A battery failure quickly became much worse for Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose bid to win last night’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway turned into his worst result of the Sprint Cup season.
Earnhardt was running third until Lap 187, when he brought his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to the pits for an unscheduled stop due to a loss of power. After switching to the back-up battery, he returned to the track only to be hit with a pass-through penalty for speeding onto pit road by NASCAR; Earnhardt’s gauges were off as he was entering the pits, making him unable to determine how fast he was going.
However, his crew chief, Steve Letarte, decided to give his driver fresh tires on his return to the pits. That’s not allowable per the NASCAR rulebook, which says all drivers that earn a pass-through penalty must go all the way down pit road without stopping. That forced a third trip for Earnhardt to the pits, and by the time it was over, NASCAR’s most popular driver was five laps down in 35th.
“All the gauges just went haywire and so I couldn’t read the gauges to really diagnosis what was happening,” said Earnhardt, who gained one of his laps back before finishing 29th. “But once you start to think about it, you are like, ‘Well, if all the gauges are going bad, we have electrical issues.’ Then you go right to the battery. The thing quit running going into (Turn) 3 and I couldn’t stay on the track if it wasn’t the battery — we would have stopped on the track and lost all those laps.
“I came down pit road, sped, no motor, no [tachometer]… Figured out by the time I got to the pit stall, it was the battery. We changed the switch over to battery two, get fired up, take off, come down pit road and change tires, came down pit road and serve the penalty, and that was the night.”
10-year F1 title drought would be a ‘tragedy’ for Ferrari
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that it would be a “tragedy” for Ferrari to go 10 years without a championship in Formula 1.
Ferrari last won a constructors’ championship back in 2008, while its last drivers’ title came courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
2015 saw the Italian marque enjoy a resurgence as Sebastian Vettel won three races and managed to take the fight to Mercedes at the front of the field on a regular basis.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marchionne said that this upturn in fortunes helped to bring credibility back to the Ferrari brand, but that this must be built upon with a championship in the next three years.
“If we were to string together victories in F1 then it would improve our brand,” Marchionne said.
“I was speaking with one of our car dealerships and we agreed that the results of 2015 helped bring back credibility to the brand.
“If we were to somehow fail to win a title over a 10-year span, it would be a tragedy.”
When discussing Ferrari’s success in 2015, Marchionne was full of praise for new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene who took over from Marco Mattiacci at the end of 2014.
“We won because we brought focus back to the team and began to do the things that are really important. Maurizio Arrivabene’s arrival helped a lot,” Marchionne said.
“He is great at creating a team atmosphere. He knows how to make everyone work together.”
Renault development driver Carmen Jorda has laughed off an accusation from former GP2 driver Marco Sørensen that she was 12 seconds per lap slower than him in the Lotus simulator.
Jorda joined Lotus in a development role in 2015 after spending three seasons in GP3, where she finished in a highest position of 13th and failed to score a point in 46 attempts.
Jorda is yet to drive a Formula 1 car, but completed work for Lotus in its simulator during 2015.
Sørensen formerly enjoyed ties with Lotus before turning his attention away from single-seaters and moving into endurance racing with Aston Martin Racing.
In an interview with Danish publication Ekstra Bladet, Sørensen said that Jorda received favoritism within the team despite being as much as 12 seconds per lap slower than him in the simulator.
“She was 12 seconds slower than me in the simulator,” Sorensen claimed. “Still, she ran away with all the rewards.
“I have spent at least 60 days in the simulator in the past two years working on the development of the Formula 1 car, as Kevin Magnussen has done at McLaren.
“So I felt so violated that it finally became too much, so I just had to stop.”
Jorda responded by taking to Twitter and laughing off the claims, posting in both English and Spanish: “12 seconds faster? I’ve been laughing at that for 12 hours!” The English tweet has since been deleted.
12 segundos más rápido? Me he estado riendo de eso durante 12 horas #diasdivertidos 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
Jorda also spoke about Sørensen’s comments in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, saying: “I honestly don’t know who he is. I haven’t ever seen him in Enstone. Last year he was not part of the team.
“Last year in the simulator I used to be more or less within a second of [Romain] Grosjean.
“If you trust Sørensen’s numbers – if someone was 11 seconds up on Romain, I’m sure that all the F1 teams on the grid would sign them.”
Glenn McGee’s a name you might hear down the road as he progresses through the Mazda Road to 24 program, having won the shootout to compete in the Mazda MX-5 Cup this season after advancing in from iRacing.
He’s now joined the Jonathan Jorge Racing Development (JJRD) driver development program for the year. A full release on that is below, along with a video of his shootout win.
JJ Racing Development (JJRD), an industry leader in coaching and driver development services among the junior and pro-levels of motorsports, has selected professional gamer turned professional race car driver, Glenn McGee to join their 2016 driver development program. In addition to JJRD’s full coaching services, designed to prepare drivers for the demands of a professional racing career, JJRD’s team of drivers will also benefit from the expert instructors, advanced modern formula race cars, and seat-time at North America’s premiere tracks, provided by the Lucas Oil School of Racing.
With the intent to identify and develop elite drivers, JJRD scouts for those whom demonstrate the raw ingredients to succeed in motorsports and works to successfully transition them into the pro-ranks; instilling the racing techniques, physical, social, and mental tools required to climb the motorsports ladder. Elite talents, scouted and retained within JJRD’s Driver Development program include current Indy Lights driver/winner, R.C. Enerson; Mazda Prototype driver, Tristan Nunez; and Indy Driver, Spencer Pigot.
McGee’s induction into the program is unique and offers an equally unique challenge to JJRD in that he will be the first of their drivers transitioning from virtual-to-reality. McGee recently went from being the fastest virtual Mazda driver in world competition (through motorsport simulation software, iRacing.com) to earning an invite and eventually winning the 2015 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout against real-life Mazda club racing champions; taking home a $100,000 Mazda scholarship and pro-seat in the 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, Presented by BFGoodrich Tires.
Part of JJRD’s program will be designed around helping the young driver successfully move from the virtual world to a real pro-racing career, while complimenting Mazda’s own driver development plans for McGee.
“We are committed to guiding talented drivers towards reaching their full-potential and are proud of what our drivers have achieved,” said JJRD’s Jonatan Jorge. “We’ve helped successfully guide drivers to the top of both the Mazda Road to Indy and Mazda Road to 24 ladder systems; evidenced by JJRD development drivers RC Enerson, Spencer Pigot and Tristian Nunez, and we think we can do the same with McGee,” Jorge continued “He has shown he has raw speed and a lot of the attributes that we look for when identifying these promising talents for the future and we are excited to invest in a driver from such a unique background. With our support, it will be interesting to see what a top simulation driver can do in the real world”
“I’m really honored to be a part of JJRD’s team which has already produced great drivers,” said McGee. “This is a big year for me as I navigate from being a pro sim-driver on iRacing.com to becoming a full fledged professional racing driver,” “There is an extraordinary amount to learn, but JJRD specializes in nurturing drivers from the start of their career and has proven that their methods work. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together!”
McGee begins his program in earnest with JJRD and the Lucas Oil School of Racing where he’ll gain valuable seat time and instruction; working closely with staff on learning in-depth knowledge of advanced racing techniques, speed, racecraft, strategies, chassis setup, and the myriad of mental tools required to grow into a world-class professional driver. Open to drivers who complete the 2-Day course, McGee will also be attending the schools winter racing series, the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series, to further supplement his training with JJRD.