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Race Weekend Review: August 16-19, 2018

Verizon IndyCar ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway
Wickens in big crash; Rossi takes a dominant win

Long Pond, PA, Aug 19/18 (GRW): The 500-mile race got off to a bad start even before the cars reached the start line and it got much worse on the first green-flag lap when Robert Wickens triggered a crash that saw his car spinning up into the catch fencing above the barriers in the tunnel turn. The safety crew took a long time to extract him from the car and he spent another long interval in the on-track medical centre before he was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

The first incident came as the cars approached the starter. Graham Rahal and others near the back accelerated in anticipation of the green flag – but they went too soon – and he ran into the back of Spencer Pigot’s car. Both cars received two-lap penalties for working on their cars which effectively ended their days.

Much worse was to come on the first green-flag lap after the restart. As the cars were racing into the second turn, Wickens made a move to pass Ryan Hunter-Reay on the inside but this attempt was not going to work so he backed off – but not enough. His front wheel touched Hunter-Reay’s rear and the Canadian’s car was launched up and into the catch fencing. The car spun around violently and came to rest near the infield side of the track. In addition to Hunter-Reay, several other cars were caught up in the melee – including James Hinchcliffe, Pietro Fittipaldi, and Takuma Sato. The rescue crews took some time releasing Hinchcliffe from his car but, in the end, he was released from the care center with no significant injuries – as were the others but for Wickens. A piece of debris had hit Hinchcliffe’s hands and had slightly injured them.

The big concern was for Wickens who remained in his car while rescue workers clustered around. After what seemed like a very long delay, he was removed from the car and placed on a gurney. He was taken to the on-site medical centre and remained there for another long duration. Finally, he was flown by helicopter to hospital in Allentown 25 km south of the raceway.

The first word of his condition came for the IndyCar communications vice-president Curt Cavin, who said only that Wickens had been “awake and alert’. Much later, after the race had ended, IndyCar issued another, more detailed statement:

“Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens is being treated for injuries to his lower extremities, right arm and spine following an incident in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. He also sustained a pulmonary contusion. He will undergo an MRI and probable surgery at Lehigh Valley Hospital.”

And here's an update as of Monday afternoon:

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (Monday, Aug. 20, 2018) - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens continues to be treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest following injuries sustained in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 19. An MRI was instrumental in revealing the most appropriate surgical course and Wickens is undergoing surgery Monday evening for a spinal injury.

And another update as Tuesday:

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018) - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens underwent surgery Monday, Aug. 20 at Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest to stabilize a thoracic spinal fracture associated with a spinal cord injury sustained during the INDYCAR event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Titanium rods and screws were placed successfully in Wickens' spine during the surgery, which was performed without complication. The severity of the spinal cord injury is indeterminate at this time. Wickens is expected to undergo further surgeries to treat fractures in his lower extremities and right forearm. He remains in stable condition.

Meanwhile the track crew was working at repairing a 20-metre break in the catch fencing. The red flag while this went on lasted nearly two hours. When the work was done, at least one driver had to be talked out of refusing to race because he thought the repairs were inadequate but, in the end, all the drivers got back into their cars for the restart.

The big crash had taken a lot of steam out of the event but they carried on and raced to the completion of the scheduled 500-mile distance without another yellow. The pole-sitter Will Power led a couple of times during the green-flag pit stop sequences but Alexander Rossi, who had been third quickest in qualifying, dominated, leading 180 of the race’s 200 laps.

INDYCAR ROSSI POCONO resizeAlexander Rossi ((Chris Owens/IndyCar)

Power finished second ahead of Scott Dixon whose third-place finish despite a 13th-place qualifying effort, helped maintain his lead in the championship points race.

There are three more races in this year’s schedule with the next one at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, MO, next Saturday, August 25.

Click HERE for the results of the IndyCar race from Pocono.

 MENCS KuBUSCH BRISTOL 357387 resizeKurt Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images/NASCAR)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway
Kurt Busch grabs the win as the Big Three falter

Bristol, TN, Aug 18/18 (GRW): The Bristol bull-ring can produce unexpected results and this race was proof of that. Kurt Busch, who had started in ninth place hung on and found himself in the lead alongside Clint Boyer as they lined up for the restart on lap 478 of the 500-lap race. Busch won that restart and he won the next one which came six laps later. On this final restart Busch burst out into a solid lead while Boyer dropped back.

At the checker it was Kurt Busch the winner ahead of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliot, Joey Logano and Erik Jones – with Boyer trailing in behind in sixth place after he spun his tires on that final restart.

For NASCAR fans who like drama, this race was great. It featured a crash by Kyle Busch at the start – and a dramatic run by him from the back to the front with his damaged car – and tire failure in the closing laps which brought out the final yellow and ended his day.

Elliott had started on the front row alongside Larson. He had two long stints in the lead but he fall back in the second half of the race. In the closing laps he was charging forward but he ran out of time to catch Busch and had to settle for third. Larson had won the pole but he lost the lead on lap 13 at the end of the first caution. After that he only led for one lap three different times during yellow-flag pit sequences. He lined up for that final restart in fifth place but – with the benefit of fresh tires – he was able to squirt forward and claim a second-place finish.

This was a disappointing result for Larson, who has yet to win a Cup race this year - but it was not as disappointing a day as the one for Kyle Busch.
The younger of the Busch brothers started third from the second row and everyone knew that he was all set to push ahead, dominate and win the race. But it didn’t work out like that. On the start it looked like he was trying to win the race on the first lap as he gunned it – but his car made a half-spin and he collected so many cars – the official count was 14. There was a lot of damage to his car and it looked like he would be unable to continue – but his pit crew banged his car back into shape within the time limit and he was able to take the restart, albeit a lap down. Another pit stop for repairs and he was two laps down on the leaders.

After that, battered car and all, he made a charge for the front – and he almost made it. By lap 437 he was up into third place behind Boyer and Martin Truex. He tried to make a move on Truex to pass him but he misjudged and hit Truex’ rear bumper sending him spinning – and crashing out of the race. Truex’s team is a satellite the Joe Gibbs Toyota team so they are supposed to be teammates of sorts – but don’t expect much teamwork between these two for a while.

Kyle Busch made a pit stop and it was a long pit stop because the damaged bodywork made it hard to refuel the car. He restarted in 12th place – and his car was overheating. He was up to ninth place by the time the next yellow flew on lap 473. He took the restart in seventh place but a tire failed – the result of contact with another car – and he was unable to drive back around to the pits – beached with a flat tire and facing up the steep banking while many (most) of the crowd jeered him. Kyle Busch may be a great driver but a lot of NASCAR fans detest him for his difficult personality. Eventually he was pushed off the banking and he got back to his pit stall but all hope of winning was lost. He finished three laps down in 20th place.

Harvick had run well in the first 125-lap Stage but he lost the Stage win to Ryan Blaney. Fifty laps later he had to pit under green for attention to a loose wheel and he fell back out of contention. In the jumble of the final few laps he managed to pull off a decent tenth place finish.

Shed no tears for the Big Three who failed to dominate this race. With their wins and the ‘playoff points’ they have accumulated they are guaranteed to advance to the playoffs with a small points edge over the other 13 drivers who will also be racing for the championship in the post-season playoffs. Of course, Kurt Busch’s win here at Bristol gives him a playoff berth – although with the points he had already accumulated, he was going to make it into the 10-race post-season shoot-out anyway.

There are only two more MENCS races in the ‘regular season’ before the playoffs begin with the race at Las Vegas on September 16. Next week is an off week with the next Cup race be at Darlington the Sunday evening after that, September 2nd.

Click HERE for the results of the Bristol MENCS race

NXS BRISTOL LARSON ALLGAIER resizeKyle Larson and Justin Allgaier lead the field during the Food City 300 (Sarah Crabill/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Food City 300 AT Bristol Motor Speedway
Cup interloper Larson dominates to take the win ahead of Bell

Bristol, TN, August 17/18 (GRW): If Kyle Busch, who swept all three races here a year ago – Trucks, Xfinity and MENCS – thought he was in line to make a two-race sweep of the Xfinity and Cup races here this year, his hopes were dashed pretty early in this race. He started from the pole and led the first 69 lap until he slid up and touched the wall. It must have punctured a tire and, at the next turn, he hit the wall a lot harder – hard enough to break a front suspension piece. Under NASCAR’s current rules which are intended to keep teams from trying to totally rebuild their wrecked cars and keep on schlepping around the track getting in everyone’s way, they were unable to replace the broken part and they had to retire the car. Scratch Busch.

This set up a late-race battle between Larson and Christopher Bell, the 2017 Truck champion who is hoping to win the Xfinity title this year. Bell took the lead from Elliott Sadler coming off the sixth caution on lap 186 of the 300-lap race. But Larson was coming and he took the lead on lap 204 and led for the next 58 laps. During the seventh caution, Chase Elliott was credited with the lead for a single lap but at the green it was Larson again in the lead.

Bell was running in fourth place behind Justin Allgaier and Elliott until the eighth and final caution flew on lap 300 – extending the race into overtime. Bell took the final restart right behind Larson on the high line. This gave them both the advantage and Bell shot past the two others ahead of him to finish half-a-second behind Larson while Allgaier, Cole Custer and Joey Logano finished behind him.

As a MENCS driver, Larson is not eligible for the Xfinity championship. Bell and Allgaier are already well entrenched into the group of post-season playoff qualifiers, so this race’s results have little or no impact on lineup of drivers for the playoffs.

There are four more ‘regular season’ races before the seven-race playoff rounds begin. The next Xfinity race will be run at the Road America road course next Saturday, August 25.

Click HERE for the results of the Bristol Xfinity race

NCWTS SAUTER Bristol resizeJohnny Sauter during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UHOH 200 (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 AT Bristol Motor Speedway
Sauter holds off Friesen for the win

Bristol, TN, Aug. 16/18 (GRW): In the closing laps of the race it looked like once John Hunter Nemechek had passed Johnny Sauter for the lead with 24 laps to go in the 200-lap race, he had the win in hand. But a fuel pickup issue slowed Nemechek, letting Sauter past into the lead with five laps to go – and he went on to take the checker.

Stewart Friesen, who had qualified back in 13th place, had closed up on the leaders and, when Nemechek’s truck faltered he was able to get past and challenge Sauter for the lead – his best shot at a win so far this season – but he had to settle for second place a mere 0.2 seconds behind Sauter. Nemechek was credited with third ahead of Parker Kligerman and Todd Gilliland.

Christopher Bell was driving the KBR No. 51 truck and started from the pole but he could not maintain that pace and he ended up in 28th place, 16 laps down.

This race was the final one of the ‘regular season’ so the field of qualifiers for the playoffs is now set.

The next NCWTS race, which will be the first race of the this series’ playoffs, will be held of Canadian tire Motorsports Park next Sunday, August 26.

Click HERE for the results of the NCWTS race from Bristol.

 
IMSA WT VIR 1 resize#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8, GTLM: Alexander Sims, Connor de Phillippi (Richard Dole/LAT/IMSA)

IMSA WeatherTech Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway
A first win for the BMW M8 in an all-GT race

Alton, VA, Aug. 19/18 (GRW): This IMSA WeatherTech race was marked by the absence of the front-running prototype races and it was contested by only cars from the GTLM class and the GT-Daytona class.

Only 18 cars took the start and, as expected, the GTLM entries ran out front. The No. 67 Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook Ford GT started from the pole and led the first 28 laps of what turned out to be an 88-lap race at the end of the 160-minute running time. After Briscoe took over, the car had clutch problems and retired, leaving the No 911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy, leading until the race’s only caution which came on lap 41 after the Porsche pulled off course and started a small grass fire.

The No. 24 BMW M8 of Jesse Krohn/John Edwards led for 15 laps until they pitted, letting the No. 25 BMW through into the lead ahead of Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette. Sims, in the BMW extended his lead over the Corvette by enough that he was able to make a final pit stop and come out still in the lead by a few seconds – a lead he was able to maintain to the checker.

The No 3 Corvette was second and the No 24 BMW was third. This was the first win for a BMW M8 since it entered the series this year.

In the GTD class, the No. 14 Lexus of Dominik Baumann/Kyle Marcelli emerged as the class winner, taking the lead when the order shuffled with 18 laps to go. This same re-reordering saw Katherine Legge in the No. 86 Acura move up into second place but she was being closely pursued by Patrick Long in the No. 58 Porsche 911. It looked like she was going to be able to hold him off but, on the final lap, he was able to get past and take second place ahead of her.

The next IMSA WeatherTech race will be at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway on Sunday September 9.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA WeatherTech race from VIR.

IMSA CONTI VIR MERCEDES 46 galstad VIR 0818 464812 resize#46 Team TGM, Mercedes-AMG, GS: Hugh Plumb, Owen Trinkler (Jake Galstad/LAT/IMSA)
IMSA Continental Tire Biscuitville Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway
Mercedes-AMG beats McLaren for the win

Alton, Va, August 18/18 (GRW): The No. 46 Mercedes-AMG took its second win of the season at the hands of Owen Trinkler/Hugh Plumb. They took the checker by a six-second margin over the No. 69 McLaren of Jesse Lazare/Corey Fergus. The No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Robin Liddell/Andrew Davis making a return for this make to the series was third.

The No 76 Paul Holton/Matt Plumb Compass McLaren started from the pole but it only led the first lap. They finished in fourth place. The best-placed Mustang was the No. 8 car of Chad McCumbee/Patrick Gallagher which finished fifth overall.

The race started under intermittent rain making it hard for the team to decide on rain tires or slicks. The No 46 Mercedes opted to tough it out on slicks and, when the rain let up, they benefited from this decision.

The No 12 Audi RS3 of Kenton Koch/Tom O'Gorman was the TCR class winner ahead of a small field of Audis and similar-under-the-skin VWs. The ST class was won by the No. 52 Mini of Colin Mullan/Mark Pombo.

The next IMSA Continental Tire will be at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway on Saturday, September 8.

Click HERE for the results of the Continental Tire race from VIR.

PINTYS RIVERSIDE L P DUMOULIN resizeL.P. DuMoulin at Riverside Intl. Speedway (Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway
L.P. Dumoulin Surges Late For Riverside Victory

Antigonish, NS, Aug 19/18 (NASCAR): Starting when L.P. Dumoulin broke his 40-race winless streak to start the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, he has been nothing but dominant. With five top fives in the first eight races, it’s clear Dumoulin is embarking on a stand-out year in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. He continued his dream season Sunday by winning the Bumper to Bumper 300 at the 1/3rd-mile Riverside International Speedway.

Dumoulin’s No.47 Dodge used a very risky pit strategy by saving his fresh tires until very end and mounting his attack. Surviving a hectic final restart, Dumoulin snagged the lead on lap 240 of the 300-lap race from Kevin Lacroix and never looked back. With his win Sunday, the 39-year-old driver from Trois-Rivieres notched his third win of the 2018 campaign and first here.

Cole Powell entered this race fourth in points and had a great car all afternoon long. He moved into second place on lap 244 and mounted a charge to catch Dumoulin. Ultimately, Powell would come home second 0.543 seconds behind DuMoulin, his fourth podium of his inaugural season in the Pinty's series.
DJ Kennington mounted a charge late as well and finished third for his sixth top-five finish of the season. Andrew Ranger and Alex Tagliani were fourth and fifth, respectively. Peter Shepherd finished sixth, the last car on the lead lap, and Donald Theetge came home seventh. Kevin Lacroix dominated during the middle section of the race, lapping cars left and right and leading 106 laps, but he finished eighth.

Following his win at Riverside, Dumoulin extended his points lead to 19 points over Cole Powell who is back up in second place again. Tagliani sits a point behind Powell, and six in front of Camirand.

This race had been scheduled to run on Saturday night but it was postponed until the Sunday afternoon.

The next Pinty’s Series race will be at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, August 26.

Click HERE for the results of the Riverside Pinty’s race.

WEC SILVERSTONE WINNER resizeWinner of the 6 hours of Silverstone, the #3 REBELLION RACING R-13 Rebellion-Gibson

FIA World Endurance Championship 6-Hours of Silverstone
Rebellion car declared the winner after both of the dominant Toyotas are disqualified

Silverstone, England, Aug 19/18 (GRW): The six-hour British round of the WEC seemed to be pretty straightforward. Once again the two Toyota entries were the only LMP1 cars with hybrid power units – all the others used conventional gasoline-powered engines. These two were totally dominant in qualifying and in the race, with the best finishing non-hybrid car a distant third, some four laps behind the all-conquering Toyotas.

But there was a surprise to come in post-race inspection. Both of the Toyotas failed to meet the specs for their undertray skid plates and they were excluded from the results. This made the third place finisher – the No. 3 Rebellion Racing LMP1 car of Mathias Beche/Thomas Laurent/Gustavo Menezes – the race winner.

LMP2 was won one-two by the Jackie Chan team of ORECA-Gibson cars, the No. 38 of Ho-Pin Tung/Gabriel Aubry/Stéphane Richelmi taking the class win; they finished fourth overall in the revised results. In LMGTE-Pro the No 51 Ferrari 488 GTE of Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado was the class winner. The second place finisher in this class, the No 91 Porsche 911 RSR was disqualified for failing the ride-height limits.

The next WEC six-hour race will be held at Fuji, Japan on October 12.

Click HERE for the results of the Silverstone six-hours.

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