Weekend wrap: Lewis Hamilton back on top of the F1 mountain

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source: AP
Lewis Hamilton finished off his second World Championship in style. Photo: AP.

Last week, Kevin Harvick won at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. This past weekend, it was Lewis Hamilton’s turn to claim the F1 World Championship in the same glory.

A brilliant start at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix enabled Hamilton to get the jump on Mercedes teammate/title rival Nico Rosberg, and Rosberg was then severely hampered by an ERS failure on his Merc W05.

While Rosberg faded to 14th, Hamilton went on to hold off a late charge from Williams’ Felipe Massa and win the race – earning his second F1 title in the process.

“This has been an incredible year,” Hamilton said following his victory. “I just cannot believe how amazing this has all been. Coming to this team last year – the decision to come here when a lot of people said it was the wrong choice – the steps we took last year and then coming into this year, it was just unbelievable and then again, as I said, the fan support has been phenomenal.

“I never in a million years thought I’d have that kind of support, so as I said before, this is the greatest moment in my life. It’s very hard to…It feels very surreal. It feels like an out-of-body experience.

“I feel like I’m back here watching this going on, it’s not really happening. So I’m going to really make sure I gift my thanks and count my blessings.”

Our MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith was on the ground at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to cover it all, and you can catch up on all the stories from an electric finale to the 2014 Grand Prix calendar in his Friday, Saturday, and Sunday notebooks.

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Bird was the word – and the winner – in Malaysia. Photo: AP.

While Formula One closed out its season, the all-electric Formula E got back to business in the streets of Putrajaya, Malaysia.

There, former GP2 contender Sam Bird turned in a stellar performance en route to his first F-E win. The British racer pulled off a sweet inside move on IndyCar vet Oriol Servia to take the lead early on, and post-car swap, he was able to efficiently use his power supply before returning to the point for good with five laps to go.

Lucas di Grassi recovered from a qualifying gaffe to finish second and maintain the championship lead by a three-point margin over Bird going into next month’s race in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Also rallying for strong results were Sebastien Buemi, who came from the back of the grid to third at the finish, and Jerome d’Ambrosio, who pulled off a similar drive to take fifth place.

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Kasey Kahne’s staying for a little bit longer at Hendrick Motorsports. Photo: Getty Images.

The season may finally be over for NASCAR, but the news beat continued to drum for the time being.

Headlining this week’s events was Hendrick Motorsports extending its contract with Kasey Kahne to the 2018 season. Additionally, Kahne will have a familiar face atop the pit box next year as Keith Rodden has returned to the 5 team – now, as its crew chief.

But with Kahne locked in for an additional three seasons (his contract was set to expire at the end of 2015), we couldn’t help but wonder what that meant for the future of new XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott.

Prior to the Hendrick announcements, the hole left by Rodden’s departure from the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team had already been filled. Matt McCall, formerly the lead engineer for 2014 title contender Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing, has taken over Rodden’s now-previous role as Jamie McMurray’s CC.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Harvick made the media rounds in New York to discuss his first Sprint Cup title. One of Harvick’s peers, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson, also said he was glad Harvick won while admitting that a Newman title would have been “tough to swallow” after the implementation of the new Chase format.

Finally, the sport lost one of its good ones over the weekend as Denny Darnell, a long-time PR representative that worked with multiple entities within NASCAR, passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)