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Race Weekend Review: October 5-6, 2019

Race Weekend Review: October 5-6, 2019

FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Fuji at the Fuji Speedway
• Toyota Gazoo Racing take 1-2 victory on home soil

Oyama, Japan, Oct 6/19 (WEC release): Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed a 1-2 victory on home soil at today’s 6 Hours of Fuji – round 2 of FIA WEC Season 8 - which saw mixed conditions throughout the race. The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley started today’s race on pole position. It is the fourth win at Fuji for home driver Nakajima and marks the seventh WEC victory for Toyota at the Fuji Speedway since the championship’s inception back in 2012. It was a near-perfect drive for the No. 8 car today as they took a lights-to-flag victory, with the only incident during the six-hour race being a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The sister No. 7 car driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria Lopez finished 33.955s adrift of the winning Toyota.

Rebellion Racing took the third podium spot in LMP1 after a relatively trouble-free race with its trio of drivers Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato. The race’s opening 30 minutes saw the No. 1 Rebellion R13 car splitting the two Toyotas before the No. 7 car edged in front and steadily built up an advantage for the remainder of the race. Team LNT had a difficult race with its Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs due to technical teething troubles including a six-minute stop and go penalty for the No. 6 car in the final hour due to a technical infringement.

The fiercely-competitive LMP2 category saw various different leaders over the course of today’s 6 hour race but it was Racing Team Nederland who crossed the finish line first with recently-crowned FIA F2 Champion Nyck De Vries at the wheel of the No.29 ORECA 07 – Gibson car. The Dutch team’s trio of De Vries, Frits Van Eerd and Giedo Van Der Garde celebrated a first win for Racing Team Nederland in the WEC, which sees the team catapulted to the top of the LMP2 standings.

British team JOTA, fronted by Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez put up a strong fight in the No.38 but a slower stop in the pits in the final hour meant that the team finished 25.808s behind their Dutch rivals. After a solid performance, Jackie Chan DC Racing took the third podium spot in the No. 37 ORECA driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Will Stevens.

United Autosports ended today’s race fourth, the Anglo-American team suffering from a small off due to changing conditions on the track. Fifth overall in LMP2 was the No.33 High Class Racing entry driven by Kenta Yamashita, Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordbach. Kentashita’s knowledge of the Fuji Speedway circuit helped put the team were in winning contention but unfortunately a spin mid-race followed by a lengthy stop in the pits meant the team eventually finished fifth.

*Following post-race Scrutineering, the No. 38 JOTA car was disqualified because the outside neutral switch was unable to disconnect the transmission. This means that Jackie Chan DC Racing were elevated to second in LMP2, with United Autosports third.

Aston Martin celebrated victory in both the LMGTE Pro and Am categories at the 6 Hours of Fuji today, The factory Aston Martin Racing team took a commanding 1st and 3rd in the manufacturers’ category, and TF Sport won in LMGTE Am with the Aston Martin Vantage.

In LMGTE Pro the Dane Train of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim took the No.95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR to the British marque’s first victory in Fuji since 2013, with a faultless display of driving in mixed conditions. It was the No.95’s first win since Shanghai last year. The duo took the lead just before the second hour, just as weather and track conditions were beginning to get tricky due to showers. They won a lap ahead of the No.92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre. Third in the LMGTE Pro class, and on a different strategy to its sister car, was the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin. They took the checkered flag 24.6 seconds behind the Porsche.

Following a strong start, and a great battle in the opening hours between all three manufacturers, the race settled into a rhythm – despite increasing rain in the third hour. Ferrari’s strategy was compromised by the first of two Full Course Yellows which fell in the fourth hour and they were unable to regain the ground lost to their rivals. Despite setting fastest LMGTE Pro lap of the race, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE had to be satisfied with 4th in class, one lap ahead of their team-mates in the No.71 (Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina).

In LMGTE Am TF Sport dominated the LMGTE Am category at Fuji after the new Aston Martin Vantage started race from pole. After finishing 4th in the WEC 4 times, it was the first victory for the British privateer entry in the hands of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam. It was a first win in the WEC for a Turkish driver (Yoluc), and a first series GTE Am win for the second-generation Vantage AMR. The trio finished a lap ahead of the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen, the young Dane claiming a new class lap record on the way. Team Project 1’s No. 57 Porsche 911 RSR started from the back of the grid but strong drives from Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen ensured they secured the final podium spot making it three different manufacturers in the top three.

In a race remarkably free of incidents, the only Safety Car period came after just two minutes when the No.88 Dempsey Proton Porsche tangled with two other cars including the No.98 Aston Martin Racing entry which unfortunately lost 22 laps as a result.

For race results, click HERE.

Next up in the FIA WEC calendar is the 4 Hours of Shanghai, China, Round 3 on 8-10 November.

PHOTO MENCS DIS KLarsonFlag 100619Kyle Larson takes the checkered flag to win the Drydene 400 (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway
• Larson breaks into the win column; qualifies for the next elimination round

 Dover, DE, Oct 6/19 (GRW): Kyle Larson had not won a Cup race since the second Richmond race in 2017 – but here he put on a convincing show, leading the final 73 laps of the 400-lap race to win by a 1.6-second margin over Martin Truex. Of course, this win guarantees him a transfer into the third and final elimination round which begins with the race at Martinsville on October 27.

A fast stop during the pit stop cycle at the end of the second stage – which ended on lap 242 – gave him the lead. After that he was in command, only giving up the lead to Paul Menard during the final cycle of green-flag pit stops – but, as soon as Menard pitted, Larson was leading again – and he led the rest of the way to the checker.

“After the first stage, I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like I made the car better at the same time, and it really benefitted our long runs,’’ said Larson. “That’s as good as I’ve ever been around cutting the bottom here. Just a great combination here. Good to be fast in practice and then be good again in the race and get the win. This is unbelievable, I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a Golden Monster (trophy) is going to be pretty sweet.’’

Alex Bowman finished third behind Truex with Kevin Harvick coming home in fourth and Denny Hamlin in fifth.

The 2018 champion Joey Logano had a bad day. When the race started he was in the garage where his car had an axle problem – when he got onto the track he was already 24 laps down. He finished in 35th place. Chase Elliott’s race ended after just eight laps when his engine failed. This left him scored in last place – 38th.

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

The next race will be run at Talladega next Sunday, October 20. It will be the second race in the playoff’s Round of 12.

PHOTO NXS DIS CCuster CheckeredFlag 100519Cole Custer takes the checkered flag to win the Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway

• A late pit stop gives Custer the win

 

Dover, DE, Oct 5/19 (GRW): This race was the third in the first three-race elimination series and the bottom four playoff contenders were dropped after this race, leaving eight drivers to go on to the second elimination round. By mid-race six or seven of the eight transfer spots had been locked in, so – with the total emphasis this day on the question of who would move on to the next round – there was little left to talk about. And of course, even with eight drivers going forward to the next round, all the credible candidates for the 2019 title were never in any peril of not moving on, so this whole aspect of the suspense of wondering who would transfer was a non-issue.

If you forget this artificial hype about the playoffs and the championship lottery, it was an interesting race with a surprise result. Cole Custer was lucky when the second-last caution came out on lap 178 of the 200-lap race before everyone had made their stop. Three cars on the lead lap had yet to pit – Custer. Chase Briscoe and Michael Annett. When the No. 90 car of Dillon Bassett spun bringing out this caution, it let these three make their pit stops under yellow and stay on the lead lap. After this cycle of pit stops there were only six cars on the lead lap – and the winner was sure to come from one of these six cars.

Any other driver who had pitted before this game-changing caution was left a lap down with almost no hope of winning the race. This included Chase Briscoe who had led the previous 71 laps before he pitted under green and who had looked like being on his way to the race win. Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, Zane Smith, Justin Haley and Ryan Sieg had all been on the lead lap before the cycle of green-flag pit stops and they found themselves taking the restart behind the lucky three after this lap 178 caution. Haley, Briscoe and Cindric were able to take the ‘wave-around’ and take the restart on the lead lap behind the lucky three.

Four laps later, there was another caution when Ray Black spun. Custer maintained his lead though this caution and the restart and he held off Allgaier, who had charged up to second place, the rest of the way to the finish.

The order at the checker was Custer, Allgaier, Cindric, Haley and Briscoe – some of the once-lap-down cars had made a good recovery but no one was able to best Custer.

Asked how he felt when he cycled into the lead during that final round of green-flag pit stops, Custer said, ““I thought it was good. You don't know until everybody cycles around but I knew we were probably in a good spot staying out there. It was a great pit call by Mike to stay out. It is all about track position here. Whatever you can do on strategy and pit stops to get track position, it is what you need to do.”

When the dust settled, the four drivers who were eliminated and who will not advance to the next race – the first race of the second three-race elimination round – were John Hunter Nemechek, Haley, Ryan Sieg and Brandon Jones. Jones had been knocked out of contention on the first lap of the race when a multi-car wreck ended the race for Jones and for Harrison Burton.

The eight drivers who will move on to the next elimination round are Christopher Bell, Custer, Tyler Reddick, Cindric, Allgaier, Briscoe, Annett, and Noah Gragson.

Christopher Bell, who has already won seven times this year, started in the third row but he took the lead on the first lap and he led the first 26 laps – looking like he had command of the race. Unfortunately for him, his car lost power and he took it behind the wall for repairs. The crew replaced the carburetor and he came back out again but now he was 14 laps down and he could never make up that deficit. However, his win at Richmond, the first race in this round, guaranteed him a transfer to the next elimination round. So it did not matter where he finished here.

Click HERE for the results of the Xfinity race at Dover.

The next race will be the first race in the second elimination round. It will be run at Kansas Speedway in two weeks time on Saturday, October 19.

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