Michael Waltrip Racing’s Ty Norris reinstated by NASCAR

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As part of his team’s punishment for its role in the race manipulation scandal that rocked NASCAR last fall at Richmond International Raceway, Michael Waltrip Racing executive Ty Norris was given an indefinite suspension.

But today, the sanctioning body announced that Norris has been reinstated into the sport, although he does remain on indefinite probation.

Norris’ suspension on Sept. 9, 2013 was one of multiple blows delivered by NASCAR after they found that the team conspired to manipulate the 2013 “regular season” finale at Richmond in a bid to get then-MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

In addition to Norris’ suspension, NASCAR removed Truex from the Chase. They also docked Truex and teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers 50 points each, and also fined MWR $300,000.

The Richmond incident gave NASCAR unwanted attention during its most important time of the year, and forced two alterations to the 2013 post-season field. Ryan Newman was lifted into the Chase after the MWR penalties, and then Jeff Gordon was added as a 13th driver.

Truex’s sponsor, NAPA, left MWR at season’s end, forcing the team to draw down to two full-time programs for Bowyer and Vickers. Their third Toyota, since re-numbered as the No. 66, has been relegated to part-time duty with Jeff Burton as its driver. Truex has also moved on as well, and now drives for Furniture Row Racing.

Norris remains an executive vice president of MWR but is no longer involved on the competition side. He now works primarily on the team’s marketing and sponsorship efforts.

“I appreciate NASCAR’s action today and respect their position,” Norris said according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck. “I am focused forward and dedicated to the success of Michael Waltrip Racing and the continued growth of a sport that has been my home for the past 24 years.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”