David Ragan, Brad Keselowski Race Into All Star Field David Ragan rallied from a early miscue on a restart to pass Brad Keselowski and earn himself a spot in the 27th NASCAR Sprint All Star race with a win in Saturday's 40-lap Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Keselowski held on for second, earning the second transfer spot into the All Star race. Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.
Pole Day news tidbits from Indy - Scott Dixon didn't mind a long press conference, as it meant he was missing an "interesting" meeting back in the Ganassi garage. Not only did Dario Franchitti run out of fuel after 3 1/2 laps, but Scott's car ran out entering turn 4 of his last lap. Dixon postulated that engine warm-ups during the day might've accounted for the missing fuel. Certainly it cost Dixon the pole, and probably cost Franchitti a spot on the front row.
- One wonders at the faded glory of Andretti Autosports. Not too long ago the team consisted of Bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon and were one of the "Big 3." Today, they face last-day qualification with 4 of their 5 team members, with their one-off car (driven by one-off driver John Andretti) being the only car qualified.
Schumacher extends record for Top Fuel No. 1 qualifiers Tony Schumacher extended his NHRA record for Top Fuel No. 1 qualifiers to 64 when he paced the field Saturday at the 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
The other No. 1 qualifiers at the seventh of 22 races in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock).
Schumacher, who also pulled to within two of NHRA Legend Kenny Bernstein for fifth place on NHRA’s all-time No. 1 qualifier’s list (all classes), set the pace (3.798 at a track record 324.12 mph) in the U.S. Army dragster on Friday and it held up Saturday.
Indy qualifications rain delay report The forecast rains have arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the first segment of qualifications have concluded. Should the track be get dried before 6 pm, the Fast Nine competition will be held, with each driver getting one chance at claiming the Pole award. This means that we might know the winner of the 2011 Pole Day competition until 7:00 pm, or even later.
Before the rain fell the crowd was thrilled with several big stories exhibiting bravery, the thrill of victory and potentially the agony of not making the show.
MonaVie to partner with Takuma Sato for Indy 500 KV Racing Technology – Lotus announced today that MonaVie has joined the team as primary partner of Takuma Sato’s No. 5 MonaVie – KV Racing Technology – Lotus car for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 the 100th anniversary of the event.
“I am very pleased to announce that MonaVie is joining our team,” said KVRT –Lotus General Manager Mark Johnson. “MonaVie is an outstanding company that has experience in motor racing particularly at the Indy 500. I want to thank Dallin Larsen, Henry Marsh and the entire MonaVie family for their belief in our team and their continued support of the IndyCar Series. We look forward to great success with MonaVie at the 2011 Indy 500.”
Mitch Evans scores maiden win for MW Arden A strong drive from rookie Mitch Evans gave MW Arden team their first GP3 Series victory in Barcelona.
Today, Mitch Evans showed exactly why team principal and Formula One driver Mark Webber has faith in the New Zealander’s talent: after snatching pole position in this morning’s qualifying session, the sixteen year old rookie held his own for lights-to-flag win and offered MW Arden their first GP3 Series win, in front of James Calado and Tech 1’s Aaro Vainio.
Evans held onto the lead at the front of the grid when the lights went out despite pressure from the charging Tech 1 Racing pair of Andrea Caldarelli and Vainio. While the duo was fighting, Lotus ART’s Calado seized the opportunity to pass them for second spot, as Vainio snatched third spot from his teammate.
1:30 update from Indy Today's Pole Day is unlike any other in recent history, perhaps ever. A condensed 2-day qualification schedule, combined with a constant threat of rain and the large car count, has made for an assembly-line process. There are no wave-off attempts today, no break in qualification attempts. The local weather forecasts have rain starting around 4:00 PM today, and continuing through tomorrow. This sets up the possibility of a second qualification attempt, or even more practice to find speed.
After all first-time attempts have been attempted, here are the Fast Nine:
Charles Pic took advantage of a fast pitstop to leapfrog from third to first in this afternoon's feature race in Barcelona, holding off a strong challenge in the second half of the race from teammate Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird to hang on for his first victory of the season.
Van der Garde and Bird held station at the front of the grid when the lights went out, with Pic and Romain Grosjean sliding in behind the pair as they charged through turn one, but behind them a fierce battle between Jules Bianchi and Luiz Razia saw the innocent Luca Filippi pushed into the wall on the front straight, destroying his car and drawing out the safety car as the Brazilian limped back to the pits for a new front wing.
Saturday morning update from Indy - 2 Pre-qualification practice is done for the 2011 Indy 500 Pole day. At the top of the charts:
Alex Tagliani, 228.184 Buddy Rice, 227.849 Will Power, 227.766 Scott Dixon, 227.642 Helio Castroneves, 227.396
The best stories, however, are at the bottom of today's speed charts. Or rather, the Scott Speed chart: Scott Speed posted a 41st-fastest time of 222.803. It is no secret that Scott hasn't found any comfort at Indy, and continues to struggle. If Scott fails to master Indy, he wouldn't be the first incredibly talented driver to take a few laps around Indy and call it quits -- Juan Manuel Fangio's 1958 attempt comes to mind.
Fortieth-fastest is Andretti Autosports member Mike Conway at 223.172. Barely faster are Marco and John Andretti -- 34th and 35th respectively. Ryan Hunter-Reay is 29th fastest. Danica is 14th-fastest, a full 3/10 of a second behind Tagliani. It is not inconceivable that two Andretti cars will miss this year’s show.
Q&A: Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway A transcript from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s session with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The popular driver discussed his season, running the Shootout and the fan vote, the upcoming race in Kentucky and much more.
YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN RUNNING WELL AND KNOCKED ON THE DOOR FOR VICTORY LANE A COUPLE OF TIMES, COMING INTO CHARLOTTE THIS WEEKEND WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET?
I’m just looking forward to getting on the track and working on the car a little bit mainly in preparation for next week’s race. This is a good opportunity to try some things and work on the car and try to give ourselves the best opportunity to maximize our performance next weekend.
Hopefully, we will hit on some things that will work and give us a successful weekend this weekend too. But again it’s just a great opportunity. We don’t have the ability to do a ton of testing, not as much as we use to several years ago so these opportunities you’ve got to really snatch them up and try to run through some things that’s been on your mind. Some of the race weekends aren’t a great opportunity to try those things.
De Silvestro cleared to drive in practice Simona de Silvestro has been cleared this morning to resume racing activities by INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger.
De Silvestro was treated May 19 at Methodist Hospital for second-degree burns on the back of her right hand and superficial burns on her left hand and fingertips suffered in a practice crash between Turns 3 and 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She was not medically cleared to drive May 20.
Saturday morning update from Indy - Briscoe crashes
Ryan Briscoe backed his car into the turn 2 in the first practice this morning. The hit was hard enough to knock the wind out of him, and rescue crews put him on the stretcher, but within minutes Briscoe was walking around and talking to the media. IMS medical staff cleared him to race. The car was damaged in the gearbox plus three corners.
Simona de Silvestro took out her backup car, which she calls "pork chop", at the beginning of the second practice. She posted a speed of 221.600
Mike Conway continues to struggle, only posting a time of 222.422.
The weather is much more humid and cooler than yesterday so far. Local weather forecasts predict thunderstorms starting sometime after 3:00 pm.
Firestone Shows Off a Century of Indy 500 Race Tires
Al Speyer shows off history of Firestone racing tires
No tire manufacturer can boast of the extensive and successful history that Firestone Racing has accumulated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Firestone tires have carried more Indianapolis 500 Mile Race drivers to victory than all other tire makers combined.
To help commemorate the centennial anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500, Firestone is showing off its unique IMS legacy at the Firestone display garage next to the entrance to Gasoline Alley. A group of replica race tires that span Firestone's history at the Brickyard are on exhibit for public view.
Photos: Heidfeld's burning Renault A hole in the exhaust that runs from the engine forward to the front of the sidepod underbody caused Nick Heidfeld's Renault F1 car to catch fire in Saturday morning's practice in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Q&A with the FIA’s Charlie Whiting On Friday in Barcelona, FIA race director Charlie Whiting held a rare press briefing in which he spoke on a variety of highly topical issues, including the legality of the latest blown diffusers, the use of DRS in Monaco, the decision to have two DRS zones in Canada and more. Below are highlights…
Q: Why does the FIA believe that the use of blown diffuser technology may be illegal when used with certain engine maps? Charlie Whiting: It became apparent to us, through examination of data, that what we thought was a fairly benign feature was turning into something that was being used, in our opinion, illegally. An exhaust system is there for the purpose of exhausting gasses from the engine and when you’re off-throttle, it isn’t doing that any more. Therefore it’s being used to influence the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. We think arguably, this infringes Article 3.15 of the technical regulations.
Beckman grabs the provisional pole at Summer Nationals in Topeka The hot streak continued for Jack Beckman, driver of the Aaron’s Dream Machine /Valvoline Dodge R/T Funny Car.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver captured the provisional pole today at Heartland Park Topeka, site of this weekend’s 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals, the seventh of 22 national events of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
“Fast Jack,” who came into the Topeka event with two wins in the last three races, rode his 8,000-horsepower Funny Car during the night session to a 4.054-second run at 313.66 miles per hour.
“We’re on a nice roll and we don’t want to lose our momentum,” said Beckman, who has a season round record of 12-4. “What I am most happy about is that we took advantage of really good conditions tonight and didn’t squander the opportunity.”
Raikkonen talks about Cup, may run Nationwide race soon
Kimi Raikkonen practicing on Friday
Kimi Raikkonen, who makes his NASCAR debut tonight in the Camping World Truck Series, spoke to the media Friday for the first time, indicating that he would like to run in Cup later this year and also hinting that if things go well tonight, he might drive a Nationwide car next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion, is driving for Kyle Busch's team tonight. Raikkonen made it through both practice sessions Friday morning without any major incidents (he did scrape the wall). He ranked 30th quickest among 36 drivers in the first practice session and was 30th among 37 drivers in the final truck practice session.
Raikkonen, who is slipping his NASCAR events in between rally races he's scheduled to do, said he wanted to come to NASCAR because "I want to try different things. I was interested to see how it is. I don't have any plans for next year in anything I do. If I completely suck, there's no reason to come back. Hopefully, it goes better than today.'' As for his NASCAR schedule this year, Raikkonen said: "I'm looking at this weekend and hopefully next weekend I'm here. Then after that, there's no real plans yet. Hopefully, I can get to run some Cup races that would be nice. There's not awful lot of planning. I'll try to do the best now and see what happens.'' Virginian Pilot
Felipe Massa simply out to lunch Felipe Massa said that Pirelli's new hard tire compound caused him 'lots of problems' during practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Massa was twice seen to lose the rear end of his car under braking, on one occasion running off through the gravel and almost in to the tire wall. With all of the teams trying to evaluate new upgrades during the two practice sessions, Massa said the issues with the tires had prevented him finding out the full potential of Ferrari's new parts.
"That wasn't an easy day for me. I had lots of problems getting the tires to work, especially the hard compound, and I didn't manage to put together a good time. That's a pity because the new parts that we've brought here have improved our performance, even though the other teams remain very strong: there's still a crucial gap to our main rivals. Now we must make the right choices to prepare as best we can for qualifying and the race."
Despite driver pleas, 500 will use double-file restarts Izod IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard is aware drivers are complaining about double-file restarts, but he reiterated Friday that the format will not change for the Indianapolis 500.
"As long as we keep that as a rule, they're not going to be satisfied," Bernard said of the drivers. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for (team owners) Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske. This was their idea. And this is racing.
"This is the rule that we implemented at the beginning of the season. It was no surprise to anybody, and we're going to continue with it."
NASCAR boss Brian France talks about 'Boys have at it'
Brian France talks to reporters Friday in Charlotte
Getty Images for NASCAR
BRIAN FRANCE:Thank you.I'll start out by saying many of you have come up to me and said through the years that you feel like the media sometimes gets a little short‑changed, doesn't quite get the treatment that you deserve.Looking at that TV and the screen out front, the new screen, you guys maybe right.That is quite a big screen, and quite a resolution.
On a serious note, we're almost not at the halfway point, but we're headed that way here at the All-star break.And obviously we got off to a fast start at Daytona with a young, dynamic winner and a great race.
This week, of course, today is NASCAR day, we're very proud of the money raised going to children ‑‑ mostly children who need it the most, and not to mention the moneys just granted to the tornado victims throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi and other parts of the industry having chipped into that.
Mitch Evans put in a storming lap to snatch pole position in a closely fought battle during qualifying at Circuit de Catalunya.
Andrea Caldarelli looked to have pole wrapped up for Tech 1 Racing early on in the session. The Italian went top of the time sheets, and the rest of the thirty strong field struggled to match his pace. Early on Lotus ART’s James Calado, Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Muller and Status Grand Prix’s Alexander Sims all challenged at the front but Caldarelli was sitting pretty.
Spanish GP: Vettel leads final practice in Barcelona
Sebastian Vettel is so good he only needs a single lap to put his car on top of the time charts and that was the case Saturday morning as the F1 cars completed final practice ahead of qualifying in Barcelona.
His car had problems early in the session and were fixed with a few minutes to go. Vettel went out and went straight to the top with a 1m21.707s on his only flying lap of the morning.
Until then, Vettel's teammate Mark Webber had been in total command.
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher led the way for a while and ended the session third - albeit a full 1.3s off Vettel's pace.
The McLarens were only fourth and fifth, ahead of Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Renault's Vitaly Petrov.
Indy 500 Friday Notebook Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Simona de Silvestro was evaluated this morning for the second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand and has not been cleared to drive. Further updates on her condition and driving status will be provided when available.
Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, began racing his Marmon "Wasp" through the nation's mail stream Friday, May 20 in the form of 50 million First-Class Mail Forever stamps to celebrate 100 years of racing at the iconic Indianapolis 500.
The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Fast Friday practice for the 100th Indianapolis 500.
Bernard again says he wants to expand IndyCar schedule Randy Bernard wants more IndyCar races in more places and more of the double-file restarts that have drawn some complaints this season. The series' CEO said Friday if it was up to him, the schedule would expand to 24 races, feature more international stops and return to Phoenix.
He acknowledged the series will consider putting a second race in Brazil and continues to look into the possibility of racing in China, perhaps as early as 2012.
And he'd like to get the series back to Phoenix, which hosted IndyCar races from 1996 through 2005.
But Bernard believes more international races should not come at the expense of the American races on this year's schedule. Instead, he'd like to expand the schedule.
"I think Phoenix would be a great market, and if I had my way, I'd go there the week before Daytona," he told the Associated Press.
De Silvestro says she's lucky to be alive Simona De Silvestro said she is "lucky" to have survived Thursday's fiery Indianapolis 500 crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that saw the nose of the HVM Racing car rip through the catch fence.
"I don't think a crash like that in any other car I would be standing here," she said Friday. "When I got out of the car I couldn't believe it because it was so crazy being along for the ride and being on fire again (she was burned last year at Texas Motor Speedway).
"I was pretty shocked, but it was nice to be standing. I don't think I was a good patient in the infield medical center because I was in a lot of pain and I was screaming for water to cool my hands down."
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