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Race Weekend Review: August 24-25, 2019

Race Weekend Review: August 24-25, 2019

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
• Moffitt dominates, wins second playoff race

Bowmanville, ON, Aug 25/19 (Holly Cain/NASCAR Wire Service): Past NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races on the historical and scenic Canadian Tire Motorsport Park road course ended in hot tempers and dramatic last-lap passes. By comparison, Brett Moffitt’s 5.16-second victory in Sunday’s race looked like a drive in the Park. The current series championship leader earned his second playoff win in as many races with the largest margin of victory in the race’s seven-year history over one of the very best road-course racers in the world: Canadian Alex Tagliani.

Ben Rhodes finished third, followed by Sheldon Creed. Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter got around another Canadian, fellow Truck Series playoff driver Stewart Friesen, on the last lap to round out the top six. Friesen still had a solid day, an impressive rally from last place on the starting grid to seventh at the checkered flag – forced to conserve fuel down the homestretch.

Four of the first six series races at the track were decided on the final lap. This year for Moffitt’s strong No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet team, it was instead a matter of making a strong statement with earning a convincing win and extending his playoff win streak to two with the final race of this opening playoff round set for Sept. 13 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Going back to the 2018 season, defending series champion Moffitt has won four consecutive playoff races. He led 45 of the 64 laps.

“As far as the team goes, I just feel like everyone at GMS all the way back from the fab shop on up has been doing a better job," Moffitt said. “Our team personally has been communicating a lot better and just knowing what my words mean and what I need to find in the truck, I’d say we’re hitting our stride at the right time. It took a while to get here, but before it was like we were missing a little bit everywhere and now we’re hitting on all cylinders." 

Playoff driver Ross Chastain finished eighth, and his nine laps led were the most by any driver other than Moffitt. Among the other playoff drivers, Tyler Ankrum finished ninth, Matt Crafton was 11th and regular-season champion Grant Enfinger was 13th.

As has often been the case in this event, again the action intensified in the final laps. This year it was behind the leader. Harrison Burton lost a motor while running in the top five with two laps remaining but was able to get off the track without bringing out a caution flag. The driver racing him hardest at the time, Friesen, had to back off himself to conserve fuel on the final lap.

“It was a battle for sure," Friesen said. “I screwed up in practice and wrecked the primary (truck). But we were able to battle up through there and almost had a top-five but started running out of fuel at the end. We gave up a couple positions at the end but still got out of here with some points."

It was found in post-race inspection Friesen had a lug nut that was not secure.

Click HERE for the results of the CTMP race.

The next race will be the third and final raced in the first three-race round of the NGOTS playoffs. After that race two of the eight playoff contenders will be dropped out of the competition for the championship. That next race will be held at Las Vegas in two weeks time.

PHOTO IMSA VIR Michelin GT Challenge at VIR: #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR, GTLM: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy leads the #912 Porsche (LAT Images/Scott R LePage)

IMSA WeatherTech Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, Virginia International Raceway
• Porsche Goes 1-2 in Michelin Gt Challenge at VIR as Tandy, Pilet Take Third Win of Season in No. 911

Alton, VA, Aug 25/19 (IMSA): Something happened in Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway that has never happened before in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship history dating back to 2014.The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class finishing order had teammates finishing together from top to bottom, led by the Porsche GT Team which scored a 1-2 sweep on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR driver Nick Tandy led his teammates, Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche across the line by 0.737 seconds to score the third victory of the season for himself and his co-driver, Patrick Pilet.

It was the sixth victory of the season for the Porsche GT Team and was the second VIR victory for Tandy and Pilet, who won here in 2015. The two Porsches dominated most of the race, combining to lead 86 of the 88 laps completed in the race.

The No. 911 led a race-high 48 laps, including the last 20 after Tandy claimed the lead when Richard Westbrook surrendered it to make his final pit stop of the race in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. After that, it came down to teammates Tandy and Bamber to settle it between themselves.

A final full-course caution came out with 21 minutes to go when Katherine Legge crashed in Turn 9 in the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Acura NSX GT3. That set the stage for one last duel, and while Tandy had concerns coming into the restart with just under nine minutes left, he managed to keep Bamber at bay to win for the first time since June’s race at Watkins Glen International.

“This weekend was really suited to the tires we were using, and it was really quick,” Tandy said. “It hasn’t always been like that. Road America, we were really struggling as a matter of fact, but we still managed to pull a result out of the bag and get a third-place finish with the No. 912 car.

“I think it’s this sort of thing that’s made our season. Things like, we won Sebring due to a great team performance, it’s not about having a great car, and that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s not about having a pole and then just driving around. When you battle and you work as a unit, I think it’s really shown this year we have two sides of the garage working together.”

The victory all but sealed the 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTLM manufacturer’s title for Porsche, which only needs to earn the minimum points for starting the final two races of the season to win it.

“It’s a perfect day,” Pilet said. “We had a tough qualy for Nick. He was really (upset) he went off, but I told him never give up. We have a great car. The guys make an excellent job. All the Michelin tires were working perfectly on our car this weekend.

“Yeah, the manufacturer’s championship was the first step, so this is done now, we can fight until the end with our sister car, which made a great job today. It was a great fight with them. We will try to make their life a bit more difficult for the driver’s championship. Even if it’s not easy, we will never give up until the end. It’s a great day for Porsche.”

With the victory, Tandy and Pilet closed the gap in the driver and team standings to 11 points, 280-269, behind Bamber and his co-driver Laurens Vanthoor. The No. 912 duo known as “Bamthor” earned their seventh podium result of the season.

Finishing third were No. 3 Corvette Racing co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, who now have finished on the podium in four consecutive races at VIR dating back to their first of two consecutive wins starting in 2016. Fourth place went to the other Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, the No. 4 co-driven by Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.

The No. 33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating scored their first victory – and podium – of the season in the GT Daytona (GTD) at the 3.27-mile circuit in Alton, Virginia.

In fact, it was the first podium of the season for the manufacturer in GTD and the first win for Bleekemolen and Keating since winning at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last July.

“Golly, this has been a long time coming,” said Keating. “We’ve have had a great, car, a great team, and everything would have gone so well from a performance standpoint all season, and then we’d have the worst of luck. Today was almost the complete opposite.”

The win came as a result of a slightly different pit strategy than the rest of the GTD competitors. The team chose to pit two laps earlier than the leaders to save time on pit lane and save fuel on track.

Bleekemolen was third following the midrace handoff from Keating and with two laps on the tires, passed the leading No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Mario Farnbacher and the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Scott Hargrove, fresh off pit lane on cold tires.

“Mario did an unbelievable job on the first lap,” said Keating. “But coming out of (the) Oak Tree (Turn), he went wide and it’s a pretty rough ride on the outside of there, and that allowed Jeroen to get a bit of a run all the way going down the back straight. From that point in time, once you have the position of being in the lead, it’s a little bit easier to save fuel. And this is one of those tracks where you can save fuel if you’re not really fighting hard for position.”

Farnbacher and co-driver Trent Hindman held on for second place by .566 seconds to expand their championship lead to 37 points over Zacharie Robichon, Hargrove’s No. 9 Porsche co-driver. Robichon currently leads the duo by one point in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup, which reaches its conclusion following the upcoming race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Rounding out the GTD podium was the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander, who made a last lap pass on Hargrove for the third position and the team’s third podium of the year.

Click HERE for the results from VIR.

Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 15. The two-hour, 40-minute race with all four classes will be televised live on the NBC network beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

PHOTO GATEWAY SATO CAR Takuma Sato -- Photo by: Chris Owens

NTT INDYCAR Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway
• Sato holds off Carpenter for the win

Madison, IL, Aug 24/19 (INDYCAR) - NTT IndyCar Series driver Takuma Sato hasn't had many weeks as wild as this past one. He qualified fifth for Saturday's, dropped to last place after opening-lap contact with other cars in Turn 1 and battled back to win in the closest finish in this track's 10-year history - 0.0399 seconds over Ed Carpenter.

The victory came six days after being the centre of attention for his role in the first-lap, multi-car accident at Pocono Raceway that left his car upside down. But the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver stood his ground and focussed forward, and that approach led him to his second win of the season, the fifth of his career and first on a short oval track.

Next to the 2017 Indianapolis 500 victory, Sato called this the most gratifying win of his career.

PHOTO GATEWAY SATOTakuma Sato wins Bommarito Automotive Group 500 -- Photo by: Chris Jones

"Yes, I'm sure," he said. "Winning (from) pole at Barber was very significant - just the domination of the weekend is always great credit for the team and satisfaction. But this win is so special - beside Indy 500, obviously nothing like (that). This is just so emotional. Gave me unbelievable boost. (It's) a great story."

Sato might not have held off Carpenter had the race gone another corner much less another lap. Carpenter made a valiant charge in the final two laps to overtake Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet) and close in on Sato. The margin was the closest of the NTT IndyCar Series season.

"It could have been (different winner) if we had a little longer straightaway or another lap," Carpenter said.

After Sato held off Carpenter at the finish line, all eyes turned to Josef Newgarden, who had been swapping fourth place with rookie Santino Ferrucci. Ferrucci had drifted high a few laps earlier, allowing Newgarden to get past. But Ferrucci passed Newgarden back - apparently in tight form - and Newgarden spun in Turn 4.

"I was happy I wasn't in the (wall), to be honest with you," Newgarden said. "The engine was still going, I wasn't in the wall. (I thought), thank goodness I'm kind of straight, I can't believe we're still going here."

Newgarden's misfortune caused him to drop to seventh place, which cost him six points, but he will head to Portland International Raceway for next weekend's penultimate race with a lead that has grown each of the past two weeks.

Carpenter and Kanaan scored their first top-three finishes of the season. Carpenter last finished second in last year's Indianapolis 500; Kanaan's most-recent podium was at Texas Motor Speedway in 2017. Ferrucci, who led a race-high 97 of 248 laps, scored his second consecutive fourth-place finish and the third of his rookie season.

Click HERE for the results of the IndyCar race from St. Louis.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Portland, Ore., for next Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland.

PHOTO RA NXS CBell 082419Christopher Bell leads a pack of cars during the CTECH Manufacturing 180 (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Series CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America
• Bell emerges as the winner in late-race action

Elkhart Lake, WI, Aug 24/19 (GRW): In a chaotic turn of events in the two laps after the final caution in the 45-lap race, Christopher Bell held on to ter lead while others fell back. He finished 1.9 seconds ahead of second place Austin Cindric who had taken the final green in 20th place.

When Bell took the final restart, A.J. Allmendinger was in second place but he spun his tires. Later he collided with Noah Gragson and went off the course. After a last-lap pit stop, he was scored in 24th place. After Allmendinger dropped back, Matt DiBenedetto took over second place but he spun in the final turn on the last lap and finished a lap down in 27th place.

Meanwhile, Cindric had pitted for fresh tires during that final pit stop and he had dropped far back when the race restarted with just two laps remaining. He went on a tear and he crossed the line in second place after DiBenedetto went off.

Tyler Reddick finished in third place ahead of Gragson and Kaz Grala. Playoff contender Cole Custer finihished tenth after he went off course on the restart after Stage 1.

“Man, I’m honestly in shock,” Bell said. “I really butchered qualifying and tore the crap out of the left front. I felt like once we got in the race there, we’d be able to drive by those guys. Instead, they dropped the green flag and they were driving by me. That wasn’t much fun. Then I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) I was really, really tight. We got those tires off and he said the left-front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there when we put our new set of tires on. That strategy worked out well for us coming in there (with 14 to go) and then the yellow coming out. This car was really, really fast today. We’ve had a great road course season.”

Cindric said, “We talked about a five-to-go plan, that was like a green-white-checkered. I wasn’t 100 percent confident, but at the same time, we were battling a lot of wheel hop after four or five laps on tires and we had a lot more than on tires. In this kind of racing, you pretty much know that you’re going to get used up if your slower, so we wanted to go on offense and that was our strategy all day and we probably just needed one or two laps to get our Mustang in Victory Lane. All in all, a good day, good points. P-2 is all right.”

Cindric had previously won two races this season – at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio – both road course circuits.

Click HERE for the results of the NXS race from Road America.

There are three races left in the ‘regular’ Xfinity season before the playoffs begin at Richmond on September 20. The next NXS race will be run at Darlington next Saturday, August 31.

PHOTO PINTYS CTMPKevin Lacroix gave Tagliani the bumper in the final corner to win at CTMP (Matthew Manor/NASCAR)

NASCAR Pinty's Series 2019 Total Quartz 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

• Kevin Lacroix Caps off Perfect Weekend with Fifth CTMP Win

Bowmanville, ON, Aug 25/19 (Alex Gallacher/nascar.com): Kevin Lacroix left Riverside International Speedway last week feeling like he had let one get away. After leading the most laps, including the white flag lap, Lacroix lost to Jason Hathaway in a thrilling overtime finish. This week, Lacroix came into a track he knows well – Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – looking to jumpstart his title hopes. Lacroix put together a ‘perfect’ weekend, taking the pole award before winning the TOTAL Quartz 200 in heart pounding fashion.

“We were pretty much shaken after the race [Riverside] for points” Lacroix said. “And now we’re here [CTMP] and we had the chance to make a perfect weekend, that was the plan, that’s what happened so we’re really happy.”

Lacroix’s led the first 20 laps in his No.74 Bumper to Bumper Dodge before calamity struck. Lacroix made an unscheduled pit stop, pushing him down the order and over 10 seconds back from the leaders. He took advantage of restarts to fight his way up to front. A late race accident set a up an overtime finish, of which he took perfect advantage. Lacroix’s win, coupled with trouble for points leader Andrew Ranger has the pair tied atop the standings with three races to go.

“Andrew Ranger had some bad luck and it ties us heading into the next three races. That’s going to be an exciting end of the season” Lacroix added “We’re really looking forward to the last few races, I’m really confident but I know Andrew is going be good there too so we have to keep up.”

Alex Tagliani had dominated the middle portion of the event leading 24 laps. In NASCAR overtime it was a two-man fight. Like countless Trucks and Pinty’s races past, Lacroix made his move in the infamous turn 10. Diving to the inside, Lacroix muscled his way by the RONA/EpiPen Chevrolet to claim his fifth CTMP victory, sweeping both events for the second time in his career.

In a post-race act of displeasure, Tagliani hit the door of the Lacroix’ No.74 car forcing him into the grass. In the ensuing dust cloud, Marc-Antoine Camirand was able to sneak through and claim second place – his first podium of 2019. Camirand’s result equals his best CTMP finish that he scored last May.

“I’m just happy to be back on the podium,” Camirand said. “It was a crazy race, we battled for the lead all race long and on the last restart when Kevin was in third place, I knew he was going to push hard to pass Alex and I let them go.”

For his second road-course race in a row, J.F. Dumoulin found himself on the podium in third place. Leading a lap and running clean all race long, Dumoulin snuck by Tagliani in the final corner. Despite having the lead taken away in the final curve, Tagliani was able to hold on for a fourth-place finish. CBRT’s Anthony Simone would score his best finish of the season in fifth.

Click HERE for the results of the Pinty’s race from CTMP.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be back in action Saturday September 7 for the Lucas Oil 250, the final NASCAR race at Autodrome Saint-Eustache.

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