Auto Club 400 - Practice

Dale Jr. glad to see statement on Hamlin, fine with NASCAR’s medical process

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Shortly after Dale Earnhardt Jr. sounded off on the lack of news regarding the condition of Denny Hamlin, word came that Hamlin had been cleared for this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway after doctors removed a sliver of metal from his eye.

Before today’s first practice session at Martinsville, Earnhardt said that the statement from Hamlin had eased his concerns about unfounded speculations regarding the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s health.

“I thought a lack of a statement from Denny’s point of view left him vulnerable and unprotected (from speculation),” Earnhardt said to reporters. “I just felt like it was important for him to have a very simple statement that sort of cleared up any kind of assumptions or whatever you have for him, personally.

“That was good, I thought, on his behalf to do that as quickly as he could.”

JGR had initially said Hamlin was suffering from a vision-impairing sinus infection, which kept him out of last Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in California (Sam Hornish Jr. drove his car in a fill-in role). The decision to keep him out was revealed within an hour of the green flag.

He was taken to a local hospital and was released later that same evening.

The episode has caused some NASCAR observers, including USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, to call for the sanctioning body to install a traveling group of physicians to take care of the drivers (the series does have a traveling group of nurses, but doctors are usually chosen by each track).

However, Earnhardt believes that NASCAR’s medical process is fine.

I feel great about the process and what NASCAR has had in place for years,” he said. “They bring in the best people from that region that have the best connections to the hospitals in that region. If I am in trouble, I know I am going to be somewhere I am going to be taken care of very quickly.

“NASCAR has a team that travels and has all the information on our health and it is updated weekly if it needs to be. So I like the system we have in place, I feel like it’s adequate and I’m happy Denny is cleared and ready to race this weekend.”

Hamlin is scheduled to meet with the media at Martinsville later today.

Pippa Mann, breast cancer survivors paint IMS’ start/finish line pink

Photo: IndyCar
Photo: IndyCar
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We’ve written a fair bit on MotorSportsTalk about the efforts Pippa Mann has done in working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. Susan G. Komen has supported Mann’s last two runs at the Indianapolis 500, when she’s driven the No. 63 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

This being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the awareness hit a new level with Mann working alongside breast cancer survivors to paint the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic Yard of Bricks pink for the day.

IMS president Doug Boles also joined in the opportunity.

View a selection of photos and social posts below. More is linked here, via

Mercedes set to clinch F1 constructors’ championship in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks with members of the media in the paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.

Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.

Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.

To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.

“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.

“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”

The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.

However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.