NASCAR: Rough day in Michigan for Roush Fenway Racing

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At the track where they’ve had more success at than any other on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, Roush Fenway Racing’s 2014 struggles continued.

Michigan International Speedway has been the site of 13 Cup wins from the Roush camp. But in yesterday’s Quicken Loans 400, their best result was a 20th from Greg Biffle (MIS’ defending June race winner), followed by Carl Edwards in 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 27th.

The dismal day marked the first time since the June 2000 event that no Roush driver finished in the Top-10 at MIS.

“That was a big struggle,” said Edwards, the lone Roush racer with a win this season. “It was pretty tough, but we worked hard and didn’t quit.

“Fortunately, we have a win to get us in the Chase, but we’ve just got to get better as a group. That’s the way it is.”

Biffle suffered for much of the race with a lack of grip, while Edwards dealt with a loose condition. Stenhouse had to soldier on after sustaining right-rear fender damage in an early incident.

“This is the story of our season,” Stenhouse said. “I felt like our Ecopower Ford was going to be good but I got into the wall avoiding the accident and damaged the fender which ruined our day.”

Meanwhile, Roush’s main partner in the Ford camp, Team Penske, continued their solid performance. Brad Keselowski finished third at home, Joey Logano was ninth, and IndyCar’s Juan Pablo Montoya was 18th in his NASCAR return.

Keselowski was sympathetic to Roush Fenway’s troubles, but tried not to go too far into them in his post-race comments – insisting that it was unfair for him to judge them since he knew “just enough to sound like a fool.”

“Their stuff is — I know they would probably tell you they’re not where they want to be, but I would always assume that they have something over there that we don’t,” he said.

Keselowski added: “I think the 99 team [Edwards] has been one of the strongest on pit road, and that’s where we’ve probably been — that’s probably our weak spot as a team.

“There’s probably something to learn there, so there’s always something when you share information, and I know it’s really important to Ford, and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so, whether they’re contending for wins or not.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.