Firestone 600

Ed Carpenter withstands late restart to win at Texas (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Two weeks ago at the Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter was left bitterly disappointed after a crash with James Hinchcliffe ended his hopes for a win.

Tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, he’s feeling much happier.

Carpenter, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ sole owner/driver, had to survive a restart with two laps to go but claimed the checkered flag in the Firestone 600 to give his Ed Carpenter Racing team their second win of the year alongside ECR road/street racer Mike Conway’s win at Long Beach.

“I knew we had a good car,” Carpenter said to NBCSN in Victory Lane. “We had a good test here a couple weeks ago – or a couple of months ago, whatever it was. I just felt like we left something on the table in qualifying, but it made me extra-motivated for tonight.

“The first two stints weren’t great and I had one bad stint, but the guys just made great adjustments all night and the Fuzzy’s car was hooked up by the end.

“…I was a little worried about that last yellow. I knew guys were going to come in. We talked about what we’d do in that situation and it was kind of undecided, but [team manager] Tim [Broyles] and the boys made the right call.”

Going into tonight’s race, Carpenter said that he had gotten over his ‘500’ wreck. But he still felt that the Texas win was a measure of redemption for himself and ECR.

“We had a car to win Indy and I’m not saying that we would have beat Ryan [Hunter-Reay] but I think we were the best to have a shot at Ryan,” he said.

“So, It’s nice to come back here and get a win. I’m really proud of the team – two wins already this year. It’s a good year, so all the credit goes to these guys.”

It looked like Carpenter and pole sitter Will Power were going to fight it out directly for the win. Carpenter took the lead from Power on Lap 183 of 248, and the two pitted together with 36 laps to go.

But Power, the series’ championship leader, locked up the tires as he hit pit road. And after the two made their stops – with Carpenter coming out ahead – Power was hit with a speeding penalty.

From there, it appeared Carpenter was in the clear until an engine failure for Takuma Sato brought out the caution with less than 10 laps to go.

Power had fallen back to sixth after the penalty, but during the final caution, he was brought in for new tires and took the last restart in fifth.

When the green came out, Power took off with the fresh rubber. On the final lap, he got past Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya to pick up his second consecutive runner-up finish.

But immediately after the race, Power beat himself up for the speeding penalty.

“What an awesome call by my team to get tires, [but] I just screwed it up again and got another drive-through [penalty],” he said. “That’s four drive-throughs in five races. That’s not good enough.

“Anyone who says I don’t get drive-throughs or penalties are crazy, man. I get ’em every race.”

When asked if he could have won if not for the penalty, however, Power wasn’t sure.

“Hard to say,” he said. “Ed was awful strong and he’s an awesome driver. It would’ve been a good battle at the end. My car was good at the end of stints.”

Montoya’s third-place finish is his first podium result since making the switch back to open-wheel racing with Penske over the off-season.

However, he wasn’t entirely happy at the end of the night because of what he perceived as the leaders going early on the last restart.

“We’re getting better and we’re getting there,” he said about his performance before moving on to the restart. “I was kind of pissed off at that restart because you’re expecting them to go in a [restart] zone and that’s why they have the zone, and when they don’t respect it, it’s kind of unfair.”

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud did pit late for tires and finished fourth, while Scott Dixon rounded out the Top 5 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – FIRESTONE 600
Texas Motor Speedway
Unofficial Results
1. 20-Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy
2. 12-Will Power, Penske-Chevy
3. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy
4. 77-Simon Pagenaud, SPM-Honda
5. 9-Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy
6. 10-Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy
7. 8-Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, -1 lap
8. 83-Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, -1 lap
9. 7-Mikhail Aleshin (R), SPM-Honda, -1 lap
10. 3-Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, -1 lap
11. 67-Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, -1 lap
12. 15-Graham Rahal, RLL-Honda, -2 laps
13. 34-Carlos Munoz (R), Andretti-Honda, -3 laps
14. 17-Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, -4 laps
15. 27-James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, -4 laps
16. 98-Jack Hawksworth (R), Herta-Honda, -4 laps
17. 18-Carlos Huertas (R), Coyne-Honda, – 4 laps
18. 14-Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, Lap 238, Mechanical
19. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, Lap 135, Mechanical
20. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, Lap 118, Contact
21. 19-Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, Lap 118, Contact
22. 25-Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, Lap 3, Mechanical

Race Statistics: Winner’s average speed: 178.301 mph; Time of Race: Two hours, 1 minute, 25.5758 seconds; Margin of victory: 0.5247 seconds; Cautions: 3 for 23; Lead changes: 11 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Power 1 – 56, Montoya 57 – 60, Power 61 – 99, Montoya 100 – 102, Carpenter 103 – 125, Power 126 – 170, Carpenter 171, Montoya 172 – 177, Power 178 – 181, Carpenter 182 – 212, Power 213, Carpenter 214 – 248.

Point Standings: Power 370, Castroneves 331, Hunter-Reay 310, Pagenaud 279, Andretti 235, Munoz 227, Montoya 223, Dixon 214. Kanaan 189, Wilson 182.

‘Fast Jack’ Beckman back to living up to his nickname at Gateway

Leave a comment

“Fast Jack” Beckman came into this weekend’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in a big predicament.

He didn’t live up to his colorful nickname during last week’s Carolina Nationals, the opening race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Beckman was actually more like “Slow Jack,” as he failed to advance past the first round at Carolina in last Sunday’s eliminations.

He also failed to advance past the first round in the final pre-Countdown qualifying race, the U.S. Nationals, which he won last season.

All those things combined have put even more pressure on Beckman. He left Charlotte eighth in the 10-driver Funny Car Countdown standings.

2016_Jack_Beckman headshot

Being scored 110 points behind Funny Car points leader Ron Capps, Beckman had his work cut out for him heading into this weekend’s race at Gateway, in Madison, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

And as he has done numerous times in his career, when the pressure was on him, Beckman responded, qualifying No. 2 on Saturday for Sunday’s eliminations.

Robert Hight earned the No. 1 qualifier position (3.893 seconds at 328.38 mph), but Beckman wasn’t far behind (3.907 seconds at 325.22 mph).

That’s a big start for Beckman, who won at Gateway in 2012 and ended up second in last year’s championship battle that was won by fellow veteran Del Worsham. Beckman will face Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round of eliminations.

Last season, Beckman won seven races in the 24-race NHRA national event schedule. This season has been much different, as he has just one win (Chicago in July).

But that doesn’t mean he still can’t win each of the five remaining Countdown races – which obviously would go a long way towards earning him his second career Funny Car championship (and in five seasons).

Beckman isn’t panicking after Charlotte. He’s finished first, third and second in three of the last four seasons. He knows he and his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger have the capability to make a serious championship run.

In addition to hoping he wins Sunday, Beckman is defending champion of next week’s Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway.

“Since you can’t control how the leading cars do, really the goal is simple: you just need to win the race,” Beckman said in a media release. “At some point we have to win the race if we have a chance.

“There’s not any other path to a championship. We lost ground we couldn’t afford to lose (at Charlotte) and we can’t afford to lose any more ground. I don’t see those teams not continuing to perform well and the only way we win the championship is to outperform them. It’s imperative we get back to our capabilities.”

A major change for Saturday’s qualifying effort paid off handsomely with his No. 2 spot for Sunday – although admittedly it was a gamble of sorts for Beckman and crew chief Jimmy Prock.

“We’re still running a five-disc clutch and we have one disc on there that when it works it’s great and when it doesn’t it smokes the tires instantly and becomes too aggressive,” Beckman said. “We’re going to take that one out and take our chances with a brand new disc. We’re taking a calculated risk but I think it’s the only choice we have.

“We have to take baby steps but we have to take them quickly or we run out of races. Before we can go quick consistently we have to get back our predictability and we have to do that by the end of (this weekend’s race at) St. Louis.

“All we can control right now is our lane. Because we’re running out of rounds, every single pass becomes more important. But if you dwell on that, there’s a high likelihood you’re not going to do as well as you want.

“As the season winds down, the pressure goes up, but if you let it affect you, you’re not going to be at your best. The only thing you can do is take a positive mindset every time you go up there.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Touring car legend Yvan Muller to leave WTCC after 2016

STRASBOURG, FRANCE - OCTOBER 04:   Yvan Muller of France attends the FIA pre event press conference at rally headquarters after the Shakedown of the WRC France on October 04, 2012 in Strasbourg , France.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Touring car racing legend and four-time world champion Yvan Muller will leave the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the end of the 2016 season.

Muller made his name in the British Touring Car Championship before making the switch across to WTCC in 2006 with Seat.

The Frenchman claimed his first world title in 2008 before enjoying further successes in 2010, 2011 and 2013, the latter three championships won while behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

Muller joined Citroen following its arrival in WTCC for the 2014 season, but has been unable to add to his haul of championship as teammate Jose Maria Lopez romped to three straight crowns.

With Citroen set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, Muller has decided that the time is right to follow suit and call time on a stint in the series that has seen him score 47 wins, 119 podium finishes and over 2,600 points.

“I am not sure that age is the main factor when it comes to ending a career. It’s more a matter of desire and motivation,” Muller said.

“With all the testing, the simulator sessions, the physical training and the travel to the race venues, a season of professional motor racing requires a level of personal commitment that I am no longer prepared to put in.

“At the same time, I am at a time of my life where I want to do something else and I am happy to be able to make that decision after eleven seasons of FIA WTCC.

“I’ve had some great experiences over my career. These three seasons with Citroën Racing have been particularly special, even though I never managed to be world champion with this team. But I will always be proud of having helped to build our racing programme and develop the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. I have also met some great people who are passionate about their job and have a fierce competitive spirit.

“Driving has been part of my daily life for so long that I can’t see myself stopping racing entirely. But I am going to spend more time with my family and developing my team, Yvan Muller Racing. Before that, though, I am going to put everything I’ve got into meeting the team’s goals.”

Lopez is also set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, having agreed a deal to race for Citroen sub-brand DS in Formula E for the all-electric series’ third season.

The 2016 WTCC season closes on November 25 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Report: Sam Schmidt to receive America’s first driver’s license for semi-autonomous car

2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 29, 2016
© INDYCAR
Leave a comment

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team owner Sam Schmidt is set to receive America’s first driver’s license for a semi-autonomous vehicle, according to a report from Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Schmidt sustained a spinal cord injury in a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway ahead of the 2000 IRL season, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Schmidt went on to establish Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with programs in IndyCar and Indy Lights, both of which he still heads up.

Schmidt has previously completed laps behind the wheel of a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray at Indianapolis in 2014 and in Long Beach last year, dubbed the ‘SAM project’ – semi-autonomous motorcar – developed with Arrow Electronics.

Schmidt controls the car using a breathing tube for acceleration and braking, and steers using his head movements that are picked up by infrared cameras.

Now, the SAM project is set to hit the road, with Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will grant Schmidt the first road license for a semi-autonomous car in the country.

The report says that Arrow has worked closely with the Nevada DMV to update regulations so that Schmidt is able to drive on state roads.

“Nevada is leading the nation in promoting autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies that can bring mobility and independence to people with physical disabilities, including our wounded warriors,” officials from the Nevada DMV said.

Robert Kubica scores podium finish on Renault Sport Trophy debut at Spa

16 KUBICA Robert (POL) HAMON Christophe (FRA) RENAULT RS 01 Team Duqueine action during the 2016 Renault Sport series  at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, September  23 to 25  - Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI
© Renault Sport
1 Comment

Robert Kubica enjoyed a successful debut in the Renault Sport Trophy at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, finishing third alongside Christophe Hamon.

Former BMW and Renault Formula 1 driver Kubica announced last week that he would be entering the race weekend at Spa after accepting an invitation from the French manufacturer.

Kubica spent five seasons racing in F1 and won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix for BMW before having his stint in the series cut short after a rally crash ahead of the 2011 season.

Severe injuries sustained to his right arm and hand meant left Kubica spending a lengthy spell in rehabilitation before making his return to motorsport in the World Rally Championship.

The Pole made his final WRC appearance in January at the Monte Carlo Rally before making his circuit racing return in the 12 Hours of Mugello with Mercedes.

Kubica enjoyed his first qualifying session since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of the Renault Sport Trophy weekend, finishing third.

After seeing Hamon complete the first 10 laps of the race and suffer contact, Kubica completed the final 17 behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.01 car.

A late charge saw Kubica rise from P6 with 10 minutes remaining to cross the line third, six seconds behind race winners Raoul Owens and Fredrik Blomstedt.

Curiously, Kubica’s last F1 podium finish also came at Spa in 2010, finishing third for Renault behind Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.

Kubica will return to Spa on Sunday for the sprint race, where he will race in the Pro class.