Photo: Tony DiZinno

Long Beach weekend, Thursday notes (round one)

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach packs a lot into the weekend, often so much so that despite your best efforts to attempt to cover everything, you inevitably fail. But you try nonetheless, anyway.

Thursday at Long Beach is the calm before the storm, as final preparations for the track conclude and a number of events occur either at the Long Beach circuit or around the city. Basically it’s a case of packing as many things into an event that’s the street course equivalent of Indianapolis, but in a significantly compressed time frame.

Here’s some notes and other items of record before track activity begins tomorrow. NBCSN will have coverage throughout the weekend; the pertinent details of which are linked here.

TRACK WALK/VIEWS

It’s funny. I calculated this year is my 12th time coming to Long Beach for the race, over a stretch of nearly 20 years since 1998 (yes, I was alive then, cool your jokes because even though I’m young I know this place well). But in none of those times, either as a fan growing up or in my writing career have I actually walked the track.

That finally changed today. The Cliff notes version of the track – and this is nothing new to any driver who’s done this before – is that the adjustment from fresh pavement back to concrete is difficult and while bumpy at spots, this track isn’t that bad at all.

Some quick notes I found interesting:

  • The banking on Shoreline Drive is steeper than you realize, even though it does translate to TV.
  • There’s been a couple sections repaved, notably the entries into Turn 8 and Turn 9. That should make it faster in both places.
  • Here’s Josef Newgarden’s, driver of the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, take on Turn 8, which sees a wide entry and apex descend into a tighter, narrower exit: “You have to calculate for it – you have know the edge of the track is. You’ve gotta play the angles. You work the angles. You try not to get deceived by the wide approach. The guys that have been around many times are not be deceived. That’s not too big of a deal. If you use the wide entry, it really helps the angle.”

The IndyCar on NBCSN team took a quick video of the track, linked below, and a few of my still captures are below that:

LOKI THE WOLFDOG IS ALIVE AND WELL

Rising Star Racing’s Spencer Pigot, driver of the usual No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, has a slightly different scheme this weekend and a partner-in-crime in the form of an Instagram celebrity dog. Yes, that sentence sounds weird but it’s accurate.

Loki the Wolfdog and his owner Kelly Lund have made it to Long Beach, where a quick photo-op took place on Thursday.

Will Loki actually live up to this Instagram fame of 1.4 million followers and post about IndyCar this weekend? That remains to be seen, but hey, at least the team is:

HINCH AND RHR’S BURGEONING COP BUDDY COMEDY

You’d have needed a cop to investigate the contact between Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe that occurred here three years ago, when they were teammates and also took out Newgarden in the process.

But the two are on good terms and on Wednesday, instead of there being so much drama in the LBC, it wasn’t hard for them to pay a visit to the LAPD.

Respective social posts from Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda and Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, are below, and here’s a link to more from IndyCar.com.

SPEAKING OF HINCH AND L.A…. SHARNA’S BACK

Hinchcliffe’s partner on Season 23 of “Dancing with the Stars,” Sharna Burgess, paid a visit to the track on Thursday in the first of what could be several appearances at Verizon IndyCar Series races this season. She also taped an episode of Hinchcliffe’s “The Mayor on Air” podcast.

Burgess visited Hinchcliffe at the series’ other Californian race, Sonoma Raceway in September, in advance of a segment on the show and wound up taking a ridealong in the two-seater with Hinchcliffe driving.

ROSSI’S FLAT OUT STINT OF LATE AND A SPECIAL NHRA, NAPA GUEST

Alexander Rossi continues his flat out stretch this weekend. Rossi, who continues his whirlwind run of media and testing in-between races, will have NAPA Auto Parts teammate and 2016 NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps on site this weekend; it’ll be Capps’ first time to this race. See more from Capps below, and we’ll have more on this topic after the weekend.

DALY GETS TO LIVE OUT HIS FAST & THE FURIOUS FANTASY IN REALITY

Thanks to the NBC Sports crew, Conor Daly, driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply Co. Chevrolet, paid a visit Wednesday to check in with Fast & the Furious picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy for a look behind the scenes at some of the whips from the series. The latest version of the Universal Pictures franchise, “The Fate of the Furious,” opens on April 14. A filming of this segment will air during pre-race coverage from Long Beach on Sunday, from 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

A DRIVER WHO DOESN’T SEEM TO AGE NOW HAS A WINE

Takuma Sato, driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, doesn’t look much past his late-20s or early-30s even though he turned 40 years old earlier this year. On Thursday, he released TS Sato Wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon made from grapes of California’s central coast dating the same year as his victory. A tasting took place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Long Beach on Thursday.

RAHAL’S PHOENIX MEDIA DAY, AND DIAMONDBACKS APPEARANCE

Graham Rahal arrived in Long Beach on Thursday after a full day of running around in Phoenix on Wednesday, promoting the series’ upcoming Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on April 29.

You can view the @PhoenixRaceway Twitter account for the full breakdown of his tweets from the day yesterday, but one of the things Rahal announced was a special ticket deal, details of which are linked below.

Rahal is in the No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this weekend. Rahal and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team are making more mention of the World of Hyatt branding on the car this weekend; the Hyatt Regency hotel, as noted above, is inside the track.

Rahal paid a visit to Wednesday night’s Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants game, and bumped into Dick Vitale of all people:

AND RAHAL, A NOTED HOCKEY BUFF, IS GETTING THE “WILD WING” MASCOT TREATMENT

With the Anaheim Ducks not far up the road and Rahal, a noted Columbus Blue Jackets fan, the Ducks’ mascot was on site today at Long Beach. And an IndyCar show car was mocked up today in Ducks’ orange and white colors.

DAVISON, VEACH POUNDING THE PAVEMENT

Two drivers hopeful and/or optimistic of being in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, two-time Indianapolis 500 starter James Davison and would-be rookie Zach Veach, are among those notable drivers here even though they’re not racing this weekend. Veach was scheduled to be on hand anyway with IndyCar Radio commitments; Davison made a late call to arrive in Long Beach after being in Melbourne, where his late grandfather Lex Davison was honored during the Australian Grand Prix weekend. The Davisons are one of Australia’s iconic racing families.

Veach, meanwhile, continues to rack up the frequent flier miles to California as both he and Gabby Chaves were in town last week giving rides in the IndyCar two-seater for the Long Beach media day.

KENDALL, FITTIPALDI HONORED, AS IS PAGENAUD IN LONG BEACH LORE

Tommy Kendall and Emerson Fittipaldi were honored Thursday with their inductions into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, at a circuit and city special to both of them.

So too was last year’s IndyCar race winner Simon Pagenaud, who had his winner’s plaque revealed.

AND ABOUT TONIGHT…

Fittipaldi will be honored at tonight’s Road Racing Driver’s Club dinner at the Hilton in downtown Long Beach, along with A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, some 50 years on after their victory in the Ford GT40 Mk. IV at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This promises to be a special night and a trip down memory lane.

If today’s cars are your thing, parts of IndyCar, IMSA, PWC and more are occurring at the Thunder Thursday event taking place at the Pike Outlets.

There’s undoubtedly other events going on as well – Rahal’s Ducks game appearance among them.

SPORTS CAR DIGEST

We haven’t even scratched the surface of all the activities yet because all the above copy is IndyCar-related. But a few other sports car things of note between the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge paddocks:

-Two good reads from Ryan Myrehn of Sportscar365, first on how IMSA organizes the paddock logistics for its 35 cars racing here this weekend, and then a fun look at Sage Karam and Jack Hawksworth, two IndyCar veterans now racing for the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 program who are now roommates in Michigan.

-GMG Racing and Euroworld Motorsports driver Alec Udell steps up from GTA to GT in PWC, and while he’s 21 and has been in PWC for nearly a decade, he’s only raced once before at Long Beach, in an Ford Mustang Boss 302 in GTS in 2014. The reasoning? Udell wasn’t old enough to compete prior to 2014, then missed the 2015 race even though he was in GT Cup after an accident at St. Petersburg, and then missed last year because GT Cup didn’t compete.

-Jonathan Summerton makes his PWC return with the DIME Racing team in a new Lamborghini Huracán GT3, supposedly No. 111 (decals weren’t on the car yet on Thursday). The Floridian raced here in Atlantic and Indy Lights in 2008 and 2009, finishing fourth both races.

-Since 2002, Ryan Dalziel has raced here in Atlantics, Champ Cars, Daytona Prototypes, GT (Jaguar), PC and P2 (HPD) cars, but he’s never had a weekend here like this. Dalziel missed this race last year because of his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments at Silverstone. Now, he makes up for it by racing here twice – both in his No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Pirelli World Challenge and his No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi in IMSA. Dalziel is as yet unsure who his PWC SprintX co-driver will be; that portion of the season starts at VIR later this month.

-Jeff Segal has won Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans… and yet never driven at Long Beach. The co-driver of the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 and incredible connoisseur of sunglasses makes his debut on these mean streets this weekend.

-At Porsche’s Experience Center L.A. (in Carson) on Wednesday, a gathering of all the Porsche 911s racing this weekend was present. There are nine of the GT3-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Rs; campaigned by GMG Racing (Nos. 14, 17), Wright Motorsports (Nos. 16, 58), GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99) in PWC and Alegra Motorsports (No.28), CORE autosport (No. 54), Park Place Motorsports (No. 73) and TRG (No. 991) in IMSA this weekend. Black Swan Racing also had its No. 540 Porsche, which ran a partial IMSA season last year, present for the event. A pic below comes from Radio Show Limited’s John Hindhaugh; IMSA Radio will have all live session coverage on site this weekend.

-So here’s something to monitor: there are a combined 39 GT3-spec cars racing this weekend. In IMSA, there’s 16 of the GT Daytona cars, the series’ slowest (but still bloody fast) class racing here for the first time. They have Continental Tires. In PWC, there’s 23, which run on Pirelli.

These cars will run in both races:

  • 9-Porsche 911 GT3 R (Nos. 14, 17, 16, 58, 99 in PWC; Nos. 28, 54, 73, 991 in IMSA)
  • 6-Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Nos. 2, 54, 69 in PWC; Nos. 33, 50, 75 in IMSA)
  • 4-Acura NSX GT3 (Nos. 43, 93 in PWC; Nos. 86, 93 in IMSA)
  • 3-Audi R8 LMS (Nos. 4, 44 in PWC; No. 57 in IMSA)
  • 3-Ferrari 488 GT3 (Nos. 31, 61 in PWC; No. 63 in IMSA)
  • 3-Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (No. 111 in PWC; Nos. 16, 48 in IMSA)

The Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 (2), McLaren 650S GT3 (3), Bentley Continental GT3 (2) and Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 (1) will run only in PWC this weekend, with the Lexus RC F GT3s (2) and BMW M6 GT3 (1) running only in IMSA.

ANOTHER GOOD RACE PREVIEW

From Mobil 1 The Grid, a look ahead to the overall landscape of this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach festivities:

NHRA at Norwalk: Torrence wins 4th race of 2017; Beckman, Butner, Tonglet also win

Photo/videos courtesy NHRA
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Steve Torrence earned a career-best fourth Top Fuel win in a season Sunday, capturing the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and L.E. Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) captured their third wins in 2017, while Jack Beckman (Funny Car) earned his second win of the season as the NHRA wrapped up the first half of its 24-race season.

TOP FUEL: Torrence (3.743 seconds at 331.45 mph) defeated Doug Kalitta (3.736 at 331.36) in the final round. Torrence has now reached six final rounds this season over the last eight events, with a 4-2 record.

“I knew I left good on the tree but I could tell it would just be a coin toss who got it and fortunately I was able to come out ahead,” Torrence said in an NHRA media release. “It’s been a great season so far and we are hoping to keep this momentum going.”

The win also keeps Torrence No. 1 in the Top Fuel point standings.

FUNNY CAR: “Fast Jack” Beckman (4.073 seconds at 311.85 mph) earned his 26th career win over Robert Hight (6.673 seconds at 98.53 mph). Beckman has now won two of the last three races.

“We were consistently a bit off this weekend, but we are definitely happy to earn the victory this weekend,” Beckman said. “Now that we are getting down the track consistently, it keeps our opponents honest and that is definitely a formula we will continue to use for the rest of the season.”

PRO STOCK: It was a great jump at the starting line that led Butner (6.601 seconds at 210.50 mph) to defeat Greg Anderson (6.581 seconds at 210.87 mph).

“Today was a great day, we made four pretty consistent runs and my car was good when it needed to be,” said Butner, who added to his lead in the Pro Stock standings. “It’s one thing to have a good car, but we also had a lot of things go our way to get those win lights today.”

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Tonglet (6.824 seconds at 195.76 mph) earned his 13th career PSM win, defeating Matt Smith (6.882 seconds at 195.31 mph).

“I didn’t see any win lights throughout qualifying, but seeing them on Sunday is what matters and we are happy with the results,” Tonglet said. “This is huge for us and our position in the points standings, so getting as many wins as possible is definitely our goal.”

Tonglet, who took over the points lead with the win, leads all PSM riders, having reached the final round in three of the first five races this season, and won all three of those.

The NHRA has an off-weekend coming up before returning to action July 6-9 at the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Illinois.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Brittany Force; 5.  Terry McMillen; 6.  Clay Millican; 7.  Tony Schumacher; 8.  Antron Brown; 9.  Shawn Langdon; 10.  Dom Lagana; 11.  Pat Dakin; 12.  Mike Salinas; 13.  Ike Maier; 14.  Troy Buff; 15.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 16.  Scott Palmer.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Jack Beckman; 2.  Robert Hight; 3.  Bob Tasca III; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  Ron Capps; 6.  John Force; 7.  Matt Hagan; 8.  Alexis DeJoria; 9.  J.R. Todd; 10.  Jim Campbell; 11.  Cruz Pedregon; 12.  Del Worsham; 13.  Jonnie Lindberg; 14.  Jeff Diehl; 15.  Dale Creasy Jr.; 16.  Tim Wilkerson.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  John Gaydosh Jr; 5.  Tanner Gray; 6.  Vincent Nobile; 7.  Jeg Coughlin; 8.  Allen Johnson; 9.  Erica Enders; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Val Smeland; 13.  Mark Hogan; 14.  Drew Skillman; 15.  Kenny Delco; 16.  Alan Prusiensky.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet; 2.  Matt Smith; 3.  Hector Arana Jr; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck; 5.  Joey Gladstone; 6.  Mike Berry; 7.  Andrew Hines; 8.  Steve Johnson; 9.  Chip Ellis; 10.  Eddie Krawiec; 11.  Karen Stoffer; 12.  Cory Reed; 13.  Joe DeSantis; 14.  Angelle Sampey; 15.  Melissa Surber; 16.  Angie Smith.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.743 seconds, 331.45 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.736 seconds, 331.36 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.073, 311.85  def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.673, 98.53.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.601, 210.50  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.581, 210.87.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.824, 195.76  def. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.882, 195.31.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS: 

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.775, 311.63 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Leah Pritchett, 3.760, 324.12 def. Ike Maier, 8.295, 105.60; Steve Torrence, 3.786, 326.32 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 8.501, 87.48; Brittany Force, 3.772, 324.98 def. Pat Dakin, 3.832, 293.60; Doug Kalitta, 3.749, 329.99 def. Troy Buff, 8.421, 82.77; Antron Brown, 3.768, 323.35 def. Dom Lagana, 3.828, 322.34; Terry McMillen, 3.806, 323.04 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.787, 324.90; Tony Schumacher, 3.789, 326.56 def. Mike Salinas, 7.129, 96.03;

QUARTERFINALS — Torrence, 3.792, 326.79 def. Millican, 3.872, 312.86; Force, 3.808, 325.53 def. McMillen, 3.859, 291.32; Pritchett, 3.848, 322.04 def. Brown, 5.187, 142.16; Kalitta, 3.782, 325.85 def. Schumacher, 4.099, 232.03;

SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.751, 326.08 def. Force, 8.630, 75.66; Kalitta, 3.768, 328.62 def. Pritchett, 3.800, 314.46;

FINAL — Torrence, 3.743, 331.45 def. Kalitta, 3.736, 331.36.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.993, 310.27 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 8.596, 84.51; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.913, 329.75 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.101, 307.65; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.349, 216.62 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 14.165, 61.22; John Force, Camaro, 3.930, 326.32 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, Broke; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.942, 322.34 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.032, 318.69; Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.944, 326.56 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, Foul – Centerline; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.972, 324.75 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 7.528, 98.54; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.060, 319.82 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.180, 266.11;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.960, 324.44 def. Capps, 3.965, 324.83; Hight, 3.978, 321.73 def. DeJoria, 4.741, 180.16; Tasca III, 4.006, 323.58 def. J. Force, 4.047, 301.00; Beckman, 4.078, 310.84 def. Hagan, 4.152, 275.06;

SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 4.074, 319.45 def. Johnson Jr., 6.049, 118.22; Hight, 3.925, 328.62 def. Tasca III, Foul – Red Light;

FINAL — Beckman, 4.073, 311.85 def. Hight, 6.673, 98.53.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.627, 209.43 def. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.595, 210.37 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.567, 210.64 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.676, 209.26; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.562, 210.50 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 14.694, 58.11; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.558, 210.64 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 7.790, 130.97; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.579, 210.70 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.759, 198.76; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.570, 211.16 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.814, 203.52; John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.663, 208.01 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 7.212, 149.95;

QUARTERFINALS — Butner, 6.615, 210.73 def. Nobile, 6.687, 209.95; Anderson, 6.597, 210.90 def. Johnson, Foul – Red Light; Gaydosh Jr, 6.695, 207.18 def. Coughlin, 12.760, 68.65; Line, 6.585, 211.33 def. Gray, 6.599, 210.77;

SEMIFINALS — Butner, 6.606, 210.34 def. Gaydosh Jr, 6.701, 207.50; Anderson, 6.599, 210.80 def. Line, Foul – Red Light;

FINAL — Butner, 6.601, 210.50 def. Anderson, 6.581, 210.87.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Mike Berry, Buell, 6.950, 192.22 def. Cory Reed, 6.991, 189.31; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.924, 193.43 def. Angelle Sampey, Foul – Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.853, 195.25 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 22.220, 24.02; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.907, 193.74 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.890, 193.93; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.880, 194.80 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 195.96; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.910, 196.13 def. Angie Smith, Buell, Broke; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.867, 194.69 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.924, 193.16; Matt Smith, 6.849, 196.27 def. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 6.905, 194.46 def. Gladstone, 6.904, 193.49; Arana Jr, 6.846, 197.36 def. Hines, 6.925, 193.02; Tonglet, 6.823, 196.22 def. Johnson, 6.962, 182.72; M. Smith, 6.876, 196.50 def. Berry, 6.916, 192.77;

SEMIFINALS — M. Smith, 6.872, 195.48 def. Pollacheck, 6.969, 186.30; Tonglet, 6.831, 195.08 def. Arana Jr, 6.863, 195.22;

FINAL — Tonglet, 6.824, 195.76 def. M. Smith, 6.882, 195.31.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

POINT STANDINGS AFTER NORWALK:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence, 1,071; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 1,021; 3.  Antron Brown, 990; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 856; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 781; 6.  Brittany Force, 734; 7.  Clay Millican, 695; 8.  Terry McMillen, 477; 9.  (tie) Troy Coughlin Jr., 464; Scott Palmer, 464.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 1,095; 2.  Matt Hagan, 946; 3.  Jack Beckman, 855; 4.  Robert Hight, 809; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 739; 6.  Courtney Force, 714; 7.  John Force, 683; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 525; 9.  J.R. Todd, 508; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 431.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner, 1,067; 2.  Greg Anderson, 941; 3.  Tanner Gray, 887; 4.  Jeg Coughlin, 820; 5.  Jason Line, 781; 6.  Erica Enders, 690; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 670; 8.  Drew Skillman, 575; 9.  Chris McGaha, 454; 10.  Allen Johnson, 448.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet, 480; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 389; 3.  Scotty Pollacheck, 325; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 322; 5.  Andrew Hines, 317; 6.  Hector Arana Jr, 314; 7.  Joey Gladstone, 278; 8.  Matt Smith, 256; 9.  Steve Johnson, 219; 10.  Karen Stoffer, 217.

 

Penske drivers lament missed victory at Road America (VIDEO)

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Team Penske dominated the entire Kohler Grand Prix weekend at Road America, twice going 1-2-3-4 over the three practice sessions on Friday and Saturday and then doing the same in qualifying, with Helio Castroneves taking pole from Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud.

However, race day represented a missed opportunity. Though Castroneves led early, it was Newgarden who emerged as their best hope for victory following a spectacular outside pass on Castroneves entering turn 1 on lap 19. That put Newgarden in the lead, and he seemed to be in full control.

Still, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon had been stalking the Penske foursome all race long, and sat behind Newgarden in second for a lap 30 restart. With Newgarden on primary blacks and Dixon on alternate reds, Newgarden was somewhat of a sitting duck, and Dixon muscled his way into the lead with an equally spectacular outside pass in turn 1, with Newgarden briefly falling to third behind teammate Castroneves.

Josef Newgarden led several laps, but could not find his way around Dixon for the win. Photo: IndyCar

Although Newgarden regrouped, overtook Castroneves during the final pit stop sequence, and closed to within a second following a restart with seven laps remaining, he was never close enough to make a move for the win.

Even though the Team Penske drivers all finished in the top five, going 2-3-4-5 with Newgarden leading Castroneves, Pagenaud, and Power, missing out on victory was a bitter pill to swallow.

“It stings a little bit coming home second when you feel like you have a winning car,” Newgarden revealed in the post-race press conference.

He added that an ill-timed lap 28 caution for a spinning Takuma Sato ultimately put paid his chances of victory. “The caution didn’t fall our way. You can’t predict that stuff. It hurts when it comes at the wrong time. That’s pretty much what happened today. With (Tim Cindric calling the strategy), I feel confident with all our decisions, everything those guys do on the pit box. Things just didn’t fall our way today.”

For Castroneves, a slight error before his final pit stop saw him pit earlier than the team wanted, due to an alarm that went off in the cockpit. However, as he explained to NBCSN’s Marty Snider, it was of little consequence to the outcome of the race.

“We mentioned in the debrief that if in turn 14, the blue lights come on, you are to come right away. So I came in. I am sure they had a little buffer, and they knew what exactly was going on. (Race engineer Jonathan Diuguid) said keep going but I couldn’t quite understand him. But at the end of the day it didn’t cost us anything in terms of a win or second place.”

Still, the strong results see Pagenaud and Castroneves sit second and third in the championship, while Newgarden and Power sit fifth and sixth, respectively.

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F1 Paddock Pass: Azerbaijan Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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One of the crazier, most eventful Formula 1 races in recent memory took place at the Baku City Circuit today in Azerbajian.

That makes it a challenge to recap but it’s something NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, along with producer Jason Swales, attempt to do in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series, Paddock Pass.

You can see it below. Thursday’s pre-race edition is linked here. A full roundup of Sunday videos from Baku is linked here.

 

Bottas gives everything in Baku fightback from a lap down to P2

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Valtteri Bottas says he “gave it absolutely everything” after falling a lap down and running last early on in Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Baku before fighting back to finish second for Mercedes.

Bottas qualified second for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, but dropped back after contact with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 2 on the opening lap, sustaining a puncture.

Bottas fell a lap down on the field immediately, but was waved past and able to get back onto the lead lap during the first safety car period.

From there, Bottas produced a stunning fightback, dodging the minefield of incidents through the race to eventually cross the line second after a drag race to the checkered flag with Williams’ Lance Stroll.

“Today was a crazy race, especially for me. I had a puncture on the first lap after the contact with Kimi on Lap 1,” Bottas said.

“I was a lap down, then had to overtake the field under the Safety Car. The second Safety Car after that really helped me out and, step by step, I moved forward from there.

“My main goal today was to fight for the win but that went out of the window after the first lap. I was actually last at one point, but I got my head down, gave it absolutely everything and tried to get the absolute maximum out of every single corner.

“We didn’t quite manage to win but P2 from where we were is a great feeling. Importantly for the team, we scored more points in the fight with Ferrari and I got some good points for myself as well.”

Bottas ultimately finished as Mercedes’ lead driver following Lewis Hamilton’s second pit stop when his headrest came loose, resigning the Briton to fifth place at the checkered flag.