Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kurt Busch's Charger Raids NASCAR Victory at 2011 Budweiser Shootout

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/ Getty Images for NASCAR

With the Daytona 500 still 8 days away, the 2.5 oval called Daytona International Speedway awakes the beachfront Florida town through the roar of stock car engines during the festival called 2011 Daytona Speedweeks. An annual event since 1979, the Budweiser Shootout (originally referred to as the Busch Clash) allows a selected group of drivers and teams from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to compete in a non-points invitational race. Starting as an event rewarding pole winners of the Cup series, the 2011 edition is open to NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, Chase contenders, winners of the Daytona Cup races and series rookie of the year honourees. With the winner taking a more than $200,000 portion of race's purse, the 2011 Budweiser Shootout pay day is quite impressive based on a relatively short of 75-lap distance (187.5 miles).

Starting with a 25-lap opening segment, the Hendrick Motorsports #88 Chevrolet Impala of Dale Earnhardt Jr led the field to green after drawing the 2011 Budweiser Shootout pole position. Without leading the first lap, Earnhardt Jr was quickly overhauled by Tony Stewart's #14 Chevrolet. The combination of the new Daytona International Speedway pavement and the small revisions to this year's Sprint Cup stock car began to shape up a very unique style of racing. Instead of competitors merged in larger drafting lines, the strategy for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout was for drivers to pair up in tractor-trailer style racing. Availing an increase in the number of passing opportunities, 12 lead changes through the first 25-lap segment saw Dale Earnahrdt Jr, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton madly dicing for the early lead. Despite of higher race speeds of the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars (averaging 196.587 miles per hours in the one segment), the first 25 laps were incident-free.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/ Getty Images for NASCAR

After a 10-minute intermission, the enthusiasm for the Budweiser Shootout's second 50-lap segment was fueled through by the first segment's competition. Without even tire issues being presented after the cars appeared on pit road for pit stops, drivers raved on the new surface and the brand of Sprint Cup racing that has been created. However, while the first 25 laps flew like clockwork, the mood of the Budweiser Shootout's second stage would show change early.

On lap 29 of 75, the Daytona superstretch would play host to the end of the rather tranquil stock car dance with a 6-car wreck. Started when Dale Earnhardt Jr lifted after pushing the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch, Earnhardt's car entered into a close pack with the #78 Chevrolet of Regan Smith and Carl Edwards' #99 Ford. Gaining a momentum advantage on the superstretch, Edwards prepared to slide between Smith and Earnhardt. Not only was the passing space very limited for the #99 Ford, the spot naturally closed up. As Carl Edwards continued to move forward, he made contact with Earnhardt Jr who then caught Regan Smith in the cross reaction crash. The #20 Toyota of Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya's #42 Chevrolet and the #97 Toyota of Kevin Conway also suffered race-ending damage.

While the two-car dances appeared to be playing big benefits through both segments of the Budweiser Shootout, two cautions in the second segment showed how this technique can go wrong. On lap 37, the #5 Chevrolet of Mark Martin and the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch were grouped together but Martin pushed Busch hard through turn 1 spinning around the Toyota. Making damaging contact with each other and the Daytona wall, both cars were forced to retire. A similar accident also occurred 12 laps after in turn 4 with Michael Waltrip's #15 Toyota coming on the worst end of bump-drafting from Tony Stewart.      

After leading for a race-leading 12 lap continuous stint, Ryan Newman's #39 Chevrolet was out front receiving a valuable push from the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin. Challenging the pairing was a second tractor-trailer group containing the #22 Dodge of Kurt Busch and 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray driving the #1 Chevrolet.

On the final lap, Kurt Busch attempted to close alongside the Newman/Hamlin pack on the outside through the superstretch but ran out of momentum allowing for what appeared to be just two more corners for the #39 of Ryan Newman to sail to victory. Coming down the final race stretch from the fourth corner, Newman's victory would be foiled not by the #22 or #1 cars but by his drafting partner the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin. Using slingshot acceleration, Hamlin's Toyota dived low on Newman's Chevrolet passing coming to the checkered flag. By breaking the drafting partnership, both the #39 as well as #11 cars were vulnerable to the paired by vehicles of Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. At the line, Denny Hamlin's #11 Toyota crossed ahead of a fast-charging Kurt Busch but it was evident Hamlin advanced his position by dropping below the yellow line (a no-no for NASCAR superspeedway racing). Admitting that he had to drop below the yellow line or risk running into Ryan Newman, Hamlin's foul allowed the #22 Penske Racing Dodge of Kurt Busch to be recognized as the 2011 Budweiser Shootout winner. Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle rounded out the Daytona race's top-5 unofficially kicking off the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/ Getty Images

The only Dodge Charger in the 2011 edition of the Daytona International Speedway event, the #22 won in its first outing with the newly-acquired Shell/Pennzoil sponsorship. With Kurt Busch triumphing at the end, 28 lead changes among 9 drivers made this one of the most competitive Budweiser Shootout races on record.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Budweiser Shootout
Race Results

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

  1. 22 Kurt Busch Shell / Pennzoil Dodge
  2. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  3. 39 Ryan Newman Wix Filters Chevrolet
  4. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
  5. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  6. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  7. 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
  8. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  9. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  10. 47 Bobby Labonte Reese Towpower / Highland Toyota
  11. 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1 / Office Depot Chevrolet
  12. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
  13. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
  14. 64 Derrike Cope Sta-Bil Toyota
  15. 15 Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  16. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  17. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  18. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  19. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
  20. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  21. 99 Carl Edwards Scotts ez Seed Ford
  22. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  23. 97 Kevin Conway Extenze Toyota
  24. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota

2011 Le Mans Sports Car Preview: Peugeot 908 HDI LMP

Photo Credit: Peugeot Via Newspress UK

With the ACO (a French-based sports car sanctioning body) introducing new regulations for the upcoming 2011 24-Hour of Le Mans, auto companies competing in the now level LMP category has been sent to the drawing boards. Complying to new aerodynamic and technical specifications, Peugeot has unveiled their 2011 fighter in the ultimate goal to reclaim the highly-desirable French sports car endurance race.

Unlike the Audi Le Mans Prototype program that redefined itself with a new designation (ie. R8, R10, R15 and now R18), Peugeot has chosen to retain the 908 numbering for identifying the 2011 race car. Preparing for battle against the Audi R18, the 2011 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP comes with two major design changes over last season's 12 Hours of Sebring-winning vehicle. Continuing into this season as a closed cockpit race car, the most notable aesthetic difference between the old 908 and the new 908 is the ACO-mandated shark fin over the engine cover. Another special consideration for the 2011 Le Mans Prototype Peugeot 908 is that all four wheels are the same size.

Because of the before-mentioned ACO rule changes, the Peugeot 5.5 liter HDi V-12 engine which ran from 2007 through and 2010 is obsolete. Working to the maximum engine displacement allowable by ACO rules for a turbodiesel 8-cylinder, the new Peugeot 908 prototype features a 3.7 liter race powerplant. Using much of the same technology including turbocharging and a diesel emission particulate filter, the Peugeot 908's new 3.7 liter HDi V-8 features a 90 degree engine angle compared to the 100 degree V-angle of the outgoing V-12.

Announcing plans to compete the entire 7 rounds of the 2011 Intercontinental Cup, Peugeot Sport has also unveiled the driver lineup for the 3-car squad's attempt to take the Le Mans 24 Hours race. The following listing will be the 2011 pilots of the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP:

Car #7 – Alexander Wurz / Anthony Davidson / Marc Gené
Car #8 – Franck Montagny / Nicolas Minassian / Stéphane Sarrazin
Car #9 – Sébastien Bourdais / Pedro Lamy / Simon Pagenaud

Peugeot Sport's 2011 season starts with the first round of the Intercontinental Cup at the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19th under the American Le Mans Series.

Photo Credit: Peugoet Via Newspress UK

Photo Credit: Peugoet Via Newspress UK

Photo Credit: Peugoet Via Newspress UK

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: February 9th-13th, 2011

Daytona Beach, Florida Daytona International Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup/ ARCA Racing Series



With moderate west winds blowing, daytime high temperature at Daytona is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) around the scheduled time for the ARCA Racing Series qualifying session. Nighttime practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout cars will be conducted under clear skies with an ambient temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).



Two practices in preparation for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series' Daytona 500 qualifying session Sunday will be held under clear skies with temperatures between about 46 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit (8-14 degrees Celsius). Winds are slated up to bombarding from a mostly Northern-most flow at 12 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour) during the morning but will subside during the afternoon and night. No precipitation is expected for the afternoon's ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 and the night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout event. Temperatures around Budweiser Shootout race's 8 PM start time is slated at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).



Consistent with temperatures and weather conditions of the previous days, the crucial qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 will be set underway at 1:05 PM. Providing completely clear skies, daily-high temperature is forcasted at 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). A light Northwest wind travelling at about 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour) is expected to be a minor complication for the two-lap qualifying runs.

Ty Dillon to Start on Pole for ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona

Photo Credit: ARCA

Taking the pole at 185.533 miles per hour around Daytona International Speedway for the ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, The #41 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon claims the first competitive pole on the resurfaced 2.5 mile oval circuit. Handily beating the times of Venturini Motorsports drivers Kyle Fowler and Canadian Steve Aprin, 18 year-old Ty Dillion (the grandson of NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Richard Childress and brother of 2011 NASCAR Camping World series driver Austin Dillon) has earned his second pole out of 4 total ARCA Racing Series starts.

Matt Merrell and Bobby Gerhart 5-time reigning winner of the ARCA 200 mile race at Daytona fills out the top-5 starters for Saturday afternoon. With 43 cars completing the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 grid, 4 countries of male and female racers will be suiting up for the 2011 edition of the event. Some notable names starting this event will be NASCAR regular Ricky Carmichael in 7th place, 2011 Toyota All-Star race winner Jason Bowles in 16th, Venezuela INDYCAR driver Milka Duno in 23rd and 9-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel starting 26th. 76 years young, NASCAR Cup series winning car James Hylton will start the ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 in 35th place driving his #48 Ford. 

Assembled as the first stock car race to be run on the smooth, oval pavement, the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 for the ARCA Racing Series is likely to be closely examined by NASCAR as drafting speed, tire wear and the racing itself is less predictable than previous years. Judging qualifying for the ARCA race alone, single car speeds around the 2.5 oval Daytona International Speedway is 4 miles per hour faster than the time trial laps in 2010.

The first race kicking off the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway is set to start at 4:30 PM Saturday afternoon.

2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200
Daytona International Speedway

Pos #  | Car #  | Driver |  Origin  | Sponsor/Car Make  | Qualifying Time and Speed
  1. 41 Ty Dillon/Lewisville NC UNOH Chevrolet
  2. 15 Kyle Fowler/Smyrna GA Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet
  3. 25 Steve Arpin/Fort Frances ON Mike's Hard Lemonade-Trent's Tire Toyota
  4. 32 Matt Merrell/Portland TX Red Line Oil Toyota
  5. 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Lucas Oil Slick Mist Chevrolet
  6. 55 Hal Martin/Galliano LA NOLA Motorsports Park Toyota
  7. 4 Ricky Carmichael/Tallahassee FL Monster Energy Chevrolet
  8. 66 Mark Thompson/Cartersville GA Phoenix Air Toyota
  9. 31 Tim George Jr./New York NY RCR Development Chevrolet
  10. 52 Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ Federated Auto Parts Toyota
  11. 28 Miguel Paludo/Nova Prata Brazil STEMCO-Duroline Toyota
  12. 98 Kevin Swindell/Goodlettsville TN Curb Records-Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota
  13. 16 Joey Coulter/Miami Springs FL Rip It Energy Fuel-Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet
  14. 22 Dakoda Armstrong/New Castle IN Ferrellgas-Syngenta Dodge
  15. 19 Brian Rose/Louisville KY Harris Trucking-ASE Toyota
  16. 6 Jason Bowles/Ontario CA Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota
  17. 14 John Ferrier/Middletown NY CGS Imaging Ford
  18. 30 Terry Jones/Amherstburg Ontario Jones Group Dodge
  19. 17 Chris Buescher/Prosper TX Roulo Brothers Racing Ford
  20. 09 Benny Gordon/DuBois PA VSI Ford
  21. 94 Brett Hudson/Owensboro KY Hudson Performance Drivelines Dodge
  22. 11 Bryan Silas/Stuart FL National Speed Sport News-Fast Track Ford
  23. 63 Milka Duno/Caracas Venezuela Citgo Lubricants Dodge
  24. 12 Maryeve Dufault/Sorel Quebec TMR Dodge
  25. 77 Joey Licata/Van Nuys CA Wrong Inc. Dodge
  26. 44 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Ansell-Menards Ford
  27. 82 Sean Corr/Goshen NY Empire Racing Ford
  28. 1 Chad McCumbee/Supply NC ModSpace Ford
  29. 18 Chris Lawson/Troutman NC Ideal Steel Custom Flame Cutting Dodge
  30. 00 Ed Kennedy/Coppell TX Thunder 2 Lubricants-Daytona Lagoon Chevrolet
  31. 36 Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL Coach Dodge
  32. 26 Tommy Joe Martins/Como MS Martins Motorsports Dodge
  33. 23 Nick Igdalsky/Long Pond PA Fox Realty Chevrolet Provisional
  34. 34 Darrell Basham/Henryville IN Ford Provisional
  35. 48 James Hylton/Inman SC Ford Provisional
  36. 10 Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY Rifenburg Construction-Double H Ranch Chevrolet Provisional
  37. 06 Barry Fitzgerald/Sykesville MD Chevrolet Provisional
  38. 68 Steve Blackburn/Prestonsburg KY Honda of Prestonburg-Harley of Pikeville Dodge Provisional
  39. 7 Brent Cross/Cortland NY Cummings Auto Machine-Quadraflex Chevrolet Provisional
  40. 58 Chad Hackenbracht/New Philadelphia OH Tastee Apple Chevrolet Provisional
  41. 75 Benny Chastain/Tallahassee FL Drive To End Hunger AARP Toyota Provisional
  42. 3 Brent Brevak/Eau Claire WI Red's Auto Ford Provisional
  43. 42 Scott Stenzel/Orlando FL Yellow Stripes Making The Driver Ford

Monday, February 7, 2011

Robert Kubica's F1 Racing Career in Limbo After Rally Car Crash

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

Competing in the Ronda de Andora Rally in Italy, Formula 1 regular driver for Lotus Renault GP Robert Kubica suffered a frightening worst case scenario accident. Early Sunday, his DP Autosport Skoda collided at high-speed with a wall just 5 kilometers after starting the race's first stage. Due to the severity of the wreck, the need to exercise care extracting the driver safely and a 55-kilometer transportation distance, Kubica's arrival at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure took a total of 2 hours.

 According to some media reports, doctors were at one time considering amputation of the right hand. However, after quick examination, physicians did not need to resort to this action on Kubica's hand. With multiple fractures to the Formula 1 winning driver's right hand and leg that includes a deep cut to his forearm, a 7-hour operation was required. By late Sunday, the recovering 27-year old Robert Kubica has been placed into an induced coma until Monday morning as he rests in stable but serious condition overnight.

An update on Kubica's condition is expected to be held 9:30 AM local time at the Santa Corona Hospital. Robert Kubica's manager Daniel Morelli and the Director for the Regional Centre of Hand Surgery Professor Mario Igor Rossello will be present to announce the latest on the Formula 1 driver's prognosis.

With Robert Kubica fortunately surviving the rally car crash, the driver's participation in the 2011 Formula 1 season for Lotus Renault GP is highly doubtful. Awaiting more information on Kubica's recovery, the Lotus Renault GP team thoughts are with their injured race car pilot. Team Principal and Managing Director Eric Boullier said within a statement Sunday “The news of Robert’s accident came as a real shock to the whole team. All of us, at Lotus Renault GP, wish him a quick recovery. We have been really impressed with the way the doctors looked after him today and we would like to thank the whole team of the Santa Corona Hospital for their professional approach and dedication". Several members of the Lotus Renault GP organization including Boullier and Formula 1 teammate Vitaly Petrov.

With a long recovery predicted for Robert Kubica to potentially regain use of his right hand, Lotus Renault GP plans for the upcoming 2011 Formula 1 season will need to be revised. Proving to have top speed with Kubica just 3 days prior at Valencia, Spain test, the team will have to promote one of their reserve drivers to the Type 125 race car's seat for Bahrain in March. Having just signed Bruno Senna, strong indications has the young Brazilian driver rejoining the Formula 1 race grid for 2011.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lotus Renault GP Debuts Type 125 Formula 1 Race Car

Photo Credit: Lotus Renault GP

Receiving notoriety as perhaps the official team relating to Lotus sports cars, the Lotus Renault GP organization is the result of a new cooperation by the former Renault F1 team and Group Lotus. Creating a messy situation as the start of the 2011 Formula 1 season draws close to the March 13th command to start engines in Bahrain. Two Lotus teams (Team Lotus being the other) will be placing four cars on the Formula 1 grid powered by Renault engines. Thankfully, the look of the two Lotus teams will be distinct in livery. Team Lotus will wear green and yellow colouring while the Lotus Renault GP cars will be identified in a regal black and gold recreating the appearance of the original Team Lotus' John Players Special of the late 1970 to mid 1980s.

Wearing the new Lotus Renault GP look, the Type 125 has been revealed for the upcoming Grand Prix season. Said to be blending the expertise of Renault, Lotus and team partner Genii Capital, the Renault Lotus GP Type 125 race car will definitely be the crown jewel of the British brand's diverse return to motorsports. Including among items the movable rear wing now allowed by the FIA, the Renault Lotus GP is also wearing the new Pirelli Formula 1 slick tires.

Returning drivers from the Renault F1 team's 2010 campaign, Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov will pilot the Type 125 on the 2011 Grand Prix schedule. Both drivers will be the cornerstone to a team's stride to improve beyond the past team's 5th place finish in the F1 Constructor Championship. Renault Lotus GP also announced a new third driver joining the team for 2011. Bruno Senna (who spent most of last season competing with the HRT Formula 1 team) follows his legendary late uncle Ayrton Senna as a Lotus Formula 1 car driver. It appears that Bruno Senna is following a similar path to his uncle who too started his Formula 1 career outside of Lotus. Ayrton Senna debuted with short-lived Formula 1 team Toleman but moved to Lotus in 1985 where his legacy was launched.

With Formula 1 reshaping the 2011 Formula 1 rules to allow KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), Lotus is relishing the opportunity to allow their Type 125 Formula 1 race car to their future production sports cars. Four of the next five Lotus sports cars planned for the street over the next 4 years (Esprit, Elite, Elan and Eterne) will have a KERS option.  

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has been quite aware that the rather public dispute between the two Lotus teams is controversial but has been a formal declaration saying "I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position: We are Lotus, and we are back.”

Photo Credit: Lotus Renault GP

Photo Credit: Lotus Renault GP

Photo Credit: Lotus Renault GP

Naughty and Nice of 2010 Racing: NASCAR Nationwide Series

Photo Credit: Autostock

First, please accept my apologies for the belated arrival of the 2010 Naughty and Nice List Relating to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Profiling this season for the 2010 Nationwide Series reveals a dominate year for Sprint Cup Series regulars will continue to pay repeated visits to this one-time ladder series. 

Nice: Earnhardt and #3 Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Daytona

Announced as a one-off effort for the race at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr paired with Richard Childress Racing to win at the July NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Having previously succeeded at Daytona in 2002, Earnhardt Jr has been working through a difficult 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season when he announced plans to drive a #3 Wrangler-sponsored Chevrolet during the Fourth of July weekend event. Leading the most laps as he held off efforts of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, the consolidation of powers resulted in Dale Earnhardt Jr's Daytona win. Earnhardt Jr's 23rd Nationwide Series victory, the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet Impala was also the first winning car under the series' new COT rules.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/ Getty Images

Naughty: Ambrose Suffers Another Montreal Heartbreak
Rising through the ranks to become a major star of the Australian V-8 Supercar series, Tazmania's Marcus Ambrose makes a lasting impression in NASCAR racing. While his oval racing creditably is building, Ambrose's true instincts show on the road courses of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events. Winning three years running at Watkins Glen, victory the Canadian road course of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been painfully elusive despite his often race dominating efforts.
Despite earning pole for the second-straight time at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve NAPA Auto Parts 200, Ambrose's 25 laps out front early was all for not as electrical failure and later a suspension issue. Forcing him to park his #47 Toyota 27 laps ahead of the checkered flag, Marcos Ambrose finished 33rd for the 2010 NAPA Auto Parts 200. Thrilled to be racing an exciting race with Jacques Villeneuve and Carl Edwards, Ambrose replied on his website in post race “We're trying everything to get that victory here in Canada, but we can't seem to seal the deal”.

Nice: Brad Keselowski's 2010 Championship Run

After two seasons of focus on the NASCAR Nationwide Series season with JR Motorsports, Brad Keselowski has played the part of the best non-Sprint Cup series driver on the division. Winning the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by 445 points, Keselowski drove his Penske Racing #22 Dodge to a clinch after the Texas Motor Speedway race.
With Kevin Harvick presiding as 2006 champions, Carl Edwards finding the series points victory in 2007, Clint Bowyer in 2008 and Kyle Busch earning the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Keselowski became the 5 Sprint Cup regular in a row to complete this goal. For 2011, NASCAR has effectively put the end to drivers of the Sprint Cup series hunting championship honours in the Nationwide or Camping World truck series by requiring a driver to declare just one series in which they can claim points.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Naughty: The Continuing Transformation of NASCAR Nationwide to a Sprint Cup-Lite Series

For as long as the NASCAR Nationwide Series (known as the Busch Series prior up to 1983) existed, it has been a common theme that drivers of the longer Cup series races would occasionally join the fun of what has been a key tour for developing and showcasing new racing talent. While major races at Daytona as well as Charlotte were places where names like Dale Earnhardt and later Mark Martin would school often less experienced drivers, the presence of Cup series competitors making more notable appearances in the tour is apparent. For 2010, only 2 winners of 35 total NASCAR Nationwide Series races did not belong to a full-time Sprint Cup operation (Justin Allgaier at Bristol and Boris Said at Montreal).

Nice: Road Racing Madness

Some in NASCAR believe that stock cars have no place on road courses. Purests for the oval racing environment, the increased variables of turning left and right can confuse some of the best NASCAR drivers as well as crew chiefs. Supplying 3 road races for 2010, the NASCAR Nationwide Series trio of events provided some of the most refreshing excitement on the schedule. Added to the 2010 schedule in place of a canceled annual event at the Milwaukee Mile, Road America joined the series bringing NASCAR back to the 4-mile circuit for the first time since the 1950s. Captured by Carl Edwards, the first Road America race for the Nationwide Series served up the first helping of what would be physical and unpredictable road course racing. Despite the win of Edwards and the maturing of road racing skills of by all NASCAR drivers, so-called road race ringers took the final two races at Watkins Glen and Montreal. Marcos Ambrose took Watkins Glen in fine style while the winner of the Montreal NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was settled in a more aggressive fashion. A battle between Max Papis and Boris Said, a side-by-side finish result in favour of Said.

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/ Getty Images

Naughty: Lack of 2010 Title Contenders
Only 13 drivers in the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series run the full 35-race schedule. While the NASCAR Nationwide Series has been the site of high driver turn-over, this past season's points is a show for the lack of contention. In the top-10 for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series, 3 drivers (Sprint Cup regulars) drove fewer than 29 races.

Nice: Rave Reviews for Series' Car of Tomorrow (Today)

Unlike the launch of the NASCAR Sprint Cup (COT) Car of Tomorrow in 2007, the introduction of the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the summer Daytona race has debuted with raved reviews. While the new race car for the Sprint Cup series received criticism for being less competitive than the previous car, NASCAR clearly applied their lessons learned for the Sprint Cup COT to the Nationwide Series race machine specifications. As an added plus for the fans, the new Nationwide Series COT cars introduced the unique track presence of the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang back to NASCAR competition.

Naughty and Nice: Joe Gibbs Stinks Up Nationwide Shows

Combining for 16 wins and 11 poles, the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series team was an often unstoppable juggernaut at intermediate-sized tracks between 1 to 2 miles. Clearly lending their NASCAR Sprint Cup expertise as well as the lineup Kyle Busch and Joey Logano to races within the 2010 Nationwide Series schedule, two drivers might have had a chance at the tour championship if they had not chosen to sit down certain races. Still finishing 3rd in the NASCAR Nationwide points even while running just 29 of the 35 races, Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota won 13 times in 2010 following up 9 wins a year prior and 10 in 2008.

For anti-Joe Gibbs Racing fans, a silver lining for 2011 in light of the dominance of 2010 could be that the team did not win one of four races run with the new COT race machine. However, with drivers Busch and Logano behind the wheel of the team's Toyota Camry stock cars, it is unsafe to wager against another strong Joe Gibbs Racing showing in 2011.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona Victors and Final Results

Photo Credit: Grand Am
Enduring a full day of braking and acceleration, tire changes as well as track hazards, the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona reached an end during the mid-afternoon Sunday. Opening the 2011 Grand Am Rolex Series with 50 cars playing part of a massive sports car event, new looks and faces battle for an immediate claim to fame.

Beyond the mechanicals having a test of as many as 700 laps around the 3.56 mile Daytona International Speedway road course, the human factor of a continuous 24-hour work day made drivers as well as team members exhausted. Driving through a total of 23 cautions including a 2 hour, 47 minute long yellow flag for morning fog hovering over the race circuit.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

12 DP (Daytona Prototype) class machines led through a portion of the 24-hour distance would started with the pole-winning #45 Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche Riley parading out front for the first 27 laps. Positioned out front at the beginning of the race, the Racing Lizards Motorsports DP (piloted by Patrick Long, Jorg Bergmeister, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek) car would be one of very casaulties of the long race distance. Suffering front end damage, the #45 Riley Porsche race result would place the team 22nd in the overall 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona standings retiring after a late race engine fire.

Even the seasoned Chip Ganassi Racing squad of two-cars (the #01 and #02 BMW Rileys) were challenged through the course of this sports car race. The #01 missed the bus stop chicane corner between the oval's turn 2 and turn 3 sections, the #02 car suffered two tire punctures during the early stages and later required new front bodywork. With only 45 minutes remaining in the event, a second to last pit stop resulted in a costly mistake by the #01 Chip Ganassi car driven than by Joey Hand. Hitting a tire while leaving the team's pit stall, the Hand and the #01 car was assessed a 20-second penalty. However, thanks to team determination and some beneficial cautions, both Chip Ganassi Racing team BMW Riley cars in the DP class found themselves in the thick of the Rolex 24 at Daytona final laps. 
Within the final 7 minutes of the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona, a late race caution for debris from the #90 Spirit of Daytona prototype. Bunching up the top-4 DP class machines for what would be a green-white-checker flag finish, the #01 BMW Riley DP car will be tested once more after almost a full day of racing. The #02 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley, the reigning 2010 24-hour race #9 Action Express Racing Porsche and the #23 United Autosports Ford Riley are given a chance to capitalize on any mistake the leading #01 BMW Riley could make on the restart. Unfortunately for the 2nd through 4th place competitions in DP, the #01 driven by veteran Chip Ganassi Racing sports car driver Scott Pruett was flawless through the final lap also benefiting from a GT inserted between the Chip Ganassi Racing machines. Through the final lap, action for the 2nd place result in the DP class was more contentious as #02 beat the #9 by just 6/10th of a second.

Having been denied victory in the 2010 24-hour race the team had dominated 3 years prior, The Chip Ganassi Racing was reunited with the Daytona International Speedway victory lane. This year's winning team for the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing lineup consisted of Chip Ganassi regulars Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas along with some new additions to the DP class machine. Graham Rahal, the 2011 driver of Chip Ganassi's new second IZOD INDYCAR Series team, and the American road racing talent Joey Hand were additions to the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona victory.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

Despite the renewed efforts of Mazda, Chevrolet and BMW in the GT class, Porsche dominated the class. Leading the German sports car's triumph with the top-two positions, an all-new 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car fielded by TRG (The Racer's Group). Qualifying as a fast race car on Friday, the TRG #67 Porsche was forced to the back of the starting field Saturday afternoon due to a technical violation. Leading a total of 216 of the GT class maximum 685 laps, the TRG squad of Steven Bertheau, Wolf Henzler, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brendan Gaughan celebrated a GT category win at Daytona. For TRG, they take Daytona honours back from Mazda having last won the 2009 Rolex 24 race. Mentioning Porsche honours, another team in the Grand Am GT class Porsche GT3 Cup race car fielded by Paul Miller Racing claimed a valuable 2nd place. Dempsey Racing cancelled hopes of a Porsche podium sweep in GT at the Rolex 24 at Daytona placing their Mazda in third place.

Back to the Porsche GT cars was also a nostalgic return of Brumos Racing at the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Making a memorable showing but finishing outside of the podium standings, the #59 Brumos squad's return to the GT class of sports car racing resulted with their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car leading through the mid-stage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Fifth in the GT category, the #59 Brumos team is ready for a full 2011 Grand Am Rolex Series season.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

As for the often enduring SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT cars who are the reigning class winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, their 2011 race was quite a bit different. With the SpeedSource #69 retired after completing 202 laps, the #70 car maintained itself in the event but was well out of contention for a top finish during the 2011 Daytona event. Placed 6th in the Rolex GT class after the 24-hour distance, the #70 Mazda RX-8 finished 15 laps behind the category winning TRG Porsche.

In a 12-month period, Chip Ganassi-supported vehicles have won four major races at the two most iconic United States race tracks Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Started with Jamie McMurray's 2010 Daytona 500 win, Dario Franchitti followed up in May to take victory in the IZOD INDYCAR's crown jewel Indy 500. When the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, McMurray pulled off the Brickyard 400 win.

2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Final Results

Overall Pos | (*) Class Pos | Team | Sponsor | Drivers | Car/Chassis  

1. (1) 01 DP Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates| Target/ TELMEX
Scott Pruett, Auburn, CA
Memo Rojas, Mexico City, Mexico
Graham Rahal, Hilliard, OH
Joey Hand, Wilton, CA
BMW Riley

2. (2) 02 DP Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates| TELMEX/ Target
Scott Dixon, New Zealand
Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombia
Dario Franchitti, Scotland
Jamie McMurray, Mooresville, NC
BMW Riley

3. (3) 9 DP Action Express Racing
Terry Borcheller, Vero Beach, FL
JC France, Ormond Beach, FL
Joao Barbosa, Portugal
Christian Fittipaldi, Brazil
Max Papis, Mooresville, NC
Porsche Riley

4. (4) 23 DP United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing| Johnnie Walker/ FXI/ UBS
Zak Brown, Carmel, IN
Mark Patterson, Bronxville, NY
Mark Blundell, Royston/ Herts, Uk
Martin Brundle, Gayton, Norfolk, England
Ford Riley

5. (5) 10 DP SunTrust Racing SunTrust
Wayne Taylor, Apopka, FL
Max Angelelli, Monaco
Ricky Taylor, Apopka, FL
Ryan Briscoe, Australia
Chevrolet Dallara

6. (6) 76 DP Krohn Racing
Tracy Krohn, Houston, TX
Nic Jonsson, Sweden
Ricardo Zonta, Brazil
Nicholas Minassian, France
Ford Lola

7. (7) 6 DP Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Continental Tires/ Curb Records/ PVA/ Rocky Fork Company
AJ Allmendinger, Denver, CO
Michael McDowell, Huntersville, NC
Justin Wilson, Dacono, CO
Ford Dallara

8. (8) 55 DP Level 5 Motorsports Microsoft/ E Data Solutions/ Selling Source/ US Bank
Scott Tucker, Overland Park, KS
Christophe Bouchut, France
Luis Diaz, Mexico City, Mexico
Mark Wilkins, Aurora, ON Canada
BMW Riley

9. (9) 5 DP Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ Action Express Racing
David Donohue, Malvern, PA
Buddy Rice, Phoenix, Az
Burt Frisselle, Aspen, CO
Porsche Riley

10. (10) 60 DP Michael Shank Racing Crown Royal XR
John Pew, North Palm Beach, FL
Oswaldo Negri Jr, Miami, FL
Marc Goossens, Belgium
Michael Valiante, Vancouver, BC Canada
Ford Riley

11. (11) 95 DP Level 5 Motorsports Microsoft/ E Data Solutions/ Selling Source/ US Bank
Scott Tucker, Overland Park, KS
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Richard Westbrook, England
Raphael Matos, Miami, FL
BMW Riley

12. (1) 67 GT TRG Sargent & Lundy/ South Point Hotel & Casino
Steven Bertheau, Aurora, IL
Brendan Gaughan, Las Vegas, NV
Wolf Henzler, Germany
Andy Lally, Newport, NY
Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA
Porsche GT3 Cup

13. (2) 48 GT Paul Miller Racing Marquis Jet/ Total/ IPC
Bryce Miller, Summit, NJ
Tim Sugden, England
Bryan Sellers, Dayton, OH
Rob Bell, UK
Porsche GT3 Cup

14. (3) 40 GT Dempsey Racing Mazda/ Visit Florida
Joe Foster, Lawrenceville, GA
Patrick Dempsey, Beverly Hills, CA
Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, FL
Tom Long, Raleigh, NC
Mazda RX-8

15. (12) 99 DP GAINSCO/ Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance/
Jon Fogarty, Bend, OR
Alex Gurney, Irvine, CA
Jimmie Johnson, El Cajon, CA
Chevrolet Riley

16. (4) 44 GT Magnus Racing Magnus Racing, LLC.
John Potter, Salt Lake City, UT
Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA
Richard Lietz, Austria
Marco Holzer, Germany
Porsche GT3 Cup

17. (5) 59 GT Brumos Racing
Hurley Haywood, Ponte Vedra, FL
Andrew Davis, Bogart, GA
Leh Keen, Charleston, SC
Marc Lieb, Germany
Porsche GT3 Cup

18. (6) 70 GT SpeedSource Castrol Edge/ Mazdaspeed
John Edwards, Cincinnati, OH
Sylvain Tremblay, Coral Springs, FL
Adam Christodoulou, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Jonathan Bomarito, Del Mar, CA
Mazda RX-8

19. (7) 42 GT Team Sahlen
Joe Sahlen, Elma, NY
Will Nonnamaker, North Canton, OH
Wayne Nonnamaker, Massillon, OH
Joe Nonnamaker, Massillon, OH
Memo Gidley, Novato, CA
Mazda RX-8

20. (8) 4 GT TRG Children's Tumor Foundation
Ryan Eversley, Winder, GA
Daniel Graeff, Miami, FL
Kenny Wallace, Concord, NC
Ron Yarab Jr, Poland, OH
Richard Zahn Jr, Lake Mary, FL
Porsche GT3 Cup

21. (13) 45 DP Flying Lizard Motorsports
Patrick Long, Belleair, FL
Jorg Bergmeister, Germany
Seth Neiman, San Francisco, CA
Johannes van Overbeek, Oakland, CA
Porsche Riley

22. (9) 18 GT Muehlner Motorsports
Mark Thomas, Houston, TX
Peter Ludwig, New Paltz, NY
Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, FL
Cory Friedman, Charleston, SC
Porsche GT3 Cup

23. (14) 90 DP Spirit of Daytona Racing
Antonio Garcia, Spain
Paul Edwards, Ft Collins, CO
Sascha Maassen, Germany
Chevrolet Coyote

24. (10) 41 GT Dempsey Racing Seattle Children's Hospital/ JG Sport/ Global Diving
James Gue, Alpharetta, GA
Dane Cameron, Glen Ellen, CA
Ian James, Sunset, SC
Dave Lacey, Toronto, ON Canada
Don Kitch Jr, Bellevue, WA
Mazda RX-8

25. (11) 47 GT Rick Ware Racing Fuel Doctor
Jeffrey Earnhardt, Charlotte, NC
Scott Monroe, Kemah, TX
Doug Harrington, Kemah, TX
Maurice Hull, High Point, NC
Brett Sandberg, Allendale, NJ
Porsche GT3 Cup

26. (12) 57 GT Motorsports Stevenson Automotive Group
Robin Liddell, England Stevenson
Ronnie Bremer, Denmark
Jan Magnussen, Denmark
Camaro GT.R

27. (13) 66 GT TRG Summit/ DRISW
Dominik Farnbacher, Germany
Tim George Jr, New York, NY
Ben Keating, Port Lavaca, TX
Lucas Luhr, Germany
Porsche GT3 Cup

28. (14) 88 GT Autohaus Motorsports Autohaus Motorsports
Jordan Taylor, Apopka, FL
Bill Lester, Atlanta, Ga
Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, GA
Matthew Marsh, Hong Kong
Camaro GT.R

29. (15) 81 GT DragonSpeed Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale/ Quality
Specialty Pharmacy/ Novatic
Rosso/ Hopkins Investments/ UC Handsur
Cort Wagner, Los Angeles, CA
Fred Poordad, Los Angeles, CA
Doug Baron, Pacific Palisades, CA
Nick Jones, Los Angeles, CA
Ferrari F430 CH

30. (16) 54 GT TRG/Black Swan Racing/GMG Racing
Jeroen Bleekemolen, Monaco
Bret Curtis, Lake Sherwood, CA
Tim Pappas, Boston, MA
Patrick Pilet, France
James Sofronas, Newport Beach, CA
Porsche GT3 Cup

31. (15) 2 DP Starworks Motorsport| Duncan
Enzo Potoliccio,
Alex Popow,
Romain Iannetta, France
Ford Riley

32. (17) 94 GT Turner Motorsport Turner Motorsport
Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA
Paul Dalla Lana, Toronto, ON Canada
Boris Said, Escondido, CA
Matt Plumb, Newport, RI

33. (16) 8 DP Starworks Motorsport Corsa Car Care/ Burlusa
Mike Forest, Edmonton, AB Canada
Ryan Dalziel, Orlando, FL
Jim Lowe, Bryn Maur, PA
Colin Braun, Harrisburg, NC
Tomas Enge, Czech Republic
Ford Riley

34. (18) 63 GT Team Spencer Motorsports Trench Shoring Services
Rich Grupp, Decatur, GA
David Murry, Atlanta, GA
Jim Downing, Atlanta, GA
Dennis Spencer, Kissimmee, FL
Owen Trinkler, Nashville, TN
Mazda RX-8

35. (19) 65 GT Racing 65 Roses
Tom Sheehan, Auburn, NH Chris Smith
Shane Lewis, Jupiter, FL
William Sweedler,
Mitch Pagerey, Deerfield Beach, FL
Porsche GT3 Cup

36. (20) 30 GT Racers Edge Motorsports IDEMITSU/ Moton/ Terra Firma/ Springboro Car Wash/ PDI Communication Systems
Scott Rettich, Camden, OH
Mark Jensen, Winter Park, FL
Michael Marsal, Bedford, NY
Gary Jensen, Winter Park, FL
Jade Buford, Brentwood, TN
Mazda RX-8

37. (21) 53 GT TRG/Nadeau Motorsports
Jim Michaelian, Long Beach, CA
Bob Doyle, Killingworth, CT
Coulter Mulligan, San Francisco, CA
Joe Castellano, Spain
Porsche GT3 Cup

38. (22) 32 GT PR1 Motorsports Autosport Designs/ Mobotix/ Corsa Car Care
David Cheng, Summamish, WA
Tom Papadopoulos, East Hills, NY
Ryan Lewis, Grapevine, TX
Max Hyatt, San Jose, CA

39. (23) 07 GT Banner Racing The Cool TV
Bruce Ledoux II, Southborough, MA
Eric Curran, Holyoke, MA
Gunter Schaldach, Aspen, CO
Oliver Gavin, England
Camaro GT.R

40. (24) 17 GT Burtin Racing Foametix
Claudio Burtin, Cartersville, GA
Jack Baldwin, Marietta, GA
Martin Ragginger, Austria
Nick Tandy, London, England
Nicolas Armindo, France
Porsche GT3 Cup

41. (25) 22 GT Bullet Racing Guard Transmission
Darryl O'Young, Hong Kong, China
James Walker, Oxford, England
Brian Wong, Newport Beach, CA
Eric Lux, Williamsville, NY
Porsche GT3 Cup

42. (17) 77 DP Doran Racing
Brian Frisselle, Aspen, CO
Henri Richard, Los Altos Hills, CA
Matt Bell, Los Altos, CA
Ross Kaiser, Binfield, UK United Kingdom
Ford Dallara

43. (26) 56 GT Bennett Racing Skip Bennett
Mike Skeen, Charlotte, NC
JF Dumoulin, Trois-Rivieres, QC Canada
Michael Davidson, Chesapeake, VA
Glynn Geddie, Scotland
Jonathan Allen, Upper Black Eddy, PA
Ferrari F430 CH

44. (18) 7 DP Douglas Peterson, Bonita Springs, FL Starworks Motorsport Xtreme Indoor Karting/ Burlusa
RJ Valentine, Braintree, MA
Jared Beyer, New Braunfels, TX
Scott Mayer, Franklin, WI
Jan Heylen, Belgium
Ford Riley

45. (27) 69 GT SpeedSource FXDD
Emil Assentato, Locust Valley, NY
Jeff Segal, Miami, FL
Nick Ham, Evergreen, CO
Anthony Lazzaro, Atlanta, GA
Nick Longhi, Nyack, NY
Mazda RX-8

46. (28) 43 GT Sahlen
Joe Sahlen, Elma, NY Team
Will Nonnamaker, North Canton, OH
Wayne Nonnamaker, Massillon, OH
Joe Nonnamaker, Massillon, OH
Memo Gidley, Novato, CA
Mazda RX-8

47. (29) 36 GT Yellow Dragon Motorsports ModSpace/ Construct Corps/Scotia Bank/ Mazda
Taylor Hacquard, Surrey, BC Canada
Chris Cumming, Vancouver, BC Canada
Mikel Miller, Pacific Grove, CA
Justin Marks, Chico, CA
Mazda RX-8

48. (30) 86 GT Mitchum Motorsports Weather Tech/ Semper Fi Fund/ Eibach
Joey Atterbury, Chesapeake, VA
Cooper MacNeil, Hinsdale, IL
Randy Pobst, Gainesville, GA
Derek Whitis, Tallahasse, FL
Billy Johnson, San Clemente, CA
Porsche GT3 Cup

49. (Withdrew) 11 GT TPN Racing/ Blackforest Summit Financial/ Borla/ Race Tec/ Gary Yoeman's Ford
Tom Nastasi, Stamford, CT
Scott Maxwell, Toronto, ON Canada
David Empringham, Toronto, ON Canada
David Russell, Winter Park, Fl
Ford Mustang

50. (Withdrew) 00 GT Aten Motorsports RG512/ OFI/ Sequana/ Ice Cap/ Sport Event
Emmanuel Collard, France
Davy Jones, Lake Tahoe, NV
Gabriel Abergel, France
Xavier Pompidou, France
Steve Lisa, Paradise Valley, AZ
Ferrari F430 CH