Talladega Superspeedway - Day 1

Sam Hornish Jr. leads Joe Gibbs 1-2-3 in NNS quals at Talladega

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Looking to make the most of his opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series, Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the pole position for tomorrow’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hornish (186.783 mph) led a JGR sweep of the top three starting positions, narrowly besting Elliott Sadler (186.776). With about 30 seconds remaining in the final round of qualifying, Hornish hit the top of the time sheets tucked in behind Sadler in the draft.

Alabama native and Camping World Truck Series regular Darrell “Bubba” Wallace (186.729) qualified third at .015 of a second behind the former Indianapolis 500 winner. Wallace had topped Round 2 with a lap of 50.831 seconds after barely advancing from Round 1.

“It definitely takes three teammates to be able to do that today – Elliott led the way and I just tried to maintain the gap between myself and Bubba and him,” Hornish said to Fox Sports.

Speaking of Round 1, that was stopped briefly for a single-car incident that probably should’ve been bigger. A mega run of momentum through Turn 4 for Kyle Larson ended with him trying – and failing – to thread the needle between Regan Smith on the outside and Tanner Berryhill on the inside.

The resulting contact sent Berryhill into Derrike Cope before Berryhill finally spun his No. 17 Dodge into the outside retaining wall. The green came back out with around 11 minutes left in the round, and the remainder played out without incident.

But when Round 1 was over, the red-hot JR Motorsports group of series points leader Chase Elliott, Regan Smith, and Kasey Kahne had all failed to make the draft work for them and did not advance to Round 2.

Tomorrow, Kahne will start 32nd, Smith 33rd, and Elliott farther back in 37th.

“I think everybody just got kind of antsy and we could never really decide where everybody wanted to go,” Elliott said to Fox. “It’s a long race tomorrow, so it’s not about your starting spot. We’ll make the most of where we’re at and try to improve tomorrow.”

Status targets 2016 GP2 title after GP3 exit

2015 GP2 Series Round 8.
Autodromo di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 6 September 2015.
Marlon Stockinger (PHL, Status Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C2088
© GP2 Series
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Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.

Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.

However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.

Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.

This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.

“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.

“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.

“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.

“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”

Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.

Hakkinen: Verstappen is already “a real pro”

during a media interview at the Shanghai Grand Theatre prior to the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards on April 15, 2015 in Shanghai, China.
© Getty Images
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Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise upon Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, supporting his decision to ignore team orders during last month’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Verstappen only turned 18 on Wednesday, but has already made a big impression on the F1 world during his first 14 races with his aggressive driving style and mature approach to racing.

In Singapore, Verstappen was told by Toro Rosso to let faster teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. go past, but refused to give up his position and eventually beat the Spaniard to finish eighth.

Writing in his Hermes blog, Hakkinen backed Verstappen’s decision to stay ahead and praised the Dutchman for his performances so far this season.

“A driver must be alert and keep track of what is happening around him at all times,” Hakkinen wrote. “That’s what Verstappen is. He does not simply let anyone pass if it’s not for the world championship, but only a few championship points.

“Verstappen is 18 years old, but the guy’s already a real pro. Young people are developing incredibly fast nowadays, and by that I don’t mean just drivers.”

Despite having more than half a season of F1 racing under his belt, Verstappen only gained his road driver’s license on his 18th birthday, having previously been under the age limit to drive a regular car in public.