Austin Dillon goes from hot asphalt to cold steel on ice

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Even with Richard Childress as his grandfather, Austin Dillon knew he couldn’t just skate through his rookie season in Sprint Cup racing.

But Dillon is hoping skating of a different kind will help him in his quest to win races and eventually Sprint Cup championships, according to a story by Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press.

Dillon worked out Thursday with 2014 Olympic ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the G-M Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich.

Now, Dillon has a history of being a good athlete, but that’s primarily been in stick-and-ball sports.

But when it came to skating, Dillon took to it like a Zamboni: he started slow and then picked up speed, according to Brudenell.

“I’m pretty nervous — I’m going to need a helmet and a HANS device on,” Dillon said as he waited to meet Davis and White. “Are you kidding me? There are good people out there. I don’t have training wheels on. I’m going to get run over.”

Click here to see the video of Dillon’s foray of cold steel on ice.

Dillon, Davis and White got together to promote the Aug. 17 Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Davis and White, who both attend the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor, will serve as grand marshals for the event and will also give the command to start engines at the two-mile, high-speed Brooklyn, Mich. racetrack.

“Charlie and I are from the Great Lakes area and are proud to represent Michigan all over the world, and the link for us acting as grand marshals for the Pure Michigan 400 race is great,” Davis said. “Speed is a huge part of what we do (on ice). But, obviously, we’ve never experienced anything like Austin goes through. We are super excited to be going to MIS.”

Added White, “We’re getting a chance to embrace other things after the Olympics. Michigan will be our first real race experience — what a start!”

By the end of the workout, Dillon was – no pun intended – out of gas, but also exhilarated, considering he had never skated on ice until earlier this year.

“That was a blast,” Dillon said. “I’m definitely going to do that again. I had the best teachers you could ever have.”

Given that he knows how to handle a baseball bat – he was on a team that went to the Little League World Series in his younger days – and now that he has skating down-pat, Dillon might want to pick up a hockey stick and start practicing with it.

You know, just in case this whole NASCAR thing doesn’t work out.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Castroneves OK after heavy crash in Pocono qualifying (VIDEO)

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Helio Castroneves lost the back end of his No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet rolling into Turn 1 during qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN), in a big accident that will hurt his weekend hopes and force the Team Penske crew to make significant repairs.

Castroneves looped around and hit the Turn 1 wall with his nose and left side of the car, with the car then tilting up on its side before coming back down to the ground.

The Brazilian got out of the car under his own power without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team before heading to the infield medical center. He has been checked, cleared and released.

Castroneves told NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis: “Good news the hair is still good. Unfortunate for the car. We didn’t have a chance to do qualifying (in practice). I was a bit slow, so the car pushed a bit, it might have been a bit too aggressive. It caught me in Turn 1, and came around, unfortunately spun out on me. Hopefully it’s not a snowball. Now that practice is tonight before the race.”

Castroneves enters Sunday’s race second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings, seven points behind teammate and points leader Josef Newgarden (423-416).

Porsche: Formula E more than a marketing tool, ‘no passing fad’

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Porsche executive board member Michael Steiner is confident that Formula E will be more than just a “passing fad” or a tool for good marketing as the German marque begins to prepare for its entry to the series in 2019.

Porsche rocked the racing world last month by announcing it would be closing its LMP1 program at the end of this year, shifting its focus to Formula E where it will race from season six onwards.

The move sees Porsche follow in the footsteps of many more manufacturers, with Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Renault and BMW among those who will also be racing in season six.

Porsche had previously dismissed Formula E as not being of enough technical interest in its current state, but Steiner is confident of its future direction.

“The series is developing in an interesting direction,” Steiner said. Think, for example, of the rear axle with the electric motor, which manufacturers are able to design themselves within the regulations.

“Or take the inverter and the battery management, where there will also be more freedom. In the relatively short term, it is expected that a better battery will be used in Formula E, which will eliminate vehicle changes during the race.

“There are also planned increases in drive performance. And brake-by-wire is coming, along with other things. We have seen the roadmap on the technical side. The regulations will start to open up and the planned developments are very interesting.”

Steiner said Porsche is expecting Formula E to become a strong technical formula, adding: “We would not make such a wide-ranging strategic change for an event that only had marketing potential.

“If Formula E were just a short-term trend or a passing fad, we would certainly not become involved.”

Leah Pritchett has quickest run in NHRA history at 3.640 seconds

Photo courtesy Don Schumacher Racing
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BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) Leah Pritchett had the quickest run in NHRA history with 3.640-second pass at 330.63 mph Friday night at Brainerd International Speedway in Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals qualifying.

She broke her own Top Fuel record of 3.658 set in Arizona in February.

“We’ve looked forward to this night session for a long time,” Pritchett said. “Knowing that Brainerd, this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it, lays down the ground work for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They have been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible.”

Robert Hight broke the Funny Car time record with a 3.793 at 338.00 in a Chevrolet Camaro SS, the first run in the 3.7s in Funny Car history. He set the speed record of 339.87 last month at Sonoma Raceway.

“I could tell it was running fast and I saw the 3.79 on the scoreboard,” Hight said. “It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me.”

Tanner Gray topped the Pro Stock field, and Hector Arana Jr. was the fastest in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Gray had a 6.607 at 208.617 in a Chevrolet Camaro, and Arana had a 6.879 at 194.24 on a Buell.

Back racing after F1 test, Norris dominates Zandvoort F3 opener

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McLaren younster Lando Norris made an emphatic return to racing action after the summer break by dominating the opening race of the FIA European Formula 3 weekend at Zandvoort, taking his sixth win of the season.

Norris, 17, moved up to F3 for 2017 after winning two Formula Renault titles last year, as well as linking up with McLaren’s junior program.

The Briton impressed during his maiden Formula 1 test in Hungary at the end of last month, and carried the momentum through to Zandvoort by taking pole position for Carlin for the first race of the weekend.

Norris retained his lead at the start and only came under pressure following a safety car period, with Swedish youngster Joel Eriksson running close for the lead.

Norris was able to create a gap and pull away, completing a wire-to-wire win with almost nine seconds in hand over the pack for his sixth win of the season.

The result sees Norris move to within eight points of championship leader Maximillian Günther, the German finishing third on Saturday at Zandvoort.