Kansas Update: Flat tire puts Dale Jr. into the wall while leading

0 Comments

A potentially big day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. has ended with him slamming the wall on Lap 123 while leading the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

An apparent right-front tire failure sent Earnhardt’s No. 88 into the Turn 4 wall and has put him into the garage. He’s now the second Hendrick Motorsports driver to suffer that fate after Jimmie Johnson’s wreck at Lap 84.

“The whole surface of the tire just unwound like a string,” Earnhardt told ESPN. “It just came off the car and it popped off the corner.”

Subsequent pit stops under the yellow ended with Joey Logano, now the race leader, retaining his position at the front. However, pole sitter Kevin Harvick took the lead back off the Lap 128 restart.

At Lap 134 – the halfway point of the Hollywood Casino 400 – Harvick led Logano, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne. However, at Lap 136, Logano had once again passed Harvick to take the lead back.

Harvick led the first 43 laps of the race, but McMurray was carving his way through the field in the meantime from 14th on the grid. “Big Mac” dusted Earnhardt for second at Lap 39 before taking the lead from Harvick at Lap 44.

Shortly after that, a green flag cycle of stops began with McMurray pitting himself at Lap 47. However, he cycled back to the front while Harvick was able to get around Earnhardt for second at Lap 52.

McMurray’s lead ballooned to about three seconds, but Harvick had cut the lead down to one second by Lap 60. Around this point, McMurray reported an apparent vibration on his No. 1 Chevrolet but kept the point and continued to move through lapped traffic until a caution for debris at Lap 70.

The majority of the leaders went for the track position by taking two tires, with McMurray maintaining his lead going in. Meanwhile, Logano dropped from third to 10th after taking four tires – the first 9 drivers out of the pits had taken two tires.

McMurray, Harvick, Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Martin Truex Jr. were the Top 5 when the field resumed green-flag racing at Lap 76. Greg Biffle narrowly kept a disaster from occurring when he was able to collect his car after getting sideways in the pack, while up front, Earnhardt passed both McMurray and Harvick for the lead going into Turn 3.

One lap later, Kurt Busch blew a tire and went hard into the wall in his backup No. 41 (he damaged his primary car during Saturday’s practice sessions), triggering Caution No. 2.

Another incident occurred following the next restart at Lap 83. McMurray and Gordon, after having made apparent contact earlier, were forced to slow up after the latter got loose off Turn 4. The two avoided disaster but caused the field behind them to scatter as they tried to get back up to speed.

Then, seconds later off of Turn 2, Greg Biffle slid up into Johnson and both went spinning, with the defending Sprint Cup champion slamming the inside backstretch wall. The skidding Johnson also got into Justin Allgaier, who was turned around and then eventually collected Josh Wise in Turn 3.

While Johnson hoped to return later in the race and minimize his points damage, the race resumed at Lap 91 with Earnhardt as the leader. His edge over Harvick was up to one second by Lap 100, and it was past two seconds by the time Logano passed Harvick for second at Lap 112.

But at Lap 123, Earnhardt suffered his setback – and the race’s complexion changed again.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
0 Comments

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III