Assuming the lead with 13 laps remaining, Regan Smith managed to keep Kyle Larson behind him in the final circuits to win the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway. The JR Motorsports pilot also made serious hay in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by pushing his lead to 58 points over Sam Hornish Jr., who suffered a 32nd place finish after an oil pump problem emerged on his car.
“I felt confident even though he was drafting up to me,” Smith told NASCAR.com. “It seemed like once we got the car out front it really came to life. [Crew chief] Greg [Ives] made some really good calls to get us the track position.”
Parker Kligerman had control of the lead late in the running, and was hoping for rain as the event had played out under iffy weather conditions. But the wet stuff never came and Kligerman was forced to pit for fuel with 13 laps left; the stop, along with a subsequent speeding penalty on pit road, sent him to a 25th-place finish.
“We played it perfectly for that situation…I was fully for it, but it sucks when you run top-five all day,” said Kligerman. “There was debris everywhere the last 20 laps. Of course, no one threw a caution, so we ran out of fuel and finished wherever we finished.”
Austin Dillon had made history earlier Saturday by becoming the first driver in NNS history to win four consecutive pole positions. He was especially strong in the first half of the race, but had a left-rear tire go down after staying out instead of pitting following a Lap 64 caution. He went a lap down because of the issue, and eventually tumbled to a 20th-place result after tagging the wall with five laps to go.
Larson, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne rounded out the Top 5 spots at the finish.
There will be more to come very likely later this week regarding the launch of Dinner with Racers season two, as supported by Continental Tire and Acura.
The popular podcast hosted by sports car veteran driver Ryan Eversley, a factory driver for Acura Motorsports’ NSX GT3 program with RealTime Racing in Pirelli World Challenge, and veteran behind-the-scenes PR/video/marketing maven Sean Heckman had 28 episodes in its first season and should have a similar number for season two.
Two of the more popular episodes from Season 1 involved veteran engineer Jeff Braun, father of Colin and Travis Braun. The elder Braun hosted the guys at his family’s house in Ovalo, Texas, which is about as “middle of nowhere” as it gets. Colin Braun and Jon Bennett will share the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R next season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Jeff Braun’s racing stories were one episode, while a special breakout episode was dedicated to Level 5 Motorsports, and remains one of the most popular downloaded episodes from the season. Both are linked below.
But in the above video, you can get a tour of the Braun household. We leave it to Jeff, Sean and Ryan to do the rest.
Notes from the last week or so in the busy, wild world of sports car racing:
- Flying Lizard Motorsports benefitted from late-race issues that hit the Ryno Racing Team, where the right rear stub axle broke on its Ginetta G57 LMP3. The Lizard’s No. 45 Audi R8 LMS of Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Mike Hedlund and Dion von Moltke delivered a flawless drive en route to the win at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the car’s second straight. More here from Sportscar365.
- Rebellion Racing confirmed a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup entry. Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Sebastien Buemi will be an all-star lineup in the team’s Oreca 07 at the 51st running of the 24 Hours of Daytona, January 26-29, and at the Roar, January 6-9.
- Grasser Racing Team will run a two-car Lamborghini Huracán GT3 effort at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Rolf Ineichen (Switzerland), Christian Engelhart (Germany), Mirko Bortolotti (Italy) and Ezequil Companc (Argentina) will be in one car, with Ineichen and Engelhart the first two drivers listed for the second car.
- Former Fall-Line Motorsports team manager Michael Harvey has been named Director of Race Operations for VISIT FLORIDA Racing, which is a great get for the Troy Flis-owned team. Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens are the team’s full-season drivers for the No. 90 Riley-Gibson car.
- IMSA has confirmed a couple things on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – which is linked here.
- Mercedes-AMG will build a GT4. More here from Sportscar365.
- Two Porsche announcements in PWC. Patrick Long will be back with Wright Motorsports in its No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Jon Fogarty will be back in a Porsche, following a surprise switch by the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing from McLaren this year.
In this video produced by the Road Racing Drivers Club SAFEisFAST initiative, we take a look behind the scenes at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ unsung heroes: the Holmatro Safety Team.
You’ve heard about their heroic efforts over the years, particularly with saving James Hinchcliffe’s life last year in Indianapolis.
But how do they do what they do? This video explains it.
The partnership between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin will continue into 2017, Red Bull confirmed on Tuesday.
Branding on the Red Bull Formula 1 chassis will continue, while bigger news has come in terms of the AM-RB 001 hypercar.
Red Bull and Aston Martin announced that all 150 road-going cars of the 175 cars built (the other 25 are track-only specials) have been sold and customer deliveries will begin in early 2019.
An AM-RB 001 prototype is expected to run for the first time by the end of this season.
“We first conceived our Innovation Partnership with Aston Martin in the realization that it could be truly pioneering,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal.
“In blending our distinct but unique skills under a shared creative vision, we have already seen tangible development to both of our brands and businesses. The extraordinary success of the AM RB-001 is testament to the expert and collaborative spirit in which it was forged, and extending our relationship with Aston Martin through 2017 was a simple and pleasing decision.”
Aston Martin President and CEO Andy Palmer added, “By bringing together the talents of Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin, AM-RB 001 is destined to become the defining hypercar of this decade and a hugely desirable investment for collectors and enthusiasts.
“Our relationship with Red Bull Racing has done for Aston Martin exactly what we expected it to do,” he continued. “It is helping us to continue to build our brand across the globe. Partnerships like this are good for business both in terms of technical innovation and brand awareness, so we are pleased to continue into 2017.”