Honda not planning to buy into McLaren

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McLaren has publicly denied rumors suggesting that Honda could be set to buy a part of the team in the near future.

Honda is set to return to Formula 1 in 2015 after seven years away as a power unit supplier. For the first year, it will exclusively power McLaren, rekindling their partnership from the late 1980s when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost dominated the sport.

However, speculation over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend suggested that the Japanese marque could go one step further and buy a part of the team. In order to put an end to this paddock chatter, McLaren released a statement earlier this week:

“Contrary to recent media reports, Honda has informed us it has no intention to buy into McLaren. All of Honda’s focus is on the development of its new Formula 1 power unit.”

Quite clearly, there is little desire from Honda to be anything more than a power unit supplier at McLaren, but speculation concerning new backers at the British team will continue to circulate, given that it is running in 2014 without a title sponsor.

Honda is expected to extend its power unit supply for its second year (2016), and is also rumored to be interested in buying a team further down the grid to support McLaren, much like Toro Rosso does for Red Bull.

Whatever the nature of the relationship, it will bring back some fond memories of Senna and Prost going wheel-to-wheel in the red and white McLarens when Honda returns next year.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”