Race Weekend Review- July 30, 2017

Written by George Webster on .

F1 Hungary 17-07-30

Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring

Vettel in command in Hungary; wins pole and the race.

Sunday, July 30, 2017: Mercedes' hopes of another championship year continued to fade in Hungary as Sebastian Vettel, albeit with a less-than-perfect car, led his teammate Kimi Räikkönen home to a solid one-two victory ahead of the Mercedes pair.

Vettel had qualified on the pole with Räikkönen alongside and ahead of the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton – and, in the end, that's the way they finished the race. This win for Vettel extended his points lead over Hamilton to 14 points (202 points to 188).

The Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo had qualified alongside each other on the third row. Verstappen had a poor start and he momentarily fell back. In his anxiety to regain his place ahead of Ricciardo, he overdid it in the second turn and he understeered into the side of the other Red Bull, damaging that car – which made a big spin across the track and dropped a load of oil on the surface. This led to the inevitable safety car period and lots of recriminations from the Australian.

When the stewards levied a ten-second penalty on Verstappen for his mistake, his chances of a good finish looked doomed. But after he served the time during his only pit stop late in the mid-race pit stop cycle, he emerged from the pits in fifth place nearly 20 seconds behind Vettel, the race leader. But he made his best effort for the rest of the race and he closed that gap down to 13 seconds by the end of the race. But for that bad start and the ensuing penalty he might have finished in third place – or even as the race winner. Instead he ended up fifth behind the Ferrari and Mercedes freight train – while Ricciardo was gone on the first lap.

Vettel was complaining of a glitch in his steering which forced him cant the wheel to the side. Despite this he was able to hold off a cooperative Räikkönen who finished less that a second behind him. As for the Mercedes challenge, Hamilton argued via an off-and-on radio that he had the better chance of catching the two red cars ahead and the team asked Bottas to let him go through into third place. Hamilton did charge up closer to Räikkönen but he could never close the deal. On the final lap, as per his agreement with the team, Hamilton slowed and let Bottas back through into third place – no doubt hoping that the favour might be returned in a future race when the tables are turned.

Fernando Alonso, in the McLaren-Honda, was a season-best sixth – and he set the fastest lap in the race getting there. Perhaps Honda's prospects in F1 have been written off too soon ...

After Hungary, the F1 circus takes a four-week break but, as for the championship prospects, Vettel's chances to seize the title over Hamilton are still looking good although Mercedes continues to dominate the manufacturer's championship standings 357 points to 318.

The next round in the F1 championship will be the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, August 27th.

VICS Mid-Ohio Newgarden

Verizon IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Newgarden makes it two in a row at Mid-Ohio as he takes the lead in the championship race

Sunday, July 30, 2017: Josef Newgarden dominated the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio, leading four times for a total of 73 of the race's 90 laps. He last took the lead on lap 67 and he was unchallenged the rest of the way to the checker. He took the flag five seconds ahead of a Penske teammate, Will Power. This was Newgarden's second win in a row, having won at Toronto two weeks before – and, with his win at Barber earlier in the year, he has a total of three wins in 2017.

This win moved him into the championship points lead with 453 points to Helio Castroneves' 446 and Scott Dixon's 445. While this is still close and there are more races yet to be run, Newgarden's chances of becoming the first American driver to win the title in this American series are looking good.

For sure, Newgarden's strong performances in the last two races are making him look like a champion - and a prospect to be a solid part of Team Penske for years to come.

Graham Rahal had a good race on what is, in a way, the family track and he finished in third place ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato. James Hinchcliffe ended up in 11th place.

The next round of the Verizon IndyCar series will be run at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 20th.

MENCS Pocono Kyle Busch 073017

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Overton's 400 at Pocono Raceway
Finally, Kyle Busch wins another Cup race

Sunday, July 30, 2017: Kyle Busch is arguably the best driver in the NASCAR Cup series today but he had gone a full year since winning his last race – the 2016 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Despite having shown lots of speed and leading many laps this year, he had never managed to lead the most important one – the final lap. Under NASCAR's current lottery-style championship schema, wins in the pre-playoff season have taken on a much increased importance so this failure to close the deal was weighing heavily – at least on the minds of the commentators. In actual fact, he had been accumulating lots of points and he looked sure to qualify for the playoffs even without a pre-playoff win.

But Busch put that to rest when he won here at Pocono, having led 74 of the race's 160 laps. Martin Truex, in the Furniture Row satellite team Toyota, had again been a strong contender, leading 31 laps, but in the final laps after the last round of pit stops under green, Danny Hamlin was leading a foursome of himself, Kevin Harvick, Busch and Truex before Busch started making things happen.

He came up behind Harvick, who was unexpectedly slow through the corner. Inadvertently, Busch gave him a little bump as he dove under him for the position – and he was back in the lead on lap 144 - and he went on to take the checker by a six-second margin over Harvick, Truex and Hamlin. Brad Keselowski, who had taken the lead briefly during that final pit stop cycle finished in fifth place.

The MENCS series will be back next week with its annual run at Watkins Glen on Sunday, August 6th.

NXS Iowa Preece 17-07-29

NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway
Preece converts his promising second place in Loudon into a race win at Iowa

Saturday, July 29, 2017: Ryan Preece is like many other enthusiastic race drivers who are trying to make their mark in stock car racing. In contrast to the current batch of instant-success upstarts, he's 26 years old and he has been racing in one series or other for a while now. Notably, he has run several years in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour where he won the championship in 2013 and he ran the full Xfinity season last year, albeit without any great results.

This year he has taken a different tack. Instead of spreading his funding across the full season and ending up with uncompetitive equipment, he has opted to concentrate on just two races and to buy a ride with the best team in the series – the Joe Gibbs team. His first race was at Loudon two weeks ago where he turned heads with his competitive performance which produced a second-place finish.

This week at Iowa was his second race of the two. He won the pole. He led for 141 laps of what became 254 laps with overtime, including the final 78 laps. So, given equipment the same as Kyle Busch drives in this series, he has been able to produce similar results. Surely, when team owners are looking to hire new drivers, Ryan Preece is one they need to consider seriously – not just those who are part of the current crop of 12-year-old prodigies.

Given that this race in Iowa was a straight conflict with the two races at Pocono the same weekend, the Cup carpetbaggers were unable to manage the logistics of running competitively at both venues simultaneously. This opened the door to stand-in hopefuls like Preece. Kyle Benjamin is another part-time hopeful although not quite 20 yet. He has been driving a various series, notably the K&N East series where finished second in the championship standings last year. This Xfinity race was his fourth start in a Joe Gibbs car and he has started from the front row in every one of these four races.

This time, driving the No. 18 which Kyle Busch has made famous, he only led five laps behind the dominant Preece but, on the final restart in overtime, he started alongside Preece and he battled him to the overtime line and to the checker a lap later, trailing him by a mere 0.054 seconds at the finish. He's another young driver who is looking at a long and successful career in stock car racing.

Brian Scott finished third ahead of Brennan Poole and Cole Custer. Points-leader Elliott Sadler raced near the front most of the day, but ended up 12th. He maintains a 54-point lead over William Byron, who finished ninth.

Justin Allgaier took the lead during the second Stage and he won that Stage – but his team opted for an alternate pit-stop strategy which might have paid off if the yellows had fallen to their advantage but they did not and in the end he was shuffled back to 20th at the finish. A gracious Allgaier made a quiet point to come over to victory circle and congratulate Preece on his win.

The next Xfinity race will be next Saturday, August 5th, at Watkins Glen.

NCWTS Pocono Bell

NASCAR Camping World Truck Overton's 150 at Pocono Raceway
Bell's Pocono win is his fourth win this year

Saturday, July 29, 2017: Kyle Busch started alongside the pole winner Jordan Anderson and he dominated the first 32 laps of the short 60-lap race. But after dropping back into the pack at the end of the second Stage, he tangled with Justin Haley and crashed out of the race. He was not a happy camper and Haley would be wise to stay clear of Busch in any upcoming races.

This left it up to his driver, Christopher Bell, in a second KBM truck to come through and take the win, leading just the final four laps of the race. John Hunter Nemechek had been leading since the final caution – for Busch's crash – but Bell came up and passed him with four laps to go. By the time Nemechek took the checker, Ben Rhodes and Ryan Truex had also passed him for position, dropping him to a fourth-place finish.

This is Bell's fourth win this year and he took over the lead in the championship points race ahead of Johnny Sauter who finished fifth here.

NPS Western Edmonton Labbe 17-07-29

NASCAR Pinty's Series Western Swing

Saskatoon Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 100s Race #1, July 26, 2017: Alex Labbe held off D.J. Kennington in an overtime shootout at the Wyant Group Raceway near Saskatoon. Cayden Lapcevich finished third ahead of Donald Theetge and Gary Klutt. Labbe had taken the lead on lap 75 and, despite Kennington's best efforts on that final restart, he held on to take the win.
Saskatoon Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 100s Race #2, July 26, 2017: Defending series champion Cayden Lapcevich won the second round of the two-race double header here in Saskatoon. He passed D.J. Kennington on Lap 77 of the 100-lap race and went on to win. This was his second win of the season and fifth of his career – more importantly, it moved him back into championship contention. He left here in third place in the points standings with 274 points behind Kevin Lacroix (300 points) and Alex Labbe (298 points).
Edmonton LUXXUR 300, July 29, 2017: Alex Labbe won the third round of the Western Swing of Pinty's races, beating Donald Theetge to the checker by a mere 0.6 seconds. Cayden lapcevich finished third, Alex Tagliani fourth and L.P. Dumoulin was fifth. Coming west, Labbe had been second in the championship points standings but, after two wins and a second-place finish, Labbe now had the lead in the championship points standings with 346 points ahead of Lacroix (336) and Lapcevich (315). After this quick trip out west, the series will return to the east with the road-course race at Trois-Rivières, Québec on Sunday, August 13th.

FormulaE Montreal diGrassi champion

FIA Formula E Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix

Race #1, July 29, 2017: Lucas di Grassi came into this final weekend of the current Formula E season trailing Sebastian Buemi by 10 points. Buemi had been the dominant driver earlier in the season but he had skipped the two-race weekend in Brooklyn to drive a Toyota in the WEC at the Nürburgring. (I guess we know where his priorities lie.). Here at Montreal it all went bad for Buemi.
In practice Saturday morning he crashed his car in the very tight chicane just before the pit straight severely damaging the car. This series uses a pair of cars for each driver in each race, so he had the alternate car available for qualifying and he qualified second behind di Grassi. This gave di Grassi a valuable bonus of three extra points and kept Buemi from getting them. However, the battery in the crashed car had been damaged and they had to replace it when they prepared another car for him for the race. Under the rules, this cost him ten grid positions so now he was starting back mid-pack.
At the start, di Grassi shot out into the lead, a lead he was to hold until the finish at the end of the 35-lap race. Buemi initially fell back a few positions but then he started working his way forward on this track which is so tight that it is almost impossible to pass anyone – yet, by the end of the race, he was up into fourth place and still in contention for the championship. Jean-Eric Vergne finished second while Stephane Sarrazin was third.
Then the blow came. In post-race qualifying the scrutineers found that Buemi's second car – the one that the team had thrown together as a replacement after the morning accident – was underweight and he was disqualified from the results – and he lost any points he had earned with that fourth place finish.

Race #2, July 29, 2017: Come Sunday, di Grassi had the championship pretty much in the bag. Especially after qualifying, when di Grassi qualified fifth fastest while Buemi was back in 14th. And this is a circuit on which passing is almost impossible.
In the race, Vergne came home the winner ahead of Felix Rosenqvist and Jose Maria Lopez. Di Grassi finished an unremarkable seventh but Buemi was farther back in 11th, so the championship was ceded to di Grassi who ended up with 181 points to Buemi's 157.

 

Photo Credits
Hungarian Grand Prix: Scuderia Ferrari
Verizon IndyCar at Mid-Ohio: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
NASCAR MENCS at Pocono: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/NASCAR
NASCAR Verizon at Iowa: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images/NASCAR
NASCAR CWTS at Pocono: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/NASCAR
NASCAR Pinty's Series Western Swing: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR
FIA Formula E at Montreal: Andrew Ferraro/LAT/Formula E

Box Score Results

Results of Formula 1 at Hungary
Results of Verizon IndyCar at Mid-Ohio
Results of NASCAR MENCS at Pocono
Results of NASCAR Xfinity at Iowa
Results of NASCAR truck series at Pocono
Results of NASCAR Pinty's Series
1. Race #1 at Saskatoon
2. Race #2 at Saskatoon
3. Edmonton
Results of Formula E at Montreal
1. Race #1 (Saturday)
2. Race #2 (Sunday)

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