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Race Weekend Review – May 2-3-4, 2019

Race Weekend Review – May 2-3-4, 2019

FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season at the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
• No. 8 Toyota wins the snow-plagued enduro

Francorchamps, Belgium, May 4/19 (PRN Staff with files from WEC): Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima today took their fourth win of the WEC Super Season here. The No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 hybrid trio claimed a famous win amid a variety of challenging rain and snow showers which hit the Belgian venue throughout an exhilarating and unpredictable race. There were three safety car periods for winter conditions through the six hours – including freezing rain, hail and enough snow to cover the ground at times. The race was eventually red-flagged with 11 minutes to go as the weather closed in once again.

In winning, Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima are one step closer to the 2018-19 LMP1 World Endurance Drivers Championship which they now lead by 31 points. This title will be decided at the Super Final of this unusually long season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

The pole-sitting No.7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria Lopez led comfortably until just before the half-distance mark but lost 11-minutes and four laps in the pits after a sensor problem on their hybrid system had to be repaired. Kobayashi was over 50-seconds in the lead when the issue occurred, and he was forced to pit. The car eventually finished in sixth place in the LMP1 class, four laps down. It was a day of celebration, however, for Toyota Gazoo Racing as the Japanese manufacturer took the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance LMP1 Championship with a round to spare.

The No.3 Rebellion R-13 shared by Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Nathanaël Berthon took second place overall after a close battle with the No.11 SMP Racing car of WEC debutant Stoffel Vandoorne and his teammates Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov. The No.17 SMP car of Sergey Sirotkin, Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev placed fourth after its race was affected by a lost wheel in the second hour.

In LMP2, the DragonSpeed crew of Pastor Maldonado, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez claimed a first win after a stunning victory which the American team molded in the second phase of the six-hour race. Maldonado drove a stellar triple stint to surge ahead of early leaders, the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 and the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry. The pole-sitting G-Drive Racing car of Jean-Eric Vergne, Job Van Uitert and Roman Rusinov took second place.

PHOTO WEC SPA SNOWNo. 90 Aston Martin and the No. 56 Porsche 911 in the snow (John Rourke/AdrenalMedia.com)

Aston Martin Racing’s No.97 crew of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin took their first win of the season in the highly-competitive LMGTE Pro category. During the race’s closing stages, the AF Corse entry was hot on the heels of category winner Aston Martin Racing with less than a second separating the two cars until the red flag ended the race prematurely. The No. 51 Ferrari piloted by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado took second in class behind the No. 92 Porsche.

Meanwhile, Porsche took the World Endurance GTE Manufacturers’ Championship with one round still remaining. After the No. 92 and No. 91 crews finished third and eighth respectively, the Porsche GT Team have a 93-point lead in the overall standings making it mathematically impossible for Ferrari to catch them.

The LMGTE Am field once again saw plenty of action from start to finish but the top spot of the podium eventually went to Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 car trio made up of Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matt Campbell. The squad’s emphatic victory is the second in a row for the German-based team having also taken the spoils in Sebring back in March.

Click HERE for the results of the Spa round out the WEC SuperSeason.

The next and final round in the SuperSeason championship will be the Le Mans 24-Hours on June 15-16.

PHOTO IMSA WT mid ohioThe start of the IMSA WeatherTech race (LAT Imges/Michael Levitt)

IMSA WeatherTech Championship ACURA Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
• No. 6 Acura of Cameron/Montoya makes it two in a row at Mid-Ohio for Penske Acura

Lexington, OH, May 5/19 (GRW): A year ago here the Team Penske Acuras finished one-two with the car of Helio Castroneves/Ricky Taylor taking the honours ahead of the Dane Cameron/Juan Pablo Montoya car. This year it was the Cameron/Montoya No. 6 in winners circle after the sister car had some problems during the race. The Cadillacs which have been so dominant up to now this year, failed to earn a podium finish. The two Mazda DPi cars finished second and third; the No. 77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis/Tristan Nunez was second, two seconds back, while the No. 55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito/Kyle Kaiser was third.

The No. 77 Mazda had won the pole ahead of the No. 7 Acura of Castroneves/R. Taylor in second. At the start, the No. 7 car with Castroneves at the wheel tangled with some others and damaged the right-front body work. He was able to keep going without pitting for repairs but he lost pace and quickly fell back to sixth place. Meanwhile, the No. 6 Acura with Cameron driving, passed the Mazda to take over the lead ahead of the No. 77 and the No. 55 Mazdas.

When Cameron made his first pit stop and Montoya took over, the car dropped to second place behind the No. 77 Mazda. But, on the next pit stop exchange, when Nunez replaced Jarvis in the No. 77 car while Montoya stayed in the No. 6, Montoya was able to regain the race lead. After that he was able to build a solid lead of a few seconds over the No. 77 behind him and he held onto the lead the rest of the way to the finish.

As the clock was winding down to the 160 minute mark, the order remained Montoya (No. 6), Nunez (No. 77), Jonathan Bomarito (No. 55) and Felipe Nasr (No. 31 Cadillac). Then, with just six minutes to go to the finish, the No. 9 GTD Porsche of Scott Hargrove spun off into the sand trap in the first turn. Given that the race was so close to the finish, no full-course yellow was displayed, only a local yellow until the finish. Soon after, the No. 55 Mazda and the No. 31 Cadillac were seen to have passed a slower car in this turn despite the yellow flag. The No. 55 Mazda slowed and dropped a position and the No. 31 car was given a drive-through penalty. With the spacing behind and ahead of the others cars, all this resulted in no change in the race order at the finish.

Montoya took the checker two seconds ahead of Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda with the No. 55 Mazda of Bomarito third. The No. 31 Nasr/Pipo Derani Cadillac was fourth. Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura was fifth, a lap down.

In GTLM, the class winner was the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber/Laurens Vanthoor. The No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen/Anthony Garcia was second while the No. 911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy finished third.

In GTD, there was a hard fought battle for the win fought over the closing laps. The AIM Vasser team’s No. 14 Lexus RC-F driven by Richard Heistand/Jack Hawkworth held off the No. 86 Meyer Shank Acura NSX of Mario Farbacher/Trent Hindman for the class win.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA WeatherTech race from Mid-Ohio.

The next WeatherTech race will be a on Saturday June 1st at the Belle Isle street course in Detroit.

PHOTO IMSA MP MID OHIO galstad MIDO 0519 118122The No 7 Porsche Cayman of Trent Hindman/Alan Brynjolfsson (LAT Images/Jake Galstad)

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Mid-Ohio 120 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course

• The No. 7 Porsche Cayman takes the race win on slicks in the rain.

Lexington, OH, May 4/19 (GRW): The No 7 Porsche Cayman of Trent Hindman/Alan Brynjolfsson started 11th on the grid after a Friday of practice and qualifying which was disrupted by rain. In the race they more-or-less ran where they had qualified. But two-thirds of the way through the race, when it was looking like rain again, the cars were making their final pit stops in the 120-minute race and most were taking on rain tires. The No 7's crew opted to NOT change over to rain tires when the others did, making their pit stop shorter and this vaulted them from 11th up into the lead as the others made their pit stops.

Despite being on slick tires while a light rain fell., Hindman was able to maintain his pace and hold on to the lead for the remaining laps to win the race.

The No. 35 Mercedes-AMG of James Cox/Dylan Murry finished second, three seconds back, while the No. 39 Audi R8 of Tyler McQuarrie/Jeff Westphal was third. All these cars were in the GS class.

This year there are two classes, the faster GS class and the slower TCR touring car class which is based on prescribed two-litre turbo engines. These cars, while slower, have different handling and performance characteristics and on a course like Mid-Ohio they can be pretty competitive with the bigger GS cars which are GT4 spec.

In this race, the TCR class winner, the No. 98 Hyundai Veloster N driven by Mark Wilkins/Michael Lewis was able to finish fifth overall, just 33 seconds back of the race winner on the same lap. While nine GS cars finished on the lead lap, seven TCR cars were also able to achieve this as well. The second TCR finisher was the No. 61 Audi RS3 of Gavin Ernstone/Jon Morley which finished seventh overall, half a second behind the class winner. The No. 12 TCR Audi finished third in class, 11th overall, nine-tenths of a second behind the class winner.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA Michelin Pilot race at Mid-Ohio

The next Michelin Pilot race will be run at Watkins Glen on Saturday, June 29.

PHOTO Dover MENCS MTruexAction 050619Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 SiriusXM Toyota, leads Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Small Business Chevrolet, during the Gander RV 400 (Chris Trotman/Getty Images/NASCAR)

 

NASCAR MENCS Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway
• Sunday’s race postponed by rain; Truex wins on Monday

Dover, DE, May 6/19 (GRW): Martin Truex won his first ever NASCAR Cup race here at Dover in 2007 – and it was a race that was rained out on Sunday and run on Monday. This year, the same thing happened. Sunday’s race was rained out and postponed to Monday; Truex won with his Joe Gibbs Toyota here on another Monday. It was his second Cup win this year, his previous win having come at Richmond, three weeks ago. This time Truex had to race up from the back of the field after he was penalized for his car having failed pre-race inspection twice.

In contrast to Sunday’s rainy weather condition, Monday’s race was run under a clear sky and warm spring temperatures.

Alex Bowman was second in his Hendrick Chevrolet and Kyle Larson was third in his Ganassi Chevrolet. Kevin Harvick finished in fourth place ahead of the polesitter Chase Elliott in fifth place. Kyle Busch, who has been on a tear so far this year, had to settle for mediocre tenth-place finish.

Chase Elliott led the first 107 laps of the 400-lap race. The race’s second caution came on lap 107 when Ricky Stenhouse had a tire fail and he went into the wall. This seemed to be the cue for a second round of pit stops even thought the end of the first Stage was imminent. Joey Logano and William Byron opted to take on just two tires and this vaulted them up to the front for the restart. On green, Logano took the lead over his teammate Keselowski but this was followed by the third yellow a few laps later – and they still had not reached the end of Stage #1.

This time, the cars at the front of the field opted to stay out while the cars in the back half of the order pitted. The track did go back to green for a single lap before the yellow flew again to end the first Stage. The cars at the front which had not pitted in the previous caution took the Stage points and then pitted. But this meant that the race order for the restart was shuffled with the cars that had been leading earlier would now be relegated to rearward positions behind those which had pitted just before the end of the Stage.

However, given this bad scenario, only two of the cars from that lead pack pitted during the Stage-end turnaround – Logano and Byron. This left them the victims and they had been dropped down into 22nd and 24th place after the restart.

After this kerfuffle, the second Stage ran to its conclusion without an intervening caution. Near the end of the Stage, Elliott started to lose positions, being passed by Bowman, Harvick and Truex. Truex was on a tear in these final few laps. He passed both Harvick and Bowman to take the lead on the final lap of the Stage. Meanwhile the alternate strategy duo of Logano and Byron were still mired back in 14th and 15th places. But there was still the full second half of the race’s laps to be run.

Now Truex seemed to be in charge. He led the next 75 laps as the track stayed green until a final round of pit stops – under green - started on lap 320. Everyone pitted but Daniel Suarez who took over the lead all by himself on the lead lap and he continued to lead for 21 laps. Finally he came in to make his pit stop and the order reverted to normal as before – with Truex regaining the lead on lap 348. After that, he was never again seriously challenged and he continued to build his lead over Bowman, taking the checker by a 9.5-second margin. Meanwhile the unfortunate Logano and Byron ended up in seventh and eighth places after looking like potential winners earlier in the race.

“Man, it feels incredible,” said Truex. “So thankful for this team. What a race car we had today. We have one hell of a team. We came here with a new setup this time because we kind of had an older setup that we won with in 2016, and we’d been good, but not good enough. Thanks to all these fans that came out today, on a Monday. It’s just awesome.”

Click HERE for the results of the MENCS race from Dover.

The next MENCS race will be run next Saturday evening, May 11, at Kansas Speedway.

PHOTO NXS Dover NXS CheckeredFlag 050419Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the Allied Steel Buildings 200 (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Allied Steel Buildings at Dover International Speedway
• Bell beats Custer off pit road to take the win

Dover, DE, May 4/19 (GRW): As the season goes on, it is looking like the battle for the series title will come down to Christopher Bell versus Cole Custer. Coming into the Dover race, they both had two race wins, more than any of the other championship-eligible drivers. Here at Dover, Cole Custer started from the pole and he led In dominant fashion for the first 155 laps of the 200-lap race. Bell started in the fourth row but he quickly moved up into second place behind Custer. After that he tailed Custer until the third caution flew on lap 155. Bell beat Custer out of the pits and he was in command through the final two cautions, taking the checker by a 1.7-second margin over Justin Allgaier.

Custer had dropped to fifth place during the final restart and, over the final 14 laps, he was only able to regain one position to finish in fourth. Tyler Reddick finished in third place while Austin Cindric was sixth.

“Over the last couple of races, we’ve had great cars, but we haven’t been able to capitalize on it,” said Bell. “This one is really thanks to my pit crew, man. They did a great job, getting me out front where I could control the restarts. I knew if I could get out front, we’d be tough to beat. This place, you can pass on long green-flag runs, and it’s one of my favourite race tracks because you can move around and try to find different lines and get going. But over the short run, it’s pretty difficult to make something happen because there is so much grip on the bottom.”

This was the fourth and final Dash-4-Cash race and Bell, as the race winner took home the $100K bonus. He had also won the money for winning the fist Dash-4-Cash race.

“It’s really frustrating when you lead that many laps,” Custer said. “You just can’t give up your track position here. Everybody wants to win at Dover. It’s about the hardest track to pass that we go to … It’s just so frustrating. We were so good, and we couldn’t take advantage of a great car today.”

Bell now has three wins to Custer’s two, while Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett have one each. (The rest of the wins went to Kyle Busch who is ineligible for the NXS championship.)

Click HERE for the results of the NXS race from Dover.

The next NXS race will be held on Saturday, May 25 at Charlotte.

PHOTO Dover NGOTS SauterAction 050319Johnny Sauter, driver of the #13 Tenda Heal Ford, leads his teammate Grant Enfinger Gander Outdoors Truck Series JEGS 200 (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway
• Sauter takes his third win at Dover; gains retribution over Moffitt

Dover, DE, May 3/19 (GRW): Over the winter Johnny Sauter unexpectedly lost his ride with the GMS team to 2018 champion Brett Moffitt. Fortunately, Sauter was able to find a new home at his former team ThorSport. Here at Dover, Sauter got his own back when he took the lead with 31 laps to go in the 200-lap race and he beat Moffitt to the checker by a six-tenths of a second margin. Moffitt had led for the most laps during the race, 81 laps.

“When you get kicked to the curb, you feel like you have a lot to prove,” Sauter said in Victory Lane. “I have to thank (owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson most importantly — a couple months ago I didn’t know if I’d be racing. To get three in a row here is extra special. I have to thank these guys. I was highly motivated. I shut the motor off earlier today in the race and it wouldn’t re-fire and I was like, ‘Oh well.’ Track position was so important, but experience paid off.”

Sauter had been fighting with Sheldon Creed for the lead until the third caution which came on lap 112. During this caution he was trying to save fuel and had trouble restarting his engine – which caused him to drop to eighth for the restart. After that he had to work his way back towards the front. He took the restart after the fifth caution ended on lap 165 in fourth place – while Moffitt was challenging Ben Rhodes for the lead. Within ten laps he had caught them and taken the lead – a lead he held to the finish.

Harrison Burton finished third in the No. 18 Kyle Busch truck while Grant Enfinger was fourth and his teammate and former rival Matt Crafton was fifth.

Given Kyle Busch’s many wins so far this year in this series, the NGOTS regulars have few wins so far. Among the series regulars, only Sauter (who is in second place behind Enfinger) and Austin Hill (the driver who displaced Moffitt from his Hattori ride) who is in eighth place in points have any wins – one each.

Click HERE for the results of the NGOTS race from Dover.

The next NGOTS race will be run next Friday, May 10, at Kansas Speedway.

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