Dale Earnhardt Jr’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, joined NASCAR America on Thursday to talk about the different feeling that Bristol Motor Speedway has and goes over the strategy his team has for the race.
Verizon IndyCar Series stars Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal will complete the eight-driver lineup for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona in the pair of Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s.
These two drivers join the previously announced six-pack of Andy Lally, Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal, Katherine Legge, Mark Wilkins and Tom Dyer. The first four are the full-season drivers while Wilkins and Dyer are the third drivers for the full Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup slate of races. Daytona, as a 24-hour race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule, makes up the longest round where four drivers are expected for most entries.
Exact lineups are yet to be determined. Both Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) and Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) run Hondas in IndyCar, and switch from their previous teams in IMSA. Hunter-Reay was third driver in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP last year, Rahal the fourth driver in one of the BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLMs.
Both Hunter-Reay and Rahal will test the car at Daytona next week.
“We’re thrilled to have Graham and Ryan join the Michael Shank Racing effort at Daytona,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for Acura in North America. “The debut of the NSX GT3 at the prestigious Rolex 24 will mark the return of the Acura brand to IMSA sports car competition. The addition of Graham and Ryan to an already excellent driver lineup, coupled with the experience provided by Michael Shank and his team, will make the NSX GT3 a serious contender for the GTD class victory at Daytona.”
Jenson Button became ‘Dr. Jenson Button’ earlier this week when he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bath in England.
Button, 36, made what looks set to be his final Formula 1 appearance at the end of last month in Abu Dhabi, drawing the curtain on a 16-year stint at the pinnacle of motorsport.
The Briton won the F1 drivers’ championship in 2009 and was runner-up in 2011, as well as winning 15 grands prix.
Button added to his list of achievements by picking up an honorary degree in engineering from the University of Bath earlier this week.
“I didn’t go to university and work hard in my early years, but I would say that a lot of my achievements in motorsport are down to my engineering understanding of a racing car,” Button said when addressing the audience at the ceremony.
Button does have a contract to race for McLaren in 2018 should both he and the driver be keen, but looks unlikely to return.
Button does remain keen to race occasionally through 2017, expressing an interest in racing in Super GT and rallycross.
Williams Formula 1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds says he expects 18-year-old Lance Stroll to make mistakes during his rookie season in 2017.
Williams announced last month that Stroll would be stepping up from Formula 3 to a full-time F1 seat for 2017, replacing the retiring Felipe Massa.
Stroll has an impressive track record through his junior racing career, becoming the youngest ever FIA F3 champion in 2016.
However, his on-track actions have caught attention for the wrong reasons at times, with the Canadian receiving a race ban in June 2015 for causing an accident.
Speaking to Reuters, Symonds said that Williams is braced for Stroll to make mistakes during his rookie campaign as he gets to grips with life in F1.
“Of course he’ll make mistakes and we’ll be repairing cars. These things happen as part of the process,” Symonds said.
“If you look at his Formula 3 career, in 2015 he was having quite a few accidents in that. The Monza one is just staggering.”
However, Symonds has no doubt in Stroll’s talent, believing the youngster to have proven himself during his two-year stint in F3.
“He hasn’t won that championship with anything other than a lot of skill and maturity,” Symonds said.
“For a guy that young, he’s driven really well in pretty well every condition. He’s raced well, he’s led at the front. He’s come through the field a bit, he’s driven well in the wet.
“He is the real deal.”
Besides his F3 commitments, Stroll has also completed an extensive F1 testing program through 2016 that saw him conduct running in a 2014-spec Williams in order to prepare him for his race debut in Australia next March.
Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone does not believe that the recently-retired Nico Rosberg will be remembered as one of the sport’s all-time greats, saying that the German is “a world champion and nothing else”.
Rosberg won his maiden F1 drivers’ championship two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi before sensationally announcing his immediate retirement from racing just five days later.
The news came as a shock to the F1 community, including Ecclestone, and has raised questions about the legacy that Rosberg will leave.
Speaking to Press Trust of India, Ecclestone said that he would not place Rosberg in the same realm as many of his peers who have won multiple titles, including Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
“Let’s just say he is a world champion. The other names that you mentioned have obviously won more than a few times and have achieved more,” Ecclestone said.
“So I would just call Nico a world champion and nothing else.”
Ecclestone did concede that not having the defending World Champion on the F1 grid in 2017 would not help the sport, a situation that has not arisen since 1994 following Alain Prost’s final title win.
“[He’s] not as popular as Lewis but Nico was a very popular driver,” Ecclestone said.
“So his absence is certainly not good for Formula 1.”
Rosberg became the fourth driver to retire after winning the World Championship, following in the footsteps of Prost (1993), Jackie Stewart (1973) and Mike Hawthorn (1958).