NASCAR’s Sprint Cup rookie-of-the-year race will have a third contender for the balance of the season. Timmy Hill, 20, will run most of the remaining races starting this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., except the remaining restrictor plate events and Martinsville in April, for Frank Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing.
The other two rookies, Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., garnered more preseason headlines for their relationship than their on-track merits – at least until Patrick scored the pole and finished eighth in the season-opening Daytona 500. Through four races, Stenhouse ranks 11th and Patrick 28th in the Sprint Cup series standings.
Hill, while unlikely to threaten the top 20 on a regular basis, did at least manage a top-25 effort for Stoddard’s fledgling team at Kansas Speedway last October. The 22nd-place result was his best finish for Stoddard in three starts last year. Hill has also been named the rookie-of-the-year in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series in 2011.
“He’s a good young kid,” Stoddard told NASCAR.com. “He certainly wants to do it. His dad came to me last year and asked if he could get in the car a few times, so we made an arrangement and tried to work him in there, and I thought he did a really good job. He had a top-25 finish at Kansas City. He didn’t tear the car up, didn’t put a scratch on it in the races. His feedback was good. He had as good a speed as we’ve had with anybody in the car. … So I think there’s room for him to grow and get better, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The OXYwater hydration beverage brand will sponsor the team’s No. 32 Ford. Ken Schrader (Federated Auto Parts as sponsor) will race in Martinsville with Terry Labonte at the three remaining restrictor plate races.
With minimal rookie participation in recent years, the last three Sprint Cup rookies-of-the-year are Stephen Leicht, Andy Lally and Kevin Conway. None has a ride for the 2013 season in NASCAR, and Lally has returned to his sports car roots racing Porsches for the Magnus Racing (GRAND-AM Rolex Series) and Dempsey Racing (American Le Mans Series) teams.
Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.
Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.
However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.
Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.
This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.
“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.
“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.
“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.
“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”
Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise upon Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, supporting his decision to ignore team orders during last month’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Verstappen only turned 18 on Wednesday, but has already made a big impression on the F1 world during his first 14 races with his aggressive driving style and mature approach to racing.
In Singapore, Verstappen was told by Toro Rosso to let faster teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. go past, but refused to give up his position and eventually beat the Spaniard to finish eighth.
Writing in his Hermes blog, Hakkinen backed Verstappen’s decision to stay ahead and praised the Dutchman for his performances so far this season.
“A driver must be alert and keep track of what is happening around him at all times,” Hakkinen wrote. “That’s what Verstappen is. He does not simply let anyone pass if it’s not for the world championship, but only a few championship points.
“Verstappen is 18 years old, but the guy’s already a real pro. Young people are developing incredibly fast nowadays, and by that I don’t mean just drivers.”
Despite having more than half a season of F1 racing under his belt, Verstappen only gained his road driver’s license on his 18th birthday, having previously been under the age limit to drive a regular car in public.