Lime Rock Park

Taylor, Angelelli, Balzan and Norman become final GRAND-AM Rolex champs

Leave a comment

Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli ended the GRAND-AM era in style with a dominant victory at Lime Rock Park that also earned them the final Daytona Prototype championship in Rolex Series history, while Alessandro Balzan and Dr. Jim Norman put their names into the history books as the series’ final GT and GX class champions respectively.

Taylor, driving the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette, was forced to withstand one last restart with three minutes remaining after a multi-car incident involving Patrick Long, Richard Westbrook and Alex Gurney brought out the yellow with less then 10 minutes to go.

But just as he showed in the late going at Kansas and Laguna Seca, Taylor came up clutch when it counted and quickly pulled away of his rivals to secure the win and the championship.

In a season that saw multiple squads take over the DP points lead only to give it up because of various calamities on the track, he and Angelelli were the ones to finally keep a grip on the prize.

“I’m a bit of a loser in a way – racing is my life and I’ve only got a few friends,” Taylor said self-deprecatingly afterwards to Fox Sports. “But it’s family, friends and racing for me, so I’m just happy to finally get a championship with, basically, my brother, Max.”

Angelelli, who once again opened things for the No. 10 today and claimed his second career Rolex Series title, was beaming with pride.

“It’s just a fantastic job, the whole team,” Angelelli said. “We are all together. Pit stops, strategy – they were just fantastic. Everything worked out.”

Meanwhile in GT, the championship was altered dramatically in the opening laps when the class-leading No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche of John Potter made contact with Richie Stanaway in the No. 66 TRG Aston Martin and was sent spinning in Turn 2.

The No. 11 Lotus GX machine of Scott Dollahite then slammed into the No. 44, causing considerable front end damage and forcing it behind the wall for necessary repairs.

The car would eventually come back and finish 13th in class, which was not enough to stop Balzan from claiming the GT crown after surviving a mid-race run-in with fellow Ferrari pilot Jeff Segal and then finishing second to the race-winning No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette of Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach.

“It was the hardest race ever in my life,” Balzan said. “For me to be here, the first year for me and the first year for Scuderia Corsa, to get the championship – I think we’re going to spend one fantastic holiday this winter.

“It was really unlucky what happened to the [Magnus] Porsche, but it was a really wild race, especially in the last 40 minutes. Not everyone was really fair, but you know, I’m the champion, the team is the champion, Ferrari is the champion. We cannot ask for more.”

Early in the race, the GX title was clinched by Dr. Norman, who went on to finish second with co-driver Spencer Pumpelly in the race behind winners Tom Long and Sylvain Tremblay.

“It’s been a great year for us battling those factory Mazdas,” Norman said following an early stint. “I’ve got a great teammate, Spencer’s an amazing driver and a great coach. We’re really proud and pleased to be the first champions [of this class].”

Also earning a GRAND-AM title today were Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb, who claimed the Grand Sport title in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge earlier this morning.

With GRAND-AM’s fond farewell this afternoon, the sports car world now turns to the other piece of #TheFuture – the American Le Mans Series, which will stage its penultimate race next weekend at Virginia International Raceway before closing up shop with the Petit Le Mans from Road Atlanta on Oct. 19.

The two series will merge into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next season.

Meyrick, Price reunite with Bullitt Racing McLaren GT4

bullittracing1
Photo: Bullitt Racing
Leave a comment

Veteran sports car driver Andy Meyrick and legendary team manager David Price will reunite on Bullitt Racing’s entry into the GT4 European Series Northern Cup in 2017. Meyrick will share the team’s McLaren 570S GT4 with new co-driver Stephen Pattrick.

Meyrick and Price worked together with Don Panoz’s DeltaWing Racing Cars program from 2013 through 2014, in the program’s continuation with new components after initial technical partners left the operation.

Meyrick was recently at the Rolex 24 at Daytona supporting his protege, Seb Morris, who ran well in the Whelen Engineering-backed No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R for Action Express Racing.

“I’ve been keeping a very close eye on GT4 for the last couple of years now, I really admire the racing and the close competition,” Meyrick said.

“The team is well organized and I’m sure will be competitive very quickly, this was a key part of my decision to take the role.

“Led by David Price, the team has a great opportunity to challenge at the front of the pack this year. I’m excited to be a part of GT4.”

Price, who will be team principal, added: “We were looking for an experienced GT racer to lead our team and take the fight straight to the front, Andy is perfect for the role. We are delighted to have him onboard.”

The Northern Cup season begins at Misano on April 2, the first weekend of a six-race schedule (Brands Hatch May 7, Red Bull Ring June 11, Slovakia Ring July 16, Zandvoort August 20, Nürburgring September 17).

Michael Andretti: ‘We must be the best Honda team’

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 12:  Team owner Michael Andretti stands on the grid prior to the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedways)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Andretti Autosport is banking on a couple of its offseason engineering changes and motivation throughout its four-car driver lineup to reassert itself within the Verizon IndyCar Series after a challenging 2016 season.

Outside of the month of May in Indianapolis, where Alexander Rossi won the 100th Indianapolis 500, Andretti Autosport struggled as a team last season, primarily on the road and street courses.

By the season finale at Sonoma Raceway though, the team had made some setup gains and was firmly in contention with all four cars.

Team principal Michael Andretti is setting his sights on being “best in class” first, as with 13 Hondas compared to only eight Chevrolets, there’s already a lot of other teams with the same aero kit and manufacturer to get ahead of before making an outright challenge to the Chevrolet teams.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport both field four cars, while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Dale Coyne Racing (two cars each) and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (one) make up the balance of the 13 Hondas.

“I think it’s going to come down to the race tracks. Certain tracks I think we can be more competitive than others. So it’s that,” Andretti told my colleague Luke Smith at this weekend’s FIA Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix, where the Amlin Andretti team competed in the third round of that season.

“But I think our goal as a team is that we must be the best Honda team, and get our licks in when we can with the rest of it.

“Still our goal is obviously we want to repeat at Indy again and win the championship. I think we still have the team to do it. But we have to have a trouble-free year.”

Andretti himself will move off the strategist’s box for the first time in 2017, which sees him and Marco Andretti separate from that standpoint after years together. This primarily frees up Michael Andretti to be at other series events where his team competes, whether in Formula E or Red Bull Global Rallycross, if there are conflict weekends between it and IndyCar (there are several).

With Eric Bretzman brought on board as technical director for Andretti Autosport, it also will free up Ryan Hunter-Reay’s engineer and race strategist, Ray Gosselin, to focus solely on the No. 28 DHL Honda instead of being the overall engineering head for the team.

“I think his mental bandwidth will be freed up for the 28,” Hunter-Reay told NBC Sports at the Phoenix test.

Michael Andretti, who hailed the team chemistry preseason last year, said things are better within the operation this year as it looks ahead to the season.

Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti are motivated to bounce back from tough years, Alexander Rossi now has a year of experience under his belt and a good relationship with both his new strategist (Rob Edwards) and engineer (Jeremy Milless) and Takuma Sato joins from A.J. Foyt Enterprises looking to impress in a big team.

“I feel really good. We’ve made changes in our team but I think we’ve made really positive changes that I think have strengthened our team,” Michael Andretti said. “I’m very excited where that’s at. It’s going to come down to execution.”

The team will again run five cars at the Indianapolis 500, with the fifth car the subject of much interest from a mix of both ‘500 veterans and up-and-coming younger talents who’ve made some splashes in IndyCar.

While nothing is settled on that front, Andretti is confident a deal can be reached sooner rather than later.

“It’s coming together. We have about four or five different options that we’re working on. Hopefully in the next couple we’ll have something,” he said.

Happy 80th birthday to ‘The Captain,’ Roger Penske

SONOMA, CA - AUGUST 23: Team owner Roger Penske watches from pit road during the Verizon IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma practice at Sonoma Raceway on August 23, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Roger Penske turns 80 today, and there’s no sign of the racing team owner and automotive magnate slowing down at all.

Penske’s team is fresh off its 50th anniversary season of competition in 2016, where its Verizon IndyCar Series program went 1-2-3 in points with 10 wins from 16 races, its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team won seven races with its two drivers, and Penske also achieved wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and podiums in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

All the while, Penske continues to rack up the miles on the road for all his hundreds of dealerships, continuing with his daily mantra of “effort equals results.”

You could roll through the accolades from his and the team’s history but another Penske classic mantra is that the team can’t be distracted by its own press clippings; instead, it keeps on pushing to be even better.

To most he’s known as Mr. Penske, to a select few Roger, and to an even more select few “RP.”

But he is known to all as “The Captain,” and at 80, we’re thankful for his eternal service to racing.

Three spectators injured at Volusia Speedway as car leaves track

BARBERVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  Joey Saldana, driver of the #9 Budweiser Dodge, and Donny Schatz, driver of the #15 Armor All, race during the World of Outlaws 39th Annual DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park on February 7, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for Kasey Kahne Racing)
Volusia Speedway in 2010. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three spectators were injured and transported to a local hospital following an accident at Volusia Speedway Park just east of Barberville, Fla. on Sunday night, although as of Monday one spectator has been released.

The incident occurred as Dale Blaney’s winged sprint car flipped over a fence at Turn 2 and into a spectator area, after being involved with Rico Abreu and Jason Sides. This week features the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia, for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint series.

Via DirtRacingReport.com, Volusia has released an update on the three spectators injured. That statement is below:

Three participants in the pit area were injured in an incident at a DIRTcar Nationals World of Outlaws event at Volusia Speedway Park Sunday night when a car went through the fence in turn two. All patients were treated by emergency personnel immediately according to safety protocol and transported to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.

UPDATE:

We would like to extend a thank you for everyone’s thoughts and prayers for the three participants injured in the pit area Sunday night during the 46th running of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.

Two of the three individuals remain in the care of medical staff at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. Each have family present at the hospital and have requested privacy at this time.

Michael Brooks, 69, of Kalamazoo, Mich., is one of the individuals involved. His family and friends are at Halifax Health Medical Center and have requested privacy.

Meanwhile, Gary Streek, of the United Kingdom, has been discharged. His uncle, Alan Wardel, was admitted after experiencing some discomfort while visiting Streek at Halifax, but has since been discharged as well.

While a video of the crash had circulated on social media, it has since been deleted. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, accident witness Amber Janney Cox of Orange City said she watched Blaney’s car “bounce up on the grass area and then bounce up over the fence.” The full report from the News-Journal is here.

This is the second such incident at Volusia in three days, although the first on Friday night when Joey Saldana’s car flipped over the backstraight featured no injuries.