McLaren chairman Dennis regrets Alonso’s comments on engine

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WOKING, England (AP) McLaren chairman Ron Dennis wants Fernando Alonso to stop airing his grievances in public following the Spanish driver’s latest outburst at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

McLaren is next-to-last in the constructors’ championship with 17 points despite having two world champions behind the wheel. Alonso is 16th in the drivers’ championship with 11 points and Jenson Button is 18th with only six.

While both drivers have spoken positively about the car’s chassis, this season’s transition to Honda engines has proved highly problematic.

Alonso’s frustration spilled over again at Suzuka, where he finished 11th, one lap behind the pace of race winner Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Button finished 16th.

“GP2 engine! GP2 engine! It feels like it’s GP2. Embarrassing. Very embarrassing,” Alonso lamented over race radio. Those comments were especially resonant as they were made on Honda’s home track.

“I think it was a somewhat misplaced message to make sure everybody knew where we were. But it was unnecessary, it’s my job to make sure everybody’s aware of that,” Dennis told The Associated Press on Thursday at McLaren’s Technology Center in Woking, Surrey. “I’m sure he thought it was a good idea at the time.”

When asked, Dennis would not say if he had words in private with Alonso, who has won 32 races and two F1 titles.

“What I did or didn’t say to Fernando is best left behind closed doors,” Dennis said. “Fernando and Jenson have vented their frustration. Not the way I would prefer it, but of course their exposure is very much to the technical side. I don’t think anyone who walks the planet would not understand their frustration.”

Alonso had made some choice comments before, notably at the Canadian GP in June. At that race, he was asked repeatedly by his engineers over the radio to save fuel as he fought to hold his position against faster cars.

“I don’t want, I don’t want,” Alonso replied. “Already I have big problems now. Driving with these and looking like amateurs.”

Dennis was speaking after it was announced that his team has signed a long-term partnership with sparkling wine manufacturer Chandon. The car’s new sponsor was unveiled to the backdrop of chinking champagne glasses – although Button did not indulge – and amid confident talk of a successful future.

On this season’s current form, even a podium place is a long shot and McLaren has enormous work ahead to bridge the gap with Mercedes and Ferrari.

“I hate losing and it’s a painful experience,” Dennis said. “If you sit comfortably with failure you are going to be a failure. I have no interest in failing.”

The move back to Honda engines had sparked enthusiastic talk of restoring the combination that ruled F1 from 1988-92. But the problems that started in pre-season testing have continued unabated. Alonso’s fifth place at the Hungarian GP in July is the best result of a season where he has retired from six races.

“Rapid improvement in terms of engine performance is just not achievable (this season), it takes time,” Dennis said. “But it’s over five months to the first Grand Prix (of next season) and five months is a lifetime in Formula One. Everything has been multiplied to make sure we are strong at the beginning of next season.”

Button, the 2009 F1 champion, has been with McLaren since 2010. But his last win came at the season-ending Brazilian GP in 2012, and his best result this season was eighth place at the Monaco Grand Prix in May.

Although the 35-year-old British driver has yet to commit for next season, Dennis believes he still has the best partnership possible.

“There’s no weakness in our drivers,” Dennis said. “The most important thing is to never change something in your organization unless you know it’s categorically going to be better.”

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)