Oral-B USA 500 - Practice

NASCAR: Tony Stewart 10th in first Cup practice at Atlanta; Edwards fastest

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After several weeks of mourning and reflection, Tony Stewart went back to work.

Following an emotional press conference this morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion turned the 10th-fastest time in today’s first Sprint Cup practice session.

Stewart logged a total of 25 laps in the session, and set his fastest lap – with a speed of 189.642 mph – on his final circuit around the 1.5-mile oval.

It’s a much-needed solid start to the weekend for Stewart and his No. 14 team, which have been declared eligible to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup should Stewart win Sunday at Atlanta or in next Saturday’s regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway.

Stewart has not raced at Atlanta since 2012, as he was unable to compete in last year’s race there due to him recovering from his season-ending leg injury.

Today’s first practice was paced by Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards and his lap of 192.855 mph in the No. 99 Ford Fusion. That lap was almost two-tenths of a second quicker than the best lap from Ryan Newman (191.628 mph), who was second on the time sheets for Richard Childress Racing.

Another Ford driver, Marcos Ambrose of Richard Petty Motorsports, was third-fastest in the session (191.417 mph). Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth (191.199 mph), and rookie Kyle Larson was fifth (191.113 mph).

Making up Positions 6-10 were Brian Vickers, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, and Stewart.

Other notables were: Jimmie Johnson in 13th, Jeff Gordon in 14th, Danica Patrick in 22nd, Matt Kenseth in 25th, Bristol winner Joey Logano in 26th, and Nationwide Series regular Ty Dillon in 27th. Dillon is making his debut Cup start this weekend.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.