In the buildup to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season opener at St. Petersburg on March 12, a number of drivers are visiting other sporting events of note.
Graham Rahal has been one of the busiest. The driver of the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing made a pit stop at the Bridgestone Winter Classic in January and this week has been out to the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Anyway, 28-year-old Rahal is an avid PGA Tour follower and fan and when time allows, brushes off his own set of clubs for the event’s Honda Classic Cares Pro Am presented by Tire Kingdom. He’s also used golf as a fundraiser; he’s raised over $300,000 to benefit children’s charities (with the golf tournament he did around the Indy 500).
Rahal, who won the Pro Am twice in 2011 and 2012 and came second the next year with motorsports fan Rickie Fowler, himself one of the young stars on the PGA Tour, was only able to get in four holes this week owing to poor weather. But with a new putter that’s the same model as the one used by recent world number one player Jason Day, Rahal sank a rather impressive 40-foot putt. Rahal was playing in a group with Smylie Kaufman, and credited him for the advice.
MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.
Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.
“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”
Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.
Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.
Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.
Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well
Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.
Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.
That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.
“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”
New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.
“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”
Renault Sport F1 Team has confirmed Robert Kubica will make his return to a current Formula 1 car in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, which will only continue to fuel the hype train for a possible race return.
The Pole has undertaken two tests in recent weeks with older cars but this day in the Renault R.S.17 will provide the team a chance to evaluate him in current machinery to gauge his race level fitness.
It’s a story that has got the F1 world buzzing in recent weeks as Kubica, injured in a rally accident before the 2011 season, has made a comeback to restart his racing career.
Poor Nicholas Latifi, also confirmed for the test that runs the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be undoubtedly overlooked as a result.
Jolyon Palmer will race in Hungary this weekend at least but whether the Brit continues beyond the summer break that follows afterwards remains a question mark.