(Photo courtesy AllisionLegacy.com)

Third-generation member of racing’s legendary Allison family to race at Pocono for first time in more than 20 years

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For the first time in more than two decades, a member of the famous Allison racing family – among the original members of NASCAR’s fabled “Alabama Gang” – will race at Pocono Raceway, a track that has been part of the family’s greatest achievements and terrible tragedies.

For the first time in his career, third-generation driver Justin Allison, grandson of Donnie Allison and grandnephew of three-time Pocono winner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allision, will compete in Saturday’s Pocono ARCA 200 race at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

“Pocono is going to be so much different than any other track I’ll drive on, Justin Allison said in a team media release. “I’ve heard how fun and exciting it can be, but I also know there’s a lot to learn to be competitive. We’ll need to learn as much as we can in the test to be ready for the race.”

Pocono used to be granduncle Bobby’s domain, until he was nearly killed in a terrible crash in 1988 that ended his racing career.

“I don’t think the Allison history will have any factor into how we’ll perform at Pocono,” Justin Allison said. “Every track you go to, there’s a risk you’re taking and it’s not just at Pocono.”

The younger Allison, who turns 22 on June 25, wasn’t even born when granduncle Bobby had his horrific wreck there.

“It’s always helpful to know someone else who has the experience at the track, but that doesn’t mean I’ll perform exactly like them,” Justin said. “We’re in totally different equipment and with a new team. But you can’t help but think about the things that happened here.”

Allison comes into Pocono off his best season performance to date, a seventh-place showing at Toledo Speedway on May 18.

Allison is slated to run in about 10 ARCA races this season. He’s already run three so far: Daytona (finished 36th), Talladega (19th) and Toledo (seventh).

“There really is no way to prepare for this type of track other than figuring it out myself,” Allison said. “I don’t do any sort of simulator racing or watch videos like some drivers may.

“I think it’s best to just feel the track out myself. If something isn’t working, I’ll just go to my crew chief (Howard Bixman) or teammate, Grant Enfinger, for advice. They seem to always give me the best approach at what to do and not do.”

Enfinger is certainly a fountain of information: he continues to lead the series points standings, including starting the season with three consecutive wins.

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Mercedes set to clinch F1 constructors’ championship in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks with members of the media in the paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.

Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.

Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.

To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.

“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.

“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”

The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.

However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver recaps following the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, with a look at Charlie Kimball, who finished 12th this year.

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 14th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 4 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 16.3 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 12th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 3 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 21 Laps Led, 13.3 Avg. Start, 13.1 Avg. Finish

“Super Chuck” – as NBCSN’s Townsend Bell has called him in the past – had another typically “Super Chuck” season. He produced some dizzying heights, made a few mistakes, and posted a lot of consistent runs in the middle that ultimately netted him 12th in points for the season.

We wrote last year that one of the areas where Kimball most needed to improve was his qualifying, and a three-spot year-to-year gain from 16.3 to 13.3 delivered that improvement. Problem was, in a Chevrolet top-heavy grid, Kimball might have been qualifying better, but he was qualifying behind at least seven or eight more fancied Chevrolet runners. In a Honda, you worry if Kimball’s grid positions this year would have dipped into the low teens or high 20s, rather than only just missing advancing into Q2 as was often the case.

While Barber and Mid-Ohio had served as his standout races in the past, the undoubted highlight of Kimball’s 2015 season was his quiet early – then dynamic late – drive to third in the Indianapolis 500. It was a performance that was particularly impressive given he was up against past series champions Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon, who were all vying for the win. Another podium at Sonoma was his first on a road or street course since Detroit race two in 2014, and put him third in points in the two double points races for the year.

But mistakes occurred all too regularly in the 14 standard points events, where he ranked 14th among all drivers. Contacting Dixon in Detroit, surviving a nightmare weekend in Iowa with multiple incidents, and coming together with Graham Rahal in St. Petersburg – even though Rahal was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact – were all moments he’d like to have back.

Kimball’s five years into his IndyCar career and there’s enough evidence to suggest now his breakout 2013 season was an outlier, not the norm. But seasons like 2014 and 2015 prove he still has plenty in hand to cut it at this level, and together with his entire Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, an overall asset to the sport.