Richard Petty

Richard Petty not convinced likely changes to Chase for Sprint Cup will help

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While most of the drivers on this week’s NASCAR Media Tour seem to be in favor of the likely changes expected to be announced Thursday for the Chase for the Sprint Cup format, legendary team owner and Hall of Fame member Richard Petty isn’t as convinced.

“Another PR deal, okay,” Petty said with a laugh during Wednesday’s session with the media. “What can NASCAR do to cause a little bit more interest in the way the points standings are?”

The changes that NASCAR chairman Brian France is expected to announce during his annual state of the sport address Thursday include expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, as well as implement eliminations of four drivers each after the third, sixth and ninth races of the Chase, leaving a four-driver winner-take-all shootout for the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Petty shares the record for most NASCAR Sprint Cup championships won by a driver – seven – with the late Dale Earnhardt.

Neither of them seemed to worry too much about points systems – nor were they adversely affected by several changes to the system in their respective careers, Petty said.

“I won championships in I think five different ways that they counted the points,” Petty said. “In the long run, no matter how you cut the points, look at them and stuff, you’re pretty well going to have the best guys winning the championship.

“So it’s not going to be somebody that’s not a championship driver to win the championship. They can count it about any way they want to and still come up with probably the best (drivers) that year.”

In other words, Petty wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmie Johnson takes to the new system like a duck to water en route to a seventh Cup crown in 2014, which would tie Johnson with Petty and Earnhardt.

“It’s just something different, it’s just another change,” Petty said. “Whether it’s the right format or not, it’s the format that football and baseball are following, so NASCAR looks at it and says, ‘Wow, it’s pretty successful there, let’s give it a try here.”

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.