Red Bull GRC: F1/NASCAR vet Nelson Piquet Jr. to drive for SH Racing

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After stints in Formula One and NASCAR, Nelson Piquet Jr. is shifting gears and heading for Red Bull Global Rallycross.

The son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet will drive the No. 07 Ford Fiesta ST for SH Racing Rallycross, led by owner James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan.

BSN Supplements will serve as a primary backer on the No. 07.

If you’re an IndyCar follower, Sullivan is a familiar figure as he is co-owner of the No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet that won last year’s Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan and is currently being driven by Sebastien Bourdais.

The SH camp becomes the latest full-time GRC squad with IndyCar ties, as Bryan Herta Autosport (under the name Barracuda Racing) and Andretti Autosport also have rallycross programs.

“We are up against some steep competition – some of which we compete against in IndyCar – but we’re in it to win it bar none,” Sullivan said in a statement.

Piquet Jr. competed last season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, earning five Top-10 finishes.

He became the first Brazilian to win a Nationwide Series event in 2012 at Road America, and was also a full-time Camping World Truck Series driver in 2011 and 2012; in the latter season, he won Truck events at Michigan and Las Vegas.

Preceding the move to NASCAR was a two-and-a-half year run in Formula One with the Renault team (now known as Lotus) that saw him go from test driver to full race driver.

“Competing in GRC is such an exciting prospect for me,” Piquet said. “I’ve always loved being diverse in my racing career and cannot wait to see what this year brings.”

The 2014 Red Bull GRC season begins May 18 at the Top Gear Festival Barbados. NBC will broadcast the race on May 24 at 1 p.m. ET, beginning the NBC Sports Group’s 2014 coverage of the series.

IndyCar: Turn 5 gives drivers fits in Friday’s second practice at Barber Motorsports Park

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You’ve heard of the Fast Six in IndyCar, right?

Well, Friday’s second practice session for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama was the Frustrating Five – Turn 5, that is.

It almost might be easier to list those drivers that were not bitten by the cantankerous turn on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout in Birmingham, Alabama.

Close to 10 drivers in the 23-driver field suffered issues in the turn, ranging from running off the grass and back on, to getting stuck and having to be towed out, to suffering damage.

But by the time the one-hour session was over, Josef Newgarden took a big step towards defending his win from last year’s race there, being fastest in Friday’s second of two practice sessions.

Newgarden covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in a speed of 122.786 mph at a best lap time of 1:07.4345 minutes.

Spencer Pigot was second (125.599 mph/1:07.5372), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (122.129 mph/1:07.7971), Will Power (122.107 mph/1:07.8092) and last week’s winner at Long Beach, Alexander Rossi (122.065 mph/1:07.8326).

Sixth through 10th-fastest were Scott Dixon (122.044 mph/1:07.8445), Ryan Hunter-Reay (121.975 mph/1:07.8829), Takuma Sato (121.652 mph/1:08.0628), Marco Andretti (121.579 mph/1:08.1040) and Graham Rahal (121.572 mph/1:08.1076).

Now, speaking of all the incidents, here’s a list.

INCIDENTS:

* Right after rookie Matheus Leist spun early in the session in Turn 5, fellow rookie Zach Veach spun with about 45 minutes left in the session in Turn 5. Graham Rahal had to take evasive action to miss Veach.

But that wasn’t all, as Sebastien Bourdais followed in almost the same spot with a spin of his own roughly a minute later, and then Gabby Chaves also had his problems in the same turn, going into the grass but avoiding the gravel.

* Simon Pagenaud joined his Penske Racing teammate Josef Newgarden in the Turn 5 gravel. Newgarden spun into the gravel in the first practice session.

* Rookie Rene Binder, who has struggled in his inaugural season, continued to have issues, running into the wall and causing damage to the front end, needing a tow truck to get him righted.

It appeared Binder snapped part of the front suspension in the incident.

* Turn 5 saw James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan run off-track late in the session, but they were able to continue.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The third and final practice of the weekend will take place Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET, to be televised live on CNBC (with an encore performance at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, the weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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