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BAJA Sports: What is happening in the auto racing world

December 18, 2011 Comments off

A.J. Allmendinger was released from his duties for the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports. Will Kurt Busch take over for the Best Buy sponsored Ford? Credit: Getty Images

NASCAR:

Richard Petty Motorsports has released A.J. Allmendinger from his duties in the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion. Allmendinger, 30, was the top driver for RPM in 2011, where he finished 15th in points after being on the cusp of the Chase drivers.

Allmendinger will find one of the hardest times to secure a ride for the upcoming season. After being released in 2009 by Red Bull Racing, he quickly was signed by RPM. In this case, it will be much tougher to find a ride for the driver who never was outside the top-18 in points for his second year with RPM.

RPM now is in the hunt, and, most likely, is the top-dog for former Penske Racing driver Kurt Busch. Keeping Best Buy as a sponsor at RPM is the most important factor for their company and Kurt Busch will be the driver who can fulfill Best Buy’s needs by getting much exposure and wins.

Tony Stewart, 2011 Sprint Cup Series champion, was voted the Driver of the Year award for the second time in his career, receiving 15 votes. Last won in 2005, Stewart, 40, beat runner-up in Cup points Carl Edwards, IndyCar’s Dario Franchitti, NHRA’s Del Worsham and World of Outlaw’s Jason Meyers who all received one vote.

The biggest surprise is why Sebastian Vettel, 2011 Formula 1 champion, didn’t receive one vote? Vettel, 24, was the top driver in his series without doubt with 11 victories in 19 events. His closest competitor was Jenson Button finishing 122 points behind eventual winner Vettel.

The IZOD IndyCar Series released the initial findings to Dan Wheldon's fatal accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. IndyCar will not return to Las Vegas in 2012 but with a possibly in 2013. Credit: Zimbio.com

IZOD IndyCar Series:

Dan Wheldon’s fatal accident investigation is over, and IndyCar has released its initial findings behind the lap 12 wreck that involved 15 cars in the season finale race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wheldon who died at the age of 33 was survived by his wife and two sons.

IndyCar has announced their plan not to return to Las Vegas in 2012 and had to pay their way out of the contract with a possible return in 2013. A third party independent firm was brought in to investigate the findings of the accident.

The 49-page report released by IndyCar says Wheldon was airborne for 325 feet before making contact with the SAFER barrier then the catchfence. He struck a pole on the outside of the fencing where the pole intruded the cockpit and hit the driver in the head. According to the findings, Wheldon his head twice, and the first blow was not enough to injure a driver normally. The second hit produced non-survivable injuries.

Formula 1 will race in Austin in 2012. The race weekend is set for Nov. 16-18. Credit: Mechanikong.com

Formula 1:

The United States will host a grand prix race for F1 in 2012. The Austin race has been announced it will be on the schedule in the upcoming season and has been granted a webpage on formula1.com. Its page shows a diagram of the 3.4-mile circuit. The date is set for Nov. 16-18; however, some information has yet to be released such as practice, qualifying and many other times.

The guess for number of laps is likely to be around 56, which is about 190 miles around the Circuit of the Americas.

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From the Marbles: Where is the talent: NASCAR or IndyCar?

September 15, 2011 Comments off

Trevor Bayne (left) won the 2011 Daytona 500 and Dan Wheldon (right) won the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Credit: Zimbio.com

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Dan Wheldon, claimed in an interview Tuesday IndyCar provides the most talented drivers and ‘far outweighs’ NASCAR.

When talking to the media, with IndyCar’s CEO Randy Bernard, about IndyCar’s season finale Oct. 16 at Las Vegas, he spoke about the talent in the open-wheel series.

“When you look at the depth of the field in the Izod IndyCar Series right now, it’s full of talent. So it’s certainly going to be harder to come to the front than in recent years,” Wheldon said. “When you consider the talent level of the grid, I think quite honestly, it far outweighs NASCAR.”

Really?

Wheldon must be talking about the “talented” field which has produced seven different winners from only four teams. Wheldon must not be talking about the series which has produced 15 different winners from eight different teams.

Without Weldon’s surprise victory at the Indy 500 this year the victories in the IndyCar Series would have came from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske Racing.

NASCAR’s teams include: Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Wood Brothers Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Roush-Fenway Racing.

Wheldon must forget about Tony Stewart, who won an IndyCar championship in 1999 in his rookie season.

Really?

Or Juan Pablo Montoya who won the Indianapolis 500 in his first attempt at the speedway and left to Formula One where he succeeded before NASCAR.  Or Sam Hornish Jr., who still holds the most wins in the IndyCar Series with multiple championships. Or even Robby Gordon, who nearly won the Indianapolis 500 in 1999 before running out of fuel in the closing laps while leading.

Wheldon must forget about the drivers in the series who took a crack at NASCAR who failed to compete in the sport they thought they could conquer next such as Hornish, A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Dario Franchitti.

Speaking of those four drivers, who did they drive for in NASCAR? Oh yes, Penske, Red Bull Racing and Ganassi. Teams who have proven above average performance and can compete for wins every week.

Realistically there are about three teams in IndyCar who can win every weekend: Will Power, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon. Which is why Franchitti and Power have combined for 10 wins in 15 races so far this season.

NASCAR is completely different.

The number of competitive teams in their main series is a number much higher than three. Hence, the number of different winners this season is the same as the number of races IndyCar has run.

Sure, it is unfair to compare the two auto racing sports. They are, in fact, completely different. They both produce absolutely incredible racing, hot tempers and fired up owners who want to win every time their car(s) burn rubber.

But there is a reason drivers from all other forms of motorsports such as Travis Pastrana, Montoya, Tony Stewart, Hornish, Franchitti, Jacques Villinueve, Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows and many others come to NASCAR.

Really?

It has the best drivers on the planet.

BAJA Sports: What’s happening in the auto racing world

March 2, 2011 Comments off

Over the past few weeks, rumors, breaking news and history have been made. So what is happening in the auto racing world today? BAJA Sports blogger Thomas Hitch talks NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, NHRA and AMA.

Jeff Gordon won the race at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday. He snapped his 66-race winless streak by leading 138 laps. Credit: AmpedUpMag.com

NASCAR:

The season is finally underway after two weeks have been completed and NASCAR has seen great results from the drivers and an improvement in television ratings.

At the Daytona 500 there could not have been a more unpredictable finish with the Wood Brothers taking their Motorcraft Ford to victory lane at Daytona for the first time in 35 years with a kid of 20 years in Trevor Bayne. Eddie Wood made a bold statement in victory lane that Bayne will be one of the greats of NASCAR’s future.

This past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeff Gordon ended his 66-race winless drought as he passed Kyle Busch in the final remaining laps to capture his first win in nearly two seasons. Gordon held of Busch and kept him from sweeping the weekend in the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series for the second time.

The IndyCar Series will race the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Homestead will no longer be a part of the series. Credit: NYtimes.com

IndyCar Series:

The first race of the season is now less than a month away and a lot has happened over the past few weeks leaving new drivers in new seats and veteran drivers left out.

Graham Rahal will be driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 38 sponsored by Service Central. Mike Conway will replace Tony Kanaan at Andretti Autosport where he will be considered the ‘second-punch’ to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Tony Kanaan will continue to look for a ride in the 2011 IndyCar season, after his latest deal fell through and was told to look for other opportunities. He has been rumored to take his veteran talent to NASCAR’s Truck Series to drive for owner Kyle Busch.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been announced as the series’ season finale. Not only is it a major announcement for the series, but another announcement was made for drivers who are not full-time drivers in the IndyCar series. To attract other drivers to race the finale, there is a $5 million prize for any driver to come from another series and win the race. This could attract the likes of former IndyCar champions Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Stewart, along with other former drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Robby Gordon and Scott Pruett.

Red Bull Racing will add sponsorship from Infiniti in 2011. Credit: thedetroitbureau.com

Formula One:

Formula One has announced they have canceled their season opener in Bahrain due to a recent political turmoil within the Kingdom of Bahrain. Formula One is hoping to reschedule the Grand Prix for a later date during the season.

Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be driving a NASCAR stock car provided by Stewart-Haas Racing in New York at the Watkins Glen road course sometime this summer as owner Tony Stewart will drive the F1 car.

Red Bull Racing announced its sponsorship with Infiniti and it has been announced a relationship through a ‘marketing and technical agreement.’ The official announcement will be provided at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday.

Larry Dixon broke the qualifying record set by Tony Schumacher with a run of 2.770. Dixon would be knocked out in the first round at Pomona (California). Credit: Tomkingaerial.wordpress.com

NHRA:

This past weekend the NHRA began their season Saturday at Pomona where Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) brought their team the victory.

Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon set a new qualifying record at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.  He ran a 3.770 at 324.98 mph where he took the top spot in qualifying beating Tony Schumacher’s previous record in time of 3.771.

Chad Reed and James Stewart collide in one of the final corners in Atlanta. Ryan Villopoto went on to win at Atlanta Motocross. Credit: Grindtv.com

 

American Motocross Association:

Last weekend the AMA began their season in Atlanta where James Stewart and Chad Reed collided on the final lap in a controversial way allowing Ryan Villopoto to steal a victory after only being 7th fastest in practice on Friday.

Stewart talked to Dave Despain from The Wind Tunnel on Speedtv.com about how he feels the AMA should take this incident into consideration in looking out for the safety of riders. He expressed his concerns on how the AMA should view this incident and distribute penalties because it was not his first run in with Reed, and Stewart has been ‘on probation for things not close to being as bad.’

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