This week has been packed with some great racing, but unfortunately was marred by tragedy as well. There were multiple events worthy of concern, and the community is again left reeling with the untimely passing of young gun Bryan Clauson. This was a freak accident that couldn’t really have been prevented in midget car racing, though I have not watched the video, and will not be posting it here, so I only know the details from IndyCar’s press release. I’ll put that below the jump. As unfortunate as that is, I’ll still bring you the rest of the news, but perhaps with a more somber tone.
Read along to see what good stuff happened this weekend. Summer is winding down a bit, and the racing is running to the end of the championships, so we’ll do our best to help keep your finger on the pulse. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! Oh, and in case you missed it, I am also hosting a new motorsport podcast these days…
Bryan Clauson RIP 1989 – 2016
Seat Shakeup In IMSA GTD
NASCAR Left & Right In New York
IMSA @ ROAD AMERICA (F**K YEAH!)
WTCC In Argentina, More Trouble Than The Olympics
GT Masters At The N-Ring
More News and Press Releases
Things You Should Watch
Things You Should Read
Below is IndyCar’s announcement on the passing of Bryan Clauson. He was a fantastic talent, and a student of the sport. He will be missed in the paddock.
Bryan Clauson was happiest when he was behind the wheel of a race car. In fact, the happiest day of his life may have been earlier this year on May 29, when he had his best Indianapolis 500 finish in the afternoon and drove a sprint car to the feature victory at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway that night.
Clauson, 27, died Sunday evening from injuries sustained in a crash the night before at the Belleville (Kan.) Nationals midget race on the half-mile dirt oval. Clauson was airlifted to Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb., but did not survive.
“This is certainly a sad day for the racing community as a whole, and on behalf of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we send our deepest condolences to the family of Bryan Clauson,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Anybody who witnessed Bryan behind the wheel of a race car can attest to his elite ability, relentlessness and unbridled willingness to race anything on wheels. While he’ll be remembered most as a legend of short-track racing, his participation in the Indianapolis 500 exemplifies his fearlessness, true versatility as a competitor and the pure depth of his talent as a driver.”
Clauson, a resident of Noblesville, Ind., was considered the nation’s top short-track dirt-car driver with four U.S. Auto Club national championships – two in sprint cars and two in midgets – as well as wins in prestigious events the likes of the Chili Bowl, Turkey Night Grand Prix and Belleville Nationals.
In the mold of old-school racers like A.J. Foyt, Gary Bettenhausen and Tony Stewart, eager and willing to race anything anywhere, Clauson set a goal in 2016 of competing in 200 races, including the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Driving the No. 88 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Honda for Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, Clauson finished a career-best 23rd in this year’s Indy 500 and led his first laps in the historic race.
Saturday’s race at the Belleville Nationals, where Clauson was the defending champion, was the 116th on his trek toward 200. He picked up his 27th feature win this season in the midget race Wednesday night at Beloit, Kan.
“Short-track racing has always been the heart and soul of auto racing in America,” said Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “Bryan Clauson combined his passion and enthusiasm for grassroots racing with a God-given talent that made him the favorite to win every time he got in a midget or sprint car. And he proved on the world’s largest racing stage – by leading three laps in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – that he could use that talent in just about anything with wheels.
“More importantly, he possessed a humility and character out of the race car that made him a person that fellow competitors and fans alike enjoyed being around,” Boles added. “His spirit, his positive outlook and his thrilling talent will be missed by the entire racing community. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are with the Clauson family in this difficult time.”
The native Californian earned a USAC-INDYCAR scholarship for winning the 2010 USAC national driver’s title. The scholarship earned Clauson six Indy Lights starts in 2011 in a car shared with current Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Conor Daly at Sam Schmidt Motorsports while Clauson continued to race in USAC’s national series. His best finish in eight career Indy Lights was third at Iowa Speedway in 2011.
Clauson won the scholarship award again in 2012, allowing him to make his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, qualifying 31st and finishing 30th. Clauson returned to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015, finishing 31st in the Indy 500 for KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing.
Clauson also served as a development driver for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2007-08, winning an ARCA race in 2007. He made 21 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2008, finishing second in rookie points where he teamed occasionally with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
Clauson is survived by his parents, Tim and Di, his sister Taylor and fiancée Lauren Stewart. Funeral arrangements are pending.
In lieu of flowers, or to make a donation, people may direct contributions to the USAC Benevolent Fund website at http://usacbf.org/cash-donation/ or checks should be made out to the USAC Benevolent Foundation in the name of Bryan Clauson. The address is 124 E Northfield Drive, Suite F #129, Brownsburg, IN 46112.
IMSA Seat Shakeup – Black Swan Racing Suspend Operations
Following the unexpected death of his father last Monday, team principal Tim Pappas decided to suspend Black Swan’s efforts. There is no word on a return for this coming weekend, or even for the remainder of the season. Our thoughts are with the Pappas family.
IMSA Seat Shakeup – WeatherTech Racing Parts Ways With Leh Keen
Statement from Leh:
Hate to announce that I will no longer be with WeatherTech racing. I have “No Comment” on the matter so please do not ask. We had a great run and I want to thank WeatherTech and AJR for everything! And I wish them the best of luck in the future. Cooper and I had some great moments and happy to have spent them with him. I have a little bit of time off now for my personal life and to focus on the keen project. Life is still good!
IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship – Road America
The Prototype Category –
The Mazda team had their strongest race ever, and still failed to make the podium even. They were the fastest car all weekend, sweeping every session until the race. They led away from pole, and dominated the early goings. It was an out-of-sequence pit strategy that cost them the lead, and forced their hand on a late race splash of fuel. When they rejoined the circuit in 5th, they stayed there. Meanwhile up at the front, strategy went the way of AXR’s Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, who have taken their second consecutive win here at Road America, Cameron’s third on the trot.
The Prototype Challenge Category –
Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon took their Oreca to victory lane with a huge day for them with massive championship ramifications. Kimber-Smith took over the lead on lap 34 and never looked back even for a second. The battle for 2nd on the podium, however got very hot in the closing stages, and saw contact between Renger van der Zande and Stephen Simpson. Van der Zande (the PC championship leader) came out worse of the two, and his car ended the day in 6th with minimal points. The Starworks car of Renger and co-driver Alex Popow saw their points lead shrink to just 7.
The GT Le Mans Category –
GTLM was where all the action occurred this week, especially in the final handful of laps.
Ford was leading at the restart with Ferrari in second and the #911 Porsche in third. Going into turn one, the Ford went wide and the Ferrari behind was forced to check up. Meanwhile Nick Tandy made a dive up the inside and briefly moved into the lead. As the Ford was returning to the track surface, however, it clipped the back of Tandy’s car and spun him around. Unfortunately he went from first to seventh in that single move. Fred Mako’s restart in the #912 car was less than great, as he fell from fourth to fifth, and was not able to keep pace with the rest of the leaders, allowing the Corvette through. The #55 Mazda prototype had some side-to-side contact with the second placed Ferrari, sending them off the track and plummeting down the list. When everything went down at the lead, Corvette slowly climbed their way toward the front, catching up with the leading Ford and making the pass at Turn 3 for the win. It was a surprise finish, and one that will be remembered, for sure.
The GT Daytona Category –
The Riley Viper dominated the race, and there’s really nothing else that can be said about that. Ben Keating ran his minimum time and kept the car on the island, then Jeroen Bleekemolen jumped behind the wheel and stomped all over everyone else in the class.
Here is a gorgeous gallery of photos at Racer.com for you to check out.
IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – Road America
Ford took another victory at Road America, though when you think GT350 Race Car, you don’t usually think ‘fuel mileage’. The end of the race was pockmarked with leaders taking splashes of fuel.
The CJ Wilson Racing car made the wrong calculations on fuel when they stopped with 15 minutes to go for fuel, and were forced to pit from a hard-charging second position to take on more fuel to make the last lap. That was a mistake boys, you can’t make those in *real racing*.
Charles Espenlaub tried to make his Automatic Racing Aston Martin last the distance, but they too were forced to pit from the lead as the white flag came out.
In the end, it was Billy Johnson steering his Multimatic Ford to victory ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen’s Muehlner Cayman and Guy Cosmo’s Cayman.
Also this happened.
NASCAR Sprint Cup – Watkins Glen
Denny Hamlin took the victory on Sunday, even while fighting with recurring painful back spasms. Carl Edwards was on the pole, and Joey Logano fought hard to come up just shy of taking Hamlin’s victory. The final bit of the race was marred with big wrecks and red flag periods, it was a mess, a dumpster fire, perhaps. And yet, WGI sold every seat they had, and have vowed to build new grandstands to fit even more next year. Hey ho.
Hamlin on his victory –
“It means a lot, I can’t tell you how disappointed we are that we didn’t win the first one [road course race at Sonoma where he finished second]. I just drove the best I could. I overshot the corner — but I didn’t do it this time. So I probably overdrove it and let those guys move a little closer than I should of. I hate to see the 78 (Truex) turned around there. They’ve been great teammates of ours.
Thanks to all the teammates that tested here — and obviously gave us a great baseline and a fast car.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series – Watkins Glen
Joey Logano took his #12 Mustang to a dominant victory on Saturday at Watkins Glen after leading 67 of the 82 lap race. Most of his time at the front was spent keeping Brad Keselowski at bay, until Keselowski’s car broke and gave Logano some breathing room. Paul Menard was making time in the final stages, and ended up finishing just 1.5 seconds back.
Cope’s Motor Explodes!
I have never seen a car react in such a way. NASCAR has impounded the car for further investigation.
Super GT – Fuji Speedway
Excellent race, especially in GT300. I set my alarm to watch the race when it was on, but I slept through the alarm and missed the race. Luckily the whole thing was immediately posted to YouTube, and I was able to catch it last night. THANKS NISMO!
The Calsonic Impul Nissan GTR took their first victory of the season with Yasuda and de Oliveira splitting the driving duties. The pair took their GTR to pole position, and got away from the grid in excellent fashion, stretching out a manageable gap and keeping their car at the front for the entire race.
There were incidents abounding during the first bit of the race. Hideki Mutoh had some sort of failure due to contact that saw him streaming white smoke. Bertrand Baguette, I believe had a tire failure and was forced to pit shortly after having just pitted. Then it was James Rossiter who lost his rear wing and ran straight off at turn 1. Obviously he lost a lot of time fitting a new rear wing in the pits.
GT300 class incidents caused a full course caution, and the Calsonic Car’s 10 second lead was evaporated. Going back to green, they got away strong, and ran to the finish to take the win.
The ARTA BMW M6 ran from pole to flag in the lead, but their domination was not quite so dominant as that shown in the GT500 class. Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi (both Honda factory drivers, apparently) drove in major battles with the Audi R8 of Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii for effectively the entire race. In the final couple of laps, Lyons was on a charge, and came up just shy, losing first by just 0.106 seconds. It was exciting. Give it a watch.
Katsumasa Chiyo had a mega shunt at turn one. It looked like a brake failure, but it’s hard to tell, as the video stream only caught the tail end of the accident. Luckily, Chiyo-san walked away.
World Touring Car Championship – Termas de Rio Hondo
Race 1 –
Tom Chilton and Sebastien Loeb Racing took the victory in Argentina’s round 1, Chilton’s first victory of the season in WTCC. Campos Racing’s John Filippi had pole, but Chilton stormed off the grid and took the lead. Tiago Monteiro also got a great start and jumped into second, but began to lose ground after fighting for the lead. Ultimately Rob Huff’s Honda came in just a second shy of Chilton, and Yvan Muller’s Citroen finished third, just 1.38 seconds back.
Race 2 –
Jose Maria Lopez took the victory in the main race, with a comfortable gap ahead of Tom Coronel and Rob Huff. This was the Citroen driver’s home race, and first win in 5 events. Norbert Michelisz took Lopez at the start, and Yvan Muller overtook Coronel for third. Jose battled with Norbert for a bit, until both Lopez and teammate Muller passed for the lead at the Turn 7 chicane. Good stuff.
GT Masters – Nurburgring
Audi pulled off a 1-2 in the GT Masters race this weekend, with Connor De Phillippi taking the win, splitting the drive with Chris Mies ahead of Florian Stoll and Laurens Vanthoor. The start of the race was dominated by a pair of Porsche drivers in Kevin Estre and Martin Ragginger, who were hounded by a quartet of Audi drivers, the winners among them. Ultimately the Porsche pairing was forced to finish 3-4.
Connor on his win:
“It’s a fantastic scenario to come back and take the win after our bad luck on Saturday. We have once again emphasised our will to win the 2016 ADAC GT Masters title. I’m obviously delighted with this personal victory, but equally pleased about a maiden win for our team in the ADAC GT Masters and, of course, the first triumph of the new Audi R8 in this particular competition.”
World RallyCross – Petter Solberg Injured, but Not Seriously In Canada
During the Canadian round of the World Rallycross Championship, Petter Solberg was leading the event when he was involved in a heavy crash at the finish line on Sunday. When Solberg crossed the line, he slowed immediately, as is the norm. Anton Marklund, who finished in 5th, had a peculiar brake failure after the finish line and plowed headlong into Solberg. Petter was taken to a nearby hospital, but was discharged quickly without further issue, and returned to the track for post-race celebrations, albeit delayed a bit.
IMSA Series Changes & Announcements
During the Road America weekend, IMSA had their state-of-the-series meeting and discussed upcoming changes to all of their major sports car championships. Here’s the cliffs notes.
- LMPC will be dropped from the WTSCC in 2018.
- Full SRO-Spec GT4 cars (X-bow and Sin R1 excluded) will join CTSCC’s GS category.
- CTSCC’s TC class will remain the same for 2017, but in 2018 will potentially be replaced by a TCR-spec category.
- The Prototype Lites class will move toward an LMP3 specification for next season, and will race in a “PC1” class, while existing Prototype Lites can continue in a “PC2” class.
This is all pretty exciting news if you ask me, and honestly a move in the right direction. Here is series CEO Scott Atherton to talk about it.
And Mazda’s John Doonan to respond to the announcements.
Things You Should Read
Robin Miller reflects on Bryan Clauson’s passing.
Indy 500 Winner Alex Rossi Has F1 and IndyCar Offers For 2017.
Canaan O’Connell, Son of Johnny O’Connell, Set To Make PWC Debut In TCB Chevy Sonic.
Rebellion Racing Cutting Back To A Single LMP1-L Car.
Audi Says They Can Build A Hydrogen LMP1.
Roman Grosjean Says He Prefer’s NASCAR’s Lax Track Limit Approach.
I report on Porsche’s Weekend at Road America for FLATSIXES.com.
Things You Should Watch
The full Spa 24 Hour race has been uploaded to YouTube in three parts. Here is part 1. When you get a chance you should catch this one. It’s awesome.
Hydroplane Racing is crazy, watch some here.
We’ve got a few Road Atlanta Onboards. Check out a lap in a PC car with Kyle Marcelli, or the Deltawing with Sean Rayhall, or the Ford GT with Joey Hand.
Here’s an interesting onboard, check out a vintage GT40 rally car running over the shoulder of the navigator, while the driver shoots inches from sheer drops and walls. Good stuff.
I hate everything about this video. You should hate it, too.