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.”

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.