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.”
The aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix has centered around Red Bull Racing and its two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
While Ricciardo has garnered praise at every turn for a masterful drive from sixth to first in the second half of the race, Verstappen has again come under criticism for overzealous driving in the wake of contact with Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
A recap of the past news week for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and the attention both Ricciardo and Verstappen have garnered, is below.
Ricciardo Surfaces as Outside Title Contender After Chinese Grand Prix Win
Prior to the Chinese Grand Prix, few would have labelled Ricciardo as a possible title contender, especially in the wake of a mechanical failure in the opening laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
However, Sunday’s victory in China not only provided a number of thrills for onlookers, it also gave Ricciardo a major boost of confidence, and he asserted afterwards that he thinks a championship push is possible.
“I really feel like, I’ve said a few times, just give me the chance to be in a title hunt and I really believe I will take it,” Ricciardo said in a piece posted on Crash.net. “I feel like I can capitalize on opportunities and I guess [China] was a good example even with a fat lip I am still pretty fast and pretty good on a Sunday.”
The victory also comes at an interesting time in Ricciardo’s career, as the 2018 season is the final one in his current contract with the Red Bull team. On the market for a new contract, Ricciardo mentioned that he’s seeking a two-year deal with whichever team he signs with.
“I don’t want to sign anything too long because I don’t know where the sport’s going,” Ricciardo said in an interview with The Times newspaper.
He added, “Ideally, I’d sign a two-year contract. I think two years I can definitely be comfortable with and then see it from there. That third year will be the rule change so I will probably wait and see what happens then.”
Ricciardo also added that whether or not he returns to Red Bull is entirely down to the team’s performance this year.
“I kind of feel like if they want me to race for them they should contact me, but they haven’t,” he said. “If we win this year then I’m staying with Red Bull. It’s pretty simple. It’s really just about performance at the moment.”
Jos Verstappen Offers Constructive Criticism to Max
Max Verstappen has again come under fire for overzealous driving, and not just from rivals this time.
Perhaps most notably, Max’s father Jos Verstappen, a former Formula 1 driver in his own right, offered his thoughts this past weekend, asserting that Max needs to show more patience and a little better judgment in his overtaking moves.
“The overtake on Vettel really wasn’t on. It wasn’t possible. It was an error of judgement. In some circumstances Max just has to think more,” Jos told Ziggo Sport’s Peptalk, referenced in a Crash.net story.
However, Jos also praised his son’s driving style, noting that he hopes that part doesn’t change.
“I don’t want him to change his driving style. He passed two people at the start. He did that perfectly,” he added. “That’s what we all want to see. But we don’t want to see these kinds of actions. He needs to have it under control. He needs to think.”
In addition to receiving a 10-second penalty for the incident, Verstappen also received two penalty points, bringing his total to five. A driver who gets 12 penalty points within a span of 12 months is automatically given a one-race ban.
Rubens Barrichello Recovering from Brain Tumor
Rubens Barrichello has revealed that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year after collapsing in the shower.
“Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my head. It seemed to be exploding, I had to fall on the ground and only after a few minutes I managed to reach my wife Silvana to ask for help. I immediately realized that it was a serious problem,” Barrichello said of the ordeal in an emotional interview.
Barrichello, whose health has appeared to improve in recent weeks, revealed that the recovery process has been nothing short of miraculous.
“I feel like a miracle,” he said. “(The doctors) told me that only 14 percent of the people who suffered this type of problem then managed to recover completely.
“I am still going through exams and so on, but I am honestly great and the difficulties in life are the ones who show us how to grow and how to be better.”