NASCAR Testing - Charlotte

Can Team Penske capitalize on quick pace in Vegas?

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Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have shown great pace in the last two weeks, but as they’ll tell you, they now they have to find a way to capitalize on it and win.

Neither driver has ever won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Keselowski won the pole in last year’s race there and converted that to a third-place result. Logano has been on the so-so side at LVMS, with his best finish being a sixth in 2010.

Their reactions after finishing in the Top-5 last weekend at Phoenix have made it clear that they want to get themselves into the Chase as soon as possible with a victory. Once again, they appear to have the speed to be toward the front in tomorrow’s Kobalt 400 but being at the front is what counts.

With all the practices in the books before tomorrow’s main event, let’s pinpoint a few more potential threats…

Kevin Harvick (starting 16th)
Yeah, we’re going out on a limb with this one. If you watched NASCAR AMERICA earlier this week on NBCSN, you’ll know that Harvick’s ride for Las Vegas may be even stronger than the one he had in his win last week at Phoenix. He started outside the Top 10 there, too. Be ready to see another quick dash to the front from him.

Clint Bowyer (starting 9th)
He’s been in the Top-10 in three of the four practice sessions this weekend (we’re counting the Thursday test as a practice), and in the one session he didn’t run in the Top-10, he wasn’t far off in 12th place. Bowyer’s buried in the standings after a DNF in the Daytona 500, and he could use a good result tomorrow.

Jamie McMurray (starting 7th)
McMurray, as well as Chip Ganassi Racing as a whole, has started 2014 solidly. He was only 20th-fastest  in Thursday’s test, but has picked it up over the last two days (including this afternoon’s final practice, which he topped). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him hanging around in the Top 10 throughout tomorrow’s race.

Jimmie Johnson (starting 5th)
Johnson entered Las Vegas hoping his team would make gains with the new rules package and it appears they may have found something if this weekend’s practices are an indication. A four-time winner in Las Vegas, he’ll likely be in the hunt for a fifth triumph in Sin City tomorrow.

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.