Richard Petty: Gene Haas’ foray into Formula One will boost NASCAR interest globally

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty believes Gene Haas’ foray into Formula One beginning next year will also give a significant boost globally for NASCAR.

“That to me will be good for stock cars because every time his car is mentioned it’s going to mention that he’s got a NASCAR car also,” NASCAR Petty told The Austin (Texas) Statesman. “That’ll be worldwide, so that’ll help the whole circuit far as I’m concerned.”

Haas recently received approval from Formula One to form a team that will be based in Kannapolis, N.C., alongside Haas’ current four-team Stewart Haas Racing NASCAR operation, which has drivers Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.

Richard Petty said he hasn’t spoken to Haas directly about the F1 venture, but is excited nonetheless to see NASCAR’s name and message spread overseas.

Richard’s son, Kyle, agrees with his father about the impact Haas’ will have.

“This is a man who when he puts his mind to doing something and he’s ready to do something, he can do anything,” Kyle Petty said. “So I’ve got all the faith in the world in Gene Haas.”

The Pettys stopped in Austin as part of Kyle’s 20th annual Ride Across America, which began last week in Carlsbad, Calif., and concludes this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

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Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.