N News & Results

Race Weekend Review: May 20, 2018

Indy pole 18 05 20 eVerizon IndyCar Qualifications for the Indianapolis 500, May 20/18: Ed Carpenter leaves the pits on his way to winning the pole (Credit: Walt Kuhn/IndyCar)

IndyCar Indianapolis 500 Qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Carpenter wins his third pole; Hinchcliffe Bumped

Indianapolis, IN, May 20, 2018 (GRW): When the dust had settled on Sunday after noon, Ed Carpenter, the Hulman family scion, was on the pole. The day before, on the first day of qualifications, he had set the second fastest time, slower than only Helio Castroneves. In the Sunday trials which set the grid positions, he recorded the best time while Castroneves had to settle for an eighth-place starting position. It was his third time on the pole, having won this honour previously in 2013 and 2014.

Meanwhile James Hinchcliffe, who had won the pole in 2016, found himself bumped out of the field. This year there were 35 drivers vying for the 33 starting places, which meant that two of them were going to fail to make the starting lineup. On Friday, Hinchcliffe had turned a lap at 231.732 mph, faster than Ed Carpenter on that day. But, come Saturday when it counted, things went bad. Just before he was scheduled to go out and make his first qualifying attempt, it started to rain. After a nearly two-hour delay, pit lane was re-opened with Hinchcliffe first in line. Under these conditions, he was unable to match his previous day’s speed and recorded an speed of only 224.784 mph – danger territory. As more drivers made their qualifying runs, his time failed to stand up and he would have to improve it if he were to earn a place in the 33-car field.

Meanwhile, his teammate Robert Wickens had his timed run interrupted by another rain shower. After a 50-minute delay, the track went green again and out he went. His speed – 225.955 mph – was not going to put him in the top nine but it was good enough to give him the 18th fastest time of the day – safely in the field.

When Hinchcliffe’s turn to make another attempt to get into the field came up again, he went out but he aborted this run because there was a bad vibration. He went back into the line ready to make another attempt but time ran out on him and the day’s session ended before he could make another attempt. Pippa Mann was the other driver who failed to go fast enough to make the field.

Afterwards Hinchcliffe accepted his disappointing result with grace and it seemed as if that was the end of it. However, many observers noted that in years past some drivers who had been bumped had been able to persuade other drivers who had qualified for the field to give up their car and allow the bumped driver an opportunity to start the race. As of Sunday afternoon, this possibility had not been ruled out for Hinchcliffe.

On Sunday, all 33 drivers who had qualified for the race had to set new times. The top nine fought it our for the pole – which was won by Carpenter. The remaining 24 drivers had to set new times to determine their starting positions behind the top nine qualifiers.

Click HERE for the final qualification results which set the field for the Indianapolis 500.

MENCS CMS OnTrack 051918eeMENCS All-Star at Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 19/18: Kevin Harvick (#4) and Daniel Suarez (#19) lead the field to a late-race restart (Credit Sean Gardner/Getty Images/NASCAR)

Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Once again, it’s Harvick the race winner

Concord, NC, May 19, 2018 (GRW): Kevin Harvick has been on a winning streak this year. So far this year he has won five of the championship races – and, on the Saturday the week before the Coca-Cola 600, he won again, winning the All-Star race and its million dollar prize. With cautions, this event turned into a 93-lap affair. Harvick first took the lead on lap 6 and led the next 25 laps. He did not lead again until lap 83 but after that he led the remaining laps to take home the big prize.

Daniel Suárez, who had qualified for the All-Star race by winning the second Stage of the preceding All-Star open, finished second and earned a quarter of a million dollars. Joey Logano was third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Chase Elliott fifth.

The race was run in four Stages – of 30, 20, 20 and 10 laps for a scheduled 80-lap run. Harvick won the first Stage, Kyle Busch the second Stage, Harvick the third and fourth Stages.

In the All-Star Open, for MENCS drivers who had not qualified for the million-dollar All-Star, there were three stages – and the winner of each stage was promoted to a start in the All-Star race – they were Alex Bowman, Suárez, and AJ Allmendinger. One more driver was given a chance to participate in the All-Star based on a fan vote; no surprise, this went to Chase Elliott.

Special rules were written for the cars for this race. They were given restrictor plates to reduce their power and much larger rear spoilers to increase drag. Of course, this made the cars slower and the nature of the racing was changed – perhaps for the better. Expect NASCAR to study this race to determine if the changes made for this race should be applied generally to future races.

Click HERE for the results of the MENCS All-Star race.

 

NCWTS FinishLine 051818eNCWTS North Carolina Education Lottery 200, May 18/18: Eventual race winner Johnmy Sauter leads a pack of trucks during the race (Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Another truck win for Johnny Sauter

Concord, NC, May 18, 2018 (GRW): Johnny Sauter started from the pole and he led 71 of the race’s 134 laps to take his third win of the season. He led the final 48 laps of the race and was never seriously challenged on his way to the checker. Kyle Busch, who had started in fourth place, had a difficult race. He was sent to the back of the field twice for the same infraction – crew members over the wall before he reached his pit box.

“This is the biggest win of my career” said Sauter who won the series championship in 2016 driving for the same Gallagher Motorsports team. “It’s been a challenging place. I’ve had a lot of good runs here and I’ve had a lot of bad runs here. So this is the big one.”

The Kyle Busch we have all learned to love let us know how he felt after his disappointing race. “I got back up to second by pure talent. That’s about it. My pit crew did absolutely nothing to help me out tonight. My truck drove like (expletive) and these splitters are absolutely horrendous. You can’t pass in traffic; you can’t race anybody.”

Noah Gragson, Busch’s teammate started the race on the front row alongside Sauter and he challenged Sauter for the lead during the first 30-lap Stage. After that he fell back a bit but he stayed in the top ten for most of the race, dropping farther back after a difficult restart when the sixth yellow ended on lap 118. He recovered a bit to finish eighth. The 19-year-old Gragson is looking like a championship contender in this series; he left here in second place in the points standing behind Sauter.

Brandon Jones, in another Kyle Busch Racing entry, finished in third place after starting 28th and running towards the back of the top ten for much of the race. Brett Moffitt, who won in Atlanta, brought the Shigeaki Hattori Toyota home in fourth place. Ben Rhodes, driving the ThorSport Ford, finished fifth. Canadian Stewart Friesen ran a solid race to finish in sixth place.

The next NCWTS race will be the Rattlesnake 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway on June 8.

Click HERE for full race results for the NCWTS North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Pintys HC winner photoNASCAR Pinty's Series Clarington 200 at CTMP, May 20/18: Race winner Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (Credit Howard Cohen/PRN)

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Clarington 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
LP Dumoulin leads the final lap to win the race

Bowmanville, ON, May 20, 2018 (GRW): When he started the final lap of the 51-lap race, Louis-Philippe Dumoulin had not yet led a lap in the race and now he was running in third place. But then, down in the Corner 5 hairpin, second place Andrew Ranger ran inside the race leader Kevin Lacroix, they bumped and Lacroix went spinning off the track. When the dust settled, Dumoulin was in the lead ahead of Ranger and Lacroix was back in sixth place – and that’s the way they took the checker at the end of the lap.

But before these three could line up on the podium, word came that NASCAR officials has assigned Ranger an unspecified time penalty which dropped him to the last position among the lead lap finishers – 12th place – and this moved everyone except race winner Dumoulin up one position. Hence Marc-Antoine Camirand was declared the second-place finisher and NASCAR Truck driver Noah Gragson third.

This unusual post-race penalty left many experienced observers scratching their heads given that they believed that it was standard NASCAR practice to NOT hand out penalties for such on-track bumping action. Did this surprising penalty mean that this would now become commonplace in the Pinty’s Series going forward?

Up to this last lap excitement Lacroix had had things pretty much all his own way. He started from the pole and he was giving a dominant performance. He pitted for gas on lap 18 of the 51-lap race giving up the lead to Ranger. A second pit stop for tires dropped him back into 11th place, some 95 seconds behind the race leader. It looked like he had little chance of regaining the lead but fate intervened.

On lap 20, the first caution (for debris) flew on lap 20. Now Lacroix was able to stay out while the others pitted and he cycled around back into the lead for the restart. After the track went green again, Gary Klutt, who had been in fourth made a charge past the two in front of him to take second place behind Lacroix. He stayed there for the next ten laps until Alex Tagliani, made a run and knocked Klutt into the wall coming off Turn 9. This ended Klutt’s day and put Tagliani up into second place behind Lacroix as the second and final yellow of the day flew on lap 37.

On the restart, Lacroix took the lead in to the first corner but Tagliani was coming on strong and he got past him in Turn 3 – and he held the lead for the next five laps until he slowed letting Lacroix regain the lead. But now Tagliani was in trouble – a mechanical failure – and he pulled off the course, his race finished. This set up the closing drama of the race which saw Dumoulin scrape past the spinning duo and Ranger penalized back to 12th place.

Noah Gragson, a 19-year-old phenomenon who is in his second year as a driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the truck series, had come up to drive a one-off race to gain more experience on this road course in preparation for the NCWTS race here in August. So his finishing position was not as important as the lessons learned this day. For much of the race he ran back in tenth or lower but as the race neared its finish he started to gain positions and he entered the final lap in fifth place – only to have the events which followed elevate him to a third-place finish and a spot on the podium. He is a driver to watch come the truck race here in August.

Click HERE for full race results for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Clarington 200

PWC Sunday AschenbachVictoria Day Speedfest at CTMP, May 20/18: Lawson Ashenbach leads the field in Sunday's GTS/GTSA race (Credit: Howard Cohen)

Other race activity at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (by Howard Cohen)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Canadian Touring Car Championship – Heavy rain and fog made for a very trying race, requiring added concentration and skills just to stay on track. After a brief yellow flag to remove a car, racing resumed in the wet, water flying and splashing and adding more excitement. The race ended under the same wet conditions as it started with the final results being:

1 – Etienne Borgeat – Porsche GT
2 – Tom Kwok – Honda Civic TCR
3 – Gary Kwok – Honda Civic TCR

For FULL Results of CTCC race, click HERE

Pirelli GT Sprint Pro – Local driver Daniel Morad started from the pole and took the lead on the first lap. He had a good lead until the track dried. Scott Hargrove was comfortably in second place in his Porsche 911 for most of the race but with 12 minutes to go, the track had become dry and Scott was passed by Michael Christensen and then Daniel Mancinelli. In the end, tire choice was more important than thought at the start as those who pitted for slicks now had better speed but Morad on his rain tires was able to hang on to finish with a 4.5-second lead over Christensen.

1 – Daniel Morad – Mercedes AMG GT3
2 – Michael Christensen – Porsche 911GT3
3 – Daniel Mancinelli – Ferrari 488 GT3

For FULL Results of Saturday’s Pirelli GT Sprint Pro race, click HERE

IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Challenge – Zach Robichon took the lead on a wet track and led to the chequered flag, lapping all but two of his competitors with ease. His winning margin of 4 seconds does not show how dominant Zach was throughout the race. Note that the first three finishers were all Brian Graham Racing grads.

1 - Zach Robichon
2 - Roman de Angelis
3 - Stefan Rzadzinski

For FULL Results of Saturday’s Porsche GT3 Challenge race click HERE

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pirelli WC GTS/GTA: Lawson Aschenbach, driving the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, led from the pole to the checkered flag despite being hounded by Ian James in his Team Panoz Avezzano, with mere feet between them the whole race. In 3rd place was Gar Robinson in his Robinson Racing Mercedes-AMG who battled Jade Buford in the PF Racing Ford Mustang, holding him off in the final turn of the final lap. James was excluded from the results because of a technical infraction, moving Robinson up to second place in the final results.

For FULL Results of Sunday’s Pirelli WC GTS/GTSA race click HERE

Pirelli GT/GTA Sprint: Given the series way of determining the starting grid for the second round race, Saturday’s race winner Daniel Morad was relegated back to sixth while Alvaro Parente, who had finished in sixth in his Bentley Continental was on the pole. After 39 laps of racing, the result was not much different. Parente was the race winner ahead of Rodrigo Baptista in a second Bentley – while Morad could only manage to gain one position to finish in fifth place.

For FULL Results of Sunday’s Pirelli WC GT/GTA race click HERE

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