NASCAR: Brian Vickers wants more road races – but in new places

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While Brian Vickers is going for his first Sprint Cup win of the season this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, he is also looking forward to turning both left and right this summer.

The first of two road course events comes up next weekend at Sonoma Raceway, and the second will take place in August at Watkins Glen International.

Vickers’ fondness for road racing was no doubt nurtured by his two 2012 appearances in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He drove an AF Corse Ferrari that had Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman as one of its co-drivers.

But he believes that the road racing product is even better in NASCAR than in Europe.

“There’s a lot of great road racing out there — [this year’s] Le Mans is going on this weekend and I had the opportunity to race there,” he said today at MIS.

“That is an awesome event, but unquestionably I think our cars put on a better show on a road race.”

Naturally, Vickers would be happy to see more road races in NASCAR. But what he doesn’t want are return visits to Sonoma or Watkins Glen.

Instead, he’d like to see road racing used to test out new markets.

“I would love to see our sport expand,” he said. “Everybody talks about adding more road races and I’m all for it, but just don’t add another Watkins Glen. I love Watkins Glen, but let’s go somewhere else, let’s go international, let’s go to other continents – if we’re going to add road racing let’s go to new markets.

“I think NASCAR will put on the best road race that any road race track we’ve gone to has ever seen. I love those tracks and I always kind of enjoyed them. I think the time I spent in sports cars made me like them even more.”

But while Sonoma and the Glen loom on the horizon, Vickers is choosing to focus on one track at a time as he looks to get into the Chase.

“There are certainly tracks that you look forward to and you think we have a good package for and I like to race there and the team has good cars there,” he said. “We show up every weekend focused on that weekend.

“I really try to not only live my life that way, but race that way. If I’m going down the front stretch, my focus is Turn 1 — that’s it. I think that’s just kind of where I’m at right now and I like that.”

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.