2015 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

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Formula 1 heads to North America for the first time in 2015 this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix at a pivotal point in the championship fight.

Nico Rosberg arrives in Montreal as the in-form driver after winning back-to-back races for the first time in his F1 career, even if his victory in Monaco two weeks ago was somewhat fortuitous.

His Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship by ten points, but knows that he would be enjoying a 24-point lead had the strategic mistakes in Monaco not been made.

Nevertheless, the Briton has a soft spot for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as it was the site of his first grand prix victory back in 2007 with McLaren. Since then, he has won a further two times and has never finished off the podium when he has made it to the checkered flag.

The intra-team fight at Mercedes is just one of many storylines that will define this weekend’s race.

2015 Canadian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Thinking twice

After seeing a near-certain win in Monaco pass him by, Lewis Hamilton will be keen to fight back this weekend with a victory in his beloved Canada. Although he may claim that the race in the principality is behind him, it is likely that some elements of the defeat will still be playing on his mind. With a 60% chance of a safety car at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, if Mercedes were to make a snap call and tell Hamilton to pit, will he think twice? Then again, will Mercedes also think twice about any decisions Lewis may want to make? Time will tell.

Ferrari’s fightback

Having spent some of its engine ‘tokens’ for this weekend’s race in Canada, Ferrari could well be able to take a step towards Mercedes and perhaps challenge for a second win of the season. Sebastian Vettel arrives in Montreal off the back of a surprising second-place finish in Monaco, whilst Kimi Raikkonen is focusing on an improved qualifying display after struggling last time out. The power advantage may lie with Mercedes, but if Ferrari can make a step forwards, the Italian team could yet be in the mix this weekend.

Slim hopes for another Montreal miracle at Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in Canada last year came as something of a shock given Red Bull’s struggles at the start of 2014, but hopes of a repeat in 2015 are very slim indeed. The affable Australian’s victory came about last year thanks to Mercedes’ reliability woes, but this time around, if a repeat were to occur, it is likely that Ferrari and Williams would be the teams to pick up the pieces and claim a win. Red Bull is certainly improving, but with Renault admitting its engines will struggle in Montreal, this could be a weekend to forget for the team.

Verstappen gets back in the saddle

After suffering a huge shunt towards the end of the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen will return to his car this weekend with another lesson learned in his rookie F1 season. The 17-year-old has remained bullish about the incident, brushing off any criticism that has been pointed his way. He even suggested that Felipe Massa, one of his critics, should think about his own accident in Canada last year instead of pointing the finger. With youth comes bravado, of course…

Good timing, eh

The Canadian Grand Prix is a favorite for many of the drivers and teams within F1. Montreal as a city wholly embraces the race and gives it a great party vibe. However, perhaps the most positive aspect of it among our readers is the timings. After a string of early starts for races in China, Spain and Monaco, the Canadian Grand Prix is held entirely on ET, making it far friendlier for those in the USA to watch.

Timings aside, the action provided in Montreal is always entertaining. It’s very rare for there to be a ‘boring’ Canadian Grand Prix, and the 2015 edition should be no different.

2015 Canadian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Laps: 70
Corners: 13
Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello 1:13.622 (Ferrari, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2014 Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:14.874
2014 Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:18.504
DRS Zones: Casino Straight (T11 to T12); Main Straight (T13 to T1)

2015 Canadian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 10am ET 6/5
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 2pm ET 6/5
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 10am ET 6/6
Qualifying: NBCSN 1pm ET 6/6
Race: NBC 2pm ET 6/7 (F1 Countdown on NBCSN from 1:30pm ET)

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”