PWC: Weekend winners, plus other Mid-Ohio weekend notes


Editor’s Note: The Pirelli World Challenge races from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course air Sunday, August 10, at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The GT, GT-A, and GTS classes ran Saturday and Sunday for 50-minute sprint races; the TC, TCA and TCB classes ran Friday and Saturday for 40 minutes apiece. If you don’t want to know who won the races, we’d advise you read no further. 

The GT, GT-A and GTS double at Mid-Ohio saw a trio of drivers complete doubleheader weekend sweeps. EFFORT Racing won both Saturday and Sunday in GT and GT-A, to cap off a perfect weekend for the Houston-based team in its pair of Porsche GT3 Rs.

Ryan Dalziel, making his return to the Pirelli World Challenge for the first time since 2013, took Saturday’s rain-shortened race as he was classified as the race leader when the race was red flagged due to a deluge. Johnny O’Connell and Mike Skeen rounded out the GT podium. Dalziel’s teammate, Michael Mills, won his second straight and third GT-A race of the year. Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach took the GTS win in his Chevrolet Camaro over Alec Udell and Nic Jonsson.

Podiums were similar in the all-dry race two, Round 12, on Sunday with Dalziel leading Skeen and Anthony Lazzaro in GT. The podium order was reversed in GT-A – Mills won but Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Jim Taggart swapped second and third; the German came second on Sunday with Taggart third. Aschenbach beat the Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports teammates of Jonsson and Mark Wilkins in GTS.

O’Connell (GT) and Wilkins (GTS) lead the respective points standings, as do their manufacturer’s (Cadillac, GT; Kia, GTS) with just four races and two race weekends to go. Mills leads the GT-A classified drivers.

The pair of Touring Car races were exciting both days; Friday’s featured a mix of wet/dry conditions while Saturday’s, all dry, was a thrill ride from start to finish.

Winners on Friday were Michael DiMeo (TC), Jason Wolfe (TCA) and Tyler Palmer (TCB). Wolfe’s drive was particularly impressive; the Mid-Ohio track instructor came from 14th overall on the grid up to second overall in his Kia Forte Koup, ultimately ending third overall behind DiMeo and Nissan driver Steven Doherty, who barely held onto his Nissan Altima Coupe in a wicked series of slides.

Saturday’s race two (Round 10) was a classic scrap between DiMeo and Adam Poland in TC, with DiMeo prevailing again for his eighth win in 10 races. Shea Holbrook secured her fifth win of the year in TCA in a nice bounce back, with Chase Pelletier winning in TCB. Hondas swept the win category there.

Points leaders in these classes are DiMeo (TC), Wolfe (TCA) and Brian Price (TCB); Wolfe and Holbrook are neck-and-neck for the TCA lead.

Dalziel’s pair of wins was enough for him to be confirmed for the remainder of the Pirelli World Challenge season in the No. 31 GT entry, as outlined in a video produced by EFFORT Racing. Nick Tandy had replaced prior driver Tim Bergmeister at Toronto, with Dalziel in for Mid-Ohio.

Former IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Alex Lloyd made his professional racing return in CRP Racing’s No. 12 Emkay Fleet Management/Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette. In race one he drove from 24th to 11th; in race two he stalled on the grid, took his start, had to serve a drive-through penalty, carved through the field and then had a mechanical issue. He recaps the weekend here for Yahoo Autos (it includes helmet cam. It’s good.).

There were two charity entries competing this weekend, with Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric sharing the No. 55 Special Operations Warrior Foundation Ford Mustang Boss in GTS, and Leo Parente and Dan Goodman sharing the No. 00 FIAT USA/Pirelli Tire/SRT Motorsports FIAT 500 in TCB.

Bove (25th to 20th, race one) and Cindric (22nd to 14th, race two) each made passes in their respective races; the net total of 13, plus other flat donations, made for more than $13,500 raised in total. More here from the series website. Cindric completed his weekend – “The Quad” – with racing in all three USF2000 races plus the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Round 12. In the USF2000 races, Cindric finished 18th in race one, then sixth in both races two and three in the 21-car field.

More info will follow from Parente’s and Goodman’s respective outings soon.

After a couple-week break, the Pirelli World Challenge GT classes head to Sonoma Raceway on August 22-24 for a doubleheader, while the TC ones are next in action at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota August 29-31 for a doubleheader there.

Mercedes set to clinch F1 constructors’ championship in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks with members of the media in the paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.

Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.

Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.

To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.

“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.

“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”

The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.

However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver recaps following the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, with a look at Charlie Kimball, who finished 12th this year.

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 14th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 4 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 16.3 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 12th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 3 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 21 Laps Led, 13.3 Avg. Start, 13.1 Avg. Finish

“Super Chuck” – as NBCSN’s Townsend Bell has called him in the past – had another typically “Super Chuck” season. He produced some dizzying heights, made a few mistakes, and posted a lot of consistent runs in the middle that ultimately netted him 12th in points for the season.

We wrote last year that one of the areas where Kimball most needed to improve was his qualifying, and a three-spot year-to-year gain from 16.3 to 13.3 delivered that improvement. Problem was, in a Chevrolet top-heavy grid, Kimball might have been qualifying better, but he was qualifying behind at least seven or eight more fancied Chevrolet runners. In a Honda, you worry if Kimball’s grid positions this year would have dipped into the low teens or high 20s, rather than only just missing advancing into Q2 as was often the case.

While Barber and Mid-Ohio had served as his standout races in the past, the undoubted highlight of Kimball’s 2015 season was his quiet early – then dynamic late – drive to third in the Indianapolis 500. It was a performance that was particularly impressive given he was up against past series champions Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon, who were all vying for the win. Another podium at Sonoma was his first on a road or street course since Detroit race two in 2014, and put him third in points in the two double points races for the year.

But mistakes occurred all too regularly in the 14 standard points events, where he ranked 14th among all drivers. Contacting Dixon in Detroit, surviving a nightmare weekend in Iowa with multiple incidents, and coming together with Graham Rahal in St. Petersburg – even though Rahal was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact – were all moments he’d like to have back.

Kimball’s five years into his IndyCar career and there’s enough evidence to suggest now his breakout 2013 season was an outlier, not the norm. But seasons like 2014 and 2015 prove he still has plenty in hand to cut it at this level, and together with his entire Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, an overall asset to the sport.