Clint Bowyer currently leads an off-strategy Joey Logano as the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway has crossed the halfway mark.
In real-time points, Bowyer has also taken over the championship lead from Jimmie Johnson, who was invovled in an early incident that also featured his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Wild Card hopeful, Kasey Kahne.
On a restart at Lap 25, Matt Kenseth got into the back of a slow Jeff Gordon, which caused the field to stack up. Kahne then ran into the back of Johnson, while Jeff Burton and Mark Martin got into back of Kahne.
Kahne went to the garage with radiator and oil cooler damage, while Johnson went to the pits with damage to the front and rear ends of his car. Kahne has since returned to action, and Johnson has been simply logging laps toward the back of the field.
Early leader Logano, who, like Kahne, is also on the Chase bubble, has had an up-and-down night. On Lap 102, a vibration forced him to the pits and put him on an alternate strategy.
He inherited the lead following a cycle of green stops around Lap 120-130, but had to stop on Lap 152 as he was unable to get the caution he needed. Another green cycle of stops later on put Logano back in the lead briefly, but Bowyer would gain the point again on the track.
Helmut Marko believes that Daniil Kvyat could not cope with the pressure of battling with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, reasoning the decision to switch the Russian back to Toro Rosso from the Spanish Grand Prix.
Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, in a swap deal that sees Max Verstappen join the senior operation.
The final straw for Kvyat came in Russia when he hit Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel twice in two corners, leading to crunch talks with team advisor Marko and team boss Christian Horner.
Speaking to Auto Bild, Marko said that he does not consider Kvyat returning to Toro Rosso to be a demotion, but instead a move that will allow him to race under less pressure.
“The decision was made after Russia. It has become increasingly clear that Daniil Kvyat could not withstand the pressure from Daniel Ricciardo, and he has been overdriving the car,” Marko explained.
“We wanted to take him out of the firing line and help his career, instead of harming it. Kvyat partly understands it. I don’t see this as a demotion. Toro Rosso is at a very good level this year.”
Marko said that Verstappen now has to prove himself against Ricciardo, while also hinting that there may be an opening for Toro Rosso’s second driver Carlos Sainz Jr. to move up to Red Bull at the end of the season.
“Max has to challenge Ricciardo now, which is not easy,” Marko said. “Daniel is very strong at the moment.
“At the end of the year the cards will be reshuffled. This also means that Carlos Sainz has a chance to step up.”
On the heels of last year’s successful debut of “Inside F1,” which premiered in November at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut, the NBC Formula 1 announcing team will have an encore run this June in Chicago.
“Inside F1” with the F1 on NBC booth of lead announcer Leigh Diffey along with analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be a live theater-style show at the Park West theater in Chicago, on June 15, at 8 p.m.
The show comes a few days after the NBC crew broadcasts the Canadian Grand Prix live from Montreal on June 12, before the first European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan takes place the following weekend.
“Steve, David & I really enjoy meeting the Formula 1 viewing audience,” Diffey said. “There’s a lot of passionate, knowledgeable F1 fans in America, so to get a theater full of them and discuss the sport we love, makes for a really fun night!”
Tickets are available at http://jamusa.com/events/inside-f1-racing/, or by calling 773-929-1322.
The event sold out last year in a smaller theater; Park West will be a bigger theater this go-around and offer more fans the chance to go.
It’s Cinco de Mayo and the sponsor announcements for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil are flowing in a bit like margaritas will be later today around the country.
Get out your pen and paper, or laptop and spreadsheet, to add these names and figures to your entry list for the race. Because there’s a lot of companies and brands stepping up to the plate.
Four different teams have made sponsor announcements and here they are:
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) announced today that Lucas Oil and Jahia Solutions Group will co-sponsor the No. 77 SPM with Marotti Racing entry driven by Oriol Servia in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Lucas Oil is a longtime SPM partner. “My number one aim was to make sure I was participating in the 100th Indy 500 with a team that could give me a car to contend for the win, and I have no doubt that Sam Schmidt and all his group at SPM will do exactly that,” Servia said in a release. “Being sponsored by Lucas Oil and Jahia are just the cherry on the cake and I couldn’t be happier to represent companies with such high standards. I can’t wait for May 29th to hopefully make them proud.”
- Royal Purple announced its sponsorship of the Ed Carpenter Racing team for the 2016 race season. The lubricant will adorn the engine cover of Carpenter’s No. 20 Chevrolet. Additionally, Royal Purple is launching the 2016 Royal Purple Indy 500 Sweepstakes, offering race fans the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind Royal Purple racing helmet signed by Ed Carpenter. From May 5 – June 1, fans can enter the sweepstakes by completing the online entry form at http://www.RoyalPurple.com. Following the close of the sweepstakes’ entry period, one winner will be chosen at random to receive the grand prize.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Bandit Industries Inc., a premier global manufacturer of industrial wood chippers and wood processing equipment, will be an associate sponsor for the No. 16 Verizon IndyCar Series entry of reigning Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot in both events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pigot raced the season opener at St. Petersburg and is hopeful to run further races after the pair of events during the month of May.
- The latest partner to adorn the No. 88 Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Honda driven by Bryan Clauson is Context Design, which was established in 1998 as a small, client-focused landscape architecture and land planning firm near Indianapolis, Indiana. Context’s award-winning site design studio is passionate about helping clients to create meaningful spaces and experiences that connect people to the land.
Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff thinks that Ferrari’s lack of pace in last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix was specific to the Sochi Autodrom circuit and not a sign of things to come in 2016.
Ferrari entered 2016 hopeful of mounting a serious challenge to Mercedes after a strong showing in pre-season, only to struggle to keep up with the German marque in the first four races of the season.
The deficit was particularly worrying for Ferrari in Russia last weekend when Kimi Raikkonen finished as Ferrari’s lead driver but over 30 seconds down on race winner Nico Rosberg.
Talking to reporters after the race, Wolff refused to read too much into Ferrari’s pace, believing the deficit to be largely down to the nature of the track in Sochi.
“The track is very different with a very smooth surface, and we saw that the pace of many teams was different to the races before,” Wolff said.
“Williams was very strong, Red Bull weren’t, and Ferrari weren’t as good as expected. This is a circuit where you have to get it right in terms of mechanical grip and aerodynamic downforce – and engine power plays a role.
“I would say that the dent in the Ferrari performance is Sochi-specific. But that is only my guess.”
Mercedes’ advantage was perhaps even bigger than the 30-second gap between Rosberg and Raikkonen suggested, considering that the race winner was hindered by an issue on his power unit in the second half of the race.
Ferrari’s main problem so far this season has been with the reliability of its cars, as both Raikkonen and teammate Sebastian Vettel have hit trouble in the opening four races.