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Preview: Weekend of May 3-4-5, 2019

Preview: Weekend of May 3-4-5, 2019

This week we are watching six races: three NASCAR races at Dover, two IMSA races from Mid-Ohio and the WEC six-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Dover speedway is a one-mile oval which is combined with a harness-racing horse track and a casino. This is a track which has had a few instances of excessive tire wear – leading to many ‘competition cautions’ during some races to try to keep the frequent tire failures under control. In 1995 the asphalt surface was replaced by concrete all the way around. As was the case at Bristol, the new concrete surface was not very smooth, a factor that more adversely affected the Indy cars when they raced there in 1998 and 1999.

The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located near Mansfield, Ohio about 90 miles (145 km) south of Cleveland. It is a pleasant park-like setting with lots of places for good spectating. Like the Spa circuit I discuss below, Mid-Ohio should be on your bucket list; it’s a great place to experience the essence of road racing.

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the world’s classic road courses, located in the south-east corner of Belgium. It’s actually not all that far from the Nürburgring and the Ardennes mountains in which it is located seem to me to be an extension of the Eiffel mountains in which the German circuit is located. In many ways both of these circuits have a similar look and feel. While the full length of the Nürburgring’s north circuit is still used for racing activities the Spa circuit was shortened in 1979 for safety reasons but it still retains much of the character of the older version of this circuit in the north portion which remains. It must be said that as more and more safety considerations are brought to bear on the design of this circuit some of the old character has been lost. These changes include the addition of more, higher safety barriers with catch fences on top and the provision of run-off zones at most of the corners. This re-configuration of the corners has made the storied Eau-Rouge/Radillon section faster and less of a challenge. Also, the left-right-left-right bus-stop chicane which was once just before the relocated pits has lost its ‘bus-stop’ character and it is now more of a simplified right-left tight kink. Nonetheless, this is a circuit that should be on your bucket list if only for the frites, the Gran Marnier crepes and the Stella Artois beer.


Friday, May 3
1. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks, JEGS 200, Dover Intl. Speedway

• 1 mile; 200 laps = 200 mi; Stages: 45/45/110 laps
• TV: FSR at 5:00P
• Johnny Sauter won the truck race here a year ago. Matt Crafton was second and Justin Haley was third.
• The most recent truck race this year was the one at Texas Motor Speedway at the end of March. Kyle Busch was the winner there ahead of Stewart Friesen and Johnny Sauter.
• There are no MENCS carpetbaggers entered in this week’s truck race.

Click HERE for the Entry List

 Saturday, May 4

2. FIA World Endurance Championship 6-Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

• 7.004 km (4.352 mi); six-hour race distance
• TV: Discovery-Velocity at 7:00A; also on MotorTrend on demand (online streaming)
• The WEC 6-hour race here at Spa was the first round in the extended 2018-2019 season which will conclude with this year’s Le Mans 24-hour on June 15-16. The 2018 Spa-Francorchamps race was won by the No.8 Toyota LMP1 hybrid driven by Buemi/Nakajima/Alonso with the No.7 Toyota finishing second 1.4 seconds behind. The nearest LMP1 non-hybrid was the No.3 Rebellion-Gibson which finished n third place two laps behind the front-running Toyotas.
• The previous race in this year’s calendar was the 1000-mile race at Sebring. Once again it was a one-two victory for the Toyota LMP1 Hybrids with the Buemi/Nakajima/Alonso No. 8 car taking the checker a lap ahead of the No. 7 sister car and 11 laps ahead of the nearest LMP1 non-hybrid prototype. The highest-place GTE Pro entry was the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR of Lietz/Bruni.

Click HERE for the Entry List

3. NASCAR Xfinity Allied Steel Buildings 200, Dover Intl. Speedway

• 1 mile; 200 laps = 200 miles; Stages: 45/45/110 laps
• TV: TSN2 at 1:30P
• Last year the race winner here was Justin Allgaier with Elliott Sadler second and Daniel Hemric third.
• The Xfinity race at Talladega a week ago was won by Tyler Reddick in his
Chevrolet. Gray Gaulding was second in another Chevrolet while Christopher Bell was third in a Joe Gibbs Toyota.
• The Dover Xfinity race is the fourth race in the Dash-4-Cash series which awards $100K to the lucky winner of this promotion. At Dover, the four drivers eligible to compete for the $100K are Tyler Reddick, Gray Gaulding, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe. Given the Dash-4-Cash status of this race, no MENCS drivers may enter the Dover Xfinity race.

Click HERE for the Entry List

4. IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Mid-Ohio 120, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

• 2.4 miles; 120 minute race duration
• TV: imsa.tv (free online streaming) at 1:35P
• Last year this series was called the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The 2018 Mid-Ohio round was won by Stacy/Marcelli in a Roush Mustang GT4 running in the GS class. There was also a class for TCR touring cars which was won by Sales/Wittmer in a Compass Racing Audi RS3 which finished in 16th place overall.
• This year, the most recent race was the two-hour race at Sebring. McQuarrie/Westphal were the overall winners driving the No. 39 Audi R8 in the GS class. The top-placed TCR entry was the No. 37 Honda Civic of O’Gorman/Blackstock.

Click HERE for the Entry List

Sunday, May 5

5. IMSA WeatherTech Acura Sports Car Challenge, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

• 2.4 miles; 160 min (2h 40 min) race duration

• TV: Discovery-Velocity at 1:30P
• Last year the two Acuras finished one-two here with the No. 7 of Castroneves/Ricky Taylor taking the checker ahead of the No. 6 car of Cameron/Montoya.
• The most recent WeatherTech race this year was the 100-minute race for DPi and GTLM cars at Long Beach. The DPI winner there was the No. 5 Action Express/Mustang Sampling driven by Barbosa/Albuquerque finishing ahead of the two Penske Acura DPi cars. In GTLM, it was a bit of a surprise results with the Ford GTs dropping out on the final lap and the No. 912 Porsche (11 RSR of Bamber and Vanthoor taking the class honours ahead of the two Corvettes.

Click HERE for the Entry List

 6. NASCAR MENCS Gander RV 400, Dover Intl. Speedway

• 1 mile; 400 laps = 400 mile; Stages: 120/120/160 laps
• TV: TSN2 at 2:00P
• Last year at Dover, Kevin Harvick was the race winner over Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez.
• Chase Elliott won the MENCS race at Talladega last week in his Chevrolet, the first win for a Chevrolet this year. The Chevrolets of Alex Bowman and Ryan Preece were second and third after the teams running Chevrolets worked together to pull off this result.

Click HERE for the Entry List

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