Fittingly enough, a pair of Toyota drivers have led the field for most of the night in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Clint Bowyer, who had three of his Michael Waltrip Racing engines recalled by Toyota Racing Development, is currently leading the way with pole sitter Matt Kenseth a steady second.
Bowyer managed to take the lead from Kenseth in the pits after caution came out for debris at Lap 109. He’s been able to keep the point up to halfway, but hasn’t been able to shake Kenseth, who’s out to win a second consecutive race for his beleaguered team.
The race has been relatively uneventful outside of Brad Keselowski hitting the wall on Lap 157 after his right front tire went down (he ran 20th at halfway). However, a sprinkler has gone off twice inside the frontstretch grass — the first time under the Keselowski caution, the second time during the subsequent green flag run.
Kurt Busch ran third at halfway, with Jimmie Johnson climbing from mid-pack to fourth and defending Richmond spring race winner Kyle Busch rounding out the Top 5.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond
Top 10 at Halfway (Lap 200 of 400)
1. Clint Bowyer
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Kurt Busch
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Kyle Busch
6. Juan Pablo Montoya
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Mark Martin
10. Martin Truex Jr.
Haas Formula 1 Team has confirmed its running order for the upcoming pre-season test sessions in Barcelona, Spain.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 team will grace the grid in 2016 after two years of preparation, with the covers being taken off its car on the morning of the first test on February 22 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Romain Grosjean will be the first driver to head out on-track in a Haas F1 car, completing all of the running on February 22.
Teammate Esteban Gutierrez will then get his first taste of the car the following day, with the two drivers then alternating duties for the final two days of the opening test.
Gutierrez will enjoy both of the first two days of running at the second test (March 1-2) before handing back over to Grosjean for days three and four in Barcelona.
“The first thing for the test is to get the car to run and to work well from there. Hopefully, we can get a lot of mileage,” Grosjean said.
“This is a new team, so we need to get everyone to work together, all the engineers, mechanics and the drivers. We need to get as much data and knowledge as we can.
“It’s important to get the reliability sorted as early as possible because we don’t get much testing and we’re going straight to Melbourne.”
Haas F1 Team driver line-up for first Barcelona test (February 22-25)
Monday February 22: Grosjean
Tuesday February 23: Gutiérrez
Wednesday February 24: Grosjean
Thursday February 25: Gutiérrez
Haas F1 Team driver line-up for second Barcelona test (March 1-4)
Tuesday March 1: Gutiérrez
Wednesday March 2: Gutiérrez
Thursday March 3: Grosjean
Friday March 4: Grosjean
Romain Grosjean felt pleased with his first simulator run in the new Haas Formula 1 car ahead of its on-track debut in Barcelona on February 22.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas will take his F1 operation onto the grid this season after two years of preparation, with Grosjean joining ex-Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez at the team for its maiden campaign.
Ahead of the car’s first on-track run at the beginning of pre-season testing in Spain later this month, Grosjean has completed some laps in it using a simulator, and reported that the initial feedback was positive.
“The impressions were quite good, even if in the beginning it was necessary to resolve a lot of small technical problems such as turbo lag, the energy recovered under braking, etc,” Grosjean told L’Equipe.
“The morning was spent doing this. But once everything was settled we had the opportunity to run extensively in the afternoon.
“I think the car’s baseline appears to be good. We now know the simulator corresponds to the windtunnel, but the differences with what we find in reality are sometimes huge – at Lotus for example, the car changed dramatically between track and simulator.”
Haas will lift the covers off its first F1 car on Monday 22 February ahead of the initial on-track running later that day.
Valentino Rossi may extend his contract with Yamaha in MotoGP until the end of 2018 depending on how he fares in the opening stint of the coming season.
Rossi has won a motorcycle world championship on nine occasions, and came within just four points of a 10th title in 2015 when he narrowly lost out to teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the final race of the year.
Rossi, 36, heads into the final year of his Yamaha contract in 2016, and confirmed to Sky Sports Italia that he would be seeking an extension until the end of 2018 depending on how the beginning of this season goes.
“At the end of 2016 my contract will expire, so I will have to decide whether to continue for another two seasons or not,” Rossi said.
“If I continue, it will be for two seasons as all the contracts are for two years.
“It will be like 2014 when I said I will look at it after the first few races. You have to look at the first five or six races then start thinking.”
Rossi had considered walking away from MotoGP at the end of 2014 after a quiet return to Yamaha the previous year, only for his early-season form to convince him to sign a two-year extension.
2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.
Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.
The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.
“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.
“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.
“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”