Colombian quartet all in top-10 in Long Beach IndyCar race

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The chaos that populated the second half of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach promoted all four Colombians into the top-10 of the second Verizon IndyCar Series race of the year.

As written yesterday by my MST colleague Chris Estrada, Carlos Munoz upheld Andretti Autosport’s honor with a podium, on a day when that team lost two cars in the same incident.

But all three of Munoz’s countrymen made it into the top-10 as well. Juan Pablo Montoya went on a roller coaster of a day after qualifying in the eighth row, advancing up as high as fourth, getting a penalty for pitting under a closed pit and dropping to 20th, then rebounding back to fourth by the flag.

“I could’ve been a little more aggressive at the end but I really wanted to make sure we didn’t get in any trouble and got a decent finish in the Verizon car,” said JPM. “We had some close calls out there but we kept pushing and to come out of Long Beach with a top-five finish is pretty good.”

KV/AFS driver Sebastian Saavedra (pictured) had a crazy day as well. Included in his day: a stall off the start from 22nd, an off sequence strategy, a moment where his left thumb got hit by debris, his first ever lap led in IndyCar, and a final mechanical problem that meant he had to nurse the car home. When all was said and done, the driver of the No. 17 Chevrolet ended ninth, and is now 10th in points after finishing 11th in St. Petersburg.

“It was quite an interesting race,” said Saavedra. “I made a big mistake at the start, stalling the car, but we kept calm and focused. We had a great car with great pace and that enabled me to move back through the field. I was also able to capitalize on the mistakes by others.

Carlos Huertas, the fourth Colombian in the field, continued to overachieve in the second Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Huertas started 21st but made it as high as fifth, before earning a penalty for passing before the start/finish line on a restart. He ultimately ended 10thh, for his first career top-10 result.

“Montoya lifted big and I did pass on the restart to avoid hitting him, then I let him back by before Turn 1 so I am surprised I was penalized,” he said. “The team helped me learn the track and it was a weekend that should have been even better.”

The Colombian quartet now heads to Barber – a track where Munoz (2013) and Saavedra (2012) have won the last two Indy Lights races, where Montoya has enjoyed several tests, and where Huertas, again, will turn his first laps on the track in first practice.

Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”