Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana, two of the bigger names in today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, were unable to have a say in the outcome of the race.
Patrick started in Row 2 and went into the race as a potential threat for the win. But on Lap 14, she was spun out by drafting partner and rookie teammate Kyle Larson. She went into the wall and then down the track for a spin through the soggy grass below Turn 3, and shortly afterwards, she was forced to retire from the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet for a 39th-place result.
As for Pastrana, who earned his first career NASCAR pole for the race on Friday afternoon, he was running a steady race until Lap 71. While on the backstretch, Brian Scott turned around Reed Sorenson, who then went right into Pastrana as he attempted to avoid him.
The impact lifted Sorenson’s rear wheels off the ground momentarily before he came back down, while Pastrana shot up the track and smashed into the Turn 3 wall. Both of them finally came to rest inside the Turn 3 grass.
After being released from the infield care center, Pastrana was hard on himself. The action sports legend told ESPN that “[he] just [got] an award for being stupid” and predicted that on Monday, team owner Jack Roush would “say ‘You guys had the two fastest cars and you should’ve put them 1-2.'”
“And we doggone should have put ’em 1-2,” a disgusted Pastrana added.
Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty
Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.
Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.
However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.
Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.
The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.
Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.
A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.