Bojangles' Southern 500

Austin Dillon doing what he has to do so far in rookie year

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Going into the Easter break, Kyle Larson leads Austin Dillon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year standings after earning three Top-10s in the last four racesincluding a runner-up at Fontana.

And over in the Nationwide Series, Chase Elliott has gotten the NASCAR Nation buzzing after back-to-back victories at Texas and last Friday night at Darlington.

So has Dillon, who entered the season with the most controversy of any NASCAR rookie thanks to his and car owner Richard Childress’ revival of the famous No. 3, become the forgotten young gun?

Hardly.

While Larson has certainly had the more eye-popping moments in their duel for Cup ROTY honors, Dillon is doing the No. 1 job of any rookie and that’s logging laps and getting the car home in one piece.

Dillon has just one Top-10 (a ninth in the season-opening Daytona 500) to Larson’s four, but has earned six finishes inside the Top 20 and has no DNFs.

Larson’s been more up-and-down, with finishes of 38th at Daytona and 27th at Martinsville; additionally, before claiming his first Top 10 at Bristol, his best finish in the first three races was a 19th at Las Vegas.

As a result, Dillon sits 10th in the overall Sprint Cup championship, while Larson’s a bit farther back at 15th.

Dillon’s 11th-place showing at Darlington was, strangely enough, his third 11th-place finish of the season. So it’s not as if he’s that far off from Larson in regards to the more attention-grabbing results.

“We’re certainly on the cusp of finishing within the top-10,” he said on Saturday night. “We’ll take it. We worked hard tonight and I’m learning each week.

“I can’t wait to come to Darlington Raceway, and all of these tracks on the schedule, for the second and third times. We will be a very tough team the second half of this season.”

We’ll see if he’s right. He – and Larson – would be in the Chase Grid if the Sprint Cup regular season started today.

McLaren wins Formula E battery tender for season five

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 02:  A McLaren logo is displayed during the Geneva Motor Show 2016 on March 2, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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McLaren Applied Technologies has won the race to become Formula E’s exclusive battery supplier from its fifth season.

As confirmed by the FIA on Wednesday following the World Motor Sport Council’s meeting, McLaren saw off competition from Porsche, Red Bull Technologies, Williams Advanced Engineering and Mahindra to take over the tender from the 2018/2019 campaign.

From season five, Formula E plans for cars to be able to complete a single race with a single battery charge. Drivers currently swap to a second car at half-distance.

“The FIA previously launched a tender for the exclusive supply of batteries for the FIA Formula E Championship, with the aim of implementing technology that will allow drivers to complete a full race without changing cars mid-race from season five,” a statement from the FIA reads.

“At the conclusion of the tender process, and with the support of independent experts, the World Motor Sport Council has chosen McLaren Applied Technologies as the exclusive battery supplier for the 2018-19 (Season 5) and 2019-20 seasons.

“The decision was made to limit the term of this agreement to two seasons in light of the ongoing rapid development of battery technology.”

“We’re delighted McLaren has been chosen by the FIA to be the sole supplier of batteries to Formula E from 2018 to 2020,” said Rodi Basso, motorsport director of McLaren Applied Technologies.

“Our new battery will almost double the energy storage, eliminating the need for drivers to swap cars during a race.

“As well as providing a global showcase for our sustainable technologies, this win provides another example of McLaren Applied Technologies’ vision to work closely with series partners to do our bit to help make the fan experience quicker and slicker.”

Relive championship battle tonight at 7 pm ET on NBCSN — IndyCar Chronicles: Simon Pagenaud

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If you want to relive the excitement of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, make sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. ET to IndyCar Chronicles on NBCSN.

“IndyCar Chronicles: Simon Pagenaud” is the final episode of this year’s show and features interviews with the two Team Penske teammates as they break down before, during and after the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Pagenaud dominated the season, winning five of the series’ 16 races, and put a bow on his first-ever IndyCar championship by winning the season finale at the picturesque road course north of San Francisco.

Power, who was seeking his second IndyCar championship (in three seasons), missed the first race of the season due to a health issue, but still bounced back to win four races in the season and was Pagenaud’s primary challenger heading to Sonoma.

Unfortunately for Power, a mechanical issue that his car suffered in the race paved the way for Pagenaud to win both the event and the championship.

Check out the video above for a two-minute preview of tonight’s show.

Previous editions of IndyCar Chronicles can also be viewed on YouTube.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Simon Pagenaud had The Force with him in winning IndyCar championship

The Force was definitely with Simon Pagenaud when he won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship on Sept. 18.
(Getty Images)
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So, Simon Pagenaud DID have an extra advantage when he won his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship on Sept. 18.

Pagenaud had The Force with him – no, we’re not talking about NHRA legend John Force – but rather The Force from Star Wars.

Our friends at IndyCar.com revealed in a story Wednesday that Pagenaud was part of a Verizon-sponsored advertisement for the popular “The Star Wars Show” on YouTube.

Show hosts Andi Gutierrez and Peter Townley tried to draw a connection between IndyCar racing and the popular Star Wars movie franchise.

“Star Wars is all about things going fast, spaceships (and) pod racers,” Townley said.

Added Gutierrez, “Right, it’s a natural connection.”

They interviewed Pagenaud at Sonoma Raceway, where the French driver would go on to win the championship later that weekend.

“I love this racetrack because it’s very difficult to get right,” Pagenaud said. “It’s quite slippery. You might experience up to 4Gs. Unleash the beast inside of you – and use The Force.”

See, we told you Pagenaud had an extra advantage.

It’s not surprising that Sonoma Raceway caught the attention of the show, given that George Lucas’ famed Skywalker Ranch is only about 20 miles from the racetrack.

Speaking of which, in one of the strangest Star Wars trivia contests we’ve ever heard of, both Townley and Gutierrez were peppered with questions about the film series while they “toured” the 2.385-mile racetrack at speeds of around 110 mph.

In addition to giving the answers, there was quite a bit of screaming from the hosts during the ride, with IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves and Indy Lights pilot Zach Veach serving as chauffeurs in the two-seat INDYCAR Experience car.

Who knows, maybe the next Star Wars film may include Indy cars in it instead of pod racers or TIE fighters. And instead of a lightsaber, maybe they could use the buttons on an IndyCar steering wheel to shoot all the menaces of The Empire.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

New York, Montreal switch dates on revised Formula E calendar

Formula E New York Press Conference Event.
New York, New York, USA.
Tuesday 20 September 2016.
Photo:  / FE
ref: Digital Image _L5R5688
© Formula E
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The planned Formula E races in New York City and Montreal have swapped dates on a revised calendar for the all-electric series’ third season issued by the FIA on Wednesday.

On the first calendar issued by Formula E over the London ePrix weekend in July, Montreal was slated for July 15-16 with New York set on July 29-30.

The New York race was officially launched last week, but no date was set amid ongoing discussions regarding its best placement.

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council this week, a revised calendar for season three has been revealed with New York moving to the July 15-16 weekend.

Montreal now becomes the season finale on July 29-30, with both races remaining double headers and subject to the track being homologated.

The calendar also sees the removal of the two ‘TBA’ rounds, understood to be Singapore and London, leaving a 12-race calendar set for season three.

The new campaign starts in Hong Kong on October 9.

2016/17 Formula E calendar

1. Hong Kong – October 9
2. Marrakesh – November 12
3. Buenos Aires – February 18
4. Mexico City – April 1
5. Monaco – May 13
6. Paris – May 20
7. Berlin – June 10
8. Brussels – July 1
9. New York – July 15
10. New York – July 16
11. Montreal – July 29
12. Montreal – July 30