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Race Weekend Review: May 27, 2018

F1 Monaco Riciardo AP 1VSWFQC6N2111 news 1 resizeF1 Grand Prix of Monaco, May 27/18: The race winners on the podium – Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamiltion – with Adrian Newey of Red Bull (Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty Images/Red Bull)

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco

Redemption for Ricciardo – he starts from the pole leads every lap to make up for 2016

Monte Carlo, Monaco, May 27/18 (GRW): In 2016 Daniel Ricciardo had the race as good as won when he came in for a final pit stop. The team botched this stop – he came out behind Lewis Hamilton – and the race win had slipped out of his hands. That terrible disappointment was made up for here this day as Ricciardo led from the pole and led every lap to take the win ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

But the win was no walk over – his MGU-K unit (the electrics part of the hybrid power unit) failed early in the race leaving his well down on power and with braking problems because the energy harvesting part of the system was not giving him any braking assistance. Just when it seemed that his chances at the win had evaporated, he was told to hang in and do his best. He gave a remarkable performance, nursing the car the rest of the distance without ever giving up much to his challengers. Both Vettel and Hamilton were unable to pounce because their tires were degrading while the tires on Ricciardo’s car did not grain up like the others. Perhaps it was because the Red Bull chassis produces more down force.

Whatever, Ricciardo and his Red Bull car gave a magical performance, holding off the cars with more power to take the amazing win.

Vettel finished second, 7.3 seconds behind, while Hamilton was third, 17 seconds behind the race winner. Kimi Räikkönen was fourth and Valtteri Bottas was fifth. It seemed that everyone except the Red Bull cars had had problems with tire degradation during the race making them unable to mount a challenge to the handicapped Red Bull car of Ricciardo.

Hamilton was the first of the front runners to pit, coming in on lap 12 of the 78-lap race. Vettel pitted on 16 and Ricciardo a lap later. The Red bull driver had enough of a lead when he pitted that he retained the lead over Vettel coming out of the pit lane.

Everyone’s tire strategy was to make this a one-stop race with the second set of tires lasting the rest of the distance. And that was the way all three teams played it out, opting to go slower on old tires than lose time making a second pit stop. A virtual pace car session which came near the end of the race when Charles Leclerc’s brakes failed and he crashed into Brendon Hartley failed to change this strategy or to rearrange the order among the leaders.

Of course, this was an emotional win for Ricciardo. Christian Horner, the team principal said, “This is payback for 2016.” while Ricciardo said, “I finally feel that the redemption has arrived.” It seemed like everyone, his racing opponents included, were happy to see him finally win here at Monaco.

This win for Ricciardo gives him two wins in the first six races with both Hamilton and Vettel at two wins each. Hamilton leads in the points standings with 110 points to Vettel’s 96 and Ricciardo’s 72.

The other Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, did not fare so well. After running quickly in the practice sessions, he crashed heavily in the final practice session. The car was too badly damaged for him to take part in qualifying on Saturday and he had to start from the back of the grid for the race. After all his on-track problems this year, Verstappen had to be on his best behaviour in the race. Despite that, he ran well and managed to work his way up to finish in ninth place.

The Williams team had a dismal day, with Sergey Sirotkin finishing in 16th place while Lance Stroll finished in 17th place, two laps down. The Haas team did not fare much better, going home with a 13th and a 15th place finish.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal on June 10.

Click HERE for full results of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Indycar Power winner Indy500 resizeVerizon IndyCar Indianapolis 500, May 27/18: Race winner Will Power celebrates with the traditional jug of milk. (Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar)

Verizon Indycar Indianapolis 500

Will Power wins his first 500

Indianapolis, IN, May 27, 2018 (Howard Cohen): The Indy 500 did not disappoint in the excitement category. The high track temperature affected the tires and had a lot to do with several single car spins, leading to changing pit stop strategies. In the end, it came down to Will Power taking the lead with five laps to go and hanging on for his first Indy 500 win over Ed Carpenter and Scott Dixon, with Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay close behind.

For Power, the 2014 Indy car champion, it was beginning to look like he might never win this storied race. “I can’t describe it. I feel like collapsing. I want to cry. I was wondering if I would ever win it and thoughts went through my mind during the month,” said Power, who in 10 previous starts came closest to winning in 2015 with a runner-up finish to fellow Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya. “This was the last box to tick, but I’m not done.”

The race started with Carpenter running from the pole position and leading through the first set of pit stops and retaining the lead.

The first crash of the day occurred on lap 47 when Takuma Sato ran into the back of a very slow-moving James Davidson. It is very hard to tell how fast you are closing on a car at Indy. This led to a series of yellow flag pit stops with Carpenter in the lead, followed by Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden.

On lap 57, Ed Jones tires lost grip and he spun into the wall bringing out the next yellow flag. When the green flag dropped on lap 63, Kanaan took the lead briefly but was soon passed by Carpenter.

On lap 67, the next caution flag came out when Danica Patrick’s car lost tire grip and hit the wall – ending her race and her career as a race driver. When Patrick had found herself out of her NASCAR ride at the end of last year, she had made the bold announcement that she would race twice more – at the Daytona 500 and at the Indy 500. This was to be her final race before retirement. Unfortunately, she crashed out of the Daytona 500 in February and now she was out of the Indy 500 and her racing career was over. As a woman, she always received extra attention – sometimes positive and sometimes negative. While she only won a single race in her years in Indy car and NASCAR, she did have many strong performances and she served as a role model for many other young girls aspiring to have a career in motorsports. This gutsy woman deserves our respect and a place in the history of our sport.

The restart at lap 73 saw Kanaan leading Carpenter and Power with Hunter-Reay charging up to 6th and Rossi to 12th. A series of green flag put stops by others had put Kanaan into first until he suffered a tire puncture and had to pit for new tires, dropping him a lap down.

At the halfway point, Graham Rahal was leading until his pit stop on lap 106, leaving Canadian driver, Zachary Claman De Melo, who was trying a different refueling sequence, in the lead for a couple laps. Power took the lead until pit stops shuffled the order again, putting Hunter-Reay out front, then Sebastien Bourdais, then Newgarden.

Bourdais’ tires went away and he spun into the wall on lap 138, bringing out the fourth caution flag. The track temperatures of 50 degrees C and more really took a toll on tires and cars. This yellow flag allowed Kanaan to get back on the lead lap and many teams adjusted their race strategy.

Power regained the lead during this caution and was ahead of Carpenter, Pagenauld and Hunter-Reay at the green when Rossi made up several positions with a charge past several cars on the outside line. Lap 145, and yet another tire losing grip put Helio Castroneves into the wall and out of the race.

On the restart on lap 153, Rossi put on another high side pass, moving him closer to the front.
Then, it happened again on lap 155 – Sage Karam lost tire grip and hit the wall. By lap 172, the green flag pit stops were on. Power’s team was quick as was Hunter-Reay’s team, followed by Carpenter, Rahal and Rossi.

Down to the last 15 laps and different refueling strategies saw Oriol Servia leading over Stefan Wilson, Jack Harvey, Will Power and Scott Dixon. A crash by Kanaan on lap 188 led to another caution and a nail-biter finish. The green flag dropped with seven laps to go with Servia, Wilson and Harvey one-two-three ahead of Power but Servia was passed and dropped back to fourth on the first green-flag lap. Another lap later, Wilson and Harvey (and Servia) both turned into the pit lane for fuel leaving Power in the lead with Carpenter and Dixon not far behind, but not close enough to catch him as he drove those final laps to his first Indy 500 win – winning by a margin of 3.2 seconds over Carpenter.

Although perennial Indy car competitor Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe had failed to qualify for the race, two other Canadians – both Indy 500 rookies -- did make the field. Robert Wickens started in 18th place and finished ninth while Zachary Claman de Melo started 13th and finished in 19th place.

The next IndyCar race event is the Saturday-Sunday double-header at Detroit’s Belle Isle next weekend.

Click HERE for full results of the Indianapolis 500.

MENCS Coca Cola StartLine 18 05 27 resizeMENCS Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 27/18: Kyle Busch takes the green flag to start the race. (Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR MENCS Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch dominates, ticking all the boxes with this win.

Concord, NC, May 27, 2018 (GRW): Coming into this race Kyle Busch had won at every race track in the NASCAR championship - but he had yet to win a points race here at Charlotte. This year he made good on that. He started from the pole, won every one of the four stages, including the final one to win this race in dominant fashion.

“This one’s very special,” said Busch afterwards. “I don’t think there’s anything that can top Homestead, just with the meaning of what the championship is, but the Coca-Cola 600 – I’ve dreamt of this race since I was a kid and being able to win this race. Always watching the All-Star race and then the 600 the following weekend and being able to come out here and now win the Coca-Cola 600 is just phenomenal. It’s a little boy’s dreams come true and man, I just want to say that I thank NASCAR, for one, for giving me a chance to come out here and have this opportunity to race for my dreams and to accomplish those things. I don’t know if it’s ever been done before, but the first one to check off all the tracks and get it all done.”

Busch had won the non-points All-Star race here last year.

Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that he is one of the greats of the current generation of drivers – and a sure Hall of Famer when the time comes.

Busch led 377 of the race’s 400 laps, pretty much obliterating the opposition. In the end, his semi-teammate Martin Truex was second, four seconds back, with Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Jimmie Johnson in third, fourth and fifth. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap.

This dominant performance by Busch here was reminiscent of Ricciardo’s similarly dominant race at Monaco earlier in the day. Both drivers had something to prove and they achieved it this day.

Given Kevin Harvick’s winning streak this year, he had to be another favourite to win this race, starting from the second row. He fell back at the start but got up to fourth place by lap 73. Ten laps later his left front tire failed and sent him crashing into the wall and out of the race. Scratch this contender.

Joey Logano had started from the front row and he was the best hope to give Roger Penske a double of the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day but both he and his teammate Keselowski soon fell way back and they both looked to be totally out of contention. The third Penske driver, Ryan Blaney, had been the best hope for quite a while, running in the top ten but his engine went and he retired in a big ball of flames on lap 278 of the 400-lap race. In the latter stages, Keselowski did manage to get back up into the top ten –and better – but he was never a match for the speeding Busch. Logano led for the second most laps – just 12 –but he had to settle for a 22nd-place finish, a lap down. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap given Busch’s amazing pace.

This is the longest race in the whole championship series and it went on for nearly four-and-a-half hours, testing the endurance of everyone – drivers, crews and spectators.

After seeing so many races with spotty attendance these days, it was a great sight to see the near-sellout attendance at all three of the Memorial Day races.

The next MENCS race is the more manageable 400-mile Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway next Sunday, June 3.

Click HERE for the full results of the Coca-Cola 600.

NXS No 22 Keselowski Penske Ford winner resizeNASCAR Xfinity at Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 26/18: Brad Keselowski in the race-winning #22 Ford. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/NASCAR) 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Keselowski wins another one for the Captain

Concord, NC, May 26, 2018 (GRW): Brad Keselowski started from the pole in the No. 22 Penske Ford but he before he could win the race, he had to fight his way back to the front twice. This was his second in the Xfinity car this year – his previous win coming at Phoenix in April. In the end he had to hold off Cole Custer and Christopher Bell for the win. The race saw 12 caution periods and one red flag for rain. It ended in overtime after the yellow came out for debris on the final lap of the 200-lap race. Despite his challengers getting another chance to vie for the win, Keselowski held on to take the checkered flag under yellow on lap 204.

This same No. 22 Penske Ford has won four times now, twice with Keselowski, once with Joey Logano (at Fontana) and once with Ryan Blaney (at Texas Motor Speedway). Although this car has won more times than any other, it sits second in the owners points standings to the No. 18 car which, so far, has only one race win, Ryan Preece at Bristol.

Keselowski and Custer started the race from the front row but Kyle Busch had qualified third fastest and he was soon challenging Keselowski for the lead, crunching past him on lap 27 and after that he led to the end of the first Stage at lap 45. During the caution at the end of this Stage, Keselowski had a muddled pit stop and fell back to about 15th place while Busch took the green, leading over Chase Elliott. Busch continued to lead, winning Stage 2 over Custer at 90 laps, However, on the restart after this caution, Keselowski, who had pitted under a previous caution a few laps earlier and thereby gained track position when the leaders pitted at the end of this Stage, cycled around into the lead again.

Keselowski, Custer, Busch and Justin Allgaier continued to battle for the lead until the sixth caution flew on lap 127 for rain. Most everybody pitted under this yellow. Keselowski was sent to the back of the field for having too many crew members over the wall too soon when he pitted. This left Busch in the lead ahead of Custer after the restart with Keselowski seemingly out of the picture.

Two more yellows – and pit stops – saw Keselowski back in the lead again alongside Daniel Hemric for the restart on lap 161 with Busch restarting a few rows back. When the green flew, Busch made a dive to the bottom but he got over onto the grass and he lost control – damaging his car and bringing out yet another yellow. After that Busch was unable to mount another challenge for the lead and he had to settle for an eighth-place finish.

The rain which had already disrupted the race came again and the red flag came out with just over 25 laps left to run. When the weather let up after an hour stoppage, Keselowski was still at the head of the pack. In the remaining laps 18 laps, Custer and Bell came up to challenge him for the lead but he was able to hold them off to take the win.

The next round of the Xfinity Series in the Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway next Saturday, June 1.

Click HERE for the full box score results of this Xfinity Series Alsco 300 .

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