Larry the Cable Guy picks Ryan Newman to win today’s Daytona 500

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If the Daytona 500 plays out as usual today, with at least one multi-car “big one” wreck, a lot of NASCAR fans may likely go hunting for Larry The Cable Guy – well, at least the product he sponsors (Prilosec OTC for heartburn) – if their favorite driver’s day unexpectedly comes to an end early.

Larry was hanging around with fans outside Turn 4 of Daytona International Speedway prior to Sunday’s race with his Monster Truck and talking NASCAR.

MotorSportsTalk caught up with Larry, who said he isn’t officially picking any driver to win the 500, but is leaning towards Ryan Newman to win his second 500.

“I root for Ryan,” said Larry, who starred in the NASCAR-themed Cars and the sequel Cars2. “I have a lot of guys come to my shows and we tweet each other, and I always hate picking a favorite because I don’t want to (tick) off anybody. But I root for Ryan and I always pull for him every year.”

Larry spent several years living in the Tampa area and really ratcheted up his interest with Daytona less than 100 miles away. He’d come to DIS as a fan long before he became a celebrity.

“I became a NASCAR fan when I was about 14, 15 years old. I went to a couple races when I was that age. … And when I moved to Florida, I really got into it because there was a track everywhere around here. I’ve been a fan many years.”

Has been Grand Marshal at a number of races including Sonoma and Charlotte. He also made a number of appearances at other tracks, including Talladega and Atlanta, and recently had a chance to drove the pace car at Daytona.

“Unbelievable. When I got in there, I told the guy, ‘I’d like to punch it one time around here.’ The guy said, ‘Well, Larry, you’ve got a pretty good groove, go ahead and punch it.’ So I’m hammering it, probably doing 90, that’s about it.

“It was in one of those little Chevy Volt’s or whatever it was. I was scared to death the trunk was going to catch on fire. It was fun. I had a blast.”

A passionate and very knowledgeable NASCAR fan, Larry said his all-time favorite driver was the late Dick Trickle. You’d be amazed at how much Larry knows about Trickle, who dominated short track racing in his native Wisconsin and the Midwest before moving to North Carolina to pursue a NASCAR career.

“He was my all-time favorite driver,” Larry said. “I really liked the guy.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Agag: New York race ‘a defining moment’ for Formula E

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FIA Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag believes that last weekend’s inaugural event in New York City was “a defining moment” for the all-electric series as it continued its world tour.

Formula E became the first motorsport series to hit the five boroughs on Saturday when it staged a race around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, with the Manhattan skyline acting as a backdrop across the East River.

New York was just the latest in a long line of major cities to host Formula E, but series chief Agag felt it was particularly significant given the effort that went in to securing it as a venue.

“Formula E has a habit of breaking new ground. This weekend in New York was yet another example of achieving what many thought was impossible,” Agag said.

“We managed to bring international open-wheel racing to New York for the first time in history, this is something that sets Formula E apart from any other series, bringing electrifying motorsport to the world’s leading cities.

“Along with Hong Kong on Victoria Harbour and Paris with the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, New York has quickly positioned itself as a flagship event on the Formula E calendar. The race in New York was a defining moment in the series and years in the making.”

New York had been a target city for Formula E since its inception in 2014, but Agag had fears at one stage that a race would not be possible before settling on Red Hook.

“We worked tirelessly with the local authorities to find the right location. It couldn’t be Central Park and Liberty State Park wasn’t an option either,” Agag said.

“I actually thought it wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t lose hope but I wasn’t certain we’d get Formula E to New York. It hadn’t happened before in any form of open-wheel racing.

“Then we found the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It was the most viable option and it also meant we didn’t need to close any streets.

“But, best of all, we still had the most spectacular view of New York. I had a similar feeling on the grid as at our first-ever race in Beijing. We’d done it, and the race proved to be a resounding success in front of a sell-out crowd.

“As the saying goes, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!”

Charlie Kimball to visit Gateway on Thursday

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball will visit Gateway Motorsports Park on Thursday for a media appearance and will take a ceremonial lap of the repaved 1.25-mile oval.

Following a test in early May that saw several cars suffer cut tires, Gateway officials opted to completely repave the facility ahead of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline on August 26. The project began after the June 17 Drivin’ for Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and was completed earlier this week.

“I’m really excited to race at Gateway Motorsports Park,” said Kimball. “The opportunity to test there didn’t really pan out earlier in the season with the old paving, so I think the whole series is looking forward to getting out there and seeing what kind of improvements have been made to the track. It’s great to see the investment that Gateway has put into the track with the repaving – new asphalt always produces amazing racing with the Verizon IndyCar Series. To be able to compete under the lights in August on Saturday night on a short track like Gateway is going to be fantastic. I think the way Turn 1 and Turn 3 are so very different is going to lead to an incredible event and the new asphalt will only add to that.”

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

Steve Nielsen appointed new F1 sporting director

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Liberty Media has continued to bolster Formula 1’s management team by announcing that Steve Nielsen will take up the role of sporting director on August 1, reporting directly to Ross Brawn.

Nielsen has worked in F1 across four decades, most recently as Williams’ sporting manager, but was known to be leaving the team at the end of July, handing his duties over to inbound Dave Redding.

F1 confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Nielsen would be joining the management team established by Liberty Media following its takeover of the sport in January, working with sporting managing director Brawn.

“I have known Steve for many years and have seen at first hand his skills and ability,” Brawn said.

“His appointment will strengthen the working group we are setting up to work with the FIA and the teams in defining a framework for the technical and sporting regulations for Formula 1’s next phase.

“Steve’s main responsibility will be related to sporting and organizational matters, for example by attending the meetings of the Sporting Working Group.”

F1 Strategy Group introduces Halo for 2018

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The Halo is coming to Formula 1 in 2018, having been confirmed at Wednesday’s F1 Strategy Group meeting.

This brings the first level of additional frontal cockpit protection to being after several years of discussions and a couple years of testing itself. As of August last year, the idea to introduce the Halo was delayed until 2018 at the earliest for a full introduction.

Here was the statement from the FIA:

“Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016, to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula One and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018. With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced.

“Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear that the Halo presents the best overall safety performance.”

Both the Halo and the Shield concepts have been tried, with an updated Shield tried most recently by Sebastian Vettel in Friday first practice at the British Grand Prix.

But Vettel spoke of a dizziness in comments after the test, and one could figure those comments were taken into consideration when it came to the decision to go with the halo.

The Halo drops over the cockpit and has three prongs with how it’s positioned. A center post has been right in front of the cockpit during the tests.