In last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, everything changed for the Championship 4 when a caution came out with 20 laps to go.
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman would come to pit road a short time later under that yellow, and their pit strategies proved strikingly diverse: Hamlin was told to stay out and assume the title lead, Newman took a two-tire stop to beat everyone out of the pits, and Harvick and Logano each took four tires.
But a jack failure during Logano’s stop effectively finished his hopes, leaving Hamlin, Newman, and Harvick to duke it out. Harvick fell out of the Top 10 thanks to his taking four tires, but crew chief Rodney Childers’ call proved to be a stroke of genius.
Two more cautions within the final 15 laps gave Harvick ample opportunity to maximize his fresher tires on restarts, charge to the front past Hamlin and Newman, and ultimately win the race – and the title.
In the clip above, NASCAR AMERICA’s Rick Allen and Kyle Petty share their thoughts on how late pit strategy proved critical with everything on the line.
SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.
The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.
Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.
Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.
But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.
It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.
Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.