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Race Weekend Review – June 28-30, 2019

Race Weekend Review – June 28-30, 2019

Formula 1 myWorld Grosser Preis von Osterreich at Red Bull Ring
• Verstappen runs over Leclerc to score first non-Mercedes win of the year

Spielberg, Austria, June 30/19 (GRW): It had to happen sooner or later. Here in Austria, the ninth Grand Prix of the year, we saw a race won by a driver who was neither of the two Mercedes drivers who had had a stranglehold on F1 wins up to now. In an audacious and controversial pass Max Verstappen overran Charles Leclerc with three laps to go to take the lead and go on to win the race. Up to that point, Leclerc had been in charge of the race, leading all the way from the pole but for a few laps during pit stops.

The Mercedes cars were hampered by cooling issues in the very hot weather here and they had to settle for a third for Valtteri Bottas and a fifth for Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel, who had started in ninth place, was trailing Hamilton after he made a second pit stop on lap 50 of the 71-lap race – but he reeled him in over the closing laps and caught and passed him on the second-last lap to take fourth ahead of Hamilton. He had actually been placed tenth after the qualifying sessions because he had failed to record a time during the final qualifying session due to an engine problem – but he had been moved up a spot on the grid when Kevin Magnussen, who had qualified fifth fastest was given a five place grid penalty due to a gearbox replacement.

In the race, Leclerc took the lead from the pole but Verstappen, who had qualified on the front row, had trouble launching and he fell to seventh place. Once going, his car ran mostly untroubled and he worked throughout the race to catch up to the front of the field – catching and passing Leclerc with just three laps remaining.

When Verstappen caught Leclerc, he still had to pass him and the young Frenchman made that as difficult as possible. Using DRS, Verstappen tried to make a pass on lap 68 but he failed to complete the pass. The next time around, at the same right-hander corner, he pressed in harder and his car took a line that forced Leclerc over the yellow line onto the rumble strip outside the corner. And Verstappen was through into the lead to the cheers of the masses of Dutch fans in attendance.

For sure, the pass did seem to be a bit unorthodox – and, in the wake of the controversial steward’s decision at Montreal a few weeks earlier, it was expected that the stewards would review this manoeuver as well. They did – and they seemed to take a long time before announcing their decision – a racing incident, no action against Verstappen – so his win stands.

PHOTO F1 PODIUMLeclerc, Verstappen, Bottas on the podium (Matic Klansek // GEPA pictures/Red Bull)

Of course, during the post race procedures Leclerc was visibly upset with this outcome – which had cost him his first win in F1.

But Verstappen was in his glory and he said, “That was such an awful start, but we had great pace. (The pass) was just racing, there's nothing wrong with that. If that isn't allowed, what's the point of being in F1?”

After a season in which wins by Mercedes had become de rigeur, it was refreshing to see these two young non-Mercedes drivers on the top two steps of the podium. And, after the upset and controversy over the Vettel penalty in Montreal, this non-penalty decision by the stewards in Austria was a welcome development. The two decisions may have been a bit contradictory but it was good to see a race outcome that had masses of fans overcome by joy in contrast to the gloomy faces of the Ferrari fans in Montreal.

Click HERE for the results of the Austrian Grand Prix.
The next F1 Grand Prix will be run at Silverstone in two weeks time on Sunday, July 14.

PHOTO IMSA WT 55 galstad WGI 0619 20082#55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi, DPi: Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell, Olivier Pla (Jake Galstad/LAT)

IMSA WeatherTech Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
• Finally, a win for the Mazdas – and it’s a one-two finish for them

Watkins Glen, NY, June 30/19 (GRW): It’s been a long time coming but Mazda finally got a win in IMSA prototypes. And, to put icing on it, it was a one-two win. Going into the final hour, the No. 6 Acura, driven by Juan Pablo Montoya had the lead over the two Mazdas, the No. 55 driven by Harry Tincknell and the No. 77 driven by Oliver Jarvis.

The Mazdas have seen a chance at wins lost before due to unreliability but after five hours of hard racing, both cars were still running strongly in second and third. They had shown that they had the speed to win and, over that final hour, we watched as they slowly closed up on the tail of the sole Acura. Montoya did his best but, with 45 minutes to go, Tincknell tried to make a pass around the outside at the heel of the boot (Corner 8) – and Montoya squeezed over and baulked him. Soon after he had another go, and this time he was prepared and he pushed his way past the Acura into the lead.

“I had to attack and it was difficult to pass,” Tincknell said. “I tried once around the outside and he kind of had a little bit of rubbin’ is racin’ and kind of pushed me off, so I knew it was going to have to be a super-bold move. In those circumstances you’re better off committing 100 percent. It’s the 95 percent commitment move that causes the crash, so I think I was probably 110 percent committed going into that corner, a little bit of rubbin’ is racin’ at the apex, and luckily we came out unscathed.”

All three had to make one more pit stop. Tincknell came in first and Montoya re-took the lead but a couple of laps late Montoya and Jarvis came into the pits together. Tincknell came past and regained the lead and then Jarvis beat Montoya out the pits taking over second place with just seven laps remaining until the six-hour race was completed.

Jarvis come in second a mere 0.4 seconds behind the other Mazda driver while Montoya, in third place, was another 11 seconds back.

The No. 6 Acura had to start the race from the pit lane after a flat tire was discovered just before the race’s start and it was unable to complete the formation laps before the green. Of course, in a six-hour race, the time lost here at the start was of little significance and the car was up into contention in fourth place after 25 of the race’s 211 laps. This left the No. 7 Acura of R. Taylor / H. Castroneves starting second to the pole-sittter the No.. 77 Mazda of O. Jarvis / T. Nunez / T. Bernhard. Despite having a better start, the No. 7 Acura finished in fifth place , the last car on the lead lap while the No. 10 Taylor Cadillac driven by O. Jarvis / T. Nunez / T. Bernhard was fourth.

In GTLM, the No. 4 Corvette of O. Gavin / T. Milner was knocked out of the race on the first lap but the No. 3 Corvette of J. Magnussen / A. Garcia finished second in class half a second behind the class winner, the No. 911 Porsche of P. Pilet / N. Tandy. The two Ganassi Ford GTs finished third and fourth in class a lap down behind them.

In GT-Daytona, the No. 86 Acura of M. Farnbacher/T. Hindman/J. Marks was the class winner over the No. 96 BMW M6 of B. Auberlen / R. Foley / D. Machavern. The No. 9 PFAFF Porsche of S. Hargrove / Z. Robichon / L. Kern was sixth in class, finishing on the same lap as the class leader.

Click HERE for the results of the Watkins Glen WeatherTech race.

The next IMSA WeatherTech race will be the 160-minute race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park next Sunday, July 7,

 

PHOTO IMSA MPC 35 galstad WGI 0619 13699#35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG, GS: James Cox, Dylan Murry, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Pit Stop ( (Jake Galstad/LAT)

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Tioga Downs 240 at the Glen
• Riley Motorsports Mercedes wins the four-hour race

Watkins Glen, NY, July 29/19 (GRW): Not long ago, most races in this series – then known as the Continental Challenge – were won by either a Mustang or a Porsche Cayman. Recently many more makes of cars have joined the GT4 competition and, with the influence of BoP tinkering, the former stars seem to have been relegated to also-rans.

This race at the Glen runs to double the length of most races in this series making it a kind of endurance race for these entrants – the other two four-hour races are at Daytona and Laguna Seca. The No. 35 Mercedes-AMG of J. Cox / D. Murry / J. Bleekemolen started in eighth place on the grid but, at the end of the four hours they were in victory circle. The No. 82 BMW M4 GT4 of J. Clay / D. Jones finished second, two seconds back while the No. 39 Audi R8 of T. McQuarrie / J. Westphal was third another three seconds back.

A Porsche Cayman did finish in fourth place – the No. 7 car of A. Brynjolfsson / T. Hindman. The best-placed Mustang was the No. 40 car of J. Pesek / J. Buford which finished in seventh place.

This year we are seeing a healthy entry of the TCR ‘touring’ cars (which is the only other class now running in this series). There were 13 TCR entries at the Glen. The class winner was the No. 73 Honda Civic of M. Pombo / M. LaMarra which finished on the tail of the lead lap.

Click HERE for the results of the Michelin Pilot race at Watkins Glen.

The next Michelin Pilot race will be run at CTMP next Saturday, July 6.

PHOTO MENCS CLS EarlyPack 063019Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, and Kurt Busch lead a pack of cars during the Camping World 400 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/NASCAR)

Monster Energy Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway
• Bowman scores his first MENCS win

Joliet, IL, June 30/19 (GRW): In his five years running in NASCAR’s elite series, Alex Bowman had made 133 starts but he had never won a race. That changed at Chicagoland when he out-raced a hard-charging Kyle Larson to take his first ever win in the MENCS series. Larson finished second, half a second behind. Joey Logano was third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.

The race had barely gotten underway on Sunday afternoon when a strange storm blew in – lots of wind and dust blown up at first and then rain – which forced NASCAR to red-flag the race for over three hours. After that there were only two incidents through to the end of Stage 2.

The final Stage went green on lap 167 of the 267-lap race with Kevin Harvick in the lead but he was quickly passed by Larson – and then Bowman, who had finished Stage 2 in fourth place, came through to take the lead. And he led for the next 48 laps. Early in this run, Harvick slammed the outside wall, bringing out the fifth and final yellow in the race on lap 173. Bowman maintained his lead though this caution.

Everyone still had to make a final pit stop for fuel, splitting the distance of the final 107-lap Stage. The green-flag pit stops began on lap 216 and continued until Harvick who had already pitted after his meeting with the wall finished the cycle on lap 225.

Now Bowman had a 2.5-second lead over Larson. It seemed as if Larson had been gaining an advantage on Bowman as the laps went on, so we expected Larson to run him down before the end of the race. And run him down, he did. By lap 259 Larson had caught Bowman and was running side-by-side with him looking for his chance to get past – and then he dove low and shot out ahead into the lead. It looked like Bowman’s goose was cooked.

But somehow Bowman was able to regroup and retaliate. After two laps in second place, Bowman went low and was able scramble past Larson to retake the lead. Once past, Bowman seem to find new strength and he gradually pulled out a bigger and bigger lead as the laps counted down. In the end he won the race by a half-second margin. Bowman was delighted but Larson was dismayed that he had let this happen.

“It’s all I’ve wanted my whole life”, Bowman said after the race. “I’m just tired of running second, didn’t want to do that anymore.”

Denny Hamlin had won Stage 1 but he finished in 15th place at the end. Harvick won the second Stage and he finished the race in 14th place.

Click HERE for the results of the Chicagoland MENCS race.

The next MENCS race is the 400 mile race at Daytona International Speedway next weekend on Saturday evening, July 6.

PHOTO NXS CLS Custer Celly 062919Cole Custer celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Camping World 300 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway
• Custer in command; Bell DQ’d this time

Joliet, IL, June 29/19 (GRW): Cole Custer started from the front row with pole-sitter Joey Logano alongside. He passed Logano for the lead on lap 3 and he went on to lead 151 of the race’s 200-lap distance. In the end he won the race by a comfortable three-second margin over ... Logano.

Custer won the first Stage but Logano won the second. In the final Stage, Custer led the most laps, including the final 21. His only close competition came from Michael Annett who led for 25 laps of this 110 lap segment.

“I think we’re going to hit it this summer, we have some awesome cars,” Custer said. “I don’t know how to get the car any better, I’m just lucky to drive it.”

When the checker flew. Christopher Bell was in third place but his car failed post-race inspection and he was dropped to the bottom of the results sheet. Annett was credited with third place ahead of Brandon Jones and Austin Cindric.

Click HERE for the results of the Chicagoland NXS race.

The Xfinity Series’ next race is the Circle K Firecracker 250, scheduled Friday night, July 5.

PHOTO NGOTS CLS MoffittWin 062819Brett Moffitt at the NGOTS Camping World 225 (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Camping World 225 at Chicagoland Speedway

• Moffitt takes the checker for the win

Joliet, IL, June 28/19 (GRW): Two races ago, Brett Moffitt inherited a win when the race winner Ross Chastain’s truck was disqualified – and then Chastain won the next race to legitimatize his hold on an end-of-season playoff spot. This time, in a kind of symmetry, Moffitt took the checker to score an honest win and solidify his place in the playoff competition.

Moffitt had started in the second row behind Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter. This was a short race and the Stage ends came up in no time – after just 35 laps on the 1.5-mile oval. Brandon Jones who was driving the Kyle Busch No. 51 rent-a-truck entry started in 19th place but he moved up quickly and he won the first Stage just beating out Grant Enfinger on the final lap - but Moffitt was right there in third place.

Moffitt came out of the pits in fifth place and, when Natalie Decker spun almost immediately on the restart, he fell to eighth while Enfinger took over the lead. At the end of the second Stage, Moffitt was back up into third place behind Enfinger and Jones. Moffitt beat everyone else out fo the pits during this caution and he took the green in the low groove alongside Enfinger.

The final Stage was 150 laps long but soon Enfinger was the victim of the close racing and he hit the wall bringing out the fifth and final yellow of the race. Moffitt held onto his lead through this yellow (which saw no wave of pit stops). Given the length of this final Stage, everyone was going to need to stop for fuel sooner or later. Moffitt gave up the lead when he pitted on lap 119 of the 150-lap race and he had to wait until the others pitted to regain the lead on lap 125. By then he had a two-second plus lead over Jones and he was able to pull away in the remaining laps to win by a four-second margin.

Stewart Friesen was third, Harrison Burton fourth and Austin Hill fifth.

Of course, this time he got enjoy the spoils of victory in front of the crowd in contrast to his after-the-fact win at Iowa. “It was a heck of a lot more fun, and it’s fun for not only me but for the whole pit crew,’’ Moffitt said.

Looking at Moffitt’s white No. 24 truck with no sponsorship beyond the team name it is an strange echo of another white No. 24 car that ran without sponsorship – the Hesketh F1 car that James Hunt drove in 1975; you may have seen this car at the Grands Prix at Mosport and/or Watkins Glen that year.

Click HERE for the results of the NGOTS race at Chicagoland

The next truck race will be run at Kentucky Speedway in two weeks time on Thursday, July 11.

 

PHOTO PINTYS LESSARD CARLessard leads the field at Chaudiere (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)

NASCAR Pinty's Budweiser 300 at Autodrome Chaudiere

• Young Lessard wins on his first start in the Pinty’s Series

Vallee-Jonction, QC, June 29/19 (GRW): Rapheal Lessard is a 17-year-old from St. Joseph de Beauce, south of Quebec City, who is trying to make his mark in stock car racing, cherry-picking rides in various series this year. After racing in a number of events in the United States he came home to race at the track near his home – entering both races on the program.

Driving a car prepared by Dumoulin Competition, he took the lead mid-way through the race and he held on to the end, scoring a win in his first-ever start in the Pinty’s Series. The race was scheduled to run for 300 laps on the quarter-mile track but it was waved off after 286 laps had been run when rain started.

Former series champion Alex Labbe started from the pole and he led the first 18 laps until L.P. Dumoulin took over and he led the next 115 laps. But then Lessard passed his erstwhile teammate to take the lead on lap 137 and he led the remaining laps to the finish.

On lap 271, Dumoulin tangled with Jason Hathaway and the race was red-flagged while the wreckage was cleared – but Lessard held on to the lead to the finish. Kevin Lacroix was second. Labbe third, Andrew Ranger fourth and Alex Tagliani fifth.

“It's very special, it's kind of a dream come true. I never expected to win my first ever NASCAR Pinty's Series race here at home, a major event with all the great drivers who have been here over time,” said Lessard. “The guys at Dumoulin Competition gave me an awesome race car. It's hard to dominate like this with a one-race deal. It's your first time with the team, with the car and everything is new. I wasn't sure how the race would play out. In practice we were okay on new tires, but we needed a little more speed. And on old tires, we just kept being better and better. I had to pace myself to slow down. It was a lot of fun,

Lessard also ran in the NASCAR Super Late Model race here and he finished third – on the podium – in that race. He is scheduled to run here at Chaudiere again in July and in August and he is planning to race a DGR-Crosley entry in the truck race at CTMP at the end of August. He will drive a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck at Bristol the week before that.

Click HERE for the results of the Chaudiere Pinty's race

The next Pinty's race will be run at Exhibition Place in Toronto on Saturday, July 13 alongside the IndyCar race thaty weekend.

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