NASCAR is only five races into its 2013 Sprint Cup Series season but for the third consecutive year, the driver of Penske Racing’s No. 22 Shell-sponsored entry is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The last two years have seen Kurt Busch enter hot water with Penske after a verbal confrontation ahead of an interview with ESPN pit reporter Jerry Punch at Homestead, then last year AJ Allmendinger had his contract terminated for failing a random drug test ahead of the July race at Daytona International Speedway.
Now, Joey Logano is the latest to enter the controversy sweepstakes. His contact with Denny Hamlin at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sunday left Hamlin hospitalized with a vertebrae fracture and drew the ire – and fists – of an irate Tony Stewart in post-race.
Still, Logano’s team boss Roger Penske told USA Today Sports he’ll back his driver regardless of the situation.
“I’m 150% behind my driver, and I think he’s a real star on the team,” Penske said.
Stewart said of Logano in the same story, “It’s time he learns a lesson. He’s run his mouth long enough and done this double standard, but he’s nothing but a little rich kid who has never had to work in his life.”
Berlin Formula E race set to change location after city senate vote
Berlin’s Formula E race is set to change venue ahead of its third edition in June after the city senate voted against keeping it in a downtown location.
Berlin featured on the first Formula E calendar back in 2015, hosting a race around the site of the disused Tempelhof Airport.
When the site was turned into a refugee camp following the migrant crisis that hit Europe last year, an alternative location was found in the city center.
A circuit was constructed in downtown Berlin around Strausberger Platz and using Karl-Marx-Allee, with the race and location proving popular for the Formula E fraternity.
However, the race caused disruption for local residents, prompting city officials to vote against the event staying in the same location for its third edition on June 10.
“We are in constant dialogue and cooperating with local authorities to determine the final location of the race and are thankful for the continued interest and support shown from the mayor to host a race in the city of Berlin,” a spokesman from Formula E told NBC Sports.
This is not the first time that Formula E has been forced to change the location of a race due to local pressure, with the London ePrix dropping off the calendar at the end of season two after multiple court battles to keep the event at Battersea Park.
LONDON (AP) Formula One’s new owners plan to add a street race in the United States in an attempt to improve a sport which they feel stagnated under Bernie Ecclestone’s control.
Chase Carey, who ended Ecclestone’s four-decade reign as F1’s chief executive, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the sport will no longer be run as a “one-man show.”
Carey, though, will be as dogged as the 86-year-old Ecclestone in negotiations with circuits, insisting that less-lucrative races in heartlands like Britain will have to prove they can become more profitable rather than being allowed to renegotiate hosting fees.
International sports and entertainment firm Liberty Media, which is controlled by 75-year-old tycoon John Malone, completed its takeover of F1 on Monday from investment fund CVC Capital Partners.
Driving growth in the United States is seen as a priority for Liberty, which also owns baseball’s Atlanta Braves and has investments in cable TV companies. F1 currently only makes one stop during the season in the United Sates – to Austin, Texas – but adding a street race is high on Liberty’s agenda.
“We would like to add a destination race in the U.S. in a location like New York, L.A., Miami, Las Vegas,” Carey said in a telephone interview. “We think we can create something that will be a really special event. Obviously the U.S. is all upsides for us. We haven’t invested in the way we need to build the U.S. market.”
The sport has remained stuck in the past, making “events feel a little tired,” while the modern media landscape was not grasped by Ecclestone, according to Carey.
“Bernie really ran a one-man show,” Carey said. “I don’t plan to run a one-man show.”
Although Ecclestone remains on board as an honorary chairman and will be an F1 adviser, power clearly now rests with Carey, who is a veteran Fox executive.
“The last half dozen years I think the business has not reached its potential,” Carey said. “With all the things you need to do to be competitive in an increasingly fragmented online world, you need an organization doing many things at the same time.”
Ecclestone was criticized for overlooking historic popular race venues to move into new, wealthier markets including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Azerbaijan, which held its first race last year. The German Grand Prix has been dropped from the 2017 calendar because of Hockenheim’s financial difficulties, while the British race at Silverstone is at risk because of hosting costs.
“Western Europe is important for us and to some degree we have to engage to make those races bigger and better than they are while respecting their heritage,” Carey said, while ruling out cut-price deals to keep historic races.
“We are willing to invest in the sport but we are the new guys so everyone wants to come in and figure it’s a chance to renegotiate. So I don’t think that’s the right mindset. We think these races (in places like Britain and Germany) should be bigger and more profitable and we are willing to work with promoters to figure out how to achieve that. That’s our goal.”
The takeover, which gives F1 an enterprise value of $8 billion and an equity value of $4.4 billion, comes as the series is poised for a shakeup.
Changes such as wider tires, car design, louder engines, and more overtaking opportunities are set to make F1 more exciting in a bid to win back a large chunk of unhappy fans amid flagging attendances at some races.
“We can certainly do things to make the race day more engaging, more exciting – make the race itself more exciting,” Carey said. “I have gone around and talked to lot of people and hear many of the same things about predictability, rules too complicated, engineers overtaking drivers, the engines could be faster, louder, cheaper.
“And so there are a number of things we can do to improve the race, the race day.”
Such as tapping into the “excitement and buzz” found at the NFL’s showpiece game and turning races into week-long festivals in host cities.
“What I would like to have is 21 Super Bowls,” Carey said. “Priority 1 is to make the races bigger and better. We have some great races like Singapore, Mexico and Abu Dhabi but we have to make all the races have an energy and excitement that really makes them unique events.”
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has approved Liberty Media Corporation’s acquisition of Formula 1 in its first formal comments after the change.
In a statement released Tuesday, the FIA and its president, Jean Todt, sought to thank Bernie Ecclestone for his governance over his 40-year rein at the head of the sport.
Meanwhile there was also a small word of welcoming to the new group, led by F1’s new chairman/CEO, Chase Carey.
The full statement is below:
The world governing body of motor sport, the FIA wishes to thank the outgoing CEO of the Formula One Group, Bernie Ecclestone for more than 40 years of dedication to the FIA Formula One World Championship and as a member of both the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council.
The FIA was responsible for creating Formula One when it established the first regulations for the category in 1946.
The Federation remains committed to regulating the FIA Formula One World Championship fairly, safely, and in the best interests of the sport – as it has strived to do since its inception 67 years ago.
The FIA President, Jean Todt, congratulated the new owners of the Formula One Group, Liberty Media Corporation.
“As Formula One’s governing body, the FIA would like to welcome the new CEO, Chase Carey and his entire team to the Championship.
“The whole FIA organization is looking forward to working closely together, with the common goal of improving and growing the sport further with the support of the highly recognized skills of Liberty Media Corporation in the media and sport domains.”
2017 Rolex 24 car-by-car preview: GTLM
No. 66 Ford GT and No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM. Photo courtesy of IMSA
MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno takes a look through the entries for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona, car-by-car. Here’s a look through the first of two GT classes, the GT Le Mans class. Roar Before the Rolex 24 times are listed.
An 11-car grid features one new car (the new mid-rear-engined Porsche 911 RSR), one set of new entries (the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GTs, to make a four-car total phalanx of Fords) and seven remaining leftover entries from last year from Corvette, Ford, BMW and Ferrari.
No. 3 Corvette Racing Car: Corvette C7.R Drivers: Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller Roar Time: 1:44.738 (7)
Outlook: The No. 3 Corvette took the 2015 Rolex 24 win, although that seems a relative eternity ago after Garcia’s nail-biting loss to Gavin 12 months ago. The trio on the Danny Binks-led No. 3 car would be a popular winner, if it could deliver Corvette Racing its third straight Rolex 24 win.
No. 4 Corvette Racing Car: Corvette C7.R Drivers: Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler Roar Time: 1:44.717 (5)
Outlook: The defending race and class series champions return an unchanged lineup and car that is once again one of the favorites, albeit hoping to win by a slightly bigger margin this go-around than the 0.034 sliver of a second last year. Fassler was lucky to escape a fuel-induced fire that ignited the car at the Roar.
No. 19 BMW Team RLL Car: BMW M6 GTLM Drivers: Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler Roar Time: 1:44.764 (8)
Outlook: It’ll be interesting to see how new BMW recruit Sims gets on, and to see what the reaction is to the John Baldessari-designed “Art Car” livery that adorns this entry.
No. 24 BMW Team RLL Car: BMW M6 GTLM Drivers: John Edwards, Martin Tomczyk, Kuno Wittmer, Nicky Catsburg Roar Time: 1:44.692 (3)
Outlook: Proof that test times mean nothing, BMW was one and three at the Roar last year and exactly nowhere at the Rolex 24. It was a frustrating 2016 campaign for the team and this new lineup, with Tomczyk and Catsburg as new additions, look to bolster Edwards and Wittmer in this entry.
No. 62 Risi Competizione Car: Ferrari 488 GTE Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, James Calado Roar Time: 1:44.705 (4)
Outlook: Risi enters with a significantly better turn of fortune this Rolex 24 compared to last year when they were scrambling to get their new 488 GTE. With the team scoring a popular win at Petit Le Mans to end 2016, look for them to come out firing with the good all-‘rounder of a car and a lineup that’s achieved numerous 24-hour wins at Le Mans before.
No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Car: Ford GT Drivers: Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais Roar Time: 1:44.719 (6)
Outlook: This trio got the 24-hour win that counted just a bit more in 2016 at Le Mans, and are much better prepared for this year’s Rolex 24 after a year’s worth of testing, running and reliability pitfalls now hopefully behind them. Bourdais and Hand have past overall wins at Daytona and look for class wins to match.
No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Car: Ford GT Drivers: Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon Roar Time: 1:44.380 (1)
Outlook: It’s a slight change for the team that nearly won the GTLM title last year overall with Dixon now moving into the GT at Daytona after running DPs for years. Never had a chance to contend last year after early reliability woes, and should be much better sorted this go-around.
No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Car: Ford GT Drivers: Olivier Pla, Stefan Muecke, Billy Johnson Roar Time: 1:44.808 (9)
Outlook: Pla’s bounced around various prototypes in recent years at Daytona (OAK, Krohn and Shank all in Onroak chassis), Muecke primarily in Astons before making his first Ford start last year, and Johnson has always seemingly got last-minute deals without much of a chance to showcase himself in the factory GT ranks. This is perhaps the most well-rounded sports car-only lineup of Ganassi’s quartet this month.
No. 69 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Car: Ford GT Drivers: Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Tony Kanaan Roar Time: 1:44.645 (7)
Outlook: As the only one of Ganassi’s four lineups that’s new as a collective unit this year, this is likely the slightest of underdogs among the Ford GT “fearsome foursome.” Tincknell’s blossomed into a star, Priaulx’s reliable and so how Kanaan gets on in his Ford GT race debut will be the target to watch.
No. 911 Porsche GT Team Car: Porsche 911 RSR Drivers: Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Fred Makowiecki Roar Time: 1:44.874 (10)
Outlook: The first of the two mid-rear-engined new 911s features Porsche returnee and new factory driver Werner back alongside past GTLM champion Pilet, the 2014 Rolex 24 champ, and the enigmatic Makowiecki. Given the new variables, it’s hard to project a debut win for this trio.
No. 912 Porsche GT Team Car: Porsche 911 RSR Drivers: Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre, Richard Lietz Roar Time: 1:45.037 (11)
Outlook: The No. 912 car ensures the No. 911 isn’t alone in new components. Audi GT3 ace Vanthoor makes his Porsche factory debut while the fast, fearless Estre has received the privilege of a full-time race seat, after mistakes occurred in his all-too-few U.S. opportunities last year. Lietz is then the Porsche factory veteran here. A podium would be a good result on debut.