Fence changes planned before Talladega NASCAR stop

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NASCAR senior vp of operations Steve O’Donnell has confirmed the sanctioning body will look to see what changes can be made to the catch fencing before the Talladega Superspeedway weekend in May.

In an Autosport report, O’Donnell outlined that action will be taken at the two restrictor-plate tracks, Talladega and Daytona, before looking at other potential changes on the remainder of tracks NASCAR races at.

“Really [it’s] a two-phase process we’re looking at,” O’Donnell explained. “Superspeedway racing with Daytona and Talladega is going to be the first concentration for us. We have a race coming up in May at Talladega; anything we can learn in the immediate future that can be applied to Talladega, we’ll do that.”

Improving safety in all aspects of the series remains a daily priority for NASCAR, he said.

He did say Kyle Larson’s car, which got into the fence to begin with, performed as expected since the driver was not injured. Most of the safety elements did their job, he said.

“Our focus is going to be if the elements in the car did their job, or what do we need to do to the impact to the fence,” O’Donnell said.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.