Allgaier to make Cup debut at Chicago in No. 51, with new team owner

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Rumors floating all season that Phoenix Racing, the independent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stalwart led by James Finch, would be sold have come true as of Wednesday.

Team owner Harry Scott Jr., part of the Turner Scott Motorsports juggernaut in NASCAR’s Nationwide, Camping World Truck and K&N East Pro Series, has bought Phoenix on the Cup side and will run three of the last 10 races with one of his Nationwide drivers, Justin Allgaier. Further information regarding the purchase can be found on

Allgaier is a former Penske Racing protege made somewhat famous with Verizon’s “Little Gator” ads, who has finished in the top six in the Nationwide standings each year since 2009. He has three career wins and his three Cup starts will be the first of his career.

For the rest of this year, Allgaier’s car will still  retain Nick Harrison as crew chief and Phil Barkdoll general manager of the No. 51 Brandt Chevrolet.

Allgaier will follow AJ Allmendinger, Mike Bliss, Austin Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Owen Kelly, Bobby Labonte, Regan Smith, Ryan Truex and Jacques Villeneuve as drivers of the No. 51 this year.

Bliss has been drafted in as a last-minute substitute this weekend at Atlanta for Labonte, who is being treated in hospital for three broken ribs.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”