Kyle Busch

Late pit road speeding penalty stops Kyle Busch’s rally

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Whether Kyle Busch was going to have enough to get by Jimmie Johnson for the win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway is debatable. But after making contact with the wall early in the AAA Texas 500, it appeared that Busch was set to finish off an impressive charge back toward the front.

And then, after pitting for the final time with 35 laps to go, it all disappeared when NASCAR penalized him for speeding on pit road. The subsequent drive-through tossed Busch back to 15th and he was only able to grab two of the lost spots before finishing 13th.

After winning at Texas in the spring, Busch needed another victory to truly keep himself in the hunt for the Sprint Cup championship. Instead, he’ll have to hope against hope that Johnson and Matt Kenseth, the top two in the standings, stumble over the final two races and give him a real shot at the title. Busch now lies fourth in the Chase at 52 points behind Johnson.

“We battled back from a lot of stuff today, between the tire unraveling and almost overheating,” he said in a statement. “I have to take responsibility for the speeding penalty there at the end. You try to get all you can on pit road because you can make up a lot of time under green, and we just took too much.

“My guys worked really hard this weekend and gave me a great car. Just wish I would have got the finish these guys deserved.”

On Lap 58, Busch scraped the Turn 2 wall while battling Kenseth for second, bringing out the yellow. It forced multiple visits by Busch to pit road for repairs under the caution but even though he had to restart in 29th, he was able to avoid going a lap down.

Busch steadily moved through the field, rising into the Top 15 by Lap 100 and into the Top 10 a short time later. He eventually got to second by Lap 177 before being forced to drop back to fourth after a piece of debris was caught on the grille of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Busch would use the rear bumper of Brad Keselowski to help blow off the debris and get his car’s engine temperatures back to normal.

But while Busch was able to stay in the Top 5 after that, the penalty after his final stop on Lap 299 undid what had been a valiant effort. Afterwards, his crew chief, Dave Rogers, said that the team still “had his back.”

“Things were looking pretty good there, but like I told Kyle after the race – on a team, everybody is giving 100 percent and when everybody is giving 100 percent, sometimes they give 100.1 and that .1 gets you in trouble,” he said.

“…He was giving us all he had to give us the best finish possible and we took a little bit more than what was there. That’s okay, we’ll go to Phoenix and Homestead and race them.”

Helmut Marko: Modern-day F1 drivers are overpaid

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.
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Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.

However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.

“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.

“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.

“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.

“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”

Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon deserve Formula 1 roles

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 23:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during Formula One testing at the Red Bull Ring on June 23, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.

Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.

Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.

“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.

“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.

“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”

Social roundup: When Mika Hakkinen met CJ Wilson, and other cool shots

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:  Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is seen during practice for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2011 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?

Pure awesomeness.

Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.

This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.

The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.

See a mix of photos and videos below:

Ecclestone gives Monza until end of February to resolve F1 future

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 6, 2015 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.

However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.

Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.

However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.

“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.

“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’

“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.

“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.