Chris Buescher scores 1st career Nationwide win at Mid-Ohio

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Late-race fuel issues threatened, but Chris Buescher kept going all the way to his first checkered flag in the NASCAR Nationwide Series today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Buescher claimed the lead with 24 laps to go but still had to worry about fuel on his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford despite getting help from a caution involving Jeff Green with 20 laps to go.

On the final lap, Regan Smith began to cut into Buescher’s lead and in the last few corners, Buescher encountered the lapped car of Tim Cowen.

With a win on the line, Buescher moved Cowen up as they went through the Carousel and then drove to a 1.1 second-win over Smith.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Buescher told ESPN. “I wasn’t sure if I was happy or disappointed [with the Green caution]. I knew we’d have a little more fuel, so that was gonna be good, but it bunched us all up there.

“But this Ford Mustang was fast and we pulled right away – actually, we were just cruising there at the end. My fuel pressure light started flashing at me. But I wasn’t about to tell [crew chief] Scott [Graves] that.”

Brian Scott finished third, followed by Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott in fourth, and Alex Tagliani in fifth. Scott led a race-high 39 laps, the bulk of which came in the first half of the race.

Scott and Sam Hornish Jr. battled for the lead as the race moved to the middle stages with Buescher right behind them. Then on Lap 51, Hornish suddenly went to the garage after he damaged the motor after missing a shift; he would return to the pits later, but did not come back to the race.

In a separate incident on the same lap, Kenny Habul came to a stop in the Keyhole grass to bring out the caution. Race leader Scott then led the front runners to the pits, but he was blocked in by Buescher and had to back up in order to get out of his box. That cost him several positions as Smith and Tagliani beat him out of the pits.

A group of nine drivers led by Trevor Bayne stayed out to go ahead of the previous leaders that pitted. When the green came back out at Lap 55, those previous leaders were led by Smith in 10th.

Scott suffered further issues when he and Tagliani made contact coming out of Mid-Ohio’s rhythm section, sending him off-course. On Lap 59, Scott hit the pits to have his crew clear the accumulated grass on his grille and top up the car on fuel.

With 29 to go, Bayne finally went in for service, handing the point to Brendan Gaughan (who had last pitted on Lap 41). Five laps later, Gaughan went in himself and Buescher assumed control.

Running behind Buescher in second was Green. But with 20 laps to go, Green’s throttle reportedly stuck open as he went into Turn 5 and he ran straight into the tire barriers to bring out caution No. 5. He was evaluated and later released from the infield care center.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT MID-OHIO – Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
Unofficial Results

1. 60-Chris Buescher, led 25 laps
2. 7-Regan Smith
3. 2-Brian Scott, led 39 laps
4. 9-Chase Elliott
5. 22-Alex Tagliani
6. 31-Justin Marks
7. 11-Elliott Sadler
8. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
9. 6-Trevor Bayne, led 9 laps
10. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
11. 19-Mike Bliss
12. 16-Ryan Reed
13. 40-Matt DiBenedetto
14. 01-Landon Cassill
15. 23-Cody Ware
16. 39-Ryan Sieg
17. 17-Tanner Berryhill
ONE LAP DOWN
18. 86-Tim Cowen
19. 3-Ty Dillon
20. 62-Brendan Gaughan, led 5 laps
TWO LAPS DOWN
21. 44-Carlos Contreras
THREE LAPS DOWN
22. 51-Jeremy Clements
23. 93-Tomy Drissi
FIVE LAPS DOWN
24. 74-Bobby Reuse
SIX LAPS DOWN
25. 99-James Buescher
NINE LAPS DOWN
26. 28-J.J. Yeley
10 LAPS DOWN
27. 52-Joey Gase

28. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt, Lap 72, Running
29. 14-Jeff Green, Lap 70, Accident
30. 54-Sam Hornish Jr., led 12 laps, Lap 51, Engine
31. 20-Kenny Habul, Lap 51, Engine
32. 70-Derrike Cope, Lap 43, Suspension
33. 87-Stanton Barrett, Lap 35, Transmission
34. 79-John Jackson, Lap 13, Electrical
35. 10-Blake Koch, Lap 12, Vibration
36. 15-Carl Long, Lap 11, Suspension
37. 55-Timmy Hill, Lap 10, Brakes
38. 46-Josh Reaume, Lap 7, Electrical
39. 77-Roger Reuse, Lap 3, Transmission

Sebastien Bourdais released from IU Methodist hospital; begins rehab

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INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais only posted just yesterday that he was “unable to go for a run” – his spirit and humor clearly not affected despite sustaining multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in his crash during qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No. 18 GEICO Honda on Saturday.

On Thursday, his post revealed even better news: he’s been released from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, and will be set to fly home soon to Florida for his rehabilitation.

Bourdais’ place in the race at Dale Coyne Racing will be taken by James Davison, but judging by this first round of leaving, the Frenchman is keen to begin the recovery process as quick as humanly possible.

Bottas remains confident he can close gap in F1 title race

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MONACO (AP) Valtteri Bottas has put his recent bad luck behind him and remains confident he can close the gap in the Formula One title race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver’s fledgling Mercedes career has been a topsy-turvy one since he joined from Williams as a replacement for F1 champion Nico Rosberg.

He drove brilliantly to win his first career race at the Russian Grand Prix after securing his first ever pole position in Sochi last month. But two weeks ago he was undone by engine problems in practice for the Spanish GP and then failed to finish because of a turbo issue late in the race.

“It’s one to forget for sure. It’s been a bit up and down for me this year,” Bottas said Wednesday at the Monaco GP. “Bad result, good result.”

His other results so far are two third places and one sixth place, putting him 41 points behind four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and 35 behind three-time champion Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes teammate.

“The gap to Sebastian, to Lewis, is bigger than I was hoping for this year. But things can change quickly,” Bottas said. “What gives me confidence is that there is still 75 percent of the season left. I feel my best races are ahead this year. I feel I’ve done a good job in some races, but I feel there is more to come to be at a consistently good level.”

Although Bottas has impressed with this speed, he has yet to show the hallmarks of a genuine title contender.

His magnanimous approach goes somewhat against that.

Bottas showed his team ethic by allowing Hamilton past him in Bahrain so that the British driver could chase after Vettel.

He did so again in Barcelona, holding up Vettel for a crucial few laps. That allowed Hamilton to gain some precious seconds on Vettel’s chasing Ferrari. Hamilton won a thrilling race, Vettel was second and Bottas got nothing – except praise for his efforts.

It is a difficult situation for Bottas, who is on a one-year contract and has the added pressure of the demanding Hamilton as a teammate. With 55 race wins to his name, Hamilton is clearly the No. 1 driver, even though the team has not officially said so.

Over the past three years, Hamilton was on an equal footing with Rosberg as they fought each other for the title. This led to tensions and fall outs.

The 27-year-old Bottas is not relishing the prospect of finding himself in a similar position. But it might become inevitable if he does manage to close the gap on Hamilton and turn the title race into a genuine three-way battle.

“I can’t even imagine how it can be after a few years with a teammate battling for the title always. There is respect both ways (with Hamilton), which is good,” Bottas said. “(We are) just enjoying working together and hopefully that will help us in this close fight with Ferrari. It is a team sport anyway, so we need to push forward together.”

It’s hardly the talk of a driver desperate to win the title.

F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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From the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco, comes the crown jewel of the Formula 1 season (all times for the weekend via NBC or NBCSN here) this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix.

And here with the pre-race updates from the paddock are NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales, along with the race crew from the F1 on NBC team who are on site in Monaco.

This is an interesting weekend for Monaco, given the Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle for race wins and the championship so far in 2017. There’s also the question of whether someone can spring a surprise in Monaco, as has been done on several occasions over the years.

Here’s the show, below:

Brown wants to see F1 back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown would like to see Formula 1 return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the future, saying it would “make sense” for the sport.

The United States Grand Prix was held on the old IMS road course between 2000 and 2007 before dropping off the calendar, with a low point being hit in 2005 when just six cars started the race over tire safety concerns.

IMS re-designed its road course in order to host MotoGP and, from 2014, an IndyCar road course race as a prelude to the Indianapolis 500.

F1 is known to be looking to expand its footprint in the United States following Liberty Media’s takeover of the series, with additional races to the current USGP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas being sought after.

Southern California has also been a talking point; Long Beach’s future has been discussed in the press more so than has Indianapolis, as a consulting firm has been brought in to examine what would be the best case scenario for the city.

Brown has spent a significant amount time this last month in Indianapolis as part of two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 entry, and feels the sport would be wise to push for a return to the Brickyard in the near future.

“I am of the opinion that Formula 1 at IMS works. I think they’ve changed the configuration of the track a little bit,” Brown said during a teleconference on Wednesday.

“I think it makes sense for Formula 1 to be at the world’s greatest racetrack. I think the city of Indianapolis is well catered to take care of Formula 1, just like it did in the past, and the Super Bowl.

“I think the drivers like it. I think Indianapolis is easy to get to geographically. I realize it may not have the glamour of some of the other markets that are being spoken about, but it’s here, it’s ready to go.

“I think economically, given that Liberty is taking a different view on some of their future partnerships, I think there is an opportunity there. Personally I’d like to see it happen.”

J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President, told a group of reporters on site that no talks had been held with Liberty as of yet, and while the circuit would be open to negotiations, it would have to be financially viable.

“I have not had any talks directly with the folks with Liberty or with Formula 1. We’d certainly entertain a conversation,” Boles said.

“We’d have to figure out the economics. That’s why it wasn’t here after 2007; in order for it to come back here, the economics would have to make sense.

“At some level that conversation, Mark Miles [CEO of Hulman & Co., INDYCAR/IMS parent company] and Zak have a really good relationship, I think we’d ultimately lead it through Mark.

“When we redid the road course between 2013 and 2014, one of the things that was important to us was to make sure our road course remained FIA Grade 1, so if that there ever was a point in time where we had the opportunity to host an F1 race, we wouldn’t have to go through a complete renovation of our road course again.

“There’s two tracks in the U.S. that are that. COTA’s one, and we’re the other. So theoretically they could run here.”