Kanaan, Rahals engage in social media spat after Baltimore

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While the latest Scott Dixon vs. the combination of Beaux Barfield, Will Power and Tim Cindric drama inevitably will steal headlines and discussion in the days and weeks to come, there was another post-race brouhaha that emerged after IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.

Those disagreeing in this instance are current Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, former Indianapolis 500 winner and team owner Bobby Rahal, and Rahal’s son and driver Graham.

Rahal actually was having one of his better weekends of the season in the No. 15 blu eCigs Honda for RLL Racing. He started 12th, but would have made the Firestone Fast Six had his two fastest laps not been deleted for qualifying after an incident in Turn 8.

Rahal, who ran Firestone’s primary blacks the first two stints, was a passing demon early as he advanced to sixth place on Lap 10, and maintained impressive pace on the harder of the two compounds while those ahead of him were on the softer alternate reds.

He led 5 laps and ran in the top five most of the day, even despite making contact with Scott Dixon on a Lap 48 restart at Turn 1 and avoiding a penalty. A pit stop from the lead on Lap 57 took him out of that position, and contact with Kanaan on Lap 68 put pause to his race. Kanaan brushed the wall on his own on the penultimate lap in the No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet for KVRT-SH. He finished 15th, and Rahal 17th.

Rahal’s official quote first: “The blu eCigs car was awesome today; I don’t have any complaints there. We should have won that race; that was my race but everything kept going wrong for us. The strategy was on par really until those yellows. I don’t understand why they were so long but they were and it took us right out of it but at the end we started to claw our way back. I got a really good restart and I got by Kanaan. I don’t even know how far back he was but I looked in Turn 2 and couldn’t even see him. The next thing I knew, I was trying to line those guys up for the exit and he just drove absolutely square into the side of me. I really don’t get that and I’m definitely going to have some words with him.”

And here’s Kanaan’s quote, without mentioning anything regarding the incident: “It was a very physical and bizarre race. All the crashes on the restarts, all the cars that were involved just made the whole race difficult. I drove the whole first stint with a damaged front wing and still got up to sixth. I was hanging on the whole time and trying to fight through it. We pitted a bit out of sequence and got to the front avoiding all the carnage. After the last restart the car started getting away from me. It got worse and worse and finally I hit the wall in Turn 12.”

Things spilled over to social media in the aftermath. Kanaan made a general observation first:

Shortly thereafter, Bobby Rahal “subtweeted” Kanaan and suggested he had lost any respect he held for the KV Racing Technology – SH driver. Kanaan then responded saying “Hey Bob this is my twitter handle” and Bobby Rahal replied with an offer to bury the hatchet. Here’s the exchange. Make of the actions and reactions what you will. All I’ll say is that it’s a different world now where “Twitter wars” take precedence over post-race disagreements on pit lane that the cameras can see. I’m not sure I like it.

 

Craig Breedlove wins 2017 Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award

Craig Breedlove (left) and Richard Noble look on during the world land speed record attempt by the Thrust SCC at Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Photo: David Taylor/Allsport
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Land-speed record icon Craig Breedlove has been awarded the 2017 Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award, one of the top honors awarded on the West Coast, and in the world of motorsports. Breedlove is the award’s 18th recipient.

The award was presented prior to today’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The full release is below:

Craig Breedlove has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the 18th Annual Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award. For the 18th year, the Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award recognizes motorsports personalities who have made distinguished contributions to motorsports in California.

Breedlove was selected by a judging panel, which includes national and California motorsports media, to receive the prestigious 2017 Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award. Ed Justice, Jr. President & CEO of Justice Brothers, Inc. presented the award during the pre-race ceremonies at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 race at Auto Club Speedway.

Craig Breedlove is the first person in history to reach 500 mph and 600 mph, Craig Breedlove, is a land speed legend. Using several turbojet-powered vehicles, all named Spirit of America; he drove to five world land speed records. The Beach Boys’ song Spirit of America was inspired by Breedlove’s land speed record set in 1963. Breedlove was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of America in 1993 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000.

Giovinazzi impresses as Sauber sub, finishes 12th on F1 debut

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Antonio Giovinazzi continued his impressive last-minute showing in the Australian Grand Prix weekend by finishing 12th for Sauber on his Formula 1 debut.

Ferrari junior and 2015 GP2 runner-up Giovinazzi was drafted in by Sauber on Saturday to replace Pascal Wehrlein, who withdrew from the race weekend due to an ongoing back injury.

Giovinazzi qualified 16th on Saturday, narrowly missing out on a place in Q2, and then enjoyed a trouble-free race en route to 12th at the checkered flag, two laps down on race winner Sebastian Vettel.

“It was a good race, and I am happy with my performance today,” Giovinazzi said.

“My objective was to gain more experience and collect mileage in the car. I will sit together with my engineers to analyze areas where I can improve.

“I want to thank the Sauber F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari again for this opportunity. It was an amazing race weekend for me.”

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was full of praise for Giovinazzi: “A very impressive performance from Antonio during his first Formula 1 race. He showed his potential as well as what the car is capable of.”

Giovinazzi is now set to return to his reserve driver duties at Ferrari, with Wehrlein expected to be back at full-fitness for the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Maverick Vinales wins MotoGP opener in Qatar after rain delays start

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Maverick Viñales made a flying start to life with Yamaha in MotoGP by winning on his debut with the factory team in Qatar on Sunday night.

Rain throughout the weekend had already forced qualifying to be cancelled on Saturday, with Viñales claiming pole by virtue of setting the fastest time in practice.

Officials decided early on Sunday that they would not be amending its schedule for races, with the Moto2 and Moto3 events going ahead as planned.

Just minutes before the MotoGP race was set to get underway at 11pm local time, rain started to fall once again over the Losail International Circuit, prompting the stewards to delay the race start after a number of riders went off during an installation lap.

A 45-minute delay followed as a number of officials from both MotoGP and the teams remonstrated on the grid before being asked to take their discussions inside, away from the cameras and the watching world.

With the rain easing to a light drizzle, the stewards confirmed the race would start as planned, albeit reduced to 20 laps.

On a moist track, Viñales made a tentative start from pole, dropping to fifth as Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone made the best getaway to lead into the first corner.

Iannone was quickly passed by Tech3’s Johann Zarco, who completed his first lap in MotoGP as the race leader, and soon began to forge a lead over the chasing pack.

Zarco’s hopes of a debut win were dashed when he slid off the track in the tricky conditions, allowing Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to assume the lead ahead of Iannone.

When Iannone fell and third-placed Marc Marquez began to drop off the pace as his tires faded, Viñales and Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi began to close on Dovizioso, setting up a grandstand finish.

Viñales found a way past Dovizioso, only to lose the lead a couple of laps later, before then taking it back with two laps to go, curbing the Ducati’s straight-line speed advantage as they headed into Turn 1 for the final time.

From there, Viñales was able to keep his cool and cross the line half a second clear of Dovizioso to record his second MotoGP victory, his first coming with Suzuki last year at Silverstone.

Rossi crossed the line a close third, much to his surprise after a torrid pre-season, while Marquez was left to settle for fourth place to begin his riders’ title defence.

Dani Pedrosa finished one place behind his Honda teammate in fifth, while Aleix Espargaro was one of the unsung heroes of the race, crossing the line sixth for Aprilia.

Scott Redding wound up seventh ahead of Jack Miller and Alex Rins, while Tech3 debutant Jonas Folger rounded out the top 10.

Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo had a forgettable debut with Ducati, finishing a lowly 11th after an off-track excursion on the opening lap.

The MotoGP season continues with round two of the season in Argentina on April 9.

Ocon picks up maiden F1 point in Australia, finishes as top rookie

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Esteban Ocon picked up his first point in Formula 1 during his maiden outing for Force India in Australia on Sunday, finishing the race 10th and as the top rookie.

Ocon made his F1 debut in Belgium last year with the backmarker Manor team, completing the final nine rounds of the season before moving into a seat with Force India for 2017.

Embarking on his first full season of F1 (and therefore still a rookie) in 2017, Ocon qualified 14th in Australia on Saturday before spending much of the race battling with Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, the trio going three-wide down the main straight at one point.

Ocon was able to come out on top, clinching the final point on offer in Melbourne by finishing P10 to complete a double-points finish for Force India after Sergio Perez ended up seventh.

“Very happy with today. It’s been a tough weekend but a great reward at the end,” Ocon told NBCSN after the race.

“Fighting with Alonso made things difficult. It was side by side. Then I had the better pace with him. It’s so much harder to overtake, but I made the pass and got the point.

“I’m learning all the time. It’s good what we’ve done here. This is good for the team. We hope we can score many more for the championship.”

Ocon emerged as the top rookie in Melbourne, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 12th and 13th respectively. Williams’ Lance Stroll – making his first start in F1 – retired due to a brake disc issue.