Harvick 2014

Kevin Harvick in unique position: Teammates with one Busch brother, fierce rival with the other

1 Comment

Kevin Harvick is in one of the most unique positions of any driver in the Sprint Cup circuit.

On the one hand, he’s become good friends with first-year Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who once was one of Harvick’s toughest competitors.

“This is the second year I’ve actually worked with Kurt,” Harvick told Red Eye, a subsidiary of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Last year, we worked together when I was at (Richard Childress Racing) and he was at Furniture Row.

“We kind of had the relationship to share all their information. Kurt’s a great teammate and he’s great with the cars and has run well throughout the season, so it’s been a good asset for Stewart-Haas.”

But on the flip side, Harvick remains fierce rivals with Busch’s younger brother, Kyle.

“I don’t think there’s a Kyle Busch fan that likes me,” Harvick said. “You’re definitely going to get some boos. That’s what makes our sport great. If there’s somebody you don’t like, you can boo them and cheer your guy, so that’s what keeps it going around.”

Even though he sold or folded his Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series race teams more than two years ago, the 38-year-old Harvick is as busy as he’s ever been.

Not only is he in his first season with SHR, he’s locked into the Chase, is seeking his first career Sprint Cup championship, owns an athlete/entertainer management company (the roster includes a PGA golfer, a UFC fighter and two budding country music stars), and is also a doting father to two-year-old Keelan and husband to DeLana.

“I think for me it’s just been the fact … how well it’s all blended together,” Harvick said. “As you have some country music, some MMA, golf and racing and you see how well all the athletes and musicians get along together, each brings their own different set of advantages to each program.

“So obviously I think the MMA stuff has probably been my favorite with Donald [Cerrone] and everything that we’ve done. … It’s been fun to see it grow.”

Harvick has been known to have a fiery temper in his career and has never backed down from challenges from other drivers. He would love to get into an MMA cage, but at his age (38), that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Rather, Harvick is getting into something a little sedate in his off-time. When he’s not chasing race cars, he’s chasing little white balls.

“I’m too old for the MMA stuff. I missed it,” Harvick said. “In order to be good at that, you’re going to have to be well-rounded in every type of martial arts and wrestling, so it’s a lot of work that those guys go through. That would be fun, but at this point I think golf is probably more realistic for me.”

Admittedly, it was a tough decision for Harvick to ultimately leave RCR after 14 seasons there. But he felt that his chances of winning a Cup championship were better at SHR, and that prompted him to make a move that he had been considering for the last few years.

While some critics and media members questioned whether Harvick would be able to get along well with his new SHR teammates, particularly the elder Busch brother, it’s been nothing but blue skies and sunshine with his new teammates, Harvick said.

“It’s been good,” Harvick said. “I’ve worked with everybody before this year. … As we’ve gone into the year, there wasn’t really a learning curve or anything that needed to be learned about each individual. I already knew everybody, so coming in it was just, how do we make our cars better? How do we make the team better?

“Everybody’s been doing their thing to try to keep advancing the company, and I think everyone’s done a great job, so I’ve been really happy with the direction of the team and everybody’s been working together well.”

While Harvick and Busch are both locked into the Chase, team co-owner Tony Stewart is still not qualified. He has five races to make the Chase, lest it would be the second straight season he’s failed to make the playoffs (last year was due to injury), and the third time in the Chase’s 10-year history.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

VIDEO: Valtteri Bottas’ first day as a Mercedes F1 driver

Leave a comment

Following Valtteri Bottas’ official unveiling as a Mercedes driver on Monday, the team wasted little time in showing the Finn the ropes at its base in Brackley, England.

Bottas was released from his contract by Williams so he could join Mercedes for 2017, replacing world champion Nico Rosberg following the German’s shock decision to retire from F1.

Bottas was announced as Mercedes’ new driver on Monday, completing the puzzle for the 2017 driver market and putting an end to six weeks of speculation.

In the above video released by Mercedes, Bottas gets to grips with life at Brackley after signing his new contract with team chief Toto Wolff and meeting his new team members for the first time.

In related news, Mercedes announced on Friday that it had struck an agreement with the Wihuri Group, a Finnish conglomerate that has previously sponsored Bottas.

Wihuri’s branding will appear on the Mercedes drivers’ racesuits and helmets, as well as on the team’s trackside uniform.

“We are delighted to welcome Wihuri to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport family today,” Wolff said.

“As a respected brand both in Finland and globally, Wihuri will be a valuable addition to our team and we look forward to working with them and helping to expand their Formula One experience.

“This year will be a new challenge for our team, with a new driver line-up, including our new Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas of course, and new regulations.

“I am sure it going to be a very exciting year to be involved with our team and the sport of Formula 1.”

Yamaha, Ducati enjoy launches ahead of new MotoGP season

yfr_editorial_use_pictures_16-php
© Yamaha MotoGP
Leave a comment

MotoGP heavyweights Yamaha and Ducati geared up for the new season of motorcycle racing’s premier championship with launches this week.

Yamaha and Ducati both enter 2017 with a new line-up following Jorge Lorenzo’s decision to move from the former to the latter, acting as one of a number of shake-ups in the rider market.

Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo replaces Andrea Iannone at Ducati, who sought refuge at Suzuki after a seat was freed up by Maverick Viñales following his move to Yamaha in replace of – the man who started the merry-go-round all – Lorenzo.

Yamaha was the first to take the covers off its new bike at a launch in Madrid on Thursday, with Viñales being joined by nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi for the unveiling of the YZR-M1.

The new bike features a darker blue as its main livery color, as well as greater presence for title sponsor Movistar.

“I had the first test in Valencia after the race, but particularly after we moved to Sepang and we could have more kilometers and [do] more work on the new bike,” Rossi said.

“We discovered a very good potential. It looks like we can be stronger. For sure now it’s important to work in the three tests before the first race, and try to arrive ready in Qatar. But the first impression is very good.”

Ducati followed suit earlier today by unveiling its new livery for 2017, with Lorenzo making one of his first official appearances in the team’s colors following the expiration of his Yamaha contract on December 31.

The team presented its 2016 bike, the Desmosedici GP16, in ’17 colors, as well as removing the controversial – and now banned – winglets from its model.

The new MotoGP season begins in Qatar on March 26, with pre-season testing set to start at the end of January in Malaysia.

Neuville leads Ogier midway through Monte Carlo Rally

Thierry Neuville (BEL) competes during the FIA World Rally Championship 2017 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on January 20, 2017
© Red Bull Content Pool
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) Belgian driver Thierry Neuville took a 45-second lead Friday over defending world rally champion Sebastien Ogier midway through the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Overnight leader Neuville won three of Friday’s six special stages, while Ogier struggled early on before pegging Neuville back by winning the last two. Ott Tanak of Estonia is third.

Four-time champion Ogier is now driving for Ford M-Sport after switching from Volkswagen last month. The Frenchman was eight seconds behind Neuville’s Hyundai overnight and quickly under pressure.

Tanak, who also drives for M-Sport, won Friday’s first special stage – the third of 17 overall – ahead of Neuville, with Ogier in ninth.

Difficult morning conditions saw snow and sheet ice on the roads. With all the top drivers fitting studded winter tires, Ogier still went off into a ditch.

“It happened at a junction, it was very, very icy. I pulled the handbrake but the car never turned,” Ogier said. “I slipped into the ditch and became stuck.”

Neuville won the next three specials – with Ogier second on 4 and 5 – but Ogier finally found his best form to trim back the deficit from 1:12 to 45 seconds. He also overtook Tanak, who is a fraction of a second behind Ogier.

Conditions were slushy in the afternoon as the icy roads began melting.

“For me this was more tricky than this morning and difficult to know what rhythm to go,” Neuville said.

A spectator was killed on Thursday night after being hit by a car during the first stage.

Organizers said the spectator was struck by a car driven by New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon during the first of two night stages.

That stage was canceled but the second went ahead, with Neuville beating Ogier.

There are six specials Saturday with the race concluding Sunday lunchtime.

Last year, Ogier won by nearly two minutes ahead of then-teammate Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway.

Ogier announced last month that he was going to drive the Ford Fiesta for M-Sport this season. A fifth title would move him into outright second place on the all-time list behind countryman Sebastien Loeb, who won nine straight titles.

The 33-year-old Ogier, who has won 38 career races, is tied with Finnish drivers Tommi Makinen – who won four straight – and Juha Kankkunen.

The next event in the 13-race season is in Sweden in three weeks.

BRDC: Reports Silverstone will definitely drop British GP ‘speculative and wrong’

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 10:  The grid at the start of the race during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 10, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

The British Racing Drivers Club has issued a statement dismissing suggestions that Silverstone will definitely drop its Formula 1 race following the 2019 season.

Doubt was cast over the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone following a leaked letter from BRDC chairman John Grant, in which he admitted to concerns about the cost of hosting the race.

Grant admitted that BRDC officials were considering triggering a clause in Silverstone’s F1 contract that would allow it to end its commitment after 2019 due to “ruinous” costs.

In a statement issued on Friday, the BRDC stressed that no final decision had been made and that suggestions a final decision to drop the race had already been made were incorrect.

“The British Racing Drivers Club wishes to make clear that recent press reports suggesting that talks have been unsuccessful and that the British Grand Prix will definitely be dropped after 2019 are speculative and wrong,” the statement reads.

“Our objective is to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come but, of course, we can only do this if it makes economic sense,” Grant added.

“As I have said before, we will be considering over the next six months if we should give notice of our intention to exercise the break clause in our grand prix contract at the end of 2019. No decision has been made, or will be made, until mid-July.

“In the meantime, we will be using this period to explore all interested parties, hopefully in private, various ways in which we might work out a more sustainable proposition.”