Trying to solidify his chances of earning a Chase berth, Kurt Busch is putting together a strong afternoon and leads the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway at the halfway point.
Busch took the lead for the first time at Lap 32 as he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took advantage of lapped traffic momentarily holding up pole sitter Joey Logano. His first stop of the day at Lap 42 was a slow one and cost him several spots when the cycle played out, but his Furniture Row Racing crew made up for it by netting him several positions on stop No. 2 under caution at Lap 72.
Shortly after the restart at Lap 76, Busch dispatched Denny Hamlin (who had stayed out under the yellow) to take the lead and at Lap 100 of 200, Busch had opened up a two-second lead on Brad Keselowski, another winless driver that’s battling to make the Chase. Logano has stayed steady and was running third at halfway, followed by Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick.
A potential threat for the win went away in the first half of the event, when Jimmie Johnson suffered engine problems and was knocked out of the race. Johnson had to start from the rear of the field after crashing his primary car in final practice, but had managed to move into the Top 10 in his backup car before his motor went south.
Honda Racing will channel a galactic theme for this year’s camping festivities at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a popular camping venue on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar.
This marks the third year of a contest for best campground site, with various Honda Indy 200 gifts on offer. The theme name this year is “May the G-Forces Be With You,” and the hashtag is #CampingWithHonda. Last year’s was a “Christmas in July” theme, complete with Santa Claus. The full release from the track is linked here.
As this year’s event alludes to a very popular galactic film series in all but name, it will see a number of participants in the weekend festivities by to judge the campsites at the track – potentially in character!
Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in IndyCar, will visit the sites Saturday after qualifying to choose the winners. He did so last year as well.
Others, such as last year’s Mid-Ohio race winner Simon Pagenaud and RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 factory driver in Pirelli World Challenge, Ryan Eversley (right), are expected to attend as well – though whether as themselves or potentially in a special character remains to be seen.
“It’s always a thrill and a special part of the Mid-Ohio weekend to take part in Honda Racing fun festivities like ‘May the G-Forces Be With You,'” Eversley told NBC Sports; the Atlanta native finished second in the second PWC GT race here last year in the previous generation TLX-GT, in one of his best drives of the season. “These guys always know how to cook up some fun activities and so if there’s an opportunity to dress up, have fun and play along with it, I’m down!”
Pagenaud, who was a longtime member of the Honda and Acura family before his move to Team Penske’s Chevrolet-powered, IndyCar program (right), added, “For me, as a fan, this filmseries is just the best. I love the battle between the light and dark side of the force, because I feel like we can all identify with that. I try to channel the force when I’m in my race car, so this will be a really fun weekend in Mid-Ohio.
“I plan to bring something to show my pride at the track, but I won’t ruin the surprise for you guys in advance!”
Expect similar characters to be present on site on Saturday evening. There’s also going to be a bonfire, live band (Columbus group MidLife Crisis) and s’mores, plus branded lighted batons which should display well at the bonfire on Saturday.
And for James Hinchcliffe, another Honda driver who is no stranger to having fun, he’s also part of the buildup to this event, as evidenced by the event teaser below.
Pascal Wehrlein is not paying any attention to speculation that Sauber’s planned Formula 1 engine deal with Honda for 2018 could be on the rocks, saying his future remains open as he focuses on his current duties with the team.
Mercedes junior Wehrlein was placed at Sauber for 2017, and led the team to its first points finish of the year at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Sauber had been given a boost two weeks earlier when it announced a deal to become Honda’s second customer team for 2018, including technical and financial support.
Pirelli has determined that a slow puncture was the cause of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 tire failure towards the end of last Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Vettel suffered a failure on his front-left tire on the penultimate lap of the race at Silverstone while running third, forcing him into a late pit stop that ultimately left him P7 at the checkered flag.
The incident was just minutes after Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen had also hit trouble with his front-left tire, although Pirelli stressed after the race that the incidents were unrelated.
Pirelli announced on Friday that, after conducting extensive analysis of the tire, it could confirm that its initial belief that Vettel had suffered a puncture was indeed correct.
“As appeared clear since Sunday afternoon, a full investigation has now confirmed that the original cause of the failure was a slow puncture,” Pirelli said.
“The consequent driving back to the pits on an underinflated and then flat tire led to the final failure.
“Kimi Raikkonen’s damaged tire shows less evidence of what occurred, so further tests and analysis are still ongoing in Pirelli’s laboratories and indoor testing facilities.
“It will take a few more days to reach a definitive conclusion.”