Monday, October 31, 2011

Hamlin Captures First Truck Victory

Photo Credit: Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 29, 2011)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Making excellent use of a fresh set of tires, Denny Hamlin drove through the field after a pit stop on Lap 134 and won Saturday’s Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway in his only start this year.

Ron Hornaday Jr. ran second to make a small dent in the advantage on series points leader Austin Dillon, who finished third. Johnny Sauter ran fourth, followed by rookie Joey Coulter and Kevin Harvick.

The victory was Hamlin’s first in the series in 12 starts, adding the driver of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to the list of drivers, now 23 in number, who have won at least one race in each of NASCAR’s top three series.
“It’s a big deal for me, more than what people probably think,” said Hamlin, who has run one truck race per year in 2009, 2010 and 2011. “When they think we go down to these different series—Nationwide and truck—and we’re just going down there to try to get wins, from my standpoint, it’s very, very tough.

“The truck series is more competitive now than what it’s ever been, and it means as lot to myself to win a truck series race, especially running just one a year, usually. … This was just one of those weekends where everything worked out great for us.”
Hamlin passed Hornaday and Dillon moments after a restart on Lap 187, as Dillon slid up the racetrack in Turn 1 but managed to maintain control.

“We gave it to him—I did,” said Dillon, who expanded his points lead to 11 over 10th-place finisher James Buescher. “Just couldn’t make the first turn and ran into Ron. If I could have made it through the first turn, it would have been me (or) Ron in victory lane, I’m pretty sure. We had faster trucks.”
Hornaday said he expected Dillon to slip in the corner and was prepared for it.

“The lap before the (next-to-last) restart, I cleaned my tires off pretty good, and I still shoved my nose pretty good,” said Hornaday, who gained one point on Dillon and now is tied for third in the standings with Sauter, 15 points back. “When I saw Austin not weaving his truck as much as I did on the (last) restart, I knew he was coming up into me.

“I had to make sure his right front tire was at my door, and I could lean on him back a little bit, so we didn’t get up in the marbles. It worked out for both of us, other than Denny Hamlin snuck through the middle of both of us and stole the win—but we’ll take it.”
Dillon passed Harvick for the lead on Lap 141 shortly after a restart that followed the sixth caution of the race, caused by contact between Germain Racing teammates Todd Bodine and Max Papis, who battled until Papis spun off Bodine’s front bumper.
After Papis spun again to bring out the seventh caution, Dillon led the field to the green flag for a restart on Lap 152 and held the top spot until Ryan Sieg’s spin on Lap 172 caused caution No. 8. Moments before the yellow flew, Hornaday passed Harvick for second, setting up a battle between a four-time champion (Hornaday) and a driver seeking his first title (Dillon).

When the field restarted on Lap 179, Dillon and Hornaday held the top two spots, chased by Hamlin and Sauter, both on fresher tires. One caution later, Hamlin powered beneath both Hornaday and Dillon on a Lap 187 restart and pulled away for the win.

2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Kroger 200
Martinsville Speedway
Race Results

3 18 Denny Hamlin Toyota / Traxxas Toyota
2 33 Ron Hornaday Jr. Steak-Umm Steaks / Chastity Baker Chevrolet
10 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
4 13 Johnny Sauter SafeAuto / Curb Records Chevrolet
12 22 Joey Coulter / RCR Graphics Chevrolet
6 2 Kevin Harvick Tide / Kroger Chevrolet
13 21 Cale Gale Rheem Heating, Cooling and Water Heating Chevrolet
9 17 Timothy Peters GearWrench / Toyota
28 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel and Casino Toyota
5 31 James Buescher Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet
7 5 Todd Bodine NTB / Service Central Toyota
1 88 Matt Crafton Roto-Rooter / Menards Chevrolet
18 8 Nelson Piquet Jr. QualComm / AutoTrac Chevrolet
21 70 Jeff Agnew Clarence's Steak House Chevrolet
26 23 Jason White Chevrolet
11 7 Miguel Paludo Stemco Duroline Toyota
8 6 Justin Lofton Chevrolet
15 9 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
14 24 Elliott Sadler Virginia Lottery Chevrolet
29 36 Grant Enfinger England's Stove Works Dodge
16 29 Parker Kligerman Penske Truck Leasing Dodge
22 81 David Starr Zachry / / ASI Limited Toyota
17 39 Ryan Sieg Pull-A-Part Used Auto Parts Chevrolet
20 92 Clay Rogers Tri City Tire / Fleet HQ / BTS Tires & Wheels Chevrolet
24 66 Max Gresham World Crown 300 / Gresham & Associates Chevrolet
36 9 Bryan Silas Rockingham Speedway Ford
19 60 Cole Whitt Fuel Doctor / Red Bull Chevrolet
25 51 Josh Richards Joy Mining Machinery / U.S. Navy Seals Toyota
33 57 Norm Benning Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet
31 65 Tyler Tanner EF-65 Ford
27 97 Matt Lofton Toyota
34 32 Blake Feese AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet
30 20 Johanna Long Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota
32 7 TJ Duke Merrill Lynch Toyota
23 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet
35 93 Mike Garvey S&W Services Chevrolet

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Edwards Seizes Top Spot for Martinsville Cup Race

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR

From the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, the transition to the Martinsville Speedway 0.526-mile short track could lead to another unpredictable event in the second-half of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup. While the official Friday qualifying session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's TUMS Fast Relief 500 was rained out, the starting line-up for the Martinsville Speedway event was decided on car owner points.

Carl Edwards' recent storming run to the top of the Chase standings secured the top spot for Sunday's event. Regarded as a historically tough race track for the #99 Ford, Edwards has an average starting spot of 18.2 out of 14 races. As Carl Edwards seemingly dodged a major bullet in acquiring starting position for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, so did his teammate Matt Kenseth in the #17 Ford. For the Roush Fenway Racing team, their last win at the Martinsville Speedway track in Sprint Cup occurred in 2002 with Kurt Busch driving the #97 car.

With all 12 Chase contenders lined up at the top of the field, the 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway could prove to be a challenging situation for one driver to gain a major advantage on rivals. In a session led by the #66 Toyota of Michael McDonnell's top time of 19.747 second or 95.893 miles per hour, the pivotal prep for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Following final practice on Saturday afternoon, the plot for Sunday's race thickens as only 3 of the Chase's top-12 drivers placed in the top-10 fastest cars. All from the stables of Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson led the driver grouping with a 3rd fastest in the session driving the #48 Chevrolet. Ninth fastest on the race track practice was Jeff Gordon #24 Chevy while the #88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr logged a 10th quickest time. Winning 10 of the 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup races run at the Martinsville Speedway short track from 2003 to 2009, Hendrick Motorsports has been winless in the past 4 visits by the series. Both Johnson and Earnhardt logged more than 100 laps on track at Martinsvile Saturday afternoon.

On a recent hot streak at the Virginian short track is Denny Hamlin. Though he finished 12th during the spring race at Martinsville, Hamlin drove his #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to three consecutive wins at the 0.526-mile oval. Involved in the Chase but largely out of contention for the title, Hamlin was 14th fastest in Saturday practice. Other Chase for the Sprint Cup notables in the practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the short track includes Kurt Busch registering 11th fastest, Kyle Busch in 15th, while the front row-starting Roush Fenway Racing group cars were 24th and 29th quickest with Matt Kenseth ahead of Carl Edwards.

Fourth to last on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season, the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway has a race start time of 2pm Sunday.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
TUMS Fast Relief 500
Martinsville Speedway

Starting Line-up
  1. 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Winterguard Ford
  2. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
  3. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  4. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet
  5. 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
  6. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Halloween Toyota
  7. 48 Jimmie Johnson Mylowes Chevrolet
  8. 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  9. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mt. Dew Paint the 88/NationalGuard Chev
  10. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  11. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
  12. 39 Ryan Newman HAAS Automation Chevrolet
  13. 33 Clint Bowyer American Ethanol / Cheerios Chevrolet
  14. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  15. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Filtrete Ford
  16. 43 A J Allmendinger AdvoCare Ford
  17. 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
  18. 6 David Ragan UPS My Choice Ford
  19. 5 Mark Martin CARQUEST / Chevrolet
  20. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  21. 27 Paul Menard Richmond / Menards Chevrolet
  22. 20 Joey Logano Interstate Batteries Toyota
  23. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  24. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  25. 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
  26. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  27. 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
  28. 0 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  29. 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota
  30. 51 Landon Cassill PhoenixCnstrctn/ThankATeacherToday Chev
  31. 34 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
  32. 36 Dave Blaney Golden Corral Chevrolet
  33. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  34. 32 Ken Schrader U.S. Chrome / Southern Pride Ford
  35. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  36. 71 Hermie Sadler Home Smart Ford
  37. 7 Reed Sorenson SPEED Energy Dodge
  38. 37 Mike Skinner MaxQ Motorsports Ford
  39. 46 Scott Speed Green Smoke Ford
  40. 66 Michael McDowell Victory Junction Toyota
  41. 87 Joe Nemechek AM FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Toyota
  42. 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Chevrolet
  43. 55 J J Yeley Front Row Motorsports Ford

Sebastian Vettel Scores First Ever Grand Prix of India Pole Position

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

Bringing the festival of Formula 1 to one of the most populous regions in the world, the Buddh International Circuit located in New Delhi hosts the ever Indian Grand Prix. A newly-completed entertainment complex, the 16-turn, 5.137-kilometer track tests the 2011 Formula 1 drivers and teams with several, sweeping high-speed turns and high ambient temperatures for late October.

A first ever visit to the circuit, many drivers got advance interaction with the Indian Grand Prix circuit by computer simulation programs including Team Lotus. Team Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen commented prior to visiting the circuit, "There’s the obvious overtaking zone at the end of the long straight and then a few pretty standard medium speed corners but I think the main challenge for us is going to be finding a balance that suits the demands of T10 to T13, which is quick, and the hairpins at T3, T4 and T16. We won’t know anything about tyre degradation until we get out there, but whatever happens it’s going to be hot, probably a bit mad, but seriously good. I can’t wait!”

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Photographic

Allocated an extra set of tires for Friday practice, the real-life adaptation to the Buddh International Circuit resulted with the Red Bull Racing and McLaren F1 team leading the way. Among the hot and haze of the New Delhi climate, qualifying for the Grand Prix of India started with minimum air temperatures in the high 20 degree Celsius range.

Defeated in the Korean Grand Prix race weekend's pole qualifying session by year-long nemesis McLaren F1, Red Bull Racing is eager to restart their streak of pole which ended at 16 races. Immediately, acclaimed 2011 Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel took top position of the time sheets in qualifying. Lapping the race track in a 2nd fastest time of 1 minute, 26.218 seconds in the initial Q1 session, Vettel's Red Bull-Renault barely held off the charge of the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button. For Button, the 2nd place in the session result required a last-second run from near elimination inside the first qualifying group.

The surprise in early Indian Grand Prix qualifying came with the Lotus Renault GP car of Vitaly Petrov vaulting to the 1st place spot in Q1 using fresh, softer Pirelli tires. While Petrov impressed with fastest in Q1, the second year driver for Lotus Renault GP would miss a top-10 placement in Q2 to Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso-Ferrari. Due to a Friday practice infraction, Vitaly Petrov will be dropped an addition five-grid spots to 16th place.

Out of the HRT Formula 1 organization for much of the season following the European Grand Prix, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan was suited up for the first Indian Grand Prix. An instant hit with his home country, Karthikeyan actions during qualifying neither impressed Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP or Formula 1 race stewards. As Schumacher was making a flying lap late in the Q1 session, the HRT-Cosworth of Karthikeyan was deemed to have disrupted the qualifying run. The Indian driver will be demoted to the second-last starter for the Grand Prix of India as a penalty. 

Becoming the only driver to score a time under the 85-second barrier in Q2, Sebastian Vettel picked up nearly half a second on his Q3 fastest lap to command pole at 1 minute, 24.178 seconds. While the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton qualified second fastest following the Q3 session, the British driver will be starting in 5th position for Sunday's event. Hamilton received a three-grid position penalty by the race stewards after they deemed the McLaren F1 driver failed to slow for double-yellow flag. Thereby, the Red Bull-Renault of Mark Webber will be elevated to a front row starting position alongside teammate Vettel.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren driver Jenson Button will start on the second row for Sunday's first Indian Grand Prix. In the race's third row, the penalized Lewis Hamilton starts alongside Felipe Massa's Ferrari which suffered major front suspension damage after hitting a corner curb. Nico Rosberg's Mercedes GP leads off the fourth row with Adrian Sutil and the Force India team giving their home country fans a reason to cheer.

Starting at 5 am Eastern time, the first Indian Grand Prix event is set to start under a hot sun.

2011 Formula 1
Indian Grand Prix
Buddh International Circuit
Starting Line-up

  1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
  2. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
  3. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
  4. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
  5. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
  6. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
  7. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
  8. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
  9. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
  10. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
  11. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
  12. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
  13. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1
  14. 9 Bruno Senna Lotus Renault GP
  15. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
  16. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
  17. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
  18. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
  19. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
  20. 17 Sergio Perez Sauber
  21. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing
  22. 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT F1
  23. 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
  24. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Toyota Returning to Le Mans with Oreca Partnership

Photo Credit: Toyota Europe

Surging to the top of production car sales during the late 1990s, Japanese automaker Toyota attempted to secure the crown jewel in sports car endurance racing. In the 1997 running of the 24 hours of Le Mans race, Toyota’s GT-One prototype car appeared primed to celebrate motorsport’s greatest staple in durability. However, within 30 minutes of the race's completion, a mechanical problem suffered on the lead car cost the Japanese brand the right to claim a precious manufacturer victory. Attempting two more times to take the Le Mans 24-Hour event, Toyota gave up on their ambition for sports car racing supremacy at the famous French race for 12 years. In 2012, the prototype class will once again have a Toyota branded vehicle competing for top honours.

Displayed as a closed cockpit prototype, the rendering released on the new LMP1 sports car will be built at Toyota's technical and motorsport center in Cologne, Germany. Campaigning in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as select sports car events, the Toyota LMP1 car will be powered by a gasoline engine combined with hybrid technology. Toyota Motor Corporation experience in hybrid gas/electric powertrain technology in road cars will play a part in developing the brand new race car.

Unlike the last time where Toyota Motor Corporation set up a European racing operation (which later became the base for a Toyota Formula 1 program), the Japanese auto company has entered a partnership deal with Groupe Oreca for field cars through the 2012 World Endurance Championship of sports car racing rounds. President of Oreca Hugues de Chaunac boasted “It's a very big day for Oreca.” following the announced collaboration with Toyota. Making a household name of itself when it campaigned the Dodge Viper (known as the Chrysler Viper in European) through GT competition in the late 1990s, Oreca has been consistently involved with the prototype sports car categories. Oreca's most recent landmark triumph on the race track was an overall class victory at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring where the group competed with a customer Peugeot 908 race car. In the American Le Mans Series' LMPC category, all race chassis structures are sourced from France's Groupe Oreca. Well-seasoned French sports car team Oreca is set to provide the operational support. (similar to the work Team Joest performs for Audi Sport’s Audi R18).

Testing for the new Toyota prototype sports car should be conducted over the winter. Along with more extensive details on the race vehicle, the driver line-up for the 2012 Oreca/Toyota team should be finalized at a later date.

Charity Auction for Dan Wheldon Memorial Trust Starts Strong

Photo Credit: Daniel Incandela

Just under 10 days ago, auto racing great Dan Wheldon perished from injuries suffered in a devastating crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A moment that brought silence to a community that awakes to the loudness of racing engines and cheering crowds, the quietness has given the the world a chance to reflect on the greatness of a champion lost too soon. In this time of sadness, the way Dan Wheldon has left such a lasting impression on so many lives on and off the track. In turn for a man who devoted much of his 33 years to life in motorsports, the sporting world has given meaning to the English INDYCAR driver's life through many moving tributes.

One such memorial to the life of Dan Wheldon is a major charity auction currently underway on Ebay. An idea started when fellow INDYCAR competitor Graham Rahal promptly devoted himself to donate some of his racing gear to raise money for the late driver, Rahal's heartfelt enthusiasm and spirit would spread across the motorsport world. Growing into a major charity function benefiting the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund, the auction items span across INDYCAR, NASCAR and sports car racing as well as other professional sports. With 33 auction items posted as of early October 26, the generosity of the sporting world at large has brought together some unique pieces for bidders to purchase on the added note of raising money for a meaningful cause.

A sample of the notable items listed on the Ebay charity auction includes a selection of race used helmets and driving attire worn by Graham Rahal Dario Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Pippa Mann and Bobby Rahal. A specific item attracting attention is a Firestone Tire Table. Signed by the entire 33-driver starting field of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 (including the late Dan Wheldon), the glass table top rests on top of a replica Firestone slick tire. With 8 day and 17 hours left in the auction, bidding for the super unique item of motorsport-themed furniture has been drawn to $5,200 US.

Early in the Dan Wheldon Charity Auction, one of the most active items is a Jimmie Johnson race helmet. A helmet the 5-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion is currently competing for the 2011 Chase for the Cup, Johnson's race-used helmet is presently holding a highest bid of $13,500 (with 8 days, 17 hours remaining).

Currently the second highest priced auction listing in benefit for the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund is a 1-week stay at Manzanillo, Mexico's super luxurious Villa Paraiso drawing a $11,211 bid. Racing themed trips included in the charity auction consists of VIP packages to the 2012 Rolex 24 Hour of Daytona and the June 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Away from auto racing, sports items such as an autographed Channel Islands surfboard from Kelly Slater, a signed football by Walter Payton and a hockey stick signed by the 2011-2012 LA Kings NHL team are some piece that were graciously donated to generate proceeds for Dan Wheldon's family.

Bidding for items within the Dan Wheldon Charity Auction will run up to November 4th.

Bowyer Breaks Pass Burton for Talladega Win

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR

Considered the most unpredictable race in the 10-race 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup, the top NASCAR drivers take on the 2.66-mile, high-speed Talladega Superspeedway. This final restrictor plate event on the overall NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, the race is known to favour almost any driver and team in the right position at the end of the event. For the Good Sam Club 500 event, this benefit came to the Richard Childress Racing pair of Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer. In a daring final lap move on the Talladega tri-oval section, Bowyer’s #33 Chevy broke the draft and performed a slingshot on his #31 car teammate Burton claiming the win by mere feet.

A race comprised of the interaction of the two-car tandem draft, this went contrary to the intent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule makers plans for the event. Entering the Talladega Superspeedway race, NASCAR dictated a series of new rules created to combat the increasing level of two-car bump-drafting practice. Despite eliminating teams from using lubricants to grease the bumpers and changes made in the area of the radiator, the two-car tandem re-established itself through the race weekend. Back and better than ever, the two-car tandem dominated the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Photo Credit: Undefined by NASCAR

Going through the first 8 laps with 5 distant drivers leading the Good Sam Club 500, the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Matt Kenseth made a profound impact early. On course to lead 21 laps through the day working with the #6 Ford teammate of David Ragan, Kenseth’s run at the Talladega Superspeedway is capitalizing on the Charlotte victory.

With Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth and the #99 car pilot Carl Edwards well in the title hunt for this season, rumours through the weekend at Talladega Superspeedway has indicated the blue oval organization of Ford teams were engaged in a political move on the race track. Reports have circulated that Ford drivers were discouraged to draft with vehicles belonging to any other auto manufacturers. As the race transpired, the multi-car team dynamic obscured any obvious presence of manufacturer orders as corporate teammates of all organizations were paired. There was one incident in the final run of the event involving the #21 Ford of Trevor Bayne and the #24 Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon. As Bayne started to draft with the Hendrick Motorsports car of Gordon, the #21 Wood Brothers Ford suddenly abandoned the Chevy driver in favour of a Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Without a drafting partner, Jeff Gordon plummeted in the final running order to 27th place.

In a race consisting of 72 lead changes (falling well short of the Talladega Superspeedway’s promotional stunt where a prize would be rewarded if 100 lead changes occurred), the #14 Chevrolet piloted by owner/driver Tony Stewart would lead most often with 30 laps on the day. Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth were the only other drivers to lead more than 20 laps during the 188-lap event.

Slowed nine times by caution, five of the yellow flags on the day fell in reaction to multiple-car accidents. The first major accident crucial to the 2011 NASCAR Chase standings on lap 105 collected the cars of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch among the 6 vehicles. A crash started when the Richard Petty Motorsports cars of AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose made contact, Allmendinger’s spinning #43 Ford tagged Kyle Busch’s #18 Toyota before collecting others. Both championship contenders required crew service in the Talladega Superspeedway garage area, Harvick finished the race in 32nd place while Kyle Busch was listed 13 laps down in the final results crossing the start/finish line in 33rd place.

Another crash that could have had dire consequences for the Chase standing in the Good Sam Club 500 transpired on lap 164. Set off when the #32 Ford driven by Terry Labonte made incidental contact with the #71 Ford of Andy Lally sending him sideways. Right behind the sliding #71 car was the #48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson who just barely missed collection. Though contact between the #71 and #48 occurred, the damage was not serious enough to require immediate attention. Penske Racing’s Chase contender Kurt Busch would not be so lucky when he collided with a spinning car of Bobby Labonte 11 laps later. Losing oil pressure, Busch’s #22 Dodge also lost considerable ground for securing a chance at the 2011 title.

The final multi-car crash in the Good Sam Club 500 involved five cars out of turn two. Receiving the most serious hit head-on with the Talladega wall was the #78 Chevrolet of Regan Smith. Though sustaining severe front-end damage, Smith climbed out of the car uninjured.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

One positive development of the two-tandem appears to be reducing the traditional multi-car “Big Wreck” crashes consisting of double-digit involvement. However, three of the caution during the Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Sprint Cup race was attributed to mistakes during the two-car bump-drafting exercises. On lap 81, it was the Stewart/Haas Racing #14 and #39 stock cars spinning on the frontstretch. Also happening on the frontstretch was a tangling between the Red Bull Toyotas on lap 130. Both pairs recovered to continue running with the Red Bull cars even breaking into the top-10 in the race’s final results.

With the race ending with a dramatic last-lap battle between Bowyer and Burton, the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway delivered some definite surprises. When stock cars crossed the checkered flag on lap 188, nine of the top ten finishing race cars started from deep in the field. With Clint Bowyer the only drive to qualify within the top-12, Jeff Burton surged from 27th to a runner-up spot to almost win the Talladega event. Finishing third for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team, Dave Blaney brought the #36 Chevy from 41st to finish 3rd ahead of 2009 spring Talladega race winner Brad Keselowski. In 5th and 6th place, the Team Red Bull pair recovered from the mid-race trials. Brian Vickers led Kasey Kahne across the line in Toyotas.

One note was the ineffectiveness of the Hendrick Motorsports team in the race’s final run. After Jimmie Johnson won the spring race at Talladega, tandem pairing of Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr seemed as if it could be a strong combination. Leading only three laps combined through the Good Sam Club 500, their strategy of waiting in the back of the field for a late race charge backfired. While Jimmie Johnson’s #48 Chevrolet escaped danger through the Andy Lally lap 164 crash, the caution periods in the final laps left too little time for the Hendrick Motorsport pairing to make an impact for even a top-10 finish.

The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase standings see the Roush Fenway Racing group gain commandingly after issues brought complications to other contenders. Carl Edwards (who finished in a safe 11th place at Talladega) now holds a 14-point lead over teammate Matt Kenseth. Brad Keselowski is only 4 points behind Kenseth in third place and is a single point ahead of Tony Stewart. Kevin Harvick is now 26 points away from Carl Edwards with only four races remaining in the 2011 season.

Heading to the Martinsville Speedway short track, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaves the fastest track in the season for the slowest.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Good Sam Club 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Race Results

  1. 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 100 Years Chevrolet
  2. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  3. 36 Dave Blaney Golden Corral Chevrolet
  4. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  5. 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
  6. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  7. 14 Tony Stewart El Monterey/Office Depot Chevrolet
  8. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
  9. 15 Michael Waltrip Aaron's/DarrellWaltripNASCARHallofFame Toyota
  10. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  11. 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford
  12. 27 Paul Menard Serta/Menards Chevrolet
  13. 0 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  14. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  15. 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
  16. 51 Landon Cassill Phoenix Construction/Thank A Teacher Chevrolet
  17. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  18. 17 Matt Kenseth Jeremiah Weed Ford
  19. 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
  20. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  21. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  22. 34 David Gilliland World Hunger Relief/ Ford
  23. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Energizer Chevrolet
  24. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  25. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. DietMountainDewPaintthe88/NationalGuard Chevrolet
  26. 48 Jimmie Johnson mylowes Chevrolet
  27. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  28. 6 David Ragan UPS My Choice Ford
  29. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  30. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
  31. 43 AJ Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
  32. 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet
  33. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Halloween Toyota
  34. 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Ford
  35. 47 Bobby Labonte Scott Products Toyota
  36. 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  37. 7 Robby Gordon SPEED Energy/MAPEI Dodge
  38. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  39. 71 Andy Lally TRG Motorsports Ford
  40. 66 Michael McDowell HP Racing, LLC Toyota
  41. 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Toyota
  42. 55 JJ Yeley Front Row Motorsports Ford
  43. 97 Kevin Conway Extenze Toyota

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mike Wallace Wins Talladega Race With Assist From Hornaday

Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR


By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 22, 2011)


TALLADEGA, Ala.—In his first Camping World Truck Series start since 2009, Mike Wallace won Saturday’s Coca-Cola 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, as Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. pushed him across the finish line.

Hornaday ran second, followed by James Buescher, who made a dent in the series points lead of Austin Dillon. Dillon scrambled to a seventh-place finish after he was demoted to 18th for not maintaining pace under the final caution of the race. The recovery enabled Dillon to stay ahead of Buescher in the standings.

The victory was the fifth overall for Wallace, who was substituting for Elliott Sadler, whose wife, Amanda, is expecting the couple’s second child. Wallace won in the truck series for the first time since 2000. The victory was his first in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series since he won a Nationwide race at Daytona in July 2004.

Wallace had tears in his eyes when he climbed out of his truck in victory lane.

“I’m very emotional right now, because a lot of people doubt you,” Wallace said. “They doubt your ability. An opportunity like this just proves, ‘Hey, I can get it done. Give me something good to drive, and I can prove I can do it.’

“I’m numb. My son’s at home, my daughters … I wish they were all here. It is my wife (Carla) and my anniversary this weekend. It’s a cool anniversary.”

Wallace turned to his wife in victory lane.

“This is your exotic weekend, honey,” Wallace said.

Johnny Sauter’s championship aspirations suffered a major setback on Lap 35. He and ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton had dropped to the rear of the field to stay out of harm’s way early in the race, but the strategy backfired.

The two trucks crashed as they ran together in tandem, after Donnie Neuenberger’s Chevrolet blew a right-front tire in front of them. Sauter, who entered the race second in the standings and five points behind Dillon, lost two laps as his crew made repairs on pit road.

With a wave-around and a free pass, Sauter got back on the lead lap and finished 15th, lessening the damage to his title chances.

Notes: Buescher trails Dillon by three points with three races left in the season. Sauter is third in the standings, 14 points back of Dillon and two ahead of Hornaday in fourth. … The top two finishers are a combined 105 years old. Wallace is 52, Hornaday 53.


2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Coca-Cola 250 Powered by Fred's
Talladega Superspeedway
Race Results

  1. 6 33 Mike Wallace Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet
  2. 5 2 Ron Hornaday Jr. Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet
  3. 1 31 James Buescher Bad Boy Mowers Chevrolet
  4. 4 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet
  5. 19 23 Jason White Chevrolet
  6. 25 5 Todd Bodine NTB/Service Central Toyota
  7. 3 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  8. 29 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota
  9. 17 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota
  10. 23 9 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
  11. 16 6 Justin Lofton Chevrolet
  12. 18 82 Grant Enfinger Ford
  13. 22 51 Josh Richards Joy Mining Machinery Toyota
  14. 10 60 Cole Whitt Fuel Doctor/Red Bull Chevrolet
  15. 20 13 Johnny Sauter SafeAuto/Curb Records Chevrolet
  16. 8 20 Johanna Long Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota
  17. 27 98 Dakoda Armstrong Ferrellgas/Agrisure Chevrolet
  18. 24 7 Miguel Paludo Stop Diabetes Toyota
  19. 11 32 Blake Feese AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet
  20. 7 22 Joey Coulter Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet
  21. 26 39 Ryan Sieg Pull-A-Part, LLC Chevrolet
  22. 30 76 Ryan Hackett Ford
  23. 15 17 Timothy Peters NTB/Service Central Toyota
  24. 32 28 Wes Burton FDNY Racing Chevrolet
  25. 14 84 Chris Fontaine Glenden Enterprises Toyota
  26. 2 8 Nelson Piquet Jr. tagg/Qualcomm Chevrolet
  27. 35 93 BJ McLeod Pull-A-Part, LLC Chevrolet
  28. 9 29 Parker Kligerman Penske Truck Leasing Dodge
  29. 36 2 Jamie Dick Chevrolet
  30. 13 81 David Starr Toyota
  31. 12 88 Matt Crafton Menards/Certain Teed Chevrolet
  32. 31 16 Donnie Neuenberger Eagle Convenience Stores Chevrolet
  33. 34 7 Butch Miller ASI Limited/ Chevrolet
  34. 28 1 Jeffrey Earnhardt Poynt Chevrolet
  35. 21 99 Patrick Sheltra Chase Mattioli Racing Ford
  36. 33 66 JJ Yeley Turn One Racing Chevrolet

Martin Captures Talladega Sprint Cup Race Pole

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

A wide-open 2011 NASCAR Chase and a track known for unpredictable auto action, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams revisit the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. While qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Good Sam Club 500 is not an incredibly important ingredient to victory at the restrictor plate race track, a top starting spot improves the options early for drivers and teams.

Drawing 42nd of the 47 cars qualifying, Mark Martin's and #5 Chevy swept past his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for the top spot. Lapping the 2.66-mile superspeedway oval at 181.367 miles per hour, this pole at Talladega becomes Martin's 50th in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career and first since the 2010 Daytona 500. A track Martin himself called "The Lottery", the Talladega Superspeedway race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule his entire Hendrick Motorsports team is starting where the team left off following the spring event. With Martin and the #48 Chevy of Johnson on the front row, the remaining two cars of Hendrick Motorsports rests in the third row. Jeff Gordon starting 5th and Dale Earnhardt Jr in the field 6th, the four-car Chevrolet team is certified to be a race contender this fall event.

In the second row between Hendrick Motorsports cars, the #33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer along with the 2011 Daytona 500 winning combination of Trevor Bayne and the #21 Wood Brothers Ford collected mounted successful qualifying attempts for top starting positions. In 7th through 10th place starting the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will be Paul Menard, David Ragan, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.

As the halfway point for the 2011 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards leads by 5 points over Kevin Harvick and 7 points ahead of Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth. While Edwards starts in the top-10 in his #99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, his teammate Matt Kenseth's #17 car rolls off 11th while the #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick starts 13th at Talladega. Fourth in points, Kyle Busch starts well in the back of the 43-car field for what was a lackluster qualifying for the entire Joe Gibbs Racing team. While Denny Hamlin will lead the Toyota squad from 31st place in the Good Sam Club 500, Kyle Busch starts 34th just ahead of Joey Logano. Expect these cars to work together on their way to the front at Talladega Superspeedway

Weeks before Talladega, NASCAR announced a series of rule changes designed to lessen the use of the "two-car tandem" where a pair of vehicles are engaged in aggressive drafting. A new restrictor plate increasing power by up to an estimated 10 horsepower, NASCAR also prevented teams from using anti-friction lubricants on the race car's bumper. Some teams, namely the Richard Childress Racing organization, concocted alternative methods of 'greasing' the bumpers by using slippery tape and adhesives.

The fifth race remaining in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is set to start Sunday at 2 PM Eastern time. Weather forecasts call for a warm and partly sunny day.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Good Sam Club 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Starting Line-up

  1. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  2. 48 Jimmie Johnson mylowes Chevrolet
  3. 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 100 Years Chevrolet
  4. 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
  5. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  6. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet
  7. 27 Paul Menard Serta/Menards Chevrolet
  8. 6 David Ragan UPS My Choice Ford
  9. 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford
  10. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  11. 17 Matt Kenseth Jeremiah Weed Ford
  12. 14 Tony Stewart El Monterey/Office Depot Chevrolet
  13. 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet
  14. 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  15. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Energizer Chevrolet
  16. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  17. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  18. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  19. 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
  20. 97 Kevin Conway Extenze Toyota
  21. 47 Bobby Labonte Scott Products Toyota
  22. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
  23. 15 Michael Waltrip Aaron's/Darrell Waltrip NASCAR Hall of Fame Toyota
  24. 43 AJ Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
  25. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  26. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  27. 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Toyota
  28. 55 JJ Yeley Front Row Motorsports Ford
  29. 66 Michael McDowell HP Racing, LLC Toyota
  30. 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
  31. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
  32. 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Ford
  33. 71 Andy Lally TRG Motorsports Ford
  34. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Halloween Toyota
  35. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  36. 0 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  37. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  38. 51 Landon Cassill Phoenix Construction/Thank A Teacher Today Chevrolet
  39. 7 Robby Gordon SPEED Energy/MAPEI Dodge
  40. 35 Geoffrey Bodine Luke & Associates Inc. Chevrolet
  41. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  42. 34 David Gilliland World Hunger Relief/ Ford
  43. 36 Dave Blaney Golden Corral Chevrolet
  44. 46 Scott Speed Red Line Ford
  45. 77 TJ Bell TRG Motorsports Ford
  46. 37 Josh Wise Bradley University Ford
  47. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota

Vettel Blitzes Hamilton to Win Korean Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

After a wet and wild debut in Korea, the Formula 1 cars returns to the track for the fourth-to-last event in the 2011 schedule. Just completed in time last season, the Korean International Circuit narrow setup leaves little margin for driving error during an event highlighted by a race collision between Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg in 2010. A matured race track, the Korean Grand Prix assembles to run the 5.615 kilometer course learning only wet weather racing setups. While sunny skies were predicted prior to the event, the 2011 edition of the Korean Grand Prix would instantly reminds drivers and teams of the 2010 race as light raindrops sprinkled the track vicinity. Though a concern for Formula 1 teams all starting on dry weather slick tires, never would the precipitations extend beyond sprinkles.

In qualifying, the Red Bull Racing team met the wrath of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton at the Korean International Circuit. Finally breaking Red Bull Racing's season's sweep of the pole position, Hamilton is well within the tight second place battle in the world championship points. Hoping to use the Korean Grand Prix as a chance to move closer to teammate Jenson Button currently in possession of the runner-up position in the Formula 1 driver points, the start of the race saw Hamilton taking a small advantage over Sebastian Vettel into the first corner. Immediately however, the Red Bull-Renault of Vettel stalked the McLaren-Mercedes and would take the lead over the completion of lap one. Drawing out a 1-second gap away from Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was able to resist a challenge from the Mercedes-engined race car with the assistance of the drag reduction system on the rear wing.

Deeper in the field at lap 14, there is a heated fight between the Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg and the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button. On pit stops, the Mercedes GP launched Rosberg out ahead of Button's car but lost the position on the pit road exit into turn 1. Later in the lap, Rosberg determinedly reclaimed the place in the Formula 1 running order by passing Button's McLaren-Mercedes. Triumphant briefly, once the DRS system was enabled for Jenson Button on lap 16, Rosberg would fall prey to the McLaren driver into turn three. While looking like Nico Rosberg was in position for a good result after an unfortunate end in the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, his Mercedes GP car wandered home to 8th place. Indications suggested that Nico Rosberg was saving the fuel required for post-race testing late costing himself and the team several spots.

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

While one Mercedes GP car needed to conserve fuel to the end of the 2011 Korean Grand Prix, the team's second car driven by Michael Schumacher incurred a more dramatic end in the race. On lap 17, Schumacher was impacted into the third corner by the Lotus Renault GP car of Vitaly Petrov. Resulting when Petrov was drag racing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso down the long straightaway, the pair's attempt to outbrake each other into the corner resulted in a fast closing rate on the Mercedes GP. With Vitaly Petrov focused on the battle with Alonso, he slammed into the rear corner of Michael Schumacher causing a crash requiring a safety car on track. Both Schumacher and Petrov were out of the event while Fernando Alonso narrowly avoid damage.

Once the safety car period concluded on lap 20, Sebastian Vettel quickly rebuilt has race lead. By lap 44, the Red Bull-Renault held an 11-second on-track advantage on Lewis Hamilton. A tight 2nd through 4th place fight near the end of the Korean Grand Prix, the McLaren-Mercedes of second place Hamilton and fourth place Jenson Button had the other Red Bull Racing vehicle driven by Mark Webber sandwiched for position. Late in the race, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso attempted to set a challenge against the rather stagnant 2nd to 4th place position battle. Alonso spent a great deal of time behind his teammate's Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Unable to pass Massa but being held up on the Korean International Circuit, Alonso was pitted and able to claim a spot ahead and quickly surged, making up ground on track. Closing to within 1.8 seconds of Jenson Button on the 49th lap, Fernando Alonso appeared to have enough speed to enter the 1-second DRS interval. While prospects of Alonso fighting for a podium position was real within final 5 laps, his Ferrari was unable to retrieve the competitors for any improvements on a 5th place spot.

Crossing the start/finish line over 55 laps, Sebastian Vettel took his 10th Formula 1 series victory for 2011. With Vettel's teammate Mark Webber taking the third and final podium position, Red Bull Racing were able to celebrate the lucrative manufacturers championship for the 2011 season over McLaren. Lewis Hamilton for McLaren joined the Red Bull Racing drivers on the podium in 2nd place.

With a Formula 1 championship recently clinched, Sebastian Vettel's tear on the 2011 grand prix could be magnified by the fact he now try even harder to add to his season's win total. Having now won 10 races with 3 races remaining, Vettel is mathematically capable of tying Michael Schumacher as the most winningest driver in a Formula 1 season.


2011 Formula 1
Korean Grand Prix
Race Results
  1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
  2. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
  3. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
  4. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
  5. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
  6. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
  7. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
  8. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
  9. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
  10. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
  11. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
  12. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
  13. 9 Bruno Senna Lotus Renault GP
  14. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
  15. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
  16. 17 Sergio Perez Sauber
  17. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
  18. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing
  19. 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT F1
  20. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing
  21. 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT F1
  22. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1
  23. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
  24. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP

Auto Racing Community Honours Dan Wheldon

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Only 6 days ago a terrible lose in the motorsport world occurred with a fatal crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's IZOD INDYCAR Series finale. Taking the life of two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon from this planet tragically, the incident left many grieving. In particularly affected by the loss of Wheldon is his wife Susie and two children.

On Saturday, the funeral for the accomplished open wheel and sports car driver took place in the British driver's American hometown of St Petersburg, Florida. Attended by Dan Wheldon's family, friends and close motorsport associates, the somber occasion was the most poignant farewell. Leaving from the First Presbyterian Church, fellow drivers acted as pallbearers to the coffin containing the athlete they were competing against the previous Sunday.

Quickly sharing their hurt feelings for their lost competitor and friend, Twitter lit up on Sunday night with drivers of all motorsport faucets voicing their condolences. Teammate during the Las Vegas race Alex Tagliani tweeted "It's a very sad day. He was my little brother from another mother he was so happy to show me is new Tattoo from last night SW on wrist". Remaining vocal on his emotions and respect for Dan Wheldon, the racer's former teammate at Andretti/Green Racing between 2003 to 2005 Tony Kanaan replied initially "No words to describe the pain. See you on the other side my dear friend. You will be missed.". A fierce competitor with Wheldon in his past progression through the European open wheel racing series, current McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button shared his impromptu eulogy on Twitter saying "I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90's, a true fighter. We've lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy...".

Suffering the closest loss, Dan Wheldon's family bravely shared the life of the son, brother, husband and father through the past week. Dan's father Clive Wheldon spoke a day after the Las Vegas event saying "Daniel was born to be a racer and left us doing what he loved to do".  Susie Wheldon, wife of Dan Wheldon who first united with her father husband as his motorsport personal assistant, issued a statement of gratitude. Within Susie Wheldon's statement, she said "Although the last few days have been unbearable for our family, the overwhelming love and support we have received are rays of sunshine during these dark days. The outpouring of sympathy and condolences has been so comforting, and I want to thank everyone for their kind notes, letters, gifts and flowers".

A public ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis honouring the life of the great racer and outstanding human being. Former Andretti/Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and the newly-proclaimed IZOD INDYCAR champion Dario Franchitti will be some individuals speaking at the memorial. Also speaking as a former teammate as well as Dan Wheldon's 2011 Indy 500 car owner Bryan Herta will also share his thoughts. Randy Bernard, INDYCAR CEO, will represent the sport's sanctioning body's voice on Sunday paying tribute to Wheldon.

For fans from want to bid their deepest condolences to Dan Wheldon, his family recommends a donation to either the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund or the Alzheimer's Association. Additional charity provisions in Dan Wheldon's honour will be made through an online auction starting Monday October 24th. Benefits from the proceeds of this auction will be directed to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund.

Apart from the two memorial services and the charitable support, Wheldon's will also receive remembrance  on the race track as Dallara has pledged to name the new 2012 Indy Car after the driver. Dan Wheldon had served as the test driver for the car that will replace the current spec machine next season. In more immediate tributes to the British racer, competitions in NASCAR as well as the Australian V8 Supercar race this weekend will wear special decals in honour of Wheldon's life.

Sunday's public memorial service will take place at the Conseco Fieldhouse at 4PM local time in Indianapolis, Indiana. For fans wishing to observe the ceremony, television airing on VERSUS as well as on-line coverage will be carried on ESPNEWS,,, and  

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Life and Career of Dan Wheldon

Photo Credit: Michael Levitt/LAT Photo USA

First stepping into a go-kart at age four, the young Dan Wheldon grew up with a steering wheel on his hand. When he reached 21 years of age, Wheldon entered the United States marching through the open wheel racing ladder. Coming to the country operating at square one, the young Brit quickly established himself netting titles in US F2000 in 1999, Toyota Atlantic in 2000 and the 2001 Indy Lights championship. Debuting in the INDYCAR Series with Panther Racing for two races in 2002, Andretti-Green Racing (becoming Andretti Autosport in 2010) picked up the British expatriate to drive for their team in 2003. Winning Rookie of the year in that first full year of INDYCAR competition, Wheldon's career was taken to the next level with a victory at the Twin-Ring Motegi oval in 2004 followed later by wins at Nazareth and Richmond International Raceway.

Perhaps what cause be considered Dan Wheldon's dream season, the 2005 INDYCAR Season saw him in victory lane 5 times including the Indianapolis 500. Going on the win the series championship by 80 points over Tony Kanaan, Wheldon reached the big time. For 2006, Wheldon signed with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. From 2004 to 2008, Dan Wheldon's INDYCAR Career was electric with 15 wins in 97 races as he drove for both Andretti-Green Racing and later for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Along the latter part of this path, he formed a partnership off the track marrying his wife Susie in 2008. One year later, the couple welcomed their first child Sebastian.

For two seasons, Dan Wheldon raced rejoined Panther Racing. While Wheldon's time in the Panther Racing team's #4 car did not net the victorious success as compiled with Andretti-Green or Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the 2009 and 2010 campaigns together resulted in 3 runner-up positions. Two of the three 2nd place finishes in the highly competitive series were at the Indianapolis 500. Finishing 9th in the 2010 IZOD INDYCAR Series overall points, the Wheldon/Panther Racing partnership disbanded after the 2010 season.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/XSL Speed Reporter

Despite his youth and history of winning ways, Dan Wheldon sat out the start of the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series. Instead, the Brit's focus was off-track as difficult news forged with fortune early in the year. The most unfortunate news was that Wheldon's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease during the off-time from the IZOD INDYCAR Series. However, a medical information regarding his mother also involved some more positive family news. In March of this year, his wife Susie gave birth to the couple's second son Oliver.

Out of the ride for the 2011 season, a one-off deal was forged with the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport/Sam Schmidt Motorsport car. Qualifying in 6th place, Dan Wheldon did not show any rust as his lapped the track in an average speed of 226.490 miles per hour through 4 laps. While not the fastest car, Dan Wheldon and the #98 team moved up steadily through the final 10 laps. Saving fuel early, Wheldon was able to push for 2nd place through the final lap behind JR Hildebrand. On the fourth turn of the final lap, Hildebrand (driving for Dan Wheldon's former team of Panther Racing) ran wide and slammed into the outer wall. Wheldon in the last few hundred yards, sailed across the start/finish line winning the Indianapolis 500 in spectacular fashion. Wheldon's second win at the Brickyard, this latest victory was sweetened by the presence of his wife and children. A most popular win at the 100th year of the Indy 500, the Dan Wheldon win served as a favourite underdog story in modern open wheel racing.

Starting the year on the sidelines, Dan Wheldon was suddenly an in demand personality in motorsports. One of the IZOD INDYCAR Series television broadcasters Versus called upon the recent Indy 500 winner as a colour analyst for several events providing some fresh, relevant insight to races including the Texas Motor Speedway double race. Wheldon's skills were also welcomed by Dallara and the IZOD INDYCAR Series as test driver for the new 2012 Indy car. Putting the new spec car through its paces at Mid-Ohio and most recently the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Wheldon was highly favoured to be racing this new vehicle next season.
In September, INDYCAR and website hosting company got together with Dan Wheldon to present a promotion at the season finale race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. If Wheldon would have been able to win the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship event at Las Vegas, him, his team and a fan would split a 5-million dollar bonus. In a press conference for announcing the GoDaddy INDYCAR Challenge, Wheldon stated, "I am really excited to return in the #98 entry with SSM and BHA to follow-up our success at this year's Indy 500 and go after another race win, especially with this carrot on the end of the stick," Taking over the #77 car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Wheldon was granted a warm-up race at Kentucky finishing 14th on the day. While winning the Las Vegas race would have probably been a bigger long shot than his Indy 500 win, Dan Wheldon was just happy to be back in a race car. "I'm ready for the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge and, hopefully, myself and one lucky fan will be smiling on October 16." said Wheldon in September.

On lap 12 of the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the two-time Indy 500 winning driver Dan Wheldon would be 1 of 15 drivers caught up in what was probably the worst crash in INDYCAR history. Occuring as cars were travelling at 200-plus miles per hour, the impact was so hard for many drivers including Will Power, JR Hildebrand and EJ Viso. In the wreckage, Wheldon's #77 car became the concern as safety officials placed a yellow tarp over the badly torn apart Dallara chassis. Confirmed reports that the Brit was being rushed to hospital via helicopter led many to fear something bad was transpiring on what was a quiet race track. Sitting in silence, the entire Las Vegas Motor Speedway was awaiting word for the auto racing great praying for the best news. Unfortunately, a press announcement from INDYCAR's CEO Randy Bernard delivered somber news of the loss of Dan Wheldon to "unsurvivable injuries".

As his fellow drivers and everyone else affiliated with the race series were understandably in tears over the passing, drivers and the IZOD INDYCAR Series got together for an immediate tribute. Running in a three-wide formation for five laps, the remaining race cars were steered around the 1.5 mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dedicated to the memory of Dan Wheldon, those final laps at least gave teams and race fans a closing race moment following the disturbing crash scene.
On Sunday night as night set on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a memorial was created on the gates of the track where Dan Wheldon and the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport performed the masterful upset less than five months earlier. Candles were lit, flowers and race memorabilia would soon rest in a sizable shrine after only hours of the 33-year old driver's departure from Earth. More tributes are definitely in the immediate future including the suspension of the IZOD INDYCAR Las Vegas post-race celebrations in memory of Wheldon. For teams and race fans alike, we bid our deepest condolences to the young racer's family, wife and 2 young children.

Photo Credit: Daniel Incandela

Attracting a media presence that often ignores auto racing, this is ultimately not the way a driver wants to be remembered. While the mainstream public shares the condolences only realizing Dan Wheldon through the Las Vegas crash video and some dry statistics. Once hearing of his death, some will question why people would risk their lives in this competition at speed. While life is full of risks, race car drivers are individuals who live life coming the realize a challenge is not always to back away from through existence. Of course, the life of Dan Wheldon, or the many other auto racers who died in the pursuit for performance greatness, would have been much more appreciated on world for much longer but when they lived their lives inside and around race cars it might be hard for drivers to experience life at all without this particular fulfillment.

The privileged people who got to know Dan Wheldon personally through life, their pleasure of knowing the great racing driver brings the deepest sadness. As a community, we support and remember Dan Wheldon for sharing a piece of his 33 great years with a world.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Las Vegas INDYCAR Finale Ends Sadly with Dan Wheldon's Passing

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Entering the season finale for the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series, the tempo was his with the tour's return to the carnival-like atmosphere of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 300-mile IZOD INDYCAR World Championship would be the place where many major honours were decided. For the second-straight year, Will Power and Dario Franchitti were to do battle are top place in the driver's overall point standings. A tight rookie of the year point fight between American JR Hildebrand and Canadian James Hinchcliffe was prepared to reach a conclusion.

Finally, there was one final event on the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series title for which 34 drivers were placed in the race field to win. One of those drivers entered into the Las Vegas event was 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Completing what was a magical feat in late May, Wheldon joined Sam Schmidt Racing and the #77 team for the series' final 2011 race competing with a considerable perk of a 5-million dollar prize if he would have won the Las Vegas Motor Speedway round. As the field was staged for the last 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series race, the excitement would be far too short-lived with emotions quickly turning by lap 12.

Through one of the most packed field of open wheel racing cars the series has seen since the 1997 Indianapolis 500, there was immediate issues from the drop of green with competitors fighting for position during such an infant race. As several near misses took place on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway including a brushing of wheels between Alex Tagliani and Ryan Briscoe, the two escaped the incident without wrecking. With packs racing three-wide, even the slightest misinterpretation on-track would have caused a serious incident. Heading into turn 1 on the 12th lap in the event, a worst case scenario took place.

On the outside travelling through the first corner, the #17 of Wade Cunningham made minor contact with the #02 car of James Hinchcliffe who had recently checked up in reaction to action in front of his Newman/Haas Racing machine. Unable to retain handling of his compromised Indy car, Cunningham slid and began a fast pile-up. Travelling in excess of 200 miles per hour, cars were instantly swept up in the initial contact taking in total 15 Indy car vehicles. Jay Howard, Paul Tracy, JR Hildebrand, EJ Viso and Pippa Mann were among some of the drivers sitting in wrecked race cars as a red flag quickly flew over the race track. IZOD INDYCAR title contender Will Power was also caught up in the melee ultimately handing the 2011 championship to Dario Franchitti. Out of the car, Power would be alright but later attended the an off-site hospital with back pain concerns.

With safety crews and emergency vehicles rushing to the massive crash scene around turn 2, Mann and Hildebrand were conscious but in need of further medical attention outside of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Taken to the University Medical Center by road ambulance, worry from many race observes surrounded the #77 car that was driven by Dan Wheldon. Sustaining heavy damage, Wheldon's car was eventually centered by a yellow tarp as the condition of the driver was unknown.

As time passed and other drivers involved in the big wreck at Las Vegas were discharged from the on-site medical center, Paul Tracy detailed that doctors were surrounding Wheldon. Later, IZOD INDYCAR Series television coverage on ABC received confirmation that Dan Wheldon was on a recently-lifted medical helicopter to the same medical center as Hildebrand and Mann. With a track sitting quiet under a red flag with clean-up as well as track repairs to the safer barrier wall and track surface itself proceeding, the concern for the 33-year old British driver grew. After an hour under the red flag period, the INDYCAR Series called a closed-door meeting with all drivers in the media center. It was almost two hours after the horrible 15-car crash when word was officially relayed that the two-time Indy 500 and 2005 INDYCAR champion Dan Wheldon had succumbed to his injures.

In a brief statement, INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard read the following short message providing the racing world with news a tragedy marks the day:

"INDYCAR is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. INDYCAR, its drivers and teams have decided to end the race. We will run a five-lap salute in honor of Dan."

Ten minutes after Bernard presented the news, drivers of the remaining 19 vehicles were assembled to perform a makeshift yet tasteful memorial to the now-departed young racing legend. For five laps, the Indy car pack circulated the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race in a three-wide formation. A gripping emotional time for the fraternity of IZOD INDYCAR Series drivers as they reentered their vehicles with knowledge of a lost competitor, and in many cases friend. As a checkered-flag flew as an end to the Las Vegas race. However, for drivers, race team members, race fans and the racing families (especially the now grieving family of Dan Wheldon), the flag does nothing to resolve the pain of losing a fellow competitor.

Power Vs. Franchitti: INDYCAR Stars Battle for 2011 Title in Las Vegas

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

The fierce rivalries in motorsports has always been a key element in the most memorable eras. Richard Petty versus David Pearson, Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost and even manufacturer face-off such as Ferrari versus Chevrolet are occasions in auto racing history where the presence of a full group of contentions is respectfully discounted to see a one-on-one match-up. While modern auto racing bodies are constantly trying to open up the playing field to an assortment of drivers and organizations, there continues to be match-ups where two figures become a prominent fixture.

For the past two seasons in the IZOD INDYCAR Series, the Scottish driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing #10 car and an Australian driving the #12 Penske Racing team have been the overall championship point duelers. In 2010, Will Power demonstrated some incredible magic on road courses in a first full season for Penske that allowed the Australian to contend for the series title against the more experienced shoe of Dario Franchitti. Franchitti's performance on ovals (a track layout understood to be shortfall for Power last year) gave himself and the Chip Ganassi Racing team the advantage for the 2010 series championship.

In 2011, the battle between Power and Franchitti has apparently become a lot more directed. The focal point for their combat was the Honda Indy of Toronto where Franchitti's actions during the event sent Power's #12 around on course. Embattled in a see-saw battle through the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR season, Will Power and Dario Franchitti entered the Iowa Speedway race tied in the overall points standings after six events. Through unfortunate events at Iowa and Toronto for Power and the Penske Racing team, Franchitti built up a sizable points cushion only for Will Power to chip away at the lagging slowly. Helped largely by a 6th place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway following Franchitti suffering a DNF, Power would take the points lead following the Twin Ring Motegi road course event. Will Power's efforts were heavily set-back by a miserable outing in the past race at Kentucky Speedway where he finished 19th after a pit road accident damaging his race car.    

Entering into their second championship showdown, both drivers came from a background involving competition in Formula cars overseas only to be discovered in North America under modest circumstances. For Dario Franchitti, he arrived in the CART series in 1997 driving for Hogan Racing while Will Power was drafted by Team Australian/Walker Racing in Champ car in 2005. Considerable talents, the IZOD INDYCAR Series premium teams signed their respective drivers. Together, Franchitti and Power combine for 10 of the 16 races currently completed on the series schedule.

Taking their championship battle onto the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval, Dario Franchitti and Will Power arrive to the track that neither driver has competed on in the IZOD INDYCAR Series. On account of the last major open wheel event for INDYCAR was run at the track in 2000 (when the series was known as the Indy Racing League), the search for understanding of the oval could have contributed to the 18th and 19th place qualifying efforts Friday. Both drivers do process a vague interpretation of racing in the major Nevada city. Heading into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Will Power in fact has a winning history in the land famously known as 'Sin City'. In 2007, the Australian won his first major open wheel event in North America on the Fremont street course during an Champ Car event. In the case of Dario Franchitti, he raced the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during his 2008 foray into NASCAR. Driving in the Sprint Cup stock car series to a 33rd place finish, Franchitti also competed in the NASCAR Nationwide round taking a more optimistic 6th place.

With an 18-point gap separating Will Power from Dario Franchitti, the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship race at Las Vegas will see if the score can be even in their series championship fight.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kanaan Hits Jackpot with INDYCAR Finale Pole; Power and Franchitti Starts Mid-Pack

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

After 16 races, the series finale for the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series takes place on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Staging the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship Presented by Honda, North America's top open wheel racing tour presents the largest entry list since the Indianapolis 500 in may with 34 cars ready to race Sunday's 200-lap event. Friday's qualifying on the 1.5-mile oval meant a lot for many drivers and teams wanting to make this last race of the season count.

The driver scoring the top qualifying run for the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship Presented by Honda was the #82 car of Tony Kanaan. Lapping the Las Vegas race track in a two-lap average speed of 222.078 miles per hour, the Lotus/KV Racing Technology car earns his first pole position of the year (however, he did start at the front via a qualifying draw during the double race at Texas Motor Speedway).

Prior to the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series season, the 2003 champion Tony Kanaan was sent for a loop when a planned drive with de Ferran/Dragon Racing was derailed due to lack of team finances. In a late deal, Lotus/KV Racing Technology give the popular Brazilian a ride driving the #82 machine. Seen initially as a puzzling move for Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology's 2010 season performance was mixed at best. Spending most of the season repairing their dwindling supply of Dallara chassis the previous year, Lotus/KV Racing Technology and Tony Kanaan surged to redemption in the first IZOD INDYCAR race of the season at St Petersburg with a 3rd place finish. The rest of the season has shown some great potential from the #82 car.

Only 17/100th of a second slower than Kanaan's time in qualifiying is Oriol Servia. Earning a front row start, Servia himself was a last-minute entrant to the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR race season announcing sponsorship just in time for the first event with his Newman/Haas Racing team.

Starting third, recent surprise race winner of Kentucky Ed Carpenter drives what is likely the last race with the #67 Sarah Fisher Racing team (at least with Dollar General sponsorship). Recently displaced driver from his #77 car Alex Tagliani joins the field through a Sam Schmidt Racing associated Bryan Herta Autosport. Tagliani starts fourth in the #98 car that won this year's Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon. Wheldon driving the #77 car will start 28th on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Bret Kelley

Filling the top-10 for the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship Presented by Honda at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick and Mike Conway. All four Andretti Autosport cars start in the top-10 including Danica Patrick who will be making her final IZOD INDYCAR Series race start before becoming a permanent fixture in NASCAR in 2012. 
At the forefront of the series finale, the intense championship battle in the IZOD INDYCAR Series has 18 points separating contenders Dario Franchitti and Will Power. In qualifying for the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship Presented by Honda, the complexion of the 2011 driver championship fight grows more interesting as the Power's #12 Penske Racing and Franchitti's #10 Target/Chip Ganassi car start in the middle of the field Sunday. Recording 2-lap qualifying efforts just under 8/100ths of a second apart, Power took a one grid position advantage at Las Vegas to start 17th. A repeat championship match-up between the two drivers, Dario Franchitti (starting 18th at the Las Vegas race) prevailed at Homestead in 2010.

While Will Power and Dario Franchitti will be starting close in the final race settling the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR championship, a similar situation is transpiring for the tight Rookie of the Year fight. Canadian driver for Newman/Haas Racing James Hinchcliffe qualifying 14th holds a slim rookie points advantage on Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand.

A race concluding the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series season, the 200-lap event at Las Vegas is set for 3PM Eastern time.


IZOD INDYCAR World Championship Presented by Honda
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Starting Lineup

  1. 82 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
  2. 2 Oriol Servia/Spain/ Newman/Haas Racing
  3. 67 Ed Carpenter/ United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
  4. 98 Alex Tagliani/ Canada/ Bryan Herta Autosport
  5. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
  6. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
  7. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/Andretti Autosport
  8. 38 Graham Rahal/United States/Chip Ganassi Racing
  9. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
  10. 27 Mike Conway/England/Andretti Autosport
  11. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
  12. 17 Wade Cunningham/New Zealand/ Sam Schmidt Motorsports
  13. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  14. 06 James Hinchcliffe/Canada/ Newman/Haas Racing
  15. 4 JR Hildebrand/United States/ Panther Racing
  16. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
  17. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
  18. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  19. 34 Sebastian Saavedra/ Columbia/ Conquest Racing
  20. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/Dale Coyne Racing
  21. 83 Charlie Kimball/United States/ Chip Ganassi Racing
  22. 22 Townsend Bell/ United States/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  23. 57 Tomas Scheckter/ South Africa/ Sarah Fisher Racing
  24. 11 Davey Hamilton/ United States/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  25. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Racing Enterprises
  26. 8 Paul Tracy/Canada/Dragon Racing
  27. 15 Jay Howard/ England/ Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  28. Wheldon/England/ Sam Schmidt Motorsports
  29. 30 Pippa Mann/ England/ Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  30. 24 Ana Beatriz/Brazil/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  31. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland/ HVM Racing
  32. 59 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
  33. 18 James Jakes/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
  34. 44 Buddy Rice/United States/Panther Racing