Ryan Blaney takes last-lap duel, wins NASCAR Trucks at CTMP (VIDEO)

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A thrilling, last-lap battle between Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga in today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park ended with Blaney taking the checkered flag by a mere .050 of a second.

Quiroga had stalked Blaney for the lead since the final restart with 8 laps to go, and on the last run around the 2.45-mile road course, Quiroga drafted Blaney down the back straightaway and went side-by-side with him into the right-hand Turn 8.

Going into the left-hand Turn 9, Quiroga then took the lead on the inside. But as they drove into the final right-hand Turn 10, Blaney crossed over to the inside of Quiroga and then beat him in a drag race to the finish line.

The dramatic conclusion evoked memories of Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon’s race for the win last year at CTMP. But while that ended with Elliott dumping Dillon at Turn 10 (and Max Papis getting slapped by another driver’s girlfriend), Blaney and Quiroga stayed clean all the way.

“I noticed since that last restart that he’d get huge tows down the back stretch and just get a huge draft,” Blaney told Fox Sports about racing Quiroga. “I had to protect as best I could. He was able to get to my left side, and I didn’t think he could stay out there. But I got really, really loose underneath him there in that corner. The old-school short track racing cross-over move, I guess, worked on him.

“…It’s nice to go out there and race clean with a guy, and put on a great finish for the fans.”

As for Quiroga, he narrowly missed out on his first Truck Series victory. He said that he had fun battling Blaney, but his disappointment over the final outcome was evident.

“They gave me a winning truck, and we came second,” Quiroga said. “It hurts. We’ve come so close, so many times. But we have to keep on trying.”

“The last pass, I really drove it hard in the brake zone and I tried to pass him without wrecking, that’s for sure. We came close. We can’t come any closer on a road course.”

Erik Jones finished third for Kyle Busch Motorsports, followed by Gray Gaulding in fourth and Canadian driver Andrew Ranger in fifth.

The first 45 laps in the 64-lap event ran without a yellow until John Hunter Nemechek slowed to a stop on track. An extended caution ensued, with the restart coming back out at Lap 52.

Blaney was able to hold the lead while behind him, polesitter Alex Tagliani charged from seventh to fifth and then fourth after spinning out Cole Custer at Turn 5.

But one lap later, Tagliani himself lost control by himself in that same Turn 5-6 “Moss Corner” complex. The drivers behind him scattered, and when he was unable to re-fire the No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, the caution came out again.

Tagliani wound up finishing 16th.

“We had a stuck throttle all day, and fortunately, the guys put a little bar for the return throttle and I was able to manage and lift it on my own,” he said. “But when you’re driving, it’s one thing. And when you race other people – I got caught going into Turn 5A and the throttle got hanging. I got in at like, 4000 rpm, and by the time I realized to pull it myself, I touched [Custer] and I’m sorry about that.

“Then [one lap later], I got it to first gear and the engine was revving too high, and I just lost the rear [end].”

Johnny Sauter finished eighth and leaves Canada with his Truck Series points lead intact. He holds a seven-point edge over teammate and defending series champion Matt Crafton, who finished sixth in today’s race.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at CTMP – Final Results

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.