Guthrie, Earnhardt voted into Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame

Leave a comment

Seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt and Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in the Indianapolis 500, make up the 2020 inductees of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.

The two drivers will be honored at the 2020 IMS Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Dinner on Thursday, May 21 in downtown Indianapolis.

The two motorsport legends were chosen from a ballot of 14 nominees by a distinguished panel of 140 auto racing journalists, participants and historians.

“Once again the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame voting panel has chosen two outstanding people who played direct roles in elevating the Speedway, both behind the scenes and in the public eye,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation Chairman Tony George. “Dale Earnhardt’s embrace of the Brickyard 400, especially in 1995 Victory Lane, further elevated the race as a premier NASCAR event, while Janet’s courage, professionalism and driving talent led the way for greater female participation in motorsport.”

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

A true pioneer, Guthrie became the first female to be assigned to a car on the Indianapolis 500 entry list in 1976. She didn’t make a qualifying attempt that year, but returned the following year and became the first female qualifier in race history. Guthrie finished ninth in 1978, which stood as the best female finish in race history until Danica Patrick’s fourth-place finish in 2005.

She was also the first female to ever compete in a NASCAR event on a superspeedway, competing in the 1976 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The following February, she became the first female competitor in the Daytona 500, finishing a respectable 12th. Later that season, Guthrie recorded her career-best NASCAR finish of sixth place at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Guthrie also earned her pilot’s license at age 17 and was a candidate for NASA’s space program before the agency made it mandatory for astronauts to possess a Doctoral degree.

Brian Cleary/Getty Images

Earnhardt made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 1975 World 600 but did not run a full-time season until signing on with Rod Osterlund Racing in 1979.

His rise to stardom was almost immediate. In his first full-time season, Earnhardt won his first race at Bristol Motor Speedway and was declared Rookie of the Year. One year later, in 1980, Earnhardt his first Cup Series championship.  He also won the title in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994.

The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native won 76 total Cup Series races, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt was incredibly talented at Indianapolis, scoring five top 10 finishes in seven Brickyard 400 starts, with a victory in the 1995 edition of the race.

Founded in 1952 as the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame honors and celebrates the achievements of an exclusive group of individuals at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The museum is located in the infield of its namesake speedway, and features one of the most extensive motorsport and automotive collections in the world.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.