F1-Hamilton BritishGP

Formula 1 Rolex British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Hamilton dominates while the Ferraris falter with tire failures

Sunday, July 16, 2017: After Lewis Hamilton won the pole by a margin of over half a second better than second-place Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari, every one in the partisan crowds at Silverstone expected him to win the race. But I doubt if anyone was expecting the dismal result from the Ferraris which saw Räikkönen finishing in third place behind the two Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel seventh after they both suffered failures to their left-front tires in the closing laps of the race.

In qualifying, Hamilton won the pole with Räikkönen alongside on the front row, Vettel was third fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was next but Daniel Ricciardo was starting from the back of the grid after he suffered a turbo failure at the start of the qualifying session.

A collision between the two Toro Rosso cars at the start brought out the Safety Car immediately. After that, the race settled into the order: Hamilton, Räikkönen, Verstappen (who had leaped into third at the start), and Vettel. Bottas had fallen back to seventh place on the start but he was able to start working his way forward. After the first round of pits stops, Bottas got up to second place behind Hamilton by virtue of delaying his pit stop until later. Even after his pit stop he only fell to fourth behind Hamilton, Räikkönen and Vettel.

But then the wheels fell off – almost literally – on lap 49 of the 51-lap race. Räikkönen’s left front tire lost pressure but he was able to get back around to the pits and get a replacement – only dropping to third behind the two Mercedes cars. It was much worse for Vettel. He had been running in a solid third place behind his teammate when his left-front tire went down and it destroyed itself as he slowly crawled his way back around to the pits. By the time he got a new tire and returned to the track, he had dropped to seventh place.

Going into this race, Vettel had a 20-point lead in the championship points standings over Hamilton. After the British Grand Prix, this margin had shrunk to a single point.

Verstappen had to be happy when, after so many failures to complete races earlier this year, he finished in fourth place here with Ricciardo in fifth and Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault sixth.

The two HAAS cars finished in 12th (Kevin Magnussen) and 13th (Romain Grosjean) while Lance Stroll, who qualified in 16th place, finished the race in the same position.

The next race is the Hungarian Grand Prix (Formula 1 Pirelli Magyar Nagydíj) at the Hungaroring on July 30.

WEC Porsche No2 Nurburgring

FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Nürburgring
Porsche scores a one-two win over the Toyotas

Sunday, July 16, 2017: In qualifying, the fastest car was the No. 7 Toyota of Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez ahead of the two Porsches but in the race, the Porsches prevailed to come home one-two nose-to-tail a mere 1.6 seconds apart. The race winner was the No. 2 car of Timo Bernhard/Earl Bamber/Brendon Hartley with the No. 1 car of Neel Jani/André Lotterer/Nick Tandy second. The No. 7 Toyota finished the six hours on the lead lap, albeit nearly a whole lap down.

At the start, the No. 8 Porsche of Sébastien Buemi/Anthony Davidson/Kazuki Nakajima fell to the back after they had to pit on the warm-up lap to repair the fuel pump. However, as the race went on, they were able to recover positions as they passed the cars in the slower classes and they took the checker in fourth place some five laps down on the race winner.

The No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA driven by Ho-Pin Tung/Oliver Jarvis/Thomas Laurent finished fifth overall and first in the LMP2 class.

The hotly contested LMGTE Pro class was won by the No. 51 Ferrari 488 driven by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi – followed by two Porsche 911 RSRs and an Aston Martin Vantage. The top-placed Ford GT was the No. 67 car driven by Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. This No. 67 Ford is still leading in the LMGTE championship points standings.

In LMGTE Am, the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Christian Ried/Matteo Cairoli/ Marvin Dienst won the class while the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage driven by Torontonian Paul Dalla Lana with help from Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda was third in class behind a Swiss-entered Ferrari 488.

The next WEC race is the 6 Hours of Mexico in Mexico City on September 3.

IndyCar Newgarden Penske

Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto
Newgarden wins again after he gets a lucky break

Sunday, July 16, 2017: After a first lap crash knocked two of the top runners out of contention, the race settled into a pattern with Helio Castroneves leading Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal that looked like it might hold to the end of the race. But a caution on lap 23 upset all that when Josef Newgarden, who had been running in fourth place, was able to stop before the pits closed and gain an advantage over the other front runners – an advantage he was able to convert into a race win – adding to his win here two years ago.

This caution was called after Tony Kanaan came out of the pits on cold tires and went straight on into the barriers.

After that, Newgarden was in command and he emerged as the leader again after the second round of pit stops under green. Alexander Rossi finished second ahead of local boy James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti – while Pagenaud was fifth, Castroneves eighth and Rahal sixth.

It seems fair that, in auto racing, the wins should go to the team with the best driver and the fastest car – and, of course, the best strategy – and, sometimes, the best luck. Looking at the three drivers who led in the first segment of the race, they may have been the best drivers in the best cars on this day but Newgarden’s fortuitous pit stop was a combination of a good call by Penske race strategist Tim Cindric who, in that brief interval between the incident which created the need for the caution and the actual deployment of the yellow flag – and the concurrent closing of pit lane, was able to call Newgarden into the pits for service, and luck in Newgarden having been placed in exactly the right spot on the track to take advantage of this opportunity.

If the drivers who had been leading before this early mid-race caution were upset, then they should curse their bad luck on being on the wrong place on the track when Kanaan crashed and on their inability to catch back up to Newgarden when the track went green again with over half the race left to run – while Newgarden led 58 of the race’s 85 laps after that.

The race got off to a bad start when, on the first lap, Will Power collided with Scott Dixon at the end of the long Lakeshore straight. They had both been front runners with a shot at winning the race, having started near the front of the grid. Dixon was able to continue after a couple of pit stops for repairs but he finished down in tenth place while Power’s car was too badly damaged for him to continue.

The race track this year was essentially the same configuration as it was last year after the pits were moved to the opposite side of the road to accommodate the placement of a new hotel whose footprint sits on the former pit lane. This created a serpentine pit road with a couple of corners – an unfortunate configuration. The worst problem though was the very bumpy front straight which was sending the cars bouncing up quite high into the air. This is not some weird kind of off-road racing contest – and these bumps on this showpiece circuit are simply unacceptable. Let’s hope that this stretch of the road in Exhibition Place is repaved and smooth for next year’s race here.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (located south of Cleveland) on July 30.


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Hamlin win one for Joe Gibbs

Sunday, July 16, 2017: For most of the race it looked like Martin Truex was set to score yet another win but a tire problem late in the race saw him pitting out of sequence and losing his advantage. After the final restart, Denny Hamlin passed both Truex and then-leader Matt Kenseth to take the lead – a lead he was to hold for the final 34 laps to the checker. This was the first win this year for a Joe Gibbs Toyota, the team which was so dominant last year.

Kyle Larson had won the pole but he was sent to the back of the field for the start after NASCAR found that the rear deck aero had been tampered with. But he still had that speed and, in the race, it wasn’t long before he was up into the top ten. After that he worked his way forward more slowly. He took that final restart in fourth but he was soon moving up again – and he was chasing Hamlin down in the closing laps, Unfortunately for Larson, the checker came out before he could pounce and he had to settle for second, half a second behind Hamlin.

Truex came home in third ahead of Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Dale Earnhardt had led for a few laps during that last caution because he did not pit – but that was of little value and he ended up finishing in 18th place.

Kyle Busch had looked like the one person – other than Larson – who might be able to challenge Truex’ dominance in this race. He led twice for a total of 95 laps but two separate penalties for speeding in pit road knocked him out of contention and he had to settle for a 12th-place finish. Busch has yet to win a race so far this year and under NASCAR’s winner-take-all rules for eligibility for the championship playoffs, Busch, despite his third place in the points standings behind Truex and Larson, might find himself excluded from the playoffs unless he manages to win one of seven remaining races between now and the start of the playoffs at Chicagoland, he may find himself left out of the elimination series.

The race was briefly red-flagged during the first stage intermission when the track surface began breaking up in the third turn. The holes were repaired using a quick-setting compound and racing resumed.

The next MENCS race is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23.

NHMS NXS Preece 071517

NASCAR XFINITY Series Overton's 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch wins yet another Xfinity race after a dominant Keselowski is penalized

Saturday, July 15, 2017: The result of the Xfinity race at NHMS was familiar – Kyle Busch was the race winner. This was his third win so far this year out of six starts and his sixth here at Loudon and the 89th win of his career, extending his series record.

Perhaps the big news of the day was the performance of local boy Ryan Preece who, driving the Joe Gibbs No. 20 car, finished second to Busch. Preece has been racing for some time and, last year, he started every Xfinity Series race but he finished in the top ten only once all year. This year he has taken a different tack. He has pooled all his funds to buy a ride in a Joe Gibbs car – the same as the ones Busch races – and he will enter only two races with this superior equipment – the other race will be at Iowa later this month. So far this strategy has paid off with a second-place finish here. Everyone took note of his remarkable performance and you have to think that the next time a team owner wonders who he might sign to drive his NASCAR car, he might just think of Preece. If you were to go back to the story of how Brad Keselowski broke into the top NASCAR series, you would find a similar story – after years of running in lesser series with family funding, he got a good one-off ride in the Busch series car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. – he won the race and the rest is history.

But there might have been a different result. That self-same Brad Keselowski had led the race for 102 laps until a pit road error saw him penalized when he came into the pits under green while leading the race ahead of Busch. Unfortunately, he was unable to park his car in its proper position and the gas man had trouble unhooking. When Keselowski roared out of the pits he carried the fuel can out of the pit stall, He was given a stop-and-go penalty and he dropped to sixth while Busch took over the lead and led the remaining 29 laps to the checker. Keselowski ended up in fifth place.

Young phenom William Byron, who is being tipped to take over Earnhardt’s Cup ride at the end of this season, was third, while Kyle Larson finished in fourth place.

The next Xfinity Series race is on July 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Pintys Toronto

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto
Another win for a dominant Lacroix in Toronto

Saturday, July 15, 2017: Kevin Lacroix was in command in Toronto. Once he took the lead on lap 7, he led the rest of the race’s 35 laps to take the checker by a 1.2-second margin over L.P. Dumoulin. Lacroix had won the week before at the ICAR circuit.

The race started with an immediate caution after Matthew Scannell crashed on the opening lap. On the restart, Alex Tagliani grabbed the lead from the polesitter Andrew Ranger but Ranger regained the lead on the next lap. That did not last long before Ranger came into the pits with big damage to the rear of his car. Then Tagliani was called into the pits as a penalty for bumping Ranger. All this left these two out of contention to win the race – while Lacroix took command of the race.

Now it was Marc-Antoine Camirand hounding Lacroix until he made a dive for the lead at the end of the Lakeshore straight – and he crashed out of the race. This left L.P. Dumoulin chasing Lacroix but he was unable to catch him.

John Andretti’s brother (and Michael’s cousin) Adam Andretti, who has been competing in the Trans-Am series, came up to run this Toronto race. He qualified fourth quickest but he was penalized for missing the drivers’ meeting and he had to start at the back of the field. He was able to work his way up through the field on this tight course and he finished in third place behind L.P. Dumoulin. Alex Labbe was fourth while J.F. Dumoulin was fifth.

This result sees Lacroix continuing to lead the championship points with 222 points, ahead of Labbe (209) and L.P. Dumoulin (192).

The next Pinty’s race is at the Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon on July 26.

Photo Credits

F1: Steve Etherington/Daimler AG
WEC: Marcel Langer/WEC
IndyCar: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
MENCS: Chris Trotman/Getty Images/NASCAR                                                                                            
NXS: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images/NASCAR
NASCAR Pinty’s: Matt Manor/NASCAR

Box Score Results                                                                                                                           

Results of F1 at British GP
Results of WEC at Nürburgring
Results of VICS at Toronto
Results of MENCS at NHMS
Results of NXS at NHMS
Results of NPS at Toronto