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Newgarden, Dixon just miss out on Watkins Glen pole

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – In the final minutes of Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series, both Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon appeared destined to score poles for Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

First off, Newgarden was on his last run and looked set to turn the fastest lap of the session at that time. And while he did momentarily set the fastest lap, he ultimately left time on the table as he went a little wide exiting Turn 9 and dipped his wheels onto the grass, kicking up a big cloud of dust in the process.

He explained in the post-qualifying press conference that it ultimately cost him at least a couple tenths of a second, which would have made the difference in him securing the pole.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really had to say this much, but I think I messed up a pole run, to be honest with you,” Newgarden revealed. “I lost two or three tenths in the final corner. I don’t remember ever having to say that.”

Newgarden added that he overshot Turn 9 as a result of thinking he needed to charge through the corner in order jump over Dixon and the other Honda drivers.

“(The lap) was like projected at an 82.2 (seconds) going into Turn 9. If we want to beat Dixon, I’ve got to get everything out of (Turn 9) as well. I just deuced it, totally messed it up, lost a couple tenths. Great lap time, good starting position for us. I feel so silly for messing up what could have been a pole position.”

Like Newgarden, Scott Dixon felt like he left a pole on the table. Immediately after Newgarden’s aforementioned run, Dixon clocked in with a lap of 1:22.5168. In comparison to Newgarden’s lap (a 1:22.5169), the difference between the two was one ten-thousandth of a second, the smallest margin possible under IndyCar’s scoring system.

Scott Dixon appeared set to score the pole before Alexander Rossi took it from him with the last run of the day. Photo: IndyCar

However, on his next lap, Dixon came up on a slowing Helio Castroneves, delaying his run enough to force him to abort. Unable to get his Firestone black tires up to temperature after that, Dixon could not turn a faster lap, and ultimately had to settle for second when Alexander Rossi swooped in to take the pole with the last run of the session.

Although starting on the front row is a solid result on the surface, Dixon couldn’t help but be disappointed to miss out on the pole.

“The frustrating part is that we had plenty in hand,” Dixon lamented. “The problem is if you cool off (the tires) too much, it’s really hard to get back up to speed. We caught Helio so quickly – I don’t know what he was doing out there, he was just sort of cruising around. We caught him way too fast with two laps to go.”

Dixon added that he believed the car had plenty of speed in it to take the pole had he been able to get a cleaner run, as evidenced during Round 2 of qualifying, when he set a lap record with a lap time of 1:22.4171.

“I think we had probably another three or four tenths in the car. Definitely frustrating to lose it that way. We showed that speed definitely in Q2.”

The result ultimately proves critical in the championship chase, in which Newgarden leads Dixon by 31 points entering Sunday’s race, as neither driver was able to score a vital championship for the pole.

Newgarden, given that the events of qualifying prevented Dixon from securing that championship point, expressed a small amount of relief in considering that.

“Every point counts, so for sure I think it helps. It’s small, small little detail. But it adds up,” said Newgarden.

Dixon will flank pole sitter Alexander Rossi on the front row, while Newgarden will start third for Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (1:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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NASCAR America: Scott Speed’s quest for Red Bull GRC three-peat

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Red Bull Global Rallycross points leader Scott Speed is going for his third consecutive championship next month (Saturday, October 14, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC from Los Angeles) for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team.

Prior to that, he joined Thursday’s edition of NBCSN’s NASCAR America, checking in with his former Red Bull Racing teammate Brian Vickers, show host Carolyn Manno and analyst Steve Letarte.

Speed talked teammate dynamics – he and Tanner Foust have been the class of the Red Bull GRC field for several years – and what it takes to succeed in the diverse championship that features racing on both pavement and dirt.

“Tanner comes from more of a more rally background and I come from more of an open-wheel, road course background,” Speed explained. “You have to meet in the middle and often times that creates success. Our personalties are polar opposites and that’s a good thing.”

One other thing Speed addressed was Austin Cindric’s couple notable incidents in the last month or so. Going for his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, Cindric hit Kaz Grala at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to move for the lead and ultimately the win.

Cindric then made his GRC Supercars debut at the most recent weekend in Seattle and the two collided after a miscommunication in a preliminary race, prior to the Joker section of the course.

“He’s a young kid with not a lot of experience. He’s made a couple big mistakes. He came in like a wrecking ball,” Speed laughed.

“I was more mad because the car couldn’t restart at first. But it did, and we got going.”

Public clashes over future of Detroit Grand Prix

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DETROIT (AP) State officials are deciding whether to continue hosting the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, a state park and island that opponents say is negatively impacted by the annual event.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering whether to allow the race to continue after its current five-year contract expires after the 2018 race.

The department held a public meeting Wednesday at the Belle Isle Nature Center to gather feedback. Dozens of residents attended.

Opponents voiced concerns about the race’s environmental impact. Several conservation groups have requested a third-party environmental impact study on how the race affects island habitat.

But supporters say the race shines a spotlight on Detroit and stimulates the economy.

The Grand Prix has occurred on Belle Isle periodically since 1992 and annually since 2012.

FIA confirms Halo crash test details, International F3 plans and more

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Following the latest meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, France, a number of updates concerning the championships under the governing body’s umbrella for 2018 had been confirmed.

The stand-out news was the confirmation of a Formula E race in Zurich for June 2018, marking motorsport’s return to Switzerland after being outlawed back in 1955.

A number of tweaks have also been made to the FIA Super Licence points allocation from next year, placing a greater onus on drivers to race in Formula 2 before stepping up to Formula 1.

Here’s a run-down of all the other news from the WMSC’s meeting in Paris.

FORMULA 1

Following the F1 Strategy Group’s approval of ‘Halo’ cockpit protection being introduced to F1 from 2018, the WMSC gave its approval to the required updates in the technical regulations to allow its implementation.

The various technical details can be found in the regulations by clicking here (under Article 17), but the key point is that teams will now be able to finalize their chassis designs for 2018 now they know the crash test details.

The WMSC also confirmed that Sentronics will be the exclusive supplier of fuel flow meters in F1 for 2018 and 2019.

There is also a clampdown on oil burn in F1 for 2018 following the controversy with Mercedes and Ferrari in 2017, as well as continued plans to ban the ‘shark fin’ from next year’s regulations.

One point we already knew but is nevertheless of interest is the reduction in power unit elements permitted to each driver per season. As of 2018, each driver will be limited to just three internal combustion engines, three MGU-Hs, three turbochargers, two control electronics and two MGU-Ks per season, down from four for each element in 2017.

No updates were made to the F1 calendar for 2018, but Bahrain and China are tipped to switch places, the latter becoming the third round of the season.

INTERNATIONAL FORMULA 3

The WMSC confirmed plans to form an International Formula 3 series in 2019 in a bid to complete the pyramid from Formula 4 to F1.

Both the FIA European F3 and GP3 Series co-exist as the third rung on the single-seater ladder at the moment, with the international championship tipped to replace the latter.

The WMSC called for expressions of interest for chassis and engine suppliers for an international series, as well as a promoter.

Loose regulations have also been formed that are similar to GP3’s current rules, with a 24-car grid desired over a nine-to-10 round season featuring single-make chassis, engines and tires.

The FIA is also pushing to create more regional F3 series in the future to bridge the gap between F4 and International F3.

FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Following confirmation of Silverstone’s return to the 2018/19 ‘super season’ calendar last week, the WMSC ratified the schedule for the next WEC campaign that will last 13 months.

The technical regulation amendments for 2018 were also approved as part of the WEC’s bid to attract more manufacturers to the LMP1 class following Porsche’s shock exit.

“The FIA Endurance Commission was also encouraged to pursue a number of exciting and innovative proposals that it is currently working on, with the aim of enticing new manufacturers to the Championship,” part of the WMSC’s release reads.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

The FIA confirmed its calendar for the 2018 WRC season, with the addition of a rally in Turkey being announced in place of Poland.

1. Rally Monte Carlo – January 28
2. Rally Sweden – February 18
3. Rally Mexico – March 11
4. Tour de Corse – April 8
5. Rally Argentina – April 29
6. Rally de Portugal – May 20
7. Rally Italia – June 10
8. Rally Finland – July 29
9. Rally Germany – August 19
10. Rally Turkey – September 16
11. Rally Great Britain – October 7
12. Rally Spain – October 28
13. Rally Australia – November 18

To see the full release from the WMSC, click here.

FIA tweaks Super Licence points allocation for 2018

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The FIA has tweaked its points allocation for the Super Licence required to race in Formula 1 for 2018, placing a greater onus on Formula 2 as being the final step on the single-seater ladder.

In a bid to tighten up on the route drivers took to reach F1, the FIA introduced a new points system for the Super Licence from 2016.

Drivers require a score of 40 points in a three-year period to be granted an FIA Super Licence, with different scores being awarded for success across a variety of categories.

Previously, drivers scored the full 40 points required for a top-two finish in GP2 (now F2) or winning the title in IndyCar, FIA Formula 3, Formula E or the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 class.

As of 2018, 40 points will only be awarded for a top-three finish in F2 or winning the IndyCar drivers’ title, with the other series facing points reductions.

One of the most devalued championships is Formula V8 3.5, formerly seen as being equivalent to GP2, with a title win previously worth 35 points now worth just 20.

Here are the points breakdowns for the most valuable championships, running from P1 in the final standings to P10.

FIA Super Licence Points Allocations

Formula 2: 40-40-40-30-20-10-8-6-4-3
IndyCar: 40-30-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
FIA F3: 30-25-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
Formula E: 30-25-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
WEC LMP1: 30-24-20-16-12-10-8-6-4-2
GP3: 25-20-15-10-7-5-3-2-1-0
Formula V8 3.5: 20-15-10-8-6-4-3-2-1-0
Super Formula: 20-15-10-8-6-4-3-2-1-0

You can see the full breakdown by clicking here.