Last-lap incidents lead to post-race chaos for NASCAR Trucks (UPDATED)

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Tonight’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway may be the penultimate race of the Sprint Cup regular season. And it certainly means a lot as the Chase for the Sprint Cup is looming closer.

But that didn’t stop the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from potentially upstaging tonight’s proceedings in Atlanta with an explosive finish to their race this afternoon at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park road course in Ontario.

On the final lap, young bucks Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon were going at it side-by-side when Elliott went to the inside of Dillon as the two headed for the last corner. Elliott got into Dillon, spun him into the tire barriers, and went on to claim his first career victory in the Trucks.

As you’d expect, things got heated on pit road as Fox Sports cameras caught Elliott and Dillon’s crews engaging in a shouting match. The two drivers also had a confrontation while Elliott was on his way to Victory Lane.

“That’s not how I race and that’s never been how I’ve raced before,” Elliott said according to The Associated Press. “I had a shot. I was up next to Ty and I knew he was going to try and chop me off. I tried to make up the difference…Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get to Victory Lane.”

Dillon, who was relegated to a 17th-place result, seemed to vow revenge in due time against the son of former Cup champ Bill Elliott.

“You’ve got to show respect,” Dillon said, per the AP. “I hope he runs Iowa [next week]. He won’t finish the race.”

But that wasn’t all. Not by a long shot.

While Elliott and Dillon were dueling for the win, Max Papis and Mike Skeen also battled for position when the two made contact in the last turn. The incident knocked Papis to sixth at the finish, Skeen to 13th.

But just after Papis completed a post-race TV interview, a woman approached the Italian driver and slapped him in the face. NASCAR.com reports that the woman identified herself as Skeen’s girlfriend.

This isn’t the first time Papis has been involved with slapping. Earlier this season, he whacked a helmet-wearing Billy Johnson in the head following the Nationwide Series’ event at Road America after the two had a run-in with each other during the race.

Perhaps karma decided to come back around today on “Mad Max”? Who knows…

UPDATE (9:10 p.m. ET): Max Papis has now told ESPN’s Marty Smith that the slap he received following today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ race in Canada dislocated his jaw. To Papis’ credit, he did not retaliate in the post-race incident.

“What do you do? You don’t hit a lady,” Papis told Smith. “I was in disbelief. Complete disbelief. If she would’ve closed her hand, it would have been a bad punch, because she hit me so freaking hard.

“I went to [Skeen] and said, ‘I guess we know who’s the man in the family here, because the guy didn’t even have the [guts] to talk.'”

Ouch.

IMSA: Sebring test notes

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Ahead of next month’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, teams from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took to Sebring International Raceway to round out a week of IMSA testing at the 3.74-mile road course.

Below are news highlights from Friday and Saturday at Sebring.

Derani Aiming for a Repeat of 2016 Victory

Tequila Patrón ESM’s Pipo Derani burst onto the American racing scene in 2016 with standout performances at the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring to lead the ESM team to victory at both races.

His Sebring triumph was particularly impressive as he charged from fourth to first in the final ten minutes to secure the victory in one of the most thrilling finishes the race has ever seen.

Now two years removed from those successes, Derani appreciates the impact those 2016 triumphs had on his career.

“If you’re talking about sports car racing, you’re talking about Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans, Petit and those races that are known worldwide,” said the now 24-year-old Derani. “After winning Daytona and immediately coming here at Sebring – which if I’m not wrong, I was the first guy winning both on debut and the first Brazilian, probably to win back-to-back on those two races. It definitely changed my career. It opened many doors for myself and I’m really glad that it happened. Nothing comes easy. I’m really glad that ESM gave me the chance in 2016 to be in those races. Two years later, I can’t wait to win again.”

With testing now in the rearview mirror, Derani hopes he and the ESM team have found the right setup package to give them another chance at a victory.

“(Thursday) was a day that we managed to get a lot of information,” he explained. Most importantly, we ran a lot. We were out on track, and that is really good for us. Hopefully, this work is going to pay off really, really soon.”

United Autosports Continues American Odyssey at Sebring

Although two-time FIA Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso won’t be in the mix, United Autosports will be continuing the American adventure they started at January’s Rolex 24 with entries at the three other Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2018, beginning with March’s 12 Hours of Sebring.

The No. 32 Ligier JS P217 Gibson will be the team’s entrant at the remaining NAEC events and they will look to build on a fourth-place finish at the Rolex. However, while fourth looks like a strong result, team co-owner Richard Dean felt a victory may have been within their reach.

“We were a little bit disappointed in the end, even though we finished fourth because I think with three hours to go we sat in third place and the two Cadillacs were looking like they were struggling, we felt like we had an opportunity that 24-hour races can give you,” said Dean. “But everybody’s got a story, so we came out of there with a fourth place.”

Drivers Phil Hanson and Paul Di Resta returned to the team to complete the Sebring test, while Alex Brundle filled in for an ill Bruno Senna, who is scheduled to race with the team at the 12-hour enduro.

Dean emphasized, though, that Senna’s previous experience around the track should make up for his absence.

“Bruno couldn’t travel, he wasn’t well enough, and there was just no point in him getting on a plane and being ill here,” Dean asserted. “He knows the track. Of the three drivers we’ve got, he’s the one who needed the least laps around here.

Dean added that the team is beginning to get a better foothold on American soil, citing help from Andretti Autosport, which should improve their prospects for the remaining NAEC rounds.

“We feel a little bit more organized, we’ve got our own truck now, and we’ve got a little base here, and (Andretti Autosport) have been helping us out an awful lot, so our little collaboration or alliance with Andretti has certainly steadied the ship a little bit for us and helped us,” Dean said. “We’re excited to do these remaining races, and now that we’ve got Daytona experience with us, it’s definitely going to help us do a much better job in the approach for Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit.”

Lally Samples New Continental Tire Design

Continental Tire, the current tire supplier for the Prototype and GT Daytona classes in the Weathertech Championship, rolled out a new tire design for the Sebring test, and Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally was the first to sample it on Thursday.

“Basically, we’re all going through sweeps right now and feeling things out. What does the tire feel like when you’re in qualifying mode versus full-fuel mode?” Lally said after the initial running. “There are all sorts of stuff when you get such a change like what we’ve got here. This is a relatively big change for the GT cars. Maybe for the Prototypes, it’s not as big a change, but for the GT3 cars, it’s quite a different feel on the platform. We’re just going through that.”
The new tire design comes after a Rolex 24 that was plagued with tire problems, as several teams suffered failures, especially on the left-rear, during the 24-hour race. Wayne Taylor Racing even elected to retire their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R after suffering five tire failures.
Miller, Bechtolsheimer Sample New CJ Wilson Racing Acura NSX GT3
Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer got to work quickly with new Weathertech entrant CJ Wilson Racing, with both drivers sampling their new Acura NSX GT3 on Thursday and Friday.
Miller is a veteran of GT3 machinery and has won big races before – he was a GTD class winner at the 2016 Motul Petit Le Mans. Bechtolsheimer, however, is all new to GT3 machinery, having primarily raced vintage cars along with forays into the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
“I’ve not driven anything close to a GTD car before,” quipped Bechtolsheimer. “The first time driving it properly here at Sebring is kind of fitting because the first time I drove a car on slicks was at Sebring two years ago in moving to Continental Tire, which was at least as daunting at the time as moving into GTD now.
“The first time I turned a lap or two in the car, even though I was just trying to figure out where all the switches were and so on, I straight away felt that this is a car that’s going to be fun to drive. It’s going to take me time to build up to be on pace, but it’s a confidence-inspiring car and its yeah, it’s a lot nicer than perhaps I was expecting.”
The Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring rolls off on March 17.