NASCAR announces changes to restart procedure

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In this morning’s drivers’ meeting at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR announced a potentially significant change to its restart procedure that takes effect today in the Chase-opening GEICO 400.

The restart zones will still be in effect, and the race leader will have the responsibility to accelerate within the zone to bring out the green flag. When the green emerges, the leader must be ahead of the second-place car.

However, once the leader accelerates at the green, the second-place car can also accelerate and beat the leader to the start/finish line. Additionally, drivers must stay in their specific lanes until they reach said line.

Restarts have been a recurring issue this season, and they were such again last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. While it was buried by the controversy surrounding Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, the final restart of last Saturday’s Sprint Cup race saw second-place Carl Edwards beat race leader Paul Menard to the start/finish line and then go on to win.

Edwards maintained that Menard had spun his tires, and NASCAR opted not to penalize Edwards, who is one of the 13 Chase contenders set to begin their drive toward a Sprint Cup championship this afternoon at Chicagoland.

One day before, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at RIR also ended with a restart controversy. Television replays appeared to show Brad Keselowski moving ahead of Brian Scott before the two crossed into the restart zone with six laps remaining in the event. But NASCAR did not penalize Keselowski, who then pulled away for the victory.

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.