Clint Bowyer loses engine while leading at Atlanta

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Clint Bowyer has lost the engine on his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry while leading tonight’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bowyer had warned his team over the radio that the motor on his car was “laying down” before it finally expired in a puff of smoke at Lap 192.

Bowyer’s powerplant is the third from Toyota Racing Development to have suffered issues this weekend at Atlanta. Both Denny Hamlin and Bowyer’s MWR teammate, Brian Vickers, had to change their own TRD engines leading up to tonight’s race.

“Everybody has engine issues, and we’re pushing hard for the Chase to try and win a championship,” Bowyer told ESPN in the Atlanta garages. “We were off a little bit – probably a sixth-to-10th place car –  and I told them I wanted to make some adjustments and go for a win.

“As soon as the track went into the night, we really gained some grip and the car took off. It was ours to lose and unfortunately, we found a way to lose. I’m going to have a beer.”

This is the second week in a row that Bowyer has had problems while leading. Last week at Bristol, he was at the point when he spun out on Lap 176 after contact with a lapped car; he would eventually finish 14th.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.