Leading into the season-opening Formula One race from Australia on March 27, SPEED asks each member of its F1 broadcast team – Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and grid reporter Will Buxton -- to weigh in with early predictions as to what will unfold on the race track in 2011. Buxton, from Great Britain, served as the GP2 press officer from 2004 to the end of the 2007 season, and was sole communications/media representative for 2006 and 2007 He has been covering single-seater racing (F1, GP2, F2 and F3) since 2002.
SPEED: What is the biggest storyline heading into the 2011 F1 season?
Buxton: Are we set for a season of Red Bull dominance? After taking both titles in 2010, Red Bull enters 2011 as the team to beat, and preseason testing has given us the firm impression that beating them is going to be one hell of a tall order. If the car is reliable, could it be unbeatable? And if it is, will team politics play out, or will Vettel and Webber go head to head, as they did last season?
Video: Mark Webber explains KERS & adjustable rear wing Red Bull driver Mark Webber explains KERS and the new adjustable rear wing on the 2011 Red Bull RB7 F1 car. The new regulations of the 2011 F1 season in animation.
Crutchlow loses fingertip in Qatar fall Cal Crutchlow suffered a nasty fall at the Losail Circuit on Monday night, leading to his left hand getting caught under the Tech 3 Yamaha machine in the process.
"The test certainly didn't end how I wanted and it is a real shame because we had made some changes to the balance of the bike that really helped my confidence with the front-end tonight," Crutchlow explained. "But I made a silly little mistake at Turn 10. I lost the rear and closed the throttle but then lost the front and I couldn't get my left hand out from underneath the handlebar.
"I've basically taken the tip off my left little finger and it is really sore now. I don't need surgery but it is obviously going to be uncomfortable this weekend for the race now."
Cosworth pleased with pre-season testing Cosworth’s F1 general manager Mark Gallagher says the company is happy with its performance during pre-season testing after the three Cosworth teams managed more than 11,700km of running in the four tests in Spain.
The engine supplier has supplied three different units to the three teams due to the differing programs being run over the winter, with Williams the only one of the three to currently make use of KERS and Hispania still using the older 2010 engine due to the fact that all of its pre-season running came with its 2010 car.
Remember when you could actually see the car numbers in F1?
FIA President Jean Todt is hoping to introduce more visible car numbers in a bid to improve the show for Formula 1 viewers, with the 65-year-old claiming it is currently too difficult to identify drivers when they are on-track. Most teams place the allocated numbers on top of the nose, or on the rear wing endplates of their cars, but Todt is eager to make regulation changes in the near future.
"It is very difficult to identify a driver in car," he told The Age. "I would like to see who is driving the car, from a long distance, and the number of the car."
"Like in NASCAR, a driver who is arriving in Formula 1, he gets a number. He would keep it for all of his career. You could identify a driver with a number. At the moment, you don't find the number, you don't find the name."
The FIA has released a Q&A with Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting, explaining the new rule changes for the upcoming season.
Q: The big news for the coming season is the moveable rear wing rule. If we have correctly understood, the system works in this way : There is an actuator to move the flap of the rear wing, this actuator is driven by each F1 driver and it is under the authority of race control. How is race control regulating this procedure?
There is an actuator in each wing which is under the control of the driver at all times, however, it can only be used when the on-board electronics (FIA ECU) notify the driver that he is authorized to use it. Proximity to the car in front will be detected before the straight on which the wing may be activated, if the car behind is less than one second behind (as judged by the installed timing loops in the track) the driver will be told that his system is "armed", however, he may only use it when he reaches the designated point on the following straight. This point is likely to be 600 meters before the braking point for the following corner, this may however be adjusted according data gathered during testing and practice.
Day 2 notebook from Barber IndyCar testing Watching the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park stirred memories for Felipe Giaffone, though he's content being on the other side of pit wall.
Giaffone has been renewing acquaintances and making new ones this week in his capacity as an analyst for Rede Bandeirantes' (Band TV) coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series races. The Brazilian network, founded in 1967, will broadcast all races live from the venues this season, broadening its commitment.
"Band is very excited about INDYCAR and they're putting a lot of money and more effort into the broadcasts," said Giaffone, who will work with Luciano do Valle in the booth. "Contributing to the broadcasts comes easy for me, and I pretty much know what's happening even though it's been awhile since I've been in the car. I've talked to a lot of people already so I feel prepared."
Tristan Vautier Fastest Again in Star Mazda Day 2 at Barber
After an all-night rainstorm that thoroughly scoured the 17-turn, 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park track, it was again French racer Tristan Vautier who set the pace in Day 2 of Star Mazda Championship testing at IndyCar 'spring training,' - first on the wet track of the morning session and later on the dry and fast track that saw lap times dropping like a stone throughout the rest of the day.
His 120.397 (102.989 mph) lap in the #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda came on the 10th of 13 laps turned in the 30-minute final session. This is the first time the Star Mazda Championship cars have visited Barber Motorsports Park and his time represents an unofficial lap record – unofficial since in Star Mazda lap records can only be set in qualifying or the race. It is, however, a useful indicator, and a target for other drivers to shoot at in Wednesday's final 1-hour session… and during the race on the April 10.
Sixty-seven winning Indy 500 cars featured in display at IMS Museum The largest collection of Indianapolis 500-winning cars ever assembled will open to the public Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, with special added attractions for fans.
The exhibit, which will be on display through June 1, will provide fans an opportunity to see 67 winning cars, representing 71 Indianapolis 500 victories.
As a special start to the exhibit, many legendary Indianapolis 500 winners will sign autographs and meet fans from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, March 20 at the Museum. Drivers schedule to attend include four-time winner Rick Mears, three-time winner Bobby Unser, two-time winners Al Unser Jr. and Arie Luyendyk and 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran.
Lap times lowered on second day of test James Hinchcliffe continued to impress on the second day of the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Driving the No. 06 Newman/Haas Racing car on the 2.38-mile course, Hinchcliffe checked in fourth on the time sheet during the late morning session with a quick lap of 1 minute, 13.045 seconds. The Team Penske trio of Will Power (1:11.964), Ryan Briscoe (1:12.503) and Helio Castroneves (1:12.676) topped the chart.
Power was the quickest driver on the first day (two sessions; total five hours) with a lap of 1:12.5056 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske entry.
Conway looks impressive at BarberUPDATE CORRECTION: Conway is not in Danica's back up car. Pictured below is Conway’s road course car for the season, and Go Daddy will be primary on Conway’s car (separate from the Go Daddy primary sponsorship of Patrick) for at least a few races starting with St. Pete.
03/15/11 He may not have turned the day's fastest lap, but one really cool thing was watching Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway (driving Danica Patrick's backup car) crest the hill on the entry to turn 14. That is a very fast approach with a braking zone and turn-in just as you crest a hill.
He would come in there time and time again in a full 4 wheel drift, basically scrubbing speed sideways and pitching the car with the throttle. A couple times he hit the curbing there (not really a curb...just stripes) with opposite lock. It's so tough to see in an IndyCar because the wheel movement is so small.
But he was the only one taking that turn that way, and his turn-in was different from everyone else. It was really obvious that he was faster in that section that anyone else. It was visibly obvious.
Interview with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice President
What happened in Japan is devastating, and we are all hoping that the rec
What is the situation for HRC - how will this disaster effect the racing activities this coming year?
For sure the situation is very difficult in Japan, and our thoughts are with all the people directly involved. As HRC, we have been lucky with no big problems, even if now it is difficult to work at our head office - we can work only five hours per day due to the power restrictions put in place. Also access to the office is very difficult - the main train cannot reach Asakadai station - the closest to our office, and it is very complicated to reach work with only 50% of trains operating. Because of this situation many people try to come by car, but now the traffic is incredibly heavy and is taking up to 3 hours to reach HRC, instead of only 1 and it's hard to get petrol as petrol stations are closed. Another problem is related to our suppliers. Many of them cannot work at the moment, and this is a potential problem for the racing activities in the coming weeks. So far we have all spare parts we need for Qatar and Jerez races, but after that, if the situation will not change, we will have to manage this carefully. Anyway, everybody in Japan is trying their best to fix the situation and we hope all together we will solve all problem as soon as possible.
Perez progress hailed by team Sauber technical director James Key says the team’s rookie driver Sergio Perez has already made “enormous progress” since the start of preseason testing.
Perez, who only turned 21 in December, hadn’t previously driven a Formula 1 car prior to the end-of-season tests in Abu Dhabi last November and goes into his debut grand prix weekend in Australia next week with just eight days of preseason in the Sauber C30 behind him.
Despite his inexperience at motorsport’s top level, Key has nevertheless been impressed with the Mexican’s progress during the last month and a half on track.
“Sergio has developed very well over the past four tests,” Key said.
“Looking at where he started at the Valencia test in early February and where we are now after only six weeks, he has made enormous progress.
Max Lagod dies Sports Car Club of America champion driver Maxwell “Max” Lagod died on March 12, following a battle with lymphoma. He was just 41.
Known in SCCA circles as “Mad Max,” Lagod was a two-time SCCA national champion in GT-1 (1996-97), and he recorded 75 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series starts. Spending most of his Trans-Am career in an era of Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge factory-backed teams, Lagod and his father, Jerry, fielded their own privateer effort, first with a Chevrolet Camaro and later with a Corvette.
License mix-up thwarts Aussie's USF2000 plan Australian Daniel Erickson won’t be a starter in this week’s opening rounds of the USF2000 National Series at Sebring, and is unlikely to contest the series at all, following a problem arranging his American racing license.
“There was a misunderstanding about the USF2000 license requirements, which are aligned with the Indy Car rules and therefore different from the F2000 Championship Series that I contested last year.” a disappointed Erickson said.
USA deep freeze forces Aussie to switch F2000 series Australian Nathan Morcom has switched from the USF2000 National Championship to the rival F2000 Championship Series – due to the weather, of all things!
The extraordinarily cold USA winter literally froze the pre-season testing plans of Primus Racing, for whom the 18 year-old Sydney driver will race this year.
“The snow has been so heavy in Ohio, where Primus Racing is based, that it was almost impossible to get around,” Morcom explained.
Video: Katherine Legge Answers Fan Questions from her Website In the first of a continuing segment on her website, Katherine Legge answers questions from her fans via video. In 2005, Legge competed in the Toyota Atlantic Championship with Polestar Motor Racing. She won the series opener at Long Beach in her first career Toyota Atlantic start. In doing so, she became the first woman to win a developmental open-wheel race in North America. Legge went on to win her second and third races of the season at Edmonton and San Jose. She finished the season 3rd in the championship with three wins and five podiums. She also received the Toyota Atlantic BBS Rising Star 2005 Award.
Vautier Quickest on Day 1 of Star Mazda Spring Training French racer Tristan Vautier, who scored two wins and finished 5th in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, set the pace in the first day of pre-season testing for the 2011 Star Mazda Championship at the IndyCar 'Spring Training' event at Barber Motorsports Park today.
Driving the #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda, Vautier turned a lap of 1:20.831 (102.436 mph) on Lap 29 of the 45 minute morning session. This is the first time the Star Mazda Championship cars have run on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park track, so his time stands – until tomorrow morning – as the unofficial lap record (official lap records in Star Mazda are recorded only in qualifying or the race).
IndyCar Cuts Online Races In an unexpected and unwelcome announcement on the IndyCar.com website on March 11, the series announced that it would no longer offer live online streaming of practice, qualifying and racing.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told Speedtv.com, "I understand their goal here, and it's to drive more people to watch the broadcasts on television—to get the ratings up. That's everyone's goal."
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is out to boost TV and tickets
Randy Bernard is bound and determined to boost the IZOD IndyCar Series' TV ratings and put fans in seats even if it costs $5 million.
The series is offering a $5 million prize to any non-Indy driver who enters and wins the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The idea is to show that Indy drivers are the best in the world but the real purpose, IndyCar's CEO said, is to stir up more interest in America's premier open-wheel series.
The idea has been criticized by Indy figures like driver Paul Tracy, who is looking for a ride and suggested that the $5 million could be better spent.
IndyCar Notebook - Day 1 at Barber testing Selected quotes from Chip Ganassi's media availability:
"You have to remember that motorsports is one of those businesses that as great a year that 2010 was, and it was an unbelievable year and one that any car owner dreams about, that was last year and this is this year. It's a zero-based game. We're starting back at zero and the points are all tied for all the championships. It's a new year and no one is going to forget about last year faster than our competitors that want to beat us. It's going to be a lot of hard work and to accomplish anything close to what we did last year, but that's why we are back here. That's the kind of challenge that we like and what attracts us to the sport, the challenge."
Winter testing ends with Repsol Honda Team 1-2 finish The Official Winter Tests came to a close today at the Losail circuit in Qatar after a sandstorm blew through the circuit hours before testing commenced.
Once the winds had settled, the riders took to the track and conditions started to improve. Casey Stoner continued his program from yesterday and found the ideal rider position on his RC212V, the remainder of the session was spent alternating between the softer and harder compound tires. Stoner topped the timing sheets for the final day of testing with a time of 1'55.681 which he set on lap 40 of 46.
Pedrosa finishing second for the evening with a time of 1'55.745, he tested the 2011 front fork and also completed a half-race distance run of 10 laps - testing the softer compound tire and finished the session working on set-up ahead of this weekends season opening Grand Prix. Andrea Dovizioso made a race simulation and continued set-up work to be in the best possible shape for the coming weekend.
The highlights of Simon Pagenaud's 2011 campaign will be the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Spa-Francorchamps 1,000km, the Indy 500, the Le Mans 24 hours and IndyCar's Las Vegas finale. It was near his home town, Châtellerault, that the Frenchman chose to announce his exciting plans for the year after contesting the Rallye National de la Vienne, the first rally of his career.
Endurance racing On top of that, he has also re-signed with Highcroft Racing, with whom he won the 2010 ALMS title.
Simona de Silvestro Shines in Tests at Texas and Sebring
Simona de Silvestro
No longer a rookie, Simona de Silvestro had two successful tests in preparation for the 2011 season with HVM Racing.
De Silvestro enters her sophomore season with a positive outlook, a new title sponsor and a new car. Entergy Nuclear has partnered with HVM Racing in a multi-year agreement aimed at raising awareness about Nuclear Clean Air Energy and the career opportunities within the industry.
The #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car had its maiden 'shake down' run and completed almost 200 miles during the first test at Texas Motor Speedway. De Silvestro's crew worked cohesively, making the appropriate changes, and at the end of the day, the team was faster than their 2010 qualifying time at Texas Motor Speedway.
Conquest Racing is excited to announce the signing of Sebastian Saavedra as the driver of its #34 Honda-powered Dallara for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Saavedra made quite an impression on Conquest Racing in the short time he has spent with the team. The Colombian made his first start with the Indianapolis-based squad in the 2010 season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jump starting the 2011 season, Saavedra took to the cockpit of the Conquest machine last week for what was a successful test at Sebring International Raceway.
Ware Racing crewmen involved in wreck, one killed NASCAR's Rick Ware Racing (RWR) this morning is mourning devastating news after returning home from their NCWTS event at Darlington this past Saturday March 12th, 2011. Dean Shaut and Stephen Masch began assisting RWR this season on the Nationwide and Truck teams as independent contractors were involved in a fatal crash on Friday night March 11th, 2011. The driver of the Toyota Tundra truck Dean Shaut, lost control of his vehicle while driving on Ball Park Road in Thomasville, NC and was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger Stephen Masch was airlifted to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC with spinal cord and head injuries. "All of us at RWR are deeply saddened about the news and are suffering a great loss over this tragic accident" stated team owner Rick Ware. "We can't express our condolences enough at a time like this to each of the families and words alone right now just don't express our thoughts enough".
Servia, Hinchcliffe test, Power fastest James Hinchcliffe and Oriol Servia combined for 74 laps of the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park course in their Newman/Haas Racing cars during the morning session of the two-day Open Test.
Hinchcliffe, the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship runner-up who's aiming to secure an IZOD IndyCar Series full-season ride, was second on the time chart with a quick lap of 1 minute, 12.89729 seconds (113.622 mph). Servia, who was on the sidelines last year and announced during media day that he would be in the No. 02 car full time this season, was ninth-quick (1:13.6016).
"We put on a new set of tires just before posting that lap," Hinchcliffe said as a matter of full disclosure. "I'm pleased that I was faster than the other rookies and overall it was a productive session."
Andretti to return to Indy 500 with Window World in Petty-Andretti entry
John and Michael Andretti and Richard Petty were on hand to make the announcement.
Andretti Autosport announced today it will join forces with co-entrant Richard Petty Motorsports and primary sponsor Window World, Inc., to field an entry for IndyCar veteran John Andretti in this year's 100 anniversary edition of the Indianapolis 500.
John, who has made 11 prior Indy 500 starts including last year's run for the Petty-Andretti combo, will drive the #43 Window World car with a traditional "Petty Blue" and "Day-Glo Red" color scheme. However, the livery featured on this year's entry was inspired by the 1982 race-winning car of Gordon Johncock and designed to commemorate that historic car.
Peugeot back out front at Sebring Peugeot picked up Monday where it left off last year with the fastest time in Monday’s opening test session for the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. One of the two new factory Peugeot 908s – driven by Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy – turned a best lap of 1:47.678 during the four-hour session in the lead-up to the opening round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n.
The 2011-spec 908s are making their racing debut this week, and Peugeot enters as the defending Sebring race-winner. Things were incredibly close though with the top six cars within 0.629 seconds. The first of Audi Sport Team Joest’s Audi R15 prototypes sat second at 1:48.025; that was the car of reigning Le Mans 24 Hours champions Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller.
Alex Wurz has promised to ask the members of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) to club together to help the survivors of last week’s catastrophic tsunami, which has left thousands dead in Japan and a trail of horrendous devastation in its wake.
A clutch of F1 stars have already expressed their sympathy and concern for the victims of the destructive force of nature that struck Japan last Friday, born out of an earthquake measuring a staggering 8.9 on the Richter scale and completely wiping out large areas of the country’s coast as well as leading to dangerous explosions at a nuclear power station.
(L to R) Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett
Leading into the season-opening Formula One race from Australia on March 27, SPEED asks each member of its F1 broadcast team – Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and Will Buxton -- to weigh in with early predictions as to what will unfold on the race track in 2011. Matchett, a winner of the prestigious F1 Constructors’ Championship in 1995 as a mechanic with Benetton Renault and driver Michael Schumacher, gives SPEED viewers a true insider’s view to the complex technology behind Grand Prix racing. Matchett, 48, was born in England and now lives in France.
SPEED: What is the biggest storyline heading into the 2011 F1 season?
Matchett: I’d suggest the change of rubber, from Bridgestone to Pirelli, will be the biggest technical headline of 2011. Yes, we have the reintroduction of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the introduction of a movable rear wing but, to an extent, these are concepts the engineers can familiarize themselves with away from the track. The tires, however, are entirely new: new constructions, new compounds, new characteristics. Tires must be run, on track, for the engineers (and drivers) to fully comprehend how they will affect car balance. Typically, the anticipated (well understood) tire is one of the fundamental elements of (yearly) car design: the teams design the car to allow both chassis and tire to work in synergy. This year, however, with Bridgestone pulling out and Pirelli coming in, the cars have been designed without any of that usual data being available.
Q: How has the preseason build up been for you? Rubens Barrichello: This is my second year with the team and we are in much better shape than we were this time last year. Everything has been prepared well and the team are doing a really good job getting everything ready in time for Melbourne.
Q: How does the FW33 compare to last year’s car? RB: I think we are better on performance than last year. The car is a different animal though so there is a different way of treating it, but I quite like it. How much faster it is, is very difficult to know, but the car feels better than last year’s to drive.
Q: What is your opinion about the tire degradation we are seeing? RB: It is difficult for everyone but it depends on the balance you have. It gets to a point where tire performance has completely gone and you can’t bring it back. You have to look after them but even then you wouldn’t realistically be able make them survive a whole race.
Track action for this week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring kicks off today as Highcroft Racing and a packed 56-car field launch preparations for the opening round of the American Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Highcroft and the rest of the field will enjoy two (2) four-hour testing sessions today from 8:00am to 12:00noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.
Today's session will the first chance to compare the brand new HPD ARX-01e against the opposition.
Simon Pagenaud will join the testing program with his teammates David Brabham and Marino Franchitti who drove in Saturday's shakedown session.
Krohn Racing Announces Sponsorship Joint Venture for 2011 ILMC Tracy W. Krohn, owner of Krohn Racing, announced a sponsorship joint venture today just as the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series season kicks off at Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida.
Next Generation Athletics, a start-up company better known as NXG, has joined Krohn Racing to travel the globe on the Ferrari 430 GT for the ILMC global series. NXG is an eco-friendly designer athletic wear line that promotes a healthy lifestyle and looking fashionable while you do. NXG’s President/CEO Eddie Compass IV had an idea to blur the line between fashion and athletics by changing the misnomer of having to go to the gym in torn shirts and old shorts. He has designed a line that uses the highest quality materials and unique color combinations that are fashion-forward. NXG is more than just a company, it is a culture. NXG is about leading a healthy lifestyle, being fashionable, staying up with the latest trends, being winners and never settling for less. These unique qualities and elements brought about the joint venture sponsorship with Krohn Racing.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda halt Japan output Japan's leading automakers are suspending production at their domestic plants on Monday as they assess the condition of their factories and parts suppliers after Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
They did not say when they would resume production.
Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. reported damage to more than a dozen plants and facilities, mostly in and around the hardest-hit Tohoku region more than 200 miles north of Tokyo.
Japan's industrial heartland in the central part of Honshu island wasn't hit as hard, however, by the quake and wasn't struck by the tsunami that caused most of the devastation in the northeastern region and in parts of Hokkaido island, farther to the north.
Repsol Honda riders 1-2 in Day 1 at Qatar The MotoGP riders returned to the track today in Qatar for the first day of the final winter test before the start of the 2011 Championship.
Dani Pedrosa, and Casey Stoner topped the timesheets as both continued development work on the Honda RC212V, each focusing on specific attributes to their machine. Pedrosa finished the session with the fastest time of 1'56.271 which he set on lap 28 of 41, during the course of the evening he tested the 2011 suspension and worked on engine mapping settings.
Oris extends Williams sponsorship Williams has announced an extension to its long-standing partnership with watch maker Oris, eight years after the two companies first agreed terms. After first joining Williams as a sponsor in 2003, Oris has decided to further strengthen its deal with the Grove-based squad ahead of the upcoming season.
In an ‘upgraded’ deal, Oris will not only feature on the front wing endplates of both Williams cars, but also on the nose of the outfit’s newly-designed FW33. In addition, the brand will be featured on clothing worn by members of staff, as well as on the driver suits and helmets of Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado.
Kurt Busch Falters in NHRA DebutUPDATE #3 Kurt Busch's NHRA Pro Stock debut ended after one round on Sunday, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver lost to Erica Enders in the first round of eliminations in the 42nd annual NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.
Busch got off to a great start against Enders is what turned out to be the closest run of the opening round in Pro Stock, with Enders getting the win with a 6.538 at 211.69 mph over Busch's 6.541, 211.59.
03/12/11 Kurt Busch raced his way into his first career NHRA Pro Stock final round on Saturday, saving himself from an embarrassing DNQ in his Pro Stock debut.
Busch rebounded from his botched qualifying runs on Friday to post a 6.532 at 211.46 mph, enough to secure the 12th qualifying spot for Sunday's final eliminations, where he will face Pro Stock rookie Erica Enders in the first round.
03/12/11 Kurt Busch's NHRA Pro Stock debut didn't go quite the way he'd hoped, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup star still hopes to make the field for Sunday's 42nd annual NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.
Busch was all smiles after several "rookie mistakes" during his first two qualifying attempts on Friday resulting in him qualifying dead last among the 20 drivers trying to make the show for Sunday's finals.
"It was an interesting day to say the least," said the 2004 Sprint Cup champion.
As a NASCAR driver coming into the world of drag racing, Busch had figured he would face a steep learning curve, mentioning that he was prepared to eat some "humble pie".
He did way worse than that.
On Busch's first run, the car developed a tire shake which forced him to the shut the car down before it went 50 feet.
In his second run, he failed to move the car into the staging lane within the seven-second window, causing him to be "timed out" and his second attempt nullified.
"This is worse than humble pie," said Busch. "This has too much bitter in it because I'm the one making the mistakes. This is definitely one of those scenarios where things happen so fast, I've even messed up backing the car up. Things I thought I had under control, I thought we could be past that. I thought the humble pie would be we'd be running 6.56 and the rest of them ran a 6.49."
Busch's top speed from his first run - the only one that was actually scored - was clocked at a mere 36 mph. He later compounded his folly by cutting the turn off the track too sharply, nearing snagging his parachutes on the gate leading to the pits.
"Imagine that - a NASCAR guy turning the corner too fast," joke Busch.
Busch will get two more chances to get into the field during Saturday’s qualifying sessions, and he’s pretty confident they have pull all the mistakes behind them.
"We've gotten a lot of the little knicknacks out of the way today as far as rookie mistakes," said Busch. "Hopefully we'll get out there in the staging lanes on Saturday, take a deep breath and go after it.
"We had such an eventful day today, there's no way we can screw up tomorrow.”
Kurt Busch fizzles in his Dodge Pro Stock
Kurt Busch's much anticipated NHRA Pro Stock debut was less than stellar for the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.
Driving a Dodge Avenger prepared by legendary NHRA crew chief Alan Johnson, Busch's first qualifying attempts in the Pro Stock division at the 42nd annual NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway on Friday ended with Busch holding the 20th qualifying position - dead last among the 20 Pro Stock qualifiers.
In Friday's first qualifying round, Busch's Pro Stock car developed a tire shake right off the start, forcing Busch to shut it down before he cleared the Christmas tree, ending with a time of 18.334 seconds at 36.43 mph.
Hamilton says new McLaren not good enoughUPDATE Lewis Hamilton is adamant he is not "frustrated" despite McLaren clocking fewer miles with its 2011 car than their rivals. The MP4-26 has also been heavily criticized by those in the know with BBC commentator Martin Brundle labeling it a "mess" and saying that the car clearly has "a fundamental issue."
But despite all their issues, Hamilton is adamant McLaren can turn their fortunes around as the car is "not a disaster." We know we have a bit of a hill to climb, but we can do it. I don't like to use the word 'frustrating' because I'm not frustrated," said the Brit.
"It's tough on everyone in the team because everyone puts so much work into it, and you see it come out and look so beautiful, and it's not a disaster, it just doesn't have as much performance as we'd like at the moment. But it's a foundation that we can build on, and that's all that really matters.
Schumacher can stay beyond 2012 'with pleasure' - Haug (GMM) Mercedes has not ruled out extending its contract with Michael Schumacher. Currently, despite his disappointing return to F1 last year, the seven time world champion's deal is not set to expire until the end of next season.
But Norbert Haug, German marque Mercedes' competition director, admitted to Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he can imagine teaming up with the famous 42-year-old in 2013 as well.
"If Michael wants it and we can agree on a right price -- with pleasure," said Haug.
Nico Rosberg leads the way on wet final day Mercedes' Nico Rosberg finished on the top of the timesheets after a rain-soaked final day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya Saturday.
Only four teams - Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams - were still testing at the circuit and they were reluctant to head out in the waterlogged conditions early in the morning. By the checkered flag at 17:00 over 40mm of rain had fallen since Friday, with steady rainfall throughout the day.
Times improved in the afternoon as the cars completed more running, with Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton leading the way with their lap counts of 35 and 33 respectively. Rosberg's best time of 1:43.814 was set in the final ten minutes as the Mercedes, Williams and McLaren took to the track to try to squeeze the last few figures of data out of winter testing.
Highcroft Racing's new HPD ARX-01e hit the track at Sebring for the first time today in preparation for this week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Marino Franchitti and David Brabham were on site to sample the new LMP1 class racer - a development of last year's championship-winning LMP2 chassis but now featuring more horsepower, revised suspension, wider Michelin tires and a new aerodynamic configuration featuring considerably less drag.
Last year's LMP2 class Sebring polesitter Marino Franchitti was entrusted with initially shaking down the car - the team concentrating on systems checks before bringing the car up to speed.
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