Red Bull GRC: Rhys Millen, Hyundai score Daytona win

Leave a comment

Rhys Millen became the fifth different winner of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season this afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, beating out Ken Block and Bucky Lasek to score the victory in his Hyundai Veloster.

“It’s just amazing with how strong the car was coming into this weekend,” Millen told NBC after his inaugural Red Bull GRC win. “To have the troubles of blowing an engine yesterday with a cam belt failure – but the car was on point.

“We had the fastest car this weekend, had some respectable driving from the other competitors up front, and we did what we set out to do three years ago.”

Millen, a former world record holder in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, set himself up for the final with a victory in the first semi over Lasek and Patrik Sandell.

Semifinal Two began with contact between Block and Scott Speed in the hairpin section. Speed sustained front-end damage severe enough to knock him out of the race, but just a few turns later, Block was apparently pushed off track by championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr., who took over the point.

A few laps later, Piquet was told by Race Control to serve a stop-and-go penalty, sending him back to third behind Austin Dyne and Tanner Foust. Foust ramped up the pressure on Dyne heading for the final lap, but on the entry to Turn 1, Foust lost control and spun into the tire barriers.

Luckily for him, the damage was minimal enough to allow him to continue in third place, which is where he would take the checkered flag behind Dyne and second-place Piquet.

That led into the last chance qualifier, which was led wire-to-wire by Block with Joni Wiman in second and Sverre Isachsen in third. The fourth and last transfer spot to the final, however, was in doubt up to the very end.

On Lap 2 of the 4-lap LCQ, Speed and his wounded VW took the joker to move past Steve Arpin for fourth. The final lap saw Arpin draw close to Speed, but he went off-course, ensuring that Speed would hold on and make the main event.

In the 8-lap final, Millen quickly pulled away from a tight battle for second between Block and Dyne that saw them flip-flop positions through the hairpins before Block came up with it.

On Lap 3, Lasek used the joker to take the third and final podium position from Dyne, only to come under attack from a charging Foust late in the race. Foust got the inside position on Lasek but took the entrance to the hairpins section too tight and got turned around, while Speed was spotted exiting his car after running into a barrier.

Away from it all was Millen, who went on to a well-deserved win.

Red Bull GRC now moves on to a pivotal doubleheader weekend at the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21. Piquet will enter Tinseltown with a 40-point lead in the standings over Block.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra (online/mobile) will air each day’s final live at 5 p.m. ET.

RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS AT DAYTONA – Final
Unofficial Results

1. 67-Rhys Millen
2. 43-Ken Block, -1.8 seconds
3. 81-Bucky Lasek, -11.4 seconds
4. 18-Patrik Sandell, -17.4 seconds
5. 11-Sverre Isachsen, -28.4 seconds
6. 34-Tanner Foust, -49.2 seconds
7. 31-Joni Wiman, -55.9 seconds
8. 07-Nelson Piquet Jr., -67.2 seconds
9. 14-Austin Dyne, one lap down
10. 77-Scott Speed, one lap down

NASCAR Truck drivers feel the earth move sitting in NHRA powerhouses

Photos courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
Leave a comment

Several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers got to see how the other half lives – namely, their counterparts in the NHRA – on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and across the street at zMax Dragway.

To say it was an eye-opening experience is putting it mildly.

Top Fuel drag racers Shawn Langdon and Troy Coughlin Jr., as well as Funny Car driver J.R. Todd – all from one of the top teams in the NHRA, Kalitta Motorsports – are in Charlotte for this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

NASCAR Trucks driver Noah Gragson gets to feel the 10,000 horsepower of a Top Fuel dragster.

Thursday, they invited NASCAR drivers Ryan Truex, Christopher Bell, Grant Enfinger and Noah Gragson to show how it’s done NHRA-style.

Todd, Langdon and Coughlin started the day taking Toyota Camry pace cars around the 1.5-mile CMS oval.

Then everyone moved across the street to see some real horsepower, namely, 10,000 horses worth – which is roughly about 13 times the power they have under the hood of their race trucks.

Truex and Bell got a chance to “warm up” Todd’s Funny Car, while Enfinger and Gragson did the same with Langdon’s Top Fueler.

 

Meanwhile, Todd and Langdon both did smoky burnouts that, if the Truck guys thought they could do burnouts, they learned a lot to the contrary.

“It was a cool to do a big smoky burnout,” Todd said. “It was cool to see the guys reactions. We had a great time today and I think we created several new fans.”

Added Langdon, “Days like today is what makes me love our sport even more. Bringing these guys over here and letting them hit the throttle and sit in the car when it warms up gives them a look at what we do. To see the smiles on their faces after a badass burnout and how excited they are, just gets me pumped.”

Here’s what the NASCAR guys thought about the experience.

Bell: “J.R. Todd let me sit in his Toyota Camry Funny Car and they even cracked the throttle open for me when we were warming up the motor. It is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a feeling like none other.”

Enfinger: “Just a crazy experience, something I have never done. Been able to do a lot of cool things with Toyota, but it is not every day that you get to make your dad jealous.”

Gragson: “This was awesome. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was great to hang out with J.R. Todd, Shawn and Troy Jr. Definitely a cool experience; one that I will remember forever.”

Truex: “This has probably been the craziest experience that I have ever been a part of. I got to sit in a Funny Car; they hit the throttle, which really scared me. When I was outside the car, I jumped about three feet in the air. It was cool to get inside and experience that. The nitro was all in my face, and I think they gained a new fan with me today.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

Getty Images
1 Comment

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

Haas/LAT
1 Comment

Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

Photo: NHRA
Leave a comment

Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.