Magnussen leads Day 3 in Jerez

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Don’t adjust your monitors: you’re reading this headline correctly.

Kevin Magnussen, not his father Jan, is atop a Formula One session for the first time in his career. Except in this case, it’s only day three of F1’s first official preseason test in Jerez, and there still weren’t a ton of laps turned.

Nonetheless, the 21-year-old Danish rookie put the McLaren MP4-29 on the top of the timesheets for the second straight day, after Jenson Button was quickest on Wednesday. The younger “Mags” clocked in a flier of 1:23.276, about eight tenths faster than what Button set on day two.

Fellow Mercedes engine runners Felipe Massa (Williams) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) were also realistically in range of the leaders, at half a second and seven tenths of a second behind, respectively.

Elsewhere Renault’s struggles continued; Jean-Eric Vergne managed 30 laps in the new Toro Rosso while former teammate Daniel Ricciardo turned in only three in the Red Bull with further technical problems.

“We worked hard yesterday to make the changes it was felt were necessary to overcome the problems we identified and we were hopeful of a more successful day today,” Red Bull’s race engineering coordinator Andy Damerum said, via Formula One’s official website.

Things were worse down Sauber’s way, where Adrian Sutil crashed at Turn 7. Sutil’s car snapped while going in a straight line following an upshift from third to fourth gear.

Marussia’s new MR03 Ferrari made its first public appearance with Max Chilton behind the wheel, but didn’t post an official lap time.

The fourth and final day of F1’s first test of the new year occurs Friday in Jerez.

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 23.276s, 52 Laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 23.700s, 47
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 23.952s, 62 
4. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 25.030s, 40
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m 25.495s, 58 
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m 26.096s, 17 
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m 29.915s, 30
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m 30.161s, 34 
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham-Renault, No time, 10
10. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, No time, 5
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-Renault, No time, 3

Road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is unpaved for Travis Pastrana, who’ll try DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.