NASCAR: Multiple drivers test at Indy; Stewart OK after crash

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be going road racing this weekend, but for the last two days, several drivers have been at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take part in a Goodyear tire test.

The series will visit IMS on July 27 for the Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard – or, more colloquially, the Brickyard 400.

According to the Indianapolis Star, conditions for today’s activities were warm and humid – perhaps a solid indicator of what the drivers will be expecting next month.

Among those taking part was Indiana native and Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman, who won last year’s Brickyard for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Obviously, Newman is hoping for more success at IMS with RCR.

“We were blessed last year to have a good qualifying effort,” Newman told the Star about last year’s win. “We had good track position and kept it all race long. I think we never fell back past seventh.

“I knew what my race car felt like. That’s what I have to work on this year, to make my race car feel like [that]. We’ve had a good test so far. I feel like our speed is pretty good. The temperature changes so much it’s hard to keep up with sometimes.”

Also running laps at Indy are Newman’s former boss, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Clint Bowyer.

Today did not go without incident, however. An Instagram photo taken by Stewart Haas Racing engineer Chris Chidgey revealed that Stewart went into the Turn 1 wall after blowing a right-front tire.

Luckily, Chidgey relays word that Stewart is okay after the wreck.

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NASCAR.com has since reported that Stewart’s crash took place during a part of the session that was closed to media and that “transportation by paramedics was not necessary.” However, “Smoke” did talk with NASCAR medical personnel.

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.