IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay wins in wild dash to finish at Iowa (VIDEO)

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A late gamble gave Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport yet another jackpot at Iowa Speedway.

The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner took fresh tires under the last caution of tonight’s Iowa Corn Indy 300, and he was able to get everything he could out of them after the final restart with nine laps to go.

Picking off positions one-by-one, Hunter-Reay finally surged past Tony Kanaan for the lead with two laps left and went on to earn his third Verizon IndyCar Series win of the year – and the fifth consecutive IndyCar triumph at Iowa for the Andretti team.

“We took the tires as a big gamble,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “Our tires were shot before that, so we took ’em – and, credit to [engineer] Ray Gosselin and [team owner] Michael Andretti for making that call because I didn’t think we’d have enough time.

“…That was really great. Man, that was fun. That was like a video game at the end, it was just shredding through it. The DHL Honda was just on fire at the end.”

The win also boosts Hunter-Reay’s championship hopes with six races remaining in the season. He now moves to third in the standings at 32 points behind new leader Helio Castroneves, who finished eighth to take a nine-point lead over Will Power heading into next weekend’s doubleheader at Toronto.

Also charging hard in the last dash to the finish was Josef Newgarden, who pitted for tires with Hunter-Reay. He took the restart in 11th, but like Hunter-Reay, he rocketed toward the front and ultimately finished about six-tenths of a second behind the former series champion.

“That was the weirdest experience I’ve had in a race,” Newgarden said. “It’s almost unfair. You put on new tires like that and you just have so much more grip than everybody.

“It was a great call and I knew it was going to be an interesting race because Graham [Rahal] and Ryan [Hunter-Reay] had done it in front of me – and I thought, ‘If this is gonna play out, it’s going to be between us.’ And Ryan got a good jump, and I got a good jump with him, and we kept carving up to the top.”

Meanwhile, Kanaan was left wanting again after putting together a dominant performance. Last weekend at Pocono, he led the most laps but a late fuel strategy did not go his way.

In Iowa, he again led the most laps – 247 in all. But instead of celebrating his first win as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing, he finished third.

“It’s one of those things,” Kanaan shrugged. “They took a gamble. It’s a shame because we dominated the race. I had a lot of fun. But what can I do?”

Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon finished fourth, followed by Ed Carpenter in fifth. However, the owner/driver’s night was not without controversy as he was involved in the incident that provided the last caution of the night.

With 19 laps remaining, Carpenter appeared to come down in Turn 3 as Pocono winner Juan Pablo Montoya tried to look on the inside for a pass. Montoya then went briefly below the yellow line before sliding up into the wall to bring out the yellow.

However, INDYCAR chose to take no action in regards to penalties against Carpenter.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES AT IOWA – IOWA CORN INDY 300
Official Results
Order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, team-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
2. (21) Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, 300, Running
3. (2) Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
4. (1) Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
5. (10) Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy, 300, Running
6. (14) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Rahal-Honda, 300, Running
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, 300, Running
9. (4) Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
10. (7) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
11. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Honda, 300, Running
12. (5) Carlos Munoz, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
13. (18) Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, 300, Running
14. (9) Will Power, Penske-Chevy, 300, Running
15. (20) Jack Hawksworth, Herta-Honda, 296, Running
16. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy, 280, Contact
17. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, 258, Mechanical
18. (8) Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, 229, Mechanical
19. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, 130, Mechanical
20. (22) Carlos Huertas, Coyne-Honda, 78, Driver Illness
21. (12) Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt-Honda, 47, Contact
22. (16) Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, 47, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winners average speed: 131.923
Time of Race: 02:01:58.8160
Margin of victory: 0.5814
Cautions: 7 for 68 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Dixon 1
Kanaan 2 – 42
Castroneves 43 – 76
Kanaan 77 – 247
Dixon 248 – 263
Kanaan 264 – 297
Hunter-Reay 299 – 300

Point Standings: Castroneves 471, Power 462, Hunter-Reay 439, Pagenaud 421, Montoya 405, Munoz 358, Andretti 337, Dixon 331, Briscoe 307, Kanaan 305.

NASCAR Truck drivers feel the earth move sitting in NHRA powerhouses

Photos courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
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Several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers got to see how the other half lives – namely, their counterparts in the NHRA – on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and across the street at zMax Dragway.

To say it was an eye-opening experience is putting it mildly.

Top Fuel drag racers Shawn Langdon and Troy Coughlin Jr., as well as Funny Car driver J.R. Todd – all from one of the top teams in the NHRA, Kalitta Motorsports – are in Charlotte for this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

NASCAR Trucks driver Noah Gragson gets to feel the 10,000 horsepower of a Top Fuel dragster.

Thursday, they invited NASCAR drivers Ryan Truex, Christopher Bell, Grant Enfinger and Noah Gragson to show how it’s done NHRA-style.

Todd, Langdon and Coughlin started the day taking Toyota Camry pace cars around the 1.5-mile CMS oval.

Then everyone moved across the street to see some real horsepower, namely, 10,000 horses worth – which is roughly about 13 times the power they have under the hood of their race trucks.

Truex and Bell got a chance to “warm up” Todd’s Funny Car, while Enfinger and Gragson did the same with Langdon’s Top Fueler.

 

Meanwhile, Todd and Langdon both did smoky burnouts that, if the Truck guys thought they could do burnouts, they learned a lot to the contrary.

“It was a cool to do a big smoky burnout,” Todd said. “It was cool to see the guys reactions. We had a great time today and I think we created several new fans.”

Added Langdon, “Days like today is what makes me love our sport even more. Bringing these guys over here and letting them hit the throttle and sit in the car when it warms up gives them a look at what we do. To see the smiles on their faces after a badass burnout and how excited they are, just gets me pumped.”

Here’s what the NASCAR guys thought about the experience.

Bell: “J.R. Todd let me sit in his Toyota Camry Funny Car and they even cracked the throttle open for me when we were warming up the motor. It is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a feeling like none other.”

Enfinger: “Just a crazy experience, something I have never done. Been able to do a lot of cool things with Toyota, but it is not every day that you get to make your dad jealous.”

Gragson: “This was awesome. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was great to hang out with J.R. Todd, Shawn and Troy Jr. Definitely a cool experience; one that I will remember forever.”

Truex: “This has probably been the craziest experience that I have ever been a part of. I got to sit in a Funny Car; they hit the throttle, which really scared me. When I was outside the car, I jumped about three feet in the air. It was cool to get inside and experience that. The nitro was all in my face, and I think they gained a new fan with me today.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

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Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

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Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.