penalty dropped Clint Bowyer from 2nd to 12th) will be working his way up from another poor start 33rd on the field.

Scheduled for Sunday afternoon at about 1:00 P.M. the engines will start for the second race within the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
AAA 400
Dover International Speedway
Qualifying Results


Pos #  |  Car #   | Driver  | Sponsor/Car make

1)           48            Jimmie Johnson        Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet (C)
2)           43            AJ Allmendinger       Insignia HDTV Ford
3)           56            Martin Truex Jr.       NAPA Toyota
4)           11            Denny Hamlin           FedEx Express Toyota (C)
5)           42            Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
6)           16            Greg Biffle                3M Ford (C)
7)             1             Jamie McMurray     McDonald's Chevrolet
8)             2             Kurt Busch              Miller Lite Dodge (C)
9)            98            Paul Menard            Sylvania/Menards Ford
10)          99            Carl Edwards           Aflac Ford (C)

Other Notables:

11)          18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota (C)
14)          17            Matt Kenseth            Crown Royal Ford (C)
15)          24            Jeff Gordon               DuPont/Law Enforcement Museum Chevrolet (C)
16)           9             Kasey Kahne             Budweiser/Stanley Ford
24)          33            Clint Bowyer              BB&T Chevrolet (C)
25)          14             Tony Stewart            Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet (C)
31)          12             Brad Keselowski       No. 12 Penske Dodge Dodge
32)          88             Dale Earnhardt Jr.     National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
33)          29             Kevin Harvick           Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet (C)
42) 5              Mark Martin Delphi/ Chevrolet

(C) denotes Chase contender

Team Lotus will be Officially Back in Formula 1 for 2011

Photo Credit: Lotus Racing

Going by the team name Lotus Racing since applying for their reentry into Formula 1 (the arguably strongest of three new 2010 Formula 1 teams), the green and yellow grand prix cars will compete with a new-old name of Team Lotus.

A hallmark presence in Formula 1, the first time Team Lotus was inducted into the high ranks of motorsports was when wizard engineer and Lotus Cars founder Colin Chapman campaigned his vehicles at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. Accumulating 79 grand prix victories, 7 Formula 1 constructor championships in 493 races until the team's shutdown after the 1994 season, The 2010 Lotus Racing team never wanted to consider themselves an unfaithful reuse of the British sports car name. However, since Lotus Cars was purchased by the Malaysian Proton group, the "Team Lotus" rights were within a separate entity controlled by Managing Director named David Hunt. Describing that an effort was made since the dissolving of the Team Lotus team after 1994, Hunt said "We had no idea of the huge difficulties we would have to overcome when I made that statement."

Now satisfied with the current Lotus Formula 1 organization, Hunt proudly announced willingly to allow the Team Lotus moniker back into the motorsport world. "The custodianship of the iconic brand and history now passes from me to Tony, Kamarudin and Nasa. In relinquishing this responsibility I am confident I am handing over to a team who have the financial resources, passion, energy, vision and long-term commitment to give Team Lotus the best possible chance of returning to the sharp end of the grid." Hunt Said.

Team principal Tony Fernandes shared the mutual satisfaction of claiming the iconic branding. "It was always important to us that Lotus Racing and Team Lotus could be brought together to unite the past and the present, and now we have done so."

With a new name for 2011, rumours are spreading that more changes might be upon the Team Lotus squad. Speculation surrounds the Cosworth engine within the Team Lotus Formula 1 cars could make way for another powerplant. Renault has been one name mentioned. 

Bowyer and #33 RCR Team Slammed with Big Penalty Following Big Win

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Last Sunday's Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire International Speedway had all the fireworks needed in a first race of ten in the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Cup. Tension on track, a meltdown by some Chase contenders and the rise of other Chase drivers. Through a fuel mileage gamble, Clint Bowyer and the #33 Richard Childress Racing team were on top of the world as they collectively propelled their team's Chevrolet to victory. However, three days after the celebration for the team which which fought to hold on to the final 12th place spot to make the Chase, the #33 team received news Wednesday afternoon from NASCAR reversing the organization's pride after Loudon, New Hampshire.

Dating back to post-race inspection at the previous race of Richmond, NASCAR measured an area of the #33 Chevrolet being out of the allotted tolererances. Penalized in relations to rule violations relating to non-conforming race equipment and for having an area of the race car exceeding maximum measurement.

Docking 150 points from driver Clint Bowyer as well as the #33 team, the punishment had a further-reaching impact on their Richard Childress Racing team suspending crew chief Shane Wilson and car chief Chad Haney for 6 Sprint Cup race events. Wilson is also on the hook for a monetary fine of $150,000 penalty as responsible for the #33 Chevy. As a final dishonour, the winning #33 Chevrolet has been confiscated by NASCAR for further study as their R&D facility. Sounding like a harsh sentence handed down by the stock car racing sanctioning body, this penalty is consistent with a similar 150-point punishment levied against the #1 car of then-DEI on a roof height infraction after the July Daytona event in 2008.

Reacting to the news through the team's official website, team owner Richard Childress admirably shared embarrassment for the NASCAR decision. “First of all, I’d like to apologize to our sponsors, our fans and everyone at RCR for the situation that has resulted from this ruling. RCR has a long-standing reputation of integrity on and off the race track. We pride ourselves on working within the rules established by the sanctioning body." Childress went on to state that the rule infraction regarded a measurement 6/100th (.060) of an inch off NASCAR baseline. Equating to just 0.0025 inches outside of the rules, the car owner disputes that the #33 car out of spec measurement (which resided just outside of the 1/16 inch tolerances) was the result of damage on the track.  

With points deducted from the reset Chase points standings, it does seem interesting why NASCAR had announced the rule violation after more than a week and a half following the Richmond event. Sealing his valuable Chase spot by only 98 points ahead of Ryan Newman, if points were deducted prior to the New Hampshire event the #33 Chevrolet would have been logically dropped from the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup in favour of the #39 team piloted by Newman. Regarding Chase qualification like a win (which NASCAR never considers taking away from a driver and team even when rule violations aree found) NASCAR's Robin Pemberton states "For now we'll leave the winners as they come off the racetrack, and we will fine people accordingly as we do throughout the year."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: Sept 24th-26th, 2010

Dover, Delaware
Dover International Speedway
NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup

Friday: Sunny with partial clouding. Hot temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius will bake the Dover Speedway concrete during NASCAR Sprint Cup afternoon qualifying.
Saturday: High temperatures from Friday remain on Saturday with 29 degree Celsius (humidly rated at 33 degrees) presiding over the NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying and main event. Winds from the west will be intense at 20-30 kilometers per hour.
Sunday: Daily high temperatures will be the lowest throughout the Dover International Speedway race weekend at 22 degrees Celsius. Overcast skies expected through running of NASCAR Sprint Cup 400-mile feature race.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Saturday: Practice, qualifying and race all on the same day. Ambient temperature expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius during practice (just short of the daily-high at 39 degrees). Racing at night, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series should be running in more pleasent mid-20s.

Marina Bay, Singapore
Singapore Grand Prix
Formula 1

Friday: Cloudy with peaks of sun. Temperature to reach high of 32 degrees Celsius.
Saturday: Rain with thunderstorms slated in day's forecast. Temperature remains above 30 degrees as a high.
Sunday: Thunderstorms are very likely certifying a wet track for the night race. Though temperatures for the race are expected to be lower than the daily high of 31 degree Celsius, this means a drop only to the high 20s.

Fraserville, Ontario
Kawartha Speedway 
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series

Saturday: Up to one millimeter of rain is possible in Saturday afternoon through the evening. However, chance of showers reduce later into the evening to only 40%. Celsius temperatures around the lower-teens are forecasted with west wind between 15-25 kilometers per hour.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fuel Gamble Nests Bowyer Sprint Cup Victory at New Hampshire

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/ Getty Images for NASCAR

The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup is on! While every NASCAR Sprint Cup race starts with 43 cars, the final 10 races of the 2010 schedule will see a special focus placed on 12 cars and their respected drivers. Denny Hamlin leads this 2010 Chase grouping on virtue of points scored in the first 26 races. The first race, the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, commemorated the start of this year's championship battle intriguing NASCAR fans if Jimmie Johnson will go on to win a 5th straight Sprint Cup or if another name will be connected to the 2010 honours.

In prep to run 300 laps around the 1.058 mile oval, the non-Chase #1 Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray reminded spectators the other teams are not prepared to be cycled out of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup picture. As the green dropped for New Hampshire's Sylvania 300, McMurray recorded a lap 1 lead just before the 3rd place starting #14 Chevy of Tony Stewart hurried to the front to collect his 5 bonus points.

The first caution of the flew on lap 26 as the #09 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Labonte and the #82 Toyota of Scott Speed spun down the frontstretch. As the Sylvania 300 was restarted on lap 30, a see-saw battle between two Chevrolets for the lead captivated early interest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing #1 car of Jamie McMurray fought with Clint Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing-fielded #33 vehicle. As Bowyer took the field back to green, McMurray charged his #1 Chevrolet to successfully lead the next green flag lap before the #33 Chevy rolled back around for the top spot. A second caution for a lap 41 accident between Marcus Ambrose's #47 Toyota and the #98 Ford of Paul Menard allowed the lead fight to resume on the following restart. Each time, Clint Bowyer demonstrated more consistency in the 1st place position at New Hampshire during the first 1/3 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup event. Into the later stages of the event, Jamie McMurray would suffer a slow pit stop to legitimately injure his chances of winning but the #1 Chevrolet would still rise to finish in the top-5.

Outside of the lead fight, one popular NASCAR Sprint Cup driver had been putting in the best run of a long while. Dale Earnhardt Jr day at New Hampshire started in 32nd place. So a great time trial outing for the #88 Chevrolet, the whole Hendrick Motorsports cars struggled in the Friday qualifying session as Jeff Gordon was the closest to the front in 17th place. As the green flag for the Sylvania 300, the difference was night and day for Dale Earnhardt Jr's car right off the early laps. By the 1/4 distance, the #88 Chevy of Earnhardt Jr was running in the top-10. His Hendrick Motorsports team pit crew would fumble in an fuel and tire change dropping Earnhardt back spot into the mid-teen positions. However, a fast car as well as solid pit stops sealed what would be a fanastic effort through the rest of the New Hampshire event.  

Showing patience through the first 2/3 distance of the event, tensions heated as the checkered flag lap drew closer. Within 35 laps, 5 cautions slowed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 after the lap 200 mark. The most dramatic of these caution resulted on lap 224. Involving 5 cars, the incident resulted as Kurt Busch's #2 Miller Lite Dodge was running along the inside of the #31 Catapilar Chevy of Jeff Burton entering turn 1. Being pinched slightly by Burton to the bottom line, Busch's Dodge slid up and made contact with the #31 Chevy. Touching Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch would be the only one of the two to start spinning through the second turn. As drivers took evasive actions in avoidance of the Penske Racing Dodge, Chase contender Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch were caught up in the haste to react. Johnson taps the #18 of Kyle Busch sending the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and the #48 Chevrolet sliding. All three cars proceeded through the spins roughly unscathed as other competitors past by with skill as well as luck on their side. The #99 Aflac Ford of Carl Edwards conducted the most amazing move skating between the sideways #48 Chevy and the #18 Toyota.

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/ Getty Images for NASCAR

As Kyle Busch recovered from has slide on the turn 2 apron, The #9 Ford of Kasey Kahne proceeded through the turn but could not brake soon enough to avoid a coasting Toyota. Inflicting minor damage to the rear of Busch's Toyota as well as to his own Ford, two of those cars were even able to continue racing.

Into the latter stages, the Tony Stewart not only found his way back to the front but established himself in front for 76 of the final 88 laps. However, because of the timing of the #14 Stewart/Haas Racing team's last pit stop, fuel calculations predicted a daring gamble was required to bring the Chevrolet to victory. Accepting the challenge, Stewart drove in the lead through 51 laps approaching the white flag ahead of Clint Bowyer. Just then, his #14 Chevrolet sputtered out of turn 4 allowing the #33 Chevrolet of Bowyer to sail by with himself carefully managing his fuel mileage. As Denny Hamlin lurked behind, Clint Bowyer gamble paid off as the Richard Childress Racing driver won the Sylvania 300.

After fighting for his spot in the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Clint Bowyer  His third victory in the top NASCAR series, Clint Bowyer's Sylvania 300 win ends a 88-race winless streak through NASCAR Sprint Cup competition stretching from the Spring Richmond race of 2008. Shooting up 10 spots in the Chase standings, Clint Bowyer is 35 points behind Denny Hamlin as 9 races remain in the 2010 Chase.

With Chase contenders Bowyer and Hamlin taking top-2 spots in the race, Kevin Harvick earned 5th place behind non-chase driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The finish for Earnhardt Jr was the first top-10 finish since the Daytona race in July.
On the other side of the fence for both Hendrick Motorsports and the Chase, four-time Sprint Cup title winner Jimmie Johnson endured a long and hard New Hampshire race. Caught in at least two on-track incidents, Johnson's #48 Lowes Chevy suffered further insult with a loose wheel. Out of championship defense form, Jimmie Johnson finished 1 lap down in 25th place.
For Tony Stewart, the only thing that separated 'Smoke' from a 2nd checkered flag in 3 races was about a quarter gallon of Sunoco race gasoline. Often a victor in tight fuel mileage runs to the finish, Stewart found very few positive things to say about the 24th place result saying in a PRN radio interview the situation "sucks".

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway


1)  33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
2)  11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Small Business Toyota
3)    1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
4)  88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet
5)  29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
6)  24       Jeff Gordon             DuPont / National Guard Facebook Chevrolet
7) 00        David Reutimann     TUMS Toyota
8) 39        Ryan Newman        U.S. Army Chevrolet
9) 18        Kyle Busch              M&Ms Toyota
10) 77      Sam Hornish Jr.       Mobil 1 Dodge
Other Notables

11 99 Carl Edwards     Aflac Ford
13 2 Kurt Busch     Miller Lite Dodge
14 9 Kasey Kahne         Budweiser Ford
23 17 Matt Kenseth     Crown Royal Ford
24            14            Tony Stewart               Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet
25            48            Jimmie Johnson             Lowe's / Johns Manville Chevrolet

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Castroneves Bid Sayonara to the Field for Indy Japan 300 Win

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Setting up the season finale in Homestead, the IZOD IndyCar round at the Twin-Ring Motegi oval is almost more important than that Florida round on the basis of being a championship prelude. Entering the Indy Japan 300, the overall championship battle between Will Power and Dario Franchitti is one of the tightest of tight battles of past IRL/IndyCar seasons. Besides the champion fight, every one of the 25 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers are vying for to best others racing around the 1.55 mile oval.

Showing stunning speed in qualifying for the Twin-Ring Motegi's Indy Japan 300, Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves led the field through turn one as the Indy cars proceeded to complete the first lap. However, a chance of a second green flag lap would be halted by Bertrand Baguette's Conquest car sliding out of control on turn 2, lap 2. A short race for the Belgium native, Baguette was cleared as being fit by medical officials following the accident.

For the first 70 laps around the Twin-Ring Motegi, Helio Castroneves reigned at the front as a battle behind him ensued between Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti as he tries to better the Penske Racing drivers Will Power and Ryan Briscoe within the top-5 positions. This would be a race-long battle as the grouping maintained close for all the 200 lap distance.

Car slows again on lap 39 as the Dale Coyne Racing #19 stalled on the apron drawing on caution on lap 43. Later to be recognized by team mechanics as a throttle linkage problem, Lloyd would be able to rejoin the Indy Japan 300 field several laps down. Leading the Twin-Ring Motegi event by more than 3 seconds over second place, Helio Castroneves' #3 car was brought back into sight for Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti.

The yellow flag created a moment for Indy cars to pit as Castroneves led the #10 of Dario Franchitti and the #6 of Ryan Briscoe. On the pit stop for the wide variety of competitors, Castroneves preserved his lead position but Briscoe leapfrogged Franchitti for 2nd place providing the Penske Racing team a valuable cushion not only to for Castroneves' #3 car but for Will Power's championship hopes (though a great deal of the IZOD IndyCar's Indy Japan 300 was still left to be run).

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

The field restarted on lap 47 with Helio Castroneves again working his dominant car on top of the IndyCar drivers. 21 laps later, a frightening crash in turn 2 occurred when Mario Moraes' #32 KV Racing Technology car broke loose, smashing hard into the outside retaining wall. Possibly the result of a mechanical failure, some sparks from the rear left corner of the #32 car were visible just prior to Morae's hard impact. Conscious and physically moving within the car, Mario Moraes was carefully extracted with assistance out of his KV Racing Technology car by safety officials. Taken to a local hospital, he was released late Sunday night after getting cleared by doctors.

As this recent incident involving a KV Racing Technology car, the mechanical failure has called into question whether the constant rebuilding of the race cars must have left them in a weakened state. Co-Editor for Steph Wallcraft queried regarding this on Twitter.
Through a long caution where many cars returned to pit road, the #2 Dragon/de Ferran Racing vehicle of Raphael Matos and the #06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car of Hideki Mutoh stayed on track to claim important tract position. Leading 5 laps under caution followed by 10 more as the green flag resided over the Twin-Ring Motegi, Raphael Matos would be the only non-Penske Racing car to lead this Japan race (though its noteworthy that one of Matos' team co-owners is Roger Penske' son Jay). Ryan Briscoe took the race lead on lap 86 while teammate Helio Castoneves was working on a recovery from a poor restart 10 laps prior. As the #2 and the #06 played their strategy for getting to the front, they inevitably needed to pit as Matos stayed out until lap 103 while Mutoh ducked in one lap later.

As Ryan Briscoe lead for 32 laps, the Australian driver of the #6 car would be the 3rd and final driver to lead the Twin-Ring Motegi Indy Japan 300. Speeding back to the lead for lap 118, Helio Castroneves took a definitive possession of the 1st place position in pit lane under caution. The #24 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car drvien by Paul Tracy slid out of the groove and brushes the wall to draw this lap 114 yellow. Though Tracy returned to the pits, the Canadian's day was over in Japan.

A final caution for the IZOD IndyCar Twin-Ring Motegi fell on lap 148 Alex Lloyd as slides into the turn 2 outer wall skimming down the backstretch. Providing one last opportunity for what would be a futile chance for Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti to defeat Castroneves, the competition amongst themselves leaving pit lane was puzzling. Out of the pits, Briscoe's #6 Penske Racing car flew by the #10 of Dario Franchitti at the exit line making it appear that Briscoe grabbed the 2nd place on the race's restart. However, Indy cars circulated around the Twin-Ring Motegi for a long 19 laps as on-track safety crews cleaned up the #19 car, IndyCar officials ordered the #6 Penske of Ryan Briscoe start behind Franchitti. Admitting his finger slipped off the pit road speed limiter button when he shot by Franchitti, Briscoe was never ruled to have committed a pit road speed violation. Earlier in the Indy Japan 300 race, FAZZT Race Team driver Alex Tagliani was sent to the back of the pack for a speeding penalty.

Into a final 34 lap green flag period, Castroneves pulled away while the fight for second was, too, a short-lived fight on the restart as Dario Franchitti left Briscoe after the #6 car was able to try one quick but unsuccessful move for the runner-up spot. Slower than on the previous run, Ryan Briscoe was later lost 3rd place to teammate Will Power who is devoted to minimizing or neutralizing any point gains Franchitti looks to obtain in Japan. One spot behind the #10 car and closing through the final laps of the Indy Japan 300, Power was unable to complete a pass on Franchitti despite having extra Push to Pass power on tap.

At the line by 4.57 seconds, Helio Castroneves takes the Indy Japan 300 in masterful fashion. Last winning at the Twin-Ring Motegi during the 2006 season, Castroneves won his third race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season and his 2nd straight victory by leading 153 of the 200 laps around the Twin-Ring Motegi circuit. Acting as a delightful escape from the actions of the championship points scravaging through the event, Castroneves' performance had no doubt affected Franchitti's plans to further capitalize over Will Power.

Powerful, but not enough to beat Castroneves, Dario Franchitti takes third as well as a 5 point gain over Will Power in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series overall championship. "We can only control what we do and we did our best." Franchitti summed up his day as part of post-race comments. Remembering too well the heated end of the IZOD IndyCar Honda Edmonton Indy less than 2 months ago, Helio Castroneves' protest against a late-race blocking penalty divided the Penske Racing drivers as Power expressed Castroneve's car did indeed block. In this instance, it's fair to reason Will Power became a fan of his teammate.

In respect to himself, Will Power posted a first, momentus career podium finish on an oval for either a Champ Car or IRL-backed event. Will Power said "It's great for us to put the Verizon car on the podium. I've never finished ahead of him (Dario) on an oval and one day I'll get it. Hopefully this year because if I don't, he'll win".

With Briscoe coming fourth to the line, Danica Patrick in the #7 car finished a hard-fought 5th rising 7 positions as the highest result for an Andretti Autosport car. This is the 3rd year in a row Patrick has led the Andretti Autosport team at the Twin-Ring Motegi and keeps alive a career-wide streak of top-10 finishes in Indy Japan 300.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

In two weeks time, Homestead-Miami Speedway will not only provide one driver with an opportunity of the final race trophy of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season as well as deciding whether Will Power or Dario Franchitti will wear the American open wheel crown.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Indy Japan 300
Twin-Ring Motegi
Race Results

1. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
2. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
3. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
4. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
5. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
6. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
7. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport

8. 02 Graham Rahal/United States/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
9. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
10. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
11. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
12. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
13. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
14. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
15. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
16. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
17. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Racing Enterprises
18. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ de Ferran Dragon Racing
19. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing
20. 36 Roger Yasukawa/United States/ Conquest Racing
21. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
22. 24 Paul Tracy/Canada/ Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
23. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
24. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
25. 34 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Brad Keselowski Takes NASCAR Sprint Cup's Sylvania 300 Pole at New Hampshire

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/ Getty Images for NASCAR

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Qualifying Results

Top 10:

1) 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske / AAA Dodge
2) 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet (C)
3) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet (C)
4) 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
5) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Energizer Chevrolet
6) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
7) 00 David Reutimann TUMS Toyota
8) 98 Paul Menard Sylvania / Menards Ford
9) 18 Kyle Busch M&Ms Toyota (C)
10) 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford (C)

Other Notables
12) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge (C)
13) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet (C) 
14) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford (C)
17) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont / National Guard Facebook Chevrolet (C)
22) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Small Business Toyota (C)
24) 39 Ryan Newman U.S. Army Chevrolet
25) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Johns Manville Chevrolet (C)
27) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet (C)
32) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet
33) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford (C)

IZOD IndyCar: Castroneves Leads Penske Qualifying Sweep in Japan

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney
After 15 races, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar preultimate round brings the open wheel series to their only overseas engagement on the 1.55 mile oval called the Twin-Ring Motegi. A track owned and operated by local IZOD IndyCar engine supplier Honda, the planting in the series schedule shapes the Indy Japan 300 into a defining event for wrapping race seasons.

The renowned venue where open wheel's popular driver Danica Patrick won her first major racing event in 2008, the Twin-Ring Motegi oval was also significant to last year's IZOD IndyCar title chase. As Ryan Briscoe led the 2009 standings and appeared destined to perhaps clinch the series crown, Briscoe lost control of his Penske Racing owned machine banging it against the inner pit road wall. With the DNF at the Indy Japan 300, Ryan Briscoe would go on to lose out on the championship at Homestead Speedway to Dario Franchitti of rival team Target/Chip Ganassi Racing.

Entering into the 2010 edition, another Penske versus Target/Chip Ganassi battle appears firmly in the cards as Penske's Will Power holds a slim 17-point lead over Dario Franchitti. With Penske Racing drawing first blood through the two practice sessions on the Twin-Ring Motegi oval, the Captain's 3-car squad found all the speed they needed through IZOD IndyCar qualifying as all three stand at the top of the charts. Led by recent Kentucky Speedway race winner Helio Castroneves, the #3 car flew around the Japanese 1.55 oval in 201.992 miles per hour average during the 2-lap qualifying run. Despite a faster second lap, 2nd place Penske car of Ryan Briscoe started with a dismal first timed lap which resulted in an average 4/10ths a mile per hour slower run. Will Power rounds out for Penske Racing trio's dominant qualifying in 3rd place. Power is probably going to feel uncomfortable knowing his title rival Franchitti's #10 car will be starting right alongside his #12 Penske in the second row Sunday.

Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Ryan Hunter-Reay line up in the 5th through 7th positions all driving for Andretti Autosport. Fourth Andretti Autosport car and 2008 race winner Danica Patrick will take the green flag on the outside of the 6th row following a 12th place in the time trial session. As Patrick starts mid-field, the two other female IZOD IndyCar competitors Simona de Silvestro and Milka Duno exited the Twin-Ring Motegi qualifying will sadly start on the final two positions of the starting grid.

A Japanese event where two full-time drivers get welcomed home, native Hideki Mutoh delivered a 17th place run for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing but would be topped by series rookie and KV Racing Technology driver Takuma Sato. Averaging a pace good enough for 10th place, Former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato has visited Honda's other popular motorsport park facility of Suzuka but competes in open wheels at the Twin-Ring Motegi oval for the first time. After what has been a first season filled with misfortune for situations out of his control, Sato found solace in the patriotic Japanese fans.

Starting with a 25-car field in Japan, North American fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series will have to stay or wake up at midnight Eastern time to catch the Indy Japan 300 on TSN2 for Canadian audiences or Versus for American viewers.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Indy Japan 300
Twin-Ring Motegi
Qualifying Results 

1. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing

2. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
3. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
4. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
5. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
6. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
7. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
8. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
9. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
10. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
11. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
12. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
13. 34 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
14. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Racing Enterprises
15. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
16. 02 Graham Rahal/United States/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
17. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
18. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
19. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ de Ferran Dragon Racing
20. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
21. 36 Roger Yasukawa/United States/ Conquest Racing
22. 24 Paul Tracy/Canada/ Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
23. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
24. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
25. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: Sept 17th-19th, 2010

Motegi, Japan
Twin-Ring Motegi

IZOD IndyCar Series
Saturday: 79 degrees Fahrenheit/ 27 degrees Celsius in the afternoon as practice and qualifying runs under sunny skies. Rain early Friday morning and early early Saturday morning certain to challenge IZOD IndyCar Series teams in laying tire rubber down on oval track.
Sunday: 40% chance of thunderstorm possible during the start 1 P.M. Japanese local time. Temperature is forecasted at 79 degrees Fahrenheit/ 27 degrees Celsius.

Loudon, New Hampshire
New Hampshire International Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup/ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Friday: 70% chance of rain during the day with showers expected early morning. Chances of precipitation during NASCAR Sprint Cup late morning practice and afternoon qualifying reduces to no worse than 20% through daytime period. Daytime high temperature is 66 degrees Fahrenheit/19 degrees Celsius.
Saturday: Daily high temperature at New Hampshire is 70 degrees Fahrenheit/ 21 degrees Celsius. Skies predicted to be mostly sunny all-day. Consistent conditions for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying and race.
Sunday: Partly cloudy with sun. High temperatures for NASCAR Sprint Cup race is slated to be 71 degrees Fahrenheit/ 22 degrees Celsius.

Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Riverside International Speedway
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series

Saturday: A sunny day, high temperature is forecasted by 17 degrees Celsius. With NASCAR Canadian Tires Series' race starting near sunset, teams, drivers, and race fans should prepare for cooler nighttime temperatures which will fall to 11 degrees Celsius. No chance of precipitation is predicted.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monza Madness as Alonso Takes Ferrari to Italian GP Win

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/ LAT Photographic

Six races remaining in the 2010 Formula 1 schedule, the series' top-3 teams (Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull Racing) have shown incredible parity with each other. Though Mark Webber delivered Red Bull Racing a second after the last race at the Belgium Grand Prix, the team's Renault-engined car appeared to have suffered a speed shortage on the low-downforce circuit. While the McLaren's Mercedes engine was rumoured to be down on power since the season's first race at Bahrain, a new rear wing and diffuser design allowed the British team to equalize pace with the high-horsepower Ferraris.

With Italy associated as Ferrari's home territory, the hearts of the Italian auto racing fans probably skipped a beat when the prancing horse's driver Fernando Alonso soared to supremecy in qualifying Saturday afternoon. Taking the grid the pole position, the Spanard's Ferrari would be overtaken on the start by fellow front row sitter Jenson Button. As the one McLaren-Mercedes shot to the Italian Grand Prix's early lead, the other team car would not make it past the first lap. 2008 F1 drivers champion Lewis Hamilton collided with the #7 Ferrari of Felipe Massa resulting in a suspension break which saw Hamilton's Italian Grand Prix end in the gravel. Admitting fault in being over-anxious on the first lap, Hamilton said on his official website “I was trying to position the car in a certain way, I was too close to Felipe, and his left rear clipped my right front. The car was damaged after that, and there was nothing I could do; you try your best, but some things just don’t go your way". Felipe Massa was more fortunate as his Ferrari continued competitively after the contact.

As the green flew for the Italian Grand Prix, the Red Bull Racing squad found the race to be a consistent struggle as both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were out of touch with the top-3 runners all day. After setting fast time during a Friday practice, Vettel found through the weaker effort his Saturday qualifying that his Renault engine could have been down on power. Changing the powerplant prior to the grand prix start, the pace of Vettel's car was more hindered by a brake issue during the race. At one point, Sebastian Vettel allowed Red Bull teammate Mark Webber by for than 5th place.

In regards to Mark Webber's pass on Sebastian Vettel, there was at least one allegation leveled by Speed channel reporter implying team order might have been communicated indirectly to Vettel. This speculation was based on Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner's apparent endorsement of team orders after an FIA ruling where no further penalties were levied against Ferrari for an incident in the German Grand Prix late July. While team orders for determining the outcome of Formula 1 races had been strictly forbidden, Ferrari's judging was said to be a "presedent" by Horner as the FIA did not punish the Italian team further for the German Grand Prix outcome. As Mark Webber is better positioned in the 2010 Formula 1 driver's championship where the 5th spot would help the Australian Webber, team orders were neither confirmed or denied on that occasion.

While Jenson Button held onto the Italian Grand Prix lead, Alonso Ferrari maintained a very tight interval on the rear of the Mercedes-powered McLaren. Unable to completely break away from Alonso, a lap 39 pit stop by the Scuderia Ferrari team proved a deciding factor the Italian Grand Prix. Thanks to an ultra-fast pit stop by the Ferrari crew, Alonso was launched out of pit road ahead of Button's McLaren-Mercedes. Fernando Alonso's trademark skill on cold tires sustained his position at the front. In fact, Button narrowly avoided losing the runner-up position to the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

As the top-3 maintained their position at the finish, Alonso won at 2.9 seconds on Button with Brazil's Massa rounding out the podium for the Italian Grand Prix. With Ferrari's 1st and 3rd at Monza the Italian supporters, known throughout Formula 1 as the tifosi, allowed horns to blare on the air and applause echo through the trees of the Monza landscape.

In distant but hard fought 4th place, Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel recorded the finish thanks to some pit stop strategy that recalled the German driver late in the race for his tire change. Nico Rosberg in 5th led the factory Mercedes GP team taking the position late from Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber. Rosberg said in post-race “Fifth place was an ok result today except for losing the place to Sebastian at the end there. It was a tough fight and I was pushing to the maximum throughout the race, firstly with Robert at the start and then with Sebastian towards the end.

Finishing 6th, Webber was able to make opportunity from the somewhat off-colour effort as the Australian retook the driver championship point led from Lewis Hamilton. Williams F1 Nico Hulkenberg, Renault's Robert Kubica, Mercedes GP's Michael Schumacher and the 2009 Italian Grand Prix winner Rubens Barrichello in a second Williams-Cosworth were 7th through 10th at Monza.
Following the 2010 Italian Grand Prix, the season's point standings are dramatically reshaped. Lewis Hamilton's zero-point day as result of his early retirement allowed Mark Webber to emerge 5 points in front for the Formula 1 driver's points. Fernando Alonso's win with Ferrari was the first time since 2006, the Spanish driver gained 20 points on the leader in the Formula 1 drivers championship. Alonso is only 21 points behind Mark Webber but Jenson Button is only 1 point behind him in 4th place in the standings. Salvaging a decent finish from a difficult race, Vettel's points gain allowed him to stand only 2 points behind Button.

2010 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Race Results

1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
7. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
8. Robert Kubica Renault F1
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
10. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
11. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
13. Vitaly Petrov Renault F1
14. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari

15. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
17. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
19. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth
20. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
22. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
23. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
24. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari

Top-12 Entering 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings Leading into 10-Race Chase

Pos # | Driver   | Points | Bonus Points  | Points Pos Prior to Chase

1 Denny Hamlin   5060  | 95     | 9th
2 Jimmie Johnson 5050  | 120   | 5th
3 Kevin Harvick   5030  | 65    | 1st
4 Kyle Busch       5030  | 85     | 2nd
5 Kurt Busch       5020  |80      | 10th
6 Tony Stewart    5010  |80      | 6th
7 Greg Biffle        5010   |50     | 12th
8 Jeff Gordon      5000   |85     | 3rd
9 Carl Edwards   5000   |30     | 4th
10 Jeff Burton      5000  |65      | 7th
11 Matt Kenseth  5000   |30    | 8th
12 Clint Bowyer   5000  |55     | 12th

Winning Hamlin Headlines JGR Domination at Richmond

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

26 Races into the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season, the stock car racing tour arrived in the state of Virginia to compete on the 0.75 mile Richmond International Raceway. Seeking not only a thrilling short-track battle amongst 43 cars, the Saturday night show for NASCAR's premier division would resolve who will make up the 12 drivers composing the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Compared the previous seasons, the fight for the Chase's 12th and final place spot was somewhat anti-climatic in 2010. Heading into Richmond, a 117-point gap separated Ryan Newman from Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray sat 14th back by 128 points. Qualifying 4th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Air Guard 400 at Richmond, Bowyer also heads into a track where he averages a finish of 10.22 for this Sprint Cup career.

However, the battle for point positions within the top-12 left several opportunities to shake up the Chase standings. An added incentive, drivers holding Chase qualifying spots held an opportunity to gain 10 bonus points in the Chase points by winning this Richmond race.

As night became to dawn on the Richmond International Raceway surface, the Air Guard 400 started with a pre-race ceremony vividly and somberly reminding of the September 11th terrorist attacks 9 years after just under 2,800 innocent lives were taken on the day. As the pre-race concluded, 43 cars started for the Saturday night event.
Upon the start of the Air Guard 400, the #99 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards took an early lead over the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. Looking strong early, Edwards led the first 47 laps before surrendering the position to the Hendrick Motorsports #48 Chevy of Jimmie Johnson on the 55th lap. As Johnson swept by Edwards, the #48 car stayed out front for just two laps before the race's first caution flag flew. The #00 Aaron's Toyota of David Reutimann was spun by Kurt Busch driving the #2 Dodge.
With the first yellow on the field, the pit crew shined for the first time. Despite a 13.4 second pit stop from Hendrick Motorsports' Lowes crew and a 13 second-flat time provide by the Richard Childress Racing crew for Clint Bowyer #33 Chevrolet, the race off the Richmond pit road was won by the #99 pit crew members. The Carl Edwards car pit efforts were aided by the Roush Fenway Racing receiving first choice of pit road stalls.

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/ Getty Images
Pulling away on the restart on lap 59, Carl Edward's #99 Ford Fusion jumped to a healthy lead early in the run. However, the long green flag runs appeared to be the undoing for Edwards and the Roush Fenway Racing team. With Jimmie Johnson bypassing Edwards for 1st just prior to the first caution, Clint Bowyer took the lead away from Carl Edwards on lap 101. Bowyer led just a few circuits until the #11 Fed-Ex Toyota unseated the #33 Chevy from the top position. With his #99 Ford clearly not as fast on this second long, green flag run, Edward's car will eventually backslide to 9th place before lap 145.
The second caution followed on lap 146 when Terry Labonte's #55 Toyota suffered a tire failure. A likely consequence to the intense brake heat, the Air Guard 400 Sprint Cup race would result with only one more caution on lap 224 for rain tying a Richmond International Raceway record for fewest cautions in a NASCAR Sprint Cup event.
On the lap 154 restart, Johnson drove aggressively on Hamlin immediately. After a 1-lap battle, the #48 Chevy prevailed to lead. Another brief time out front of the Air Guard 400, Hamlin dived back for 1st place on turn 4 ending Jimmie Johnson's time out front which lasted just 2-laps. Thought Johnson's time ended with the 1st place battle, this spot was not a lock for Hamlin as the #33 Richard Childress Racing car of Clint Bowyer emerged to challenge the #11 Toyota. Bowyer and Hamlin see-sawed leading the race for a handful of laps prior to the halfway point.
Because of these long green flags making up 372 laps of the event, many team did not have opportunities to fix ill-handling race cars. Two of the cars which suffered badly in the Air Guard 400 race was the #88 AMP Energy Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr and the #16 Ford of Greg Biffle. Falling to the basement of the running order early, both cars left Richmond with terrible results. Four laps down, Greg Biffle come home 32rd while Dale Earnhardt Jr fell 5 laps behind to a 34th place result. Needless to say, both drivers and teams were not happy about those Saturday night runs.
Encountering the opposite situation was the #18 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing. Having started 32rd, the Kyle Busch wheeled race car surged to a 11th place by lap 136 and would break into the top-5 on the 161st lap. As the race endured, the #18 car of Joe Gibbs Racing arose eventually making a run for his teammate Denny Hamlin driving #11 Toyota comfortably in the lead on the Air Guard 400's final 50 laps.
Into the final 20 laps, Kyle Busch's pace had allowed him to close on Denny Hamlin through lapping traffic to the point the #18 was permitted to touch the #11 Toyota. Sadly through, the battle between the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were be short-lived as Kyle Busch lost pace with his teammate Hamlin. Admitting he no longer had the brakes and tires to keep up with Hamlin, Busch would easily hold on to the runner-up position.

At the checkered flag, Denny Hamlin won Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway after leading 251 of the event's 400 laps. Hailing from nearby Chesterfield, Virginia, Hamlin repeated victory at the 0.75 mile oval's September event. With Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota following the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin across the line for a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2 finish, the team's 3rd car, the #20 Home Depot Toyota, piloted by Joey Logano listed 4th on the night's final running order just behind the #48 Lowes Chevy of Jimmie Johnson.
Quietly running up front as the Chase consumed much of the race's focus, the Tasmanian driver Marcos Ambrose gave his #47 Toyota a 5th place finish on the night. Sixth through tenth in the Air Guard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup lists Clint Bowyer, Juan Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

With Clint Bowyer finishing 6th in the event, every driver who entered the race in the top-12 in points left as the contender for the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. A benefit of 6 wins which included the just concluded Richmond Sprint Cup event, Hamlin was jumped to the lead of the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup heading into the 10-race play-off. As a harsh reality to the Chase's points realignment, Kevin Harvick sees his over 200-point lead evaporate. In fact, the Richard Childress Racing-owned #29 Chevrolet will start the Chase in 3rd place 30 points behind Hamlin.

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Richmond International Raceway
Air Guard 400
Race Results


1) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
2) 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
3) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
4) 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
5) 47 Marcos Ambrose Kingsford/Kroger Toyota
6) 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
7) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
8) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
9) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
10) 99 Carl Edwards Kellogg's/Cheez-It Ford
Other Notables
11) 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
12) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Military Intelligence Chevrolet
13) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
14) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
16) 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet
18) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
29) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
32) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
34) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet