Nico Hulkenberg had Ferrari contract on table

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Nico Hulkenberg’s manager has revealed that the German driver had been offered a contract by Hungary following lengthy negotiations, only to find out by text message on Monday night that he had missed out on the drive.

Hulkenberg had been a contender for the seat along with Kimi Raikkonen, with Ferrari opting to re-hire the Finn four years after he left the team. Hulkenberg’s manager, Werner Heinz, spoke to German publication Auto Motor und Sport about the snub, confirming that a deal was close.

“After 2 months of negotiations, I would have expected at least a phone call,” Heinz explained, having been messaged by Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali just after Felipe Massa confirmed on Instagram that he would not driving for the Italian marque in 2014.

According to AMuS, five lawyers from Sauber had been negotiating the deal for eight weeks, with a contract finally being drawn up at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. However, the deal lacked the signature of team president Luca di Montezemolo, who eventually decided to sign Raikkonen from Lotus.

In the past few weeks though, a great deal has changed. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Raikkonen confirmed that he had missed out on the seat alongside Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, going on to reveal that the financial situation at Lotus wasn’t as it should be. The team has been rumored to be struggling financially, although the situation have been eased by the recently-announced partnership with Emaar Properties.

For Hulkenberg, this will come as a bitter blow. The Sauber driver has been touted as one of the brightest talents in the sport, although he is yet to claim his first podium finish having debuted in 2010. He is now thought to be pursuing Raikkonen’s vacant seat at Lotus which would give him a race-winning car for the first time in his career, and perhaps a chance to show his true potential.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”