Stewards penalize Ricciardo, Magnussen and Bianchi

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Daniel Ricciardo’s terrible afternoon in Malaysia has just got even worse after the stewards confirmed that he has been given a 10 place grid penalty for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after an unsafe release from the pits.

Ricciardo had been enjoying a successful Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying in fifth place and making a good start to lie fourth after the first round of pit stops. However, when making his third and final stop, there was a problem with fitting the front left tire on the RB10 car.

Ricciardo instantly stopped his car and was wheeled back to the pit box where it was correctly attached to the car, costing the Australian driver a lap. He then suffered a front wing failure before retiring with just five laps to go.

However, the stewards have taken a zero tolerance approach to unsafe releases ever since a cameraman was hit by a loose wheel at the 2013 German Grand Prix. As a result, Ricciardo has been given a 10 place grid penalty for the race in Bahrain.

Red Bull has also been called to the stewards office after one of its mechanics did not wear a helmet during the pit stop, which was in breach of standard safety procedure.

Smaller penalties have been handed to Kevin Magnussen and Jules Bianchi after incidents during the race today. Magnussen made contact with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap at Sepang, giving the Ferrari driver a puncture and earning himself a five second stop/go penalty at a pit stop. However, the stewards have opted to also award him two penalty points that go on his FIA superlicense.

Bianchi also got two points on his superlicense for spinning Pastor Maldonado on the first lap at turn four.

The awarding of penalty points is a new rule for the 2014 season, with drivers receiving a one race ban if they have 12 or more points on their superlicense at any time.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”