Saturday, October 19, 2013

California Oval finale for 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series has Power on Pole

Photo Credit: Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing

The final event of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series, the year concludes in Fontana, California at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. Preparing for a 500-mile Saturday night closing of the 19-race season, a championship is up for grabs between two long-time titans of the open-wheel racing series. Also, aside from the fight to be the overall best of the 2013 season, the IZOD IndyCar Series' MAVTV 500 presents a final chance for drivers to add to their year's resumes. A victory on the very speedy Auto Club Speedway would be the ideal way to cap off the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series for every one of the 25 drivers starting on Saturday.

Qualifying using a two-lap time average, the 2013 MAVTV 500 pole was snatched by Australian Will Power. With a time of 1 minute, 5.2247 seconds, Power's #12 Dallara-Chevrolet recorded an average speed of 220.775 miles per hour over the two laps around Auto Club Speedway. Seated seventh in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar points standing, Will Power's year ends with him out of contention for the overall championship for the first time since he began running full-time for Team Penske. It was a surreal 2013 season for Will Power who struggled during multiple road course races (a type of racing the Australian driver excelled in over previous years). Recent wins at Sonoma and race two of the Houston event has returned Will Power to typical form.

Nearly 1.1 miles per hour slower than Will Power, Helio Castroneves still posts a strong time with the #3 Team Penske car. Entering this final race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series, Castroneves is trailing Target Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon by 25 points. Castroneves held the point lead through much of the season but lost it due to struggles in The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend. The Brazilian is attempting to regain the points lead at the most crucial time. Hunting his third IndyCar championship and first since 2008, New Zealand's Scott Dixon qualified seventh with his Honda powered #9 car.

With the championship at stake, the teams of both Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon elected to place fresh engines in their race cars for the 500-mile Saturday night event. By doing so, each driver will be demoted 10 places from their qualifying spots. Therefore, Helio Castroneves will start 12th in his Team Penske machine while Scott Dixon will be starting 17th in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing supported vehicle. Based on the complexity of long-distance oval races on the IZOD IndyCar Series, starting position in the MAVTV 500 is not considered too serious for drivers and teams.

Returning for the finale, popular part-time driver AJ Allmendinger is piloting the #2 machine for Team Penske. In qualifying, a third fastest time by Allmendinger solidified the organization's quick pace on a two-mile track car owner Roger Penske built and originally operated.

Behind the Team Penske domination of the Auto Club Speedway qualifying, the Dragon Racing car co-owned by Roger Penske's son Jay will start the MAVTV 500 third over a fourth-fastest qualifying effort by Sebastien Bourdais. Posting a fifth-fastest time on Friday, Charlie Kimball driving the Chip Ganassi owned #83 car is starting fourth due to Castroneves' penalty. Tenth in the overall drivers' points, Kimball's 2013 racing effort is a considerable improvement over his previous two years in the series. Also worth of full marks is James Jakes who qualified at an average speed of 217.979 miles per hour for sixth fastest on Friday. Jakes' time was actually identical to seventh place Scott Dixon.  

Won last year by Ed Carpenter (who starts 8th on Saturday night), the MAVTV 500 is considered a wild card event where almost any competitor has a fair shot at winning. AJ Allmendiner, Alex Tagliani driving in substitution for an injured Dario Franchitti for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2013 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year standout Carlos Manoz, Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand returning to the series driving the Bryan Herta Autosport #98 car are limited or one-race deals that could easily pull off an upset against the field of regulars. While the Team Penske cars powered by Chevrolet proved strong in qualifying, Honda won the last IndyCar oval event at Pocono with a race pace that also emphasized fuel economy.

Certain to provide an eventful end to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series (as well as the final race with IZOD as the title sponsor), the 250-lap MAVTV 500 is set to receive a green flag at 6:10 PM local time in California (9:10 PM eastern time).

Qualifying Results

1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 220.775
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 219.677
3. (2) AJ Allmendinger, Dallara-Chevy, 218.894
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 218.513
5. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 217.986
6. (16) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 217.979
7. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 217.979
8. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 217.958
9. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 217.932
10. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 217.871
11. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 217.798
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 217.566
13. (10) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 217.419
14. (5) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy, 217.050
15. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.898
16. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 216.447
17. (4) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 216.213
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 216.106
19. (98) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 215.967
20. (55) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 215.207
21. (78) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 214.679
22. (6) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 213.262
23. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, no speed
24. (18) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, no speed
25. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, no speed

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alex Tagliani to Sub for Injured Dario Franchitti in Fontana IndyCar Finale

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Whether you are an active follower of the IZOD IndyCar Series, fan of any other form of motorsport or just a human being concerned for the health and welfare of automotive speed demons, this past Sunday's race on a Houston, Texas street circuit contained a occurrence we hated to see. On the final lap for race #2 of the Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston race weekend, a freak but serious crash put the lives of drivers and spectators at risk.

Impacting the rear of Takuma Sato's vehicle, Dario Franchitti #10 car owned by Chip Ganassi Racing was launched violently into the track fencing. The heavy hit into the temporary caging barely retained the Honda-powered Dallara race car as Franchitti was whipped around multiple times. The #10 car settled on within a sea of debris that showered the track as well as an unfortunate crowd of people observing the Houston IndyCar event. Not without concern for the several spectators who required medical attention following the incident, drivers, teams and many fans were tensely watching the remains of the vehicle belonging to the four-time IZOD IndyCar champion driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Team owner Chip Ganassi (himself a former race car driver) quickly jumped on his motor scooter racing to the crash scene with immense concern for his driver. While head movement was observed with Dario Franchitti, the greatest relief came several minutes later when reports stated the Scottish athlete was awake and alert. Thanks to safety systems built into the Dallara chassis, the massive collision preserved the life of Dario Franchitti. Injuries to others outside of the race competition also proved non-fatal allowing for some relief. The memories of 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon's fatal crash at Las Vegas is still a memory of an occasion no one wants to live again.

Alive and talking, worry focused on potential injury to Dario Franchitti. Indeed, the Scot described pain to his back and ankle as he once carefully lifted from his car to an Ambulance. At a Houston hospital, Franchitti was diagnosed with a broken right ankle, two spinal fractures and a concussion following the wreck. Well wishes for the three-time Indy 500 winner have come from fans and fellow competitors eager to see the driver return to his race car. With reports on Wednesday Franchitti will require a second surgery for his ankle, the business of motorsports required Chip Ganassi to select a replacement driver for the #10 machine as the final 2013 IZOD IndyCar round at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California is set for October 19th. Wednesday afternoon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing named Canadian Alex Tagiani as the fill-in driver for the #10 team.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

A product of the Players Driver Development Program that operated for promoting Canadian drivers in the 1990s , the 14-year veteran of major open wheel racing brings a lot of experience to the #10 Dallara-Honda. Tagliani's racing resume includes a Champ Car series win at the 2004 Road America round, 2009 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and a pole position at the 2011 Indy 500. “As a driver you never want an opportunity like this to come under these circumstances, but I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to working with my friend Scott and the whole Target team. I’m thinking of Dario as everyone else is, and wishing him a quick recovery. This team has a championship on the line and I’m ready to step in a help them win it.”, said Alex Tagliani in a team release. Chip Ganassi voiced, “Obviously the situation is not ideal with Dario being unable to compete in Fontana. As we look to the season finale we needed a driver with experience and the ability to step in and get the job done in the No. 10 car, and Alex was a logical choice for us”. Alex Tagliani has been a free agent since the conclusion of the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto race weekend in July.

Starting his CART career with Players Forsythe Racing, Alex Tagliani has driven for Rocketsports Racing as well as Team Australia co-owned by Derrick Walker (the current IndyCar Series President of operations and competition). Joining the IndyCar Series on a regular basis in 2010 as part-owner of the FAZZT Race Team, the #77 vehicle fought with limited success against the superteams of Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Tagliani and the FAZZT Race Team owners were bought out by Sam Schmidt in 2011. Sticking with Alex Tagliani for most of the season, the Canadian was released late in the season. In 2012, Tagliani landed at Bryan Herta Autosport driving the #98 car who was pressing forward with its first full season of competition. Starting off the 2012 IZOD IndyCar campaign with the underpowered Lotus powerplant, results were dismal. A mid-season switch to Honda engines improved results topped by a 5th place finish at the Edmonton Indy. Part of the team for the start of the 2013 season, the effort simply could not improve on their 2012 performance. Alex Tagliani was released once again during the middle of an IZOD IndyCar season. During his hiatus from IndyCar, Tagliani drove a Ferrari 458 Italia GT car in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

Competing at Auto Club Speedway in the past with CART and the IZOD IndyCar Series, Alex Tagliani's best result at the track is third occurring in 2001 (Tagliani also won the pole position for that event). Last year's race at Auto Club Speedway ended with a late race crash for Tagliani after leading several times.

The October 19th MAVTV 500 will end the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Season.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

IndyCar Title Sponsor IZOD Out After 2013 Season

2011 Honda Indy of Toronto Friday 2012 honda civic pace car

Similar to many sport events such as the Olympics or the NFL, auto racing has become a brand-littered environment. With large race tracks to place banners and automobiles presenting ideal moving billboards to profile businesses or products, sponsorship is not only accepted but greatly appreciated.

For a major auto racing series, presence of title sponsorship would not only provide a useful cash infusion but a way to sell a sporting organization's creditability. After supporting the North America's biggest open-wheel racing tour six years, serving as a major title sponsor for four seasons, designer apparel company IZOD was announced as ending its sponsorship commitment of the IndyCar Series with the conclusion of the ongoing 2013 season.

Described as a change in circumstances that will leave IndyCar searching for a new title sponsor for 2014 and beyond, chief executive officer of Hulman & Co. Mike Miles said, "We are proud of our partnership with IZOD over the past six years and we're grateful to PVH Corp., owner of the IZOD brand, for its support, creativity and vision,". From the side of IZOD, the brand's parent company PVH Marketing Group said the discontinuation of sponsorship is a change in product focus. We would like to thank the IndyCar community, from the amazing fans, to the incredible drivers, to the entire series, for their partnership. We wish the series all the best and we look forward to finishing out the 2013 season with much success." said Executive Vice President of PVH Marketing Group  Mike Kelly.

IZOD began its marketing partnership as an official apparel provider in 2008. The company made a crucial move upgrading itself to title sponsor of the IndyCar Series for 2010. Ahead of the 2010 season, the series was still sorting itself out following years of acuminous battling between the Champ Car and the Indy Racing League. Through the 2010 season, a stabilized IZOD IndyCar Series began to prove inviting for sporting audiences. In addition to appearing along with the IndyCar name, IZOD also appeared on the side pods of competition cars fielded by Andretti Autosport and Team Penske.

"We are proud of our partnership with IZOD over the past six years and we're grateful to PVH Corp., owner of the IZOD brand, for its support, creativity and vision," said Mark Miles as the IndyCar Series will be adopting a new identity next season either without a title sponsor or with a new name.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Muscle Milk Team Wins Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, Canadians Fared Well

Photo Credit: American Le Mans Series

Canada's oldest surviving motorsport complex, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park continued its tradition of hosting some of the greatest sports cars on the globe. Sunday's Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is another occasion over the 2.46-mile road course's 50-plus year history where classes of premium cars and drivers found themselves challenging the track's tricky turns and elevations. Though the only Canadian race on the American Le Mans Series has recently existed as a spot where car counts were lower than major races at Sebring or Daytona, the 2013 edition of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix still attracted the likes of the SRT Viper GTS-R, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R ZR1 and a DeltaWing chassis P1 car.

The #6 Muscle Milk sponsored HPD ARX-03a driven by Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf went unchallenged through the event. With only three P1 entrants part of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, there was never a prospect of an overall battle at any point during the weekend. The 2-hour, 45-minute sports car race simply confirmed the suspicions. The second highest entry in P1 finished 7 fewer laps around the 2.46-mile track. The Mazda-powered #16 Dyson Racing vehicle piloted by Canadian Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry took the second in class honours. The Luhr/Graf combination in the #6 prototype has won their fourth-straight event in the 2013 ALMS championship.

Finishing four laps behind the Muscle Milk race car, the P2 class battle was more wide-open affair. Drivers Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti prevailed in P2 behind the wheel of the #551 car for Level 5 Motorsports. The #551 car would also serve as the second finisher overall in the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Second in P2 was the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b race car shared by Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo. The #552 car was third in the P2 class. Part of the driving team for the second Level 5 Motorsport machine was IndyCar Detroit race winner Mike Conway. Conway was filling in for Ryan Briscoe who sustained wrist injury last Saturday at the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto event.

The PC category finish was the tightest in the prototype class at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sports car race. With the class' top-three on the same lap at the end, it was the #05 Core Autosport ride driven by Jonathan Bennett and Colin Braun who snatched victory. While the Core Autosport car finished 15 seconds ahead of the second place PC entry, a battle between the #81 and #8 cars was less than two seconds apart. The  Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande prevailed for the runner-up spot over the entry driven by Canadians Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming. Missing out on victory in class with #8 BAR1 Motorsports car, Marcelli's third place finish is his first podium at the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix after three DNFs in previous years. In the lead of the PC category during the early stages of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, the #9 car piloted by Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende would be taken out of contention for their second 2013 ALMS class win by a starting issue following a mid-race pit stop. Eventually restarting their #9 Oreca FLM09 for RSR Racing, Junqeira and Ende settled with a fifth place class result.

Photo Credit: Richard Prince for Corvette Racing

As usual with the 2013 American Le Mans Series season, the GT classes provided the most amusement. In the main GT class during Saturday's qualifying, the SRT Viper GTS-R recorded its second pole of the 2013 championship season. Jonathan Bomarito recorded the top time in the #93 car co-driven with Canadian Kuno Wittmer. In the race, the final laps was a scrap between the SRT Viper GTS-R cars and the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. Crossing the line a mere 0.27 seconds ahead of the #91 Viper GTS-R of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens, the #4 Corvette Racing machine was the winner. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner captured their first win together since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring earlier this season. A finish that mirrored the intensity of a 2000 battle on the Mosport track between the than-young Corvette Racing and the experienced Vipers in the hands of Team Oreca, the result in 2013 was in favour of Corvette.

Nearly as exciting as the GT class was the GTC category result. Winning by 2.3 seconds, the #22 Alex Job Racing car driven by Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen took their second victory of 2013. Second in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup dominated GTC class was #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports car of Nelson Canache, Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly.
Only two cars were classified as not running at the end of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. The #7 PC class machine for BAR1 Motorsports ended the race with a hard hit in turn 1 after competing 85 laps. Prior to this, the promising Elan-powered DeltaWing P1 car was retired after only 16 laps.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sports Car Converge on Toronto for RaceFest Exhibit Ahead of CTMP Race Weekend

Photo Credit: American Le Mans Series

Just days after the Honda Indy Toronto exhibited some exquisite racing action, the downtown streets of Canada's largest city will once again be a stage for showing off high-horsepower motorsport vehicles. Venturing away from open wheel, fenderless vehicles, sports car racing will gain the limelight in the streets of Toronto for a brief time on July 17th. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park's RaceFest will cause an additional bustle of auto racing excitement ahead of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Celebrating the essence of the American Le Mans Series sports car racing tour, the RaceFest will take place on Wednesday between 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. within Yonge-Dundas Square.

There will be several worthwhile components to RaceFest in Toronto providing close encounter with sports car racing culture. Live pit stop demonstrations will be performed by the Corvette Racing team. A special guest for the pit stop exhibition is also planned to make an appearance. Canadian auto racing legend, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park track part-owner and upcoming Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Ron Fellows will once-again pilot the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R sports car.

What could have been the look of the IZOD IndyCar Series, a DeltaWing race car will be displayed as part of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park's RaceFest. Powered by a Elan engine, the 2013 DeltaWing will make its Canadian debut in sports car racing competition this weekend at the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. The unusual but innovative lightweight sports car will be piloted by Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge at this weekend's race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as one of three entrants in the P1 class.

Also competing in the P1 class will be Toronto driver Tony Burgess. Piloting a Dyson Racing Mazda-Lola race car, Burgess will be part of Wednesday's RaceFest. A popular, young Canadian driver Kyle Marcelli will also be part of the pre-race event in Toronto. Piloting the #8 Prototype Challenge category car for BAR1 Motorsports, Marcelli is eagerly seeking his first class win at the only home stop for American Le Mans Series. Kyle Marcelli is teaming up with Vancouver driver Chris Cumming this weekend. In addition to Canada's greatest American Le Mans Series contenders, home country drivers from the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Challenge Canada and Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will be present at RaceFest.

Following the RaceFest festivities in the center of Toronto, competition at Canadian Tire Motorsport will run from July 18th through to the 21st.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Are the Days Numbered for Auto Racing on Streets of Toronto?

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

This year’s Honda Indy Toronto closed on a high note. Headlined by the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first doubleheader event on the streets of Toronto, we have seen two action-filled races where Scott Dixon came out on top with a $100,000 bonus for sweeping the weekend. The first standing starts in the IZOD INDYCAR Series on Sunday also provoked an extra tone of excitement for race fans. With the 2013 edition of the July weekend motorsport near-tradition is in the books, the future of the auto racing on the street course could be altered. Last renewed in early 2012 through to the 2014 season, there is a possibility that the same thundering roar of engines may not be produced by the waterfront location.



Originally called the Molson Indy, the most of North American open wheel racing has catered to established auto racing fans and won over so many others since 1986. Back then, the CNE grounds was a more bustling location for entertaining Canada’s largest city. The Toronto Blue Jays were still playing at a stadium on the land, the Canadian National Exhibition was larger and nearby Ontario Place provided all the reason for the area to be a go-to place for fun. For better or worse, the Blue Jays have long been playing at the Skydome (Rogers Centre) while Ontario Place is currently an unattended island. Despite this, one ongoing event has been held 26 times in 27 years has been a modern mainstay that has both noise to property lining Lake Shore Boulevard. Cancelled in 2008 due to the Champ Car series merging with the Indy Racing League, the race returned in 2009 through the intervention of a seven-time Toronto event winner Michael Andretti. Assuming the title Honda Indy Toronto, shaky Champ Car fields prior to 2009, a one-year absence and an economic downturn led to a less impressive spectator count for the race headlined by the IZOD INDYCAR Series. Crowds have been gradually returning to the race event (although real number to confirm this have not been released by the less-than helpful race promoters. attendees and television viewers of the 2013 Honda Indy observed near full grandstands within a crowded CNE grounds.


The Changing City


Toronto has been a city undergoing a major metamorphosis. Thanks to high property values, every parcel of land in the city is seen as the next condominium development or big box store location. Until a city council vote put the kibosh on the Toronto casino plan, the CNE grounds was being eyed as a location for a gambling-related resort area. This move would have undoubtedly prompted the immediate end of the Honda Indy Toronto (at least in its current location). Even Scott Dixon noted the high-rise development during the Sunday press conference after the 2013 Honda Indy. It is widely suspected redevelopment of the Ontario Place grounds could involve the addition of new condominiums or other buildings. Part of it is already stated to be reimagined as a giant green space that will still require the movement of heavy equipment in and out of the Ontario Place grounds. Construction that has gripped the city could cause a rethinking of the Honda Indy Toronto’s route.

With a 2017 target date set for Ontario Place refurbishing, part of the land is slated to be used for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Hosting one of the largest, international multi-sport gatherings behind the Olympics, the Pan Am Games will run July 10 through to the 26 (squarely within the Honda Indy Toronto‘s typical dates). Though the two events are significantly different, it could prove difficult to stretch City of Toronto resources for a pair of major sports. It is possible the Honda Indy Toronto and Pan Am Games will divide attention for three days (not including the pre-race activities).

Without an announcement for a contract extension, the Honda Indy Toronto may be faced with cancellation or relocation in 2015.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Where the Honda Indy Could be Held in 2015?

Throughout the running of the racing festival on the streets, closing down a stretch had not been popular for non-race fans. While many Toronto festivals involve street closures, the Honda Indy Toronto has been earning distaste for some since it causes traffic interruptions for multiple days consecutively. If the long-used CNE grounds would be unavailable, the IZOD IndyCar Series and other support series could presented near Toronto with two options involving no street closures.

The first future venue choice could be the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (traditionally known as Mosport). Serving as a venue for the USAC open wheel series four times from 1967 to 1978, recent development of the road course facilities around the 2.46-mile track has been underway. Along with hosting sports car racing and other national racing series, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will be hosting its first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race late this summer. Would the road course prove as welcoming to IZOD IndyCar fans as the street circuit in the heart of downtown Toronto?

From the oldest-operating track in Canada to what will be the newest, Canadian Motor Speedway under construction right now in Fort Erie is more than a one and a half hour drive from Toronto but have the potential of treating IZOD IndyCar fans to oval track racing on our home turf. The one-mile oval serving as the centerpiece of the project will host a grandstand capacity for 65,000 spectators. A 2.5-mile road course is also part of the Canadian Motor Speedway complex.



While the Honda Indy could be moved, there could be a strong likelihood the race may stay by the Toronto waterfront. It would be a shame the electric weekend of this year’s event would cease being a part of a Toronto summer.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

XSL Speed Reporter Exclusive: Mark Wilkins Looking for Hometown Success in Toronto

Photo Credit: Kia Motors

Besides the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto working as a showcase for IZOD IndyCar drivers James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani to compete for national pride, the historic weekend always involved Canadian drivers in an array of support series. Sometimes its the teenage protégé and other times the line-up contains Canada's finest driver who may not be recognized as household names. Toronto's Mark Wilkins adds his name to the Canadian contingent fighting to win on the popular street circuit.

For the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto weekend, he'll be a GTS class force in the wildly diverse and competitive Pirelli World Challenge sports/touring car championship. The Canadian's weapon of choice is a Kia Optima Turbo sedan for Kinetic-Kia Racing coincidentally painted red and white. With nine rounds completed in the class so far in the 2013 season heading into the streets of Toronto's Acura Sports Car Challenge, Mark Wilkins resides second in the overall GTS standings. Describing his race car, Wilkins expressed, "The Kia Optima Turbo is a really fun car to race. Given that it is a high horsepower front wheel drive car, it certainly drives a fair bit differently than the open wheel and other sports cars that I have driven."

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

A highlight of this season was a race victory just across the border in Detroit. Contending against V-8 powered machines, Mark Wilkins and his team has been nothing less than impressive heading into the Honda Indy Toronto event. "In the GTS class, we race all sorts of different makes with completely different set ups. With our car, we do the lion share of the work with the front tires where many of our competitors have either front engine rear drive setups or mid engine rear drive setups. We have to manage the front tires on our car where our competitors would be focused on managing the rears. In the end, all of the cars are really closely matched and we have some epic on track battles." said Wilkins driving his first full season with the Kia Optima race car. He joined the Kinetic-Kia Racing team in 2012 at the Leguna Seca round.

For over a dozen years, Wilkins has compiled a rich resume of open wheel and sports car racing pursuits. Starting his professional career with the Canadian Formula Ford Championship, he spent five seasons across several Canadian and North American open wheel driving tours including the Star Mazda series (Now called the Pro Mazda Championship). During the 2005 season in Star Mazda, Mark Wilkins was in competition with future superstars James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. In fact, with AIM Autosport backing, he was a teammate with the younger Hinchcliffe in the series. "2005 was one of the most challenging years of racing for me. The talent pool in Star Mazda that year was incredible. I certainly learned a lot of race craft from racing with James, Marco and Graham. It was one of those years where you really had to push yourself to find the last tenth every weekend. We certainly had some great battles that year!" A pair of fourth place finishes were highlights to his 2005 season.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

The time in Star Mazda would come ahead of a transitional period in his career where his racing focus turned to sports car racing. With AIM Autosport's Daytona Prototype effort in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Wilkins would be part of two wins in 2008 including an ultra-close victory in Montreal. In 2010, Mark Wilkins paired with the Level 5 Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series Prototype Challenge class in 2010. Wilkins and team won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the Leguna Seca event. Two years later, he would add a Petit Le Mans victory to his resume driving for Core Autosport. "I love sports car racing so my heart is certainly in that space.. So many great cars these days." said Mark Wilkins. At this years Rolex 24 at Daytona, he participated with the AIM Autosport team once again to drive a Ferrari 458 Italia. "I never thought I would get the opportunity to race a Ferrari let alone drive the road cars! To finish on the podium at Daytona with Ferrari was an incredible experience."

Experiencing good times at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) near to Toronto, Wilkins presence on the street course along Lake Ontario has been limited by the fact he had only raced once at the street course. Having raced on the circuit nine years ago in a North American Formula Renault Championship race, he was taken out while leading. Wilkins is ecstatic about visit to his homeland with the competitive Kia Optima. "I love home races! I spend so much time racing south of the border that when we get the chance to race at home it is just a surreal experience.. I have lots of friends and family coming out to support me which is really nice as well. The fans in Toronto are really enthusiastic so it should really be an electric weekend!" said Wilkins.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Racing on Sunday at the Acura Sports Car Challenge race in Toronto, Mark Wilkens is pleased with his GTS class season in the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge championship so far and remains motivated for more . "This has been a great season thus far for Kia Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. With 4 podiums to date and a win in Detroit, we have certainly showed that the Optima Turbo is a top contender. My goal at the start of the season was to finish every race and focus on a championship run. As we roll into Toronto second in the points and after a solid run of finishes, I'm anxious to keep the momentum going this weekend."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rising Canadian Star Di Leo On Track with Praga for Toronto Indy Lights Race

Photo Credit: Praga

Firestone Indy Lights is a storied right of passage for many famous racers including over the years including Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Greg Moore. More recently, Canadian racing superstar James Hinchcliffe was a graduate of two seasons in the ladder series prior to his IZOD IndyCar Series success. Matthew Di Leo wants to be the next racing Canuck to earn his way into the top levels of motorsport.

The 4th place finisher last year in the Cooper Tire USF2000 Powered by Mazda, Di Leo fought against several well-supported organizations with his own team MDL Racing. At 18-years old, the Canadian has already shown the passion, ambition and talent to aspire to much more in motorsports. During the upcoming Honda Indy Toronto race weekend, the driver wants to make his next significant racing stand on home turf. Thanks to a Czech Republic company, the MDL Racing entry has the opportunity to figure prominently in the Firestone Indy Lights competition.

Matthew Di Leo's support for the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto event will come from Praga Racing Holding. A diverse collection of motorsport companies providing everything from young driver training to professional race vehicles, a Praga racing chassis was part of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Praga Director of Media Relations Krystle Carrara stated, "Matthew was one of the first drivers to race on Praga in North America, and he supported and promoted the brand from its inception, so we are happy to return the favor in this collaboration with MDL Racing,". In addition to sponsoring Matthew Di Leo, Praga will have a display of their kart chassis at the 2013 Honda Indy.

Starting in ninth place (second-to-last on the grid), Di Leo not only survived his first Firestone Indy Lights race at Long Beach but held on for a strong opening effort. Placing fifth, the Innisfil, Ontario driver is bracing to put on a meaningful demonstration of his talent with the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend.

Matthew Di Leo will race July 13th in the eighth round of the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 NASCAR Nationwide Road America Entry List

Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series
Johnsonville Sausage "200" Presented by Menards
Road America
Entry List

  1. 00 Blake Koch Melissa Sciavicco Kevin Eagle 13 Toyota TBA
  2. 01 Mike Wallace Johnny Davis Dave Fuge 13 Chevrolet GK Services
  3. 2 Brian Scott Richard Childress Phil Gould 13 Chevrolet Charter
  4. 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Danny Stockman Jr 13 Chevrolet AdvoCare
  5. 4 Landon Cassill Gene Vess Dave Smith 13 Chevrolet FlexSeal
  6. 5 Johnny O'Connell Rick Hendrick Mike Bumgarner 13 Chevrolet
  7. 6 Trevor Bayne Jack Roush Michael Kelley 13 Ford Valvoline NextGen
  8. 7 Regan Smith Kelley Earnhardt-Miller Greg Ives 13 Chevrolet
  9. 10 Jeff Green Mark Smith Todd Myers 13 Toyota TriStar Motorsports
  10. 11 Elliott Sadler J D Gibbs Chris Gayle 13 Toyota OneMain Financial
  11. 12 Sam Hornish Jr Roger Penske Greg Erwin 13 Ford Snap-On
  12. 14 Eric McClure Mark Smith Todd Myers 13 Toyota Hefty / Reynolds
  13. 15 Carl Long Rick Ware TBA 13 Ford RWR
  14. 16 Billy Johnson Jack Roush Seth Barbour 13 Ford Ford Ecoboost
  15. 18 Michael McDowell Joe Gibbs Matthew Lucas 13 Toyota K-Love
  16. 19 Mike Bliss Mark Smith Paul Clapprood 13 Toyota TriStar Motorsports
  17. 20 Brian Vickers Joe Gibbs Kevin Kidd 13 Toyota Dollar General
  18. 21 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Shane Wilson 13 Chevrolet South Point
  19. 22 A J Allmendinger Roger Penske Jeremy Bullins 13 Ford Discount Tire
  20. 23 Stanton Barrett Robert Richardson Sr George Church 13 Ford Rick Ware Racing
  21. 24 Derek White Jason Sciavicco Chris Wright 13 Toyota VIP Poker
  22. 26 John Young John Young TBA 12 Dodge CMP, Inc.
  23. 30 Nelson Piquet Jr Harry Scott Jr Chris Carrier 13 Chevrolet Qualcomm
  24. 31 Justin Allgaier Steve Turner Scott Zipadelli 13 Chevrolet Brandt
  25. 32 Kyle Larson Harry Scott Jr Trent Owens 13 Chevrolet Cottonelle
  26. 33 Max Papis Richard Childress Ernie Cope 13 Chevrolet Menards/Rheem
  27. 34 James Buescher Harry Scott Jr Michael Shelton 13 Chevrolet Wolfpack Energy Services
  28. 40 Reed Sorenson Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 13 Chevrolet
  29. 42 T J Bell Curtis Key Sr Curtis Key Sr 13 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing
  30. 43 Michael Annett Richard Petty Philippe Lopez 13 Ford Flying J Travel Plaza
  31. 44 Cole Whitt Mark Smith Randy Cox 13 Toyota TriStar Motorsports
  32. 51 Jeremy Clements Tony Clements Ricky Pearson 13 Chevrolet TBD
  33. 52 TBA Jimmy Means Tim Brown 12 Chevrolet TBA
  34. 53 Andrew Ranger Robert Torriere Zach D'ambra 12 Dodge WM Bagster
  35. 54 Owen Kelly J D Gibbs Adam Stevens 13 Toyota Monster Energy
  36. 59 Kyle Kelley Bob Kelley Robert Rucker 12 Chevrolet Jamison Eng./ Class Auto Body
  37. 60 Travis Pastrana Jack Roush Chad Norris 13 Ford Roush Fenway Racing
  38. 70 Tony Raines Mary Louise Miller Jay Robinson 13 Chevrolet TBA
  39. 74 Mike Harmon Mike Harmon Gregg Mixon 12 Chevrolet TBA
  40. 75 Kenny Habul Kenny Habul Bryan Berry 13 Toyota SunEnergy1
  41. 77 Parker Kligerman Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 13 Toyota TOYOTA
  42. 79 Jeffrey Earnhardt Archie St Hilaire Mark Durgin 13 Ford Oath Keepers
  43. 87 Kyle Kelley Andrea Nemechek Steven Gray 13 Toyota Jamison Engineering/
  44. 89 Morgan Shepherd Morgan Shepherd Mike Malamphy 12 Chevrolet Hyland's Leg Cramps
  45. 92 Dexter Stacey Kristin Hamelin George Ingram 13 Ford Maddie's Place
  46. 99 Alex Bowman Robby Benton Chris Rice 13 Toyota Safety First

Sunday, June 16, 2013

NCATS: Shepherd Leads Young Gun Uprising at Delaware

Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR

In past seasons of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, efforts of D.J. Kennington and Scott Steckly have been a dominate duel that has made Canada's most popular stock car racing a rather predictable sport. The premiere of the 2013 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series on the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park road course brought an optimistic belief that a new season will foster more parity throughout the race grid. With the opening race serving as a stage L.P. (Louis-Philippe) Dumoulin's first series win, would the short half-mile oval of Delaware Speedway produce another new face in victory lane?

After a dismal start to his 2013 campaign with a DNF at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Scott Steckly returned to the form of a two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion by taking pole for the EMCO 200. The #22 Dodge of Steckly was joined on the front row by D.J. Kennington's #17 Dodge Challenger. Steven Matthews, Pete Shepherd III and J.R. Fitzpatrick rounded out the top-five qualifiers for the 200-lap Saturday early evening feature.

Right off the bat, Scott Steckly was a man on a mission at Delaware Speedway. From the pole position, Steckly's #22 car led the initial 70 laps of the EMCO 200. With the seasoned driver hunting for a first win in 2013, the winner of the NASCAR Canadian Tire season opener found problems after a handful of laps. L.P. Dumoulin pitted to the attention of his crew on lap 8 requiring an extended stay. Dumoulin would return to the race in his #47 Dodge but finished 40 laps down. Along with the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race winner, that race's runner-up also found misfortune at Delaware Speedway. Fighting near the front easily, Jeff Lapcevich suffered a flat tire on lap 58 losing three laps he'll never recover.

The EMCO 200's first caution came out on lap 18 with a multi-car wreck involving Ryley Seibert's #09 car, the #28 of Dave Connelly and the #69 of Trevor Seibert. Overall, six caution periods lasting 46 laps accompanied the running of the 200-lap race. However, despite the several cautions, only two cars in the field of 22 competitors would be classified as out of the race.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR

After a positive start, the EMCO 200 quickly took a turned badly for Scott Steckly. Less than halfway distance into the race, reports of smoke from the #22 Dodge was a prelude to a lengthy time spent behind the wall. Forced off the race track on lap 93 for repairs, Steckly would return on lap 162. Finishing 71 laps behind, the favoured championship contender starts his 2013 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series effort with two poor race results.

With Scott Steckly out of contention at Delaware Speedway, the fight at the front was maintained between D.J. Kennington, J.R. Fitzpatrick, Steven Matthews and Pete Shepherd III. On lap 150, the EMCO 200 was climatically decided with a drag race between Shepherd and Fitzpatrick. Prevailing in the fight was the #7 Dodge driven by Shepherd will preceded to lead the remaining 50 laps to win by 0.373 seconds over the #84 Chevrolet of Fitzpatrick.

Pete Shepherd III fourth career NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory, the win is the 26-year old's first since 2011.

Placing in the runner-up spot, J.R. Fitzpatrick fought with the only Chevrolet at the EMCO 200 field. Enjoying one of his strongest race efforts in his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series career, Steven Matthews started and finished third in his #15 Ford. The 23-old year Matthews wound up beating fellow top-five finishers D.J. Kennington and Martin Roy to the line.

2013 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
EMCO 200
Delaware Speedway
Race Results

PositionCar #DriverSponsor/ Car MakeLaps CompletedStatus
17Pete Shepherd, IIINational Exhaust/Diamond Material Dodge200Running
284J.R. FitzpatrickEquipment Express Chevrolet200Running
315Steve MathewsBill Mathews Motors Ford200Running
417D.J. KenningtonCastrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge200Running
590Martin RoyBatteries Expert/Gamache Dodge200Running
65Noel DowlerEMCO/Praxair/Safety Kleen Dodge200Running
756Larry JacksonSpeedy Auto Service/B&B Decal Dodge200Running
897Hugo VanniniVTI Motorsports Ford200Running
928Dave ConnellySchneider's/Metro Dodge200Running
1050Joey McColmEspar Dodge198Running
113Jason HathawaySnap-On Tools/Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge197Running
1276Jeff LapcevichTim Hortons Dodge197Running
1360Ron Beauchamp, Jr.Mopar/Exide/Pennzoil Dodge196Running
1421Jason WhiteBowers & Wilkins Dodge192Running
1529Ray Courtemanche Jr.La Cité De Mirabel Inc. Dodge191Running
1619Brad GrahamHolmar Plumbing Ford186Running
179Ryley Seibert *Lake Excavating/Marshall's Dodge179Running
1869Trevor SeibertLake Excavating/Emco Waterworks Dodge172Accident
1947L.P. DumoulinWeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge160Running
2039Alex Guenette *Motos Illimitées/DLGL Dodge157Accident
2122Scott StecklyCanadian Tire Dodge129Running
222Mark DilleyLeland/BDI/Dickies Ford66Running

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Has NASCAR Entered a ‘Fine’ Mess with Hamlin Penalty?

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images

When it comes to a national stock car organization, NASCAR is the only game in North America. At the top of the motorsport world in the United States (and closely residing at the top of the world), the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the destination where many drivers want to compete. Attracting large crowds and thereby big sponsorship dollars, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a sports venue that also gains considerable media attention. The sharp sixth-generation stock car design (known casually as the Gen 6) has been a major grab for attention as the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season began in Daytona.

Through decades, a number of charismatic drivers were credited for bringing personality to the sport. Supportive of the sport of NASCAR, there have been moments where drivers or other figures have vocalized displeasure for rules and circumstances. Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and in recent years Tony Stewart were some of the more memorable contributors to rich characters in NASCAR. Before becoming the 2002 NASCAR Cup Series champion (repeating the feat two times since), Stewart was known for candid remarks calling out tire supplier Goodyear and one infamous moment where is got into a confrontation with a photographer. Tony Stewart would also voice a grievance for NASCAR mandating head and neck support systems in 2001. While Stewart’s personality has cooled from its firey drive could be the result of being a series champion and, now a car owner, the overall attitude in the garage has been muffled by a more aggressive policing for what is said by members of the sport of NASCAR.

Since the start of the 2000s however, NASCAR is effective in self-promoting itself negotiating its television contracts and other broadcast. Wanting to make sure the sport of stock car racing receives the same creditability as other entrenched organization such as Major League Baseball or the National Football League, NASCAR has been playing a balancing act ensuring personalities will promote the sport but remain distinct. A few seasons ago, NASCAR promoted a “Have at it Boys!” mentality in the Sprint Cup Series signalling the sanctioning body wanted to encourage drivers to freely express their winning desire without fear of judgement over race confrontation. Limited mostly to “on-race day activity”, the policy would be contrasted by another set of rules that would oppose the nature of the “Have at it Boys!” cause. Since 2010, some reporters took notice at a process where NASCAR was fining drivers in a less-than public fashion for personal conduct matters. Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman were among some receiving so-called “secret fines” for actions NASCAR deemed negative to the sport. On Thursday, the “secret fine” has turned very publicized when NASCAR slammed the driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota Camry Denny Hamlin with a $25,000 penalty for comments made regarding the new race car specifications labelled under the “Gen 6 car”.

NASCAR Quotes believed to be linked to the NASCAR fine against Denny Hamlin were posted by in a SpeedTV article by Mike Hembree originating from last weekend‘s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. “I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation-Five (Car of Tomorrow) cars. This is more like what the Generation-Five was at the beginning. The teams hadn’t figured out how to get the aero balance right. Right now, you just run single-file, and you cannot get around the guy in front of you. You would have placed me in 20th-place with 30 (laps) to go, I would have stayed there. I wouldn't have moved up. It's just one of those things where track position is everything.”, was an excerpt of Hamlin’s comments. Denny Hamlin’s comments also decried the use of Goodyear tires he says are too hard to race comfortably at Phoenix International Raceway.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin‘s penalty in this young 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season results from Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the NASCAR Rulebook. A purposely-vague section in the rather mystic rulebook of the powerful sport, Section 12-1 had been used to penalize misbehaviour of drivers and other team members involved in the stock car racing organization. In a recently dramatic use in 2011, Section 12-1 gave the sanctioning body to park Kyle Busch for the fall NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup at Texas Motor Speedway.

This is the second known occasion where Hamlin has been hit with a penalty for remarks made around or about NASCAR. In 2010, Denny Hamlin was fined for apparently posting comments on Twitter questioning a debris caution during a Chicagoland Speedway NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Hamlin received a $50,000 on that occasion.

Issuing the recent fine, NASCAR called Denny Hamlin‘s comments as, “disparaging remarks about the on-track racing” in their media release. NASCAR suggested that the making opinions of the Gen 6 car public “denigrate the racing product.” Criticism by competitors was not always deemed a finable offence. Until the introduction of common vehicle measurements in 2003, disputes regarding race cars were part of weekly discussions on and off the track. Especially through the 1990s, it was commonplace for teams of certain manufacturers to publicly protest to being at an unfair advantage in comparison to another car make. With Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac race cars making up the NASCAR Cup Series garage, there was always an argument to add spoiler, remove spoiler or change some dimension to “level the playing field”. This lobbying created contentious fights whenever a driver or two of a single auto brand won. These battles over NASCAR Cup car rule changes were loud and very public. Ultimately, the basis of every NASCAR stock car created since (including the current Gen 6 vehicle) were forged from the extensive, never-ending complaints from drivers, teams and even fans tiring of any perceived inequality in the series.

In the 2007 season, the introduction of the so-called Car of Tomorrow (or COT) was inaugurated into NASCAR Sprint Cup competition with its own share of criticism. Winning the first race with the new spec stock car at the spring Bristol race, Kyle Busch said flatly the car “sucks”. Living up to its promise for being a step-up for safety over the previous race vehicle specifications, the COT’s target for reducing competition costs have not been realized or promises for improved racing. Visually, the COT cars appeared and behaved more like oversized golf carts than stock car vehicles. Perhaps thanks to open complaints about the COT race car, changes resulted such as the wildly unpopular rear wing giving way to a more conventional spoiler. In fact, the Gen 6 body styles were likely influenced heavily by the debate arising publicly about the COT.

Attempting to control the message of the sport by fining a driver, NASCAR’s choice to levy a fine against Denny Hamlin has largely backfired against the sanctioning body. A majority of NASCAR fans have even pledged support behind Denny Hamlin whether or not stood behind the driver in series. At the Las Vegas event this weekend, one fan in the garage area held a sign reading “Free Speech”. On message boards, resounding praise is behind Hamlin who has since Thursday announced he is appealing the penalty. As the “secret fines” are now readily known, fans also remember other moments where similar and more pointed comments were made without action from NASCAR.

Listening to driver interviews during the early part of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway round, it is clear the message has been crystal clear that NASCAR is suppressing such “disparaging” comments about anything negative. Attempts by some members of the media to test drivers’ opinions on the Gen 6 car has been answered like a pre-written statement calling track conditions and other variables as factors for race competition. Two retired stock car drivers who were known for ruffling feathers during their time as NASCAR stars, presented interesting comments. “I’m going to stand behind Denny on this one. Just because it’s NASCAR’s ball and their ballpark and they make the rules doesn’t necessarily mean that there can be censorship, and there appears to be a lot of censorship in this fine.,” said Kyle Petty in a SpeedTV-posted article supporting Hamlin. Well-known son of Richard Petty, Kyle in his time ran a black “protest car” following the Coca-Cola 600 race where he was penalized for rough driving. On the other side of the argument, 84-time Cup Series winner turned NASCAR on Fox personality Darrell Waltrip likened the NASCAR fine to penalties in other sports. On Twitter, Waltrip wrote, “other leagues fine coaches and players for complaining about officiating and league officials, why should NASCAR be any different?” Several tweets replied to Darrell Waltrip noting this Hamlin’s penalty was not a matter of deputing officiating but rather the equipment used to play the sport. Denny Hamlin’s comments compare to noting an under-inflated basketball or sloppy ice conditions at a hockey arena if the cooling equipment failed.

In regards to the Gen 6 car, it will probably be a mere matter of time when drivers, teams as well as the sanctioning body realize how to make the Chevrolet SS and Ford Fusion race cars a more exciting vehicle in competition. They look wonderful but even the fans are under-whelmed by the overall racing product for the moment with the Gen 6. True NASCAR fans understand that and have not seen Denny Hamlin’s comments as anything other than honesty confirming suspicions. Most people prefer an honest answer to “spin”. NASCAR’s attempt to control the message of the sport is an overreaction and sends a less than honourable statement on how they are overstepping bounds for healthy competition.

In this case in issuing a fine to Denny Hamlin, NASCAR could be the one guilty party for performing actions detrimental to stock car racing.