Hooniverse Motorsport News For The Weekend Of April 30, 2012

Welcome to the Hooniverse Motorsport News. This weekend, a bit of rain ended some races prematurely and made for some exciting racing.  Elsewhere, desert heat and sunshine were the weather du jour.  F1 was on hiatus this weekend, and the American Le Mans Series is gearing up for a 6 hour enduro at Laguna Seca on the 12th.  Grand Am ran in monsoon conditions, IndyCar visited Sao Paolo Brazil, and the Sports Car Club of America ran their “Pro” series out in the desert at Miller Motorsports Park.  Elsewhere, NASCAR was running under the lights in Richmond.   This report is aimed at telling you what you missed, and what you will miss in the near future.  This round of Motorsport News will be filled with Gurney flaps, wickerbills, or spoilers…take your pick.

This week:

  • Virginia is for NASCAR lovers.

  • IndyCar goes for a Brazilian. 

  • Homestead is where Grand Am’s heart is.

  • Utah desert SCCA race leaves stands deserted.

  • A few for the road…

NASCAR Capital City 400

On Saturday night, a 400 lap NASCAR race came down to an 8 lap sprint to the checkered flag (yeah, we haven’t heard that one before.)  The late race restart was taken to the point by Kyle Shrub leading away from Dale Jr.  After pulling away from the restart, Kyle Busch proceeded to his fourth consecutive spring race at Richmond.

The win was Busch’s first of the season and the 24th of his career, tying him with his brother, 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, for 26th all-time.

Tony Stewart, the race leader before the fifth and final caution for debris in Turn 2, lost ground on the restart and finished third.
Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne.

The outcome of the race was effectively decided by the last caution, which Stewart said was called because of a plastic water bottle in Turn 2. Stewart was strong on long runs but uncharacteristically slow off the mark on restarts, and Busch took full advantage.

Busch’s saving grace came when the yellow was called, beating Tony Stewart off of pit lane during the final four-tire stop on Lap 388 of 400 and gaining control of the restart.

“I don’t know where that last caution came from, but it was our saving grace,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “It was a gift. We came down pit road and [crew chief] Dave Rogers and the guys went to work and gave us a great pit stop, got me out front.

It’s just my opinion, but when the winning driver and crew have no idea what caused the caution that won them the race, there is either a breakdown in communication, or a breakdown in management.

Itaipava Sao Paolo Indy 300 Nestle

Yes, that is seriously the name of this race.  Portuguinglish is strong with this one!

IndyCar made the executive decision to start the race in Brazil earlier by half an hour to avoid rainfall later in the afternoon.  Will Power was victorious in Sao Paolo, Brazil on Sunday to take his third IndyCar Series win in succession.  Evidently the change in timing of the event was no bother to the Queensland, Australia born racer.

The Penske  team driver started the race from pole (a commonly repeated sentence, as Penske drivers have taken each pole position this season) and appeared to be in control for the entire afternoon, even surviving a number of restarts due to a string of accidents behind him.  A damp track, overzealous driving, and a street circuit atmosphere contributed to the high percentage of caution laps.

The last of the caution periods came with just a handful of laps left to contest, forcing Power to defend against Ryan Hunter-Reay in the final dash for the flag. The margin of victory was 0.9 seconds.  Though, were you to watch on television, you would have had no idea as the commentary completely glossed over this fact and proceeded with dumb jokes, friendly banter, and ignorance.

Dario Franchitti had been on target for third but struggled in the final restart, allowing Takuma Sato to pass him for his first-ever IndyCar podium finish. Helio Castroneves also managed to pass Franchitti, leaving the Scot to finish fifth.

Grand Am Grand Prix of Miami

Daytona Prototype co-drivers Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli returned to victory lane in the Grand Prix of Miami, While Ferrari took their first Grand Am victory since the 2003 series finale in the GT class with co-drivers Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a race dominated by rain.

A number of torrential downpours left the track with drainage and standing water in various locations around the 2.3-mile circuit and contributed to treacherous conditions. With no sign of letting up, or any relief in sight, GRAND-AM officials ended the race at 3 p.m. ET, 52 minutes shy of its scheduled finish.

Angelelli started the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP from the rear of a DP grid set on points following Saturday’s qualifying rainout, but moved all the way to third before turning the car over to Taylor on Lap 21. Seven laps later, Taylor took advantage of contact between leader Richard Westbrook and second-place Enzo Potolicchio on a restart to take the lead.

Taylor led the final 12 laps run under green-flag conditions and another 13 laps under full-course caution to earn his and Angelelli’s first victory of the year.  It was the second consecutive win for the new Corvette DP program following a breakthrough victory last month at Barber Motorsports Park by co-drivers Westbrook and Antonio Garcia.

“It would have been nice for all the fans that are weathering all this rough weather, it would have been nice to get some more action out there,” Taylor said.  “But for me I was very happy just to take the yellow flag and cruise around.  It was very wet.”

Ferrari made a heralded return to Rolex Series competition this season with its new, GRAND-AM spec Italia 458 and it took just three races for the prancing horse to return to victory lane in GT competition courtesy of Segal and Assentato in the No. 69 FXDD Ferrari 458.

The victory also moved 2010 Rolex Series GT champions Segal and Assentato into the points lead by three points, 90-87, over No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 co-drivers Andy Lally and John Potter, who finished seventh.  One spin by either driver ended Magnus’ lead of the championship standings.

SCCA World Challenge at Miller Motorsports Park

 

This weekend, the SCCA decided to run a foursome of races for the World Challenge series, though not each class contested all four events.  The first of three races was held to only GT and GTS competitors, while the remainder of the races were reserved for Touring Car and the new Touring Car B Spec class.

Taking the lone GT victory was Patrick Long, of Belleaire, Fla., who returned to his winning ways of last season by stepping in to take Lawson Aschenbach’s place while he was needed elsewhere.  Long checked out for the Pirelli World Challenge GT win at the Privacy Star Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant, but the real fireworks came in a GTS finish that allowed Andy Lee to take his first series win.

Lee’s No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro entered the last lap in fourth place in the GTS class, trailing Kinetic Racing teammates Michael Galati and Colin Braun in the Infinity Audio/Kia Motors USA Kia Optimas and Peter Cunningham’s No. 42 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Braun closed the gap to Galati, and the two were battling for the lead on the last corner of the 3.048-mile Outer Course configuration when the cars hit, sending both off course, collecting Cunningham, and letting Lee race to the win. The crash was ironically named the Kia Turning Point of the Race.

“I still can’t believe it actually happened,” Lee said. “You don’t want to win a race like that with people crashing so I ‘m glad everyone is ok, but if you get it handed to you then you might as well take it. We need the points, we had a horrible race at Long Beach, and this is just icing on the cake to be here. It’s awesome.”

After the race, neither driver was sure what happened – only that Braun recovered for a second-place finish and Galati crossed the stripe third for Kia’s best finish in the four-race Pirelli World Challenge season.  A decent recovery from throwing away a certain 1-2 finish, a 2-3 finish is only marginally worse.

“My whole plan the whole race was to try and save my tires, so I was kind of sitting back there trying to keep within arms reach of the leaders,” Braun said of the race. “Michael did a great job all day and had a lot of pace. I felt like my strength was going to be sitting there being patient and make a run for it at the end. We kind of followed right along with what we were trying to do and had a lot of fun racing Michael there at the end.

“He got a little bit wide through one of the last corners and I got a really good run down the straightaway and made an attempt to try and pass him. We ran side by side through a few corners and then I’m not really sure what happened, we just got together and that was that. It would have been one of those things where, if not for a bunch of gravel and stuff that Michael ran through and got real wide the corner before it was never going to be a race. I thought we’d have a really good race side by side for the win and just missed it a little bit. It doesn’t take much of a touch and hooked the doors and that was that.”

Galati saw his 24th career Pirelli World Challenge win slip away.

A triple header weekend for TC and TCB was exciting all the way around.

Race 1

TC – Todd Lamb, Honda Civic Si

TCB – Jonathan Start, Fiat 500

Race 2

TC – Michael Cooper, Mazda 3

TCB – Jonathan Start, Fiat 500

Race 3

TC – Tristan Herbert, Volkswagen Jetta

TCB – Sage Marie, Honda Fit

 

A few for the road…

Sebastien Loeb won his 70th WRC event this weekend in Argentina.

Gary Paffett continued Mercedes’ winning ways with the opening victory of the new DTM series.

Casey Stoner denies Jorge Lorenzo a home victory in Jerez Moto GP.

Sauber Grand Prix has just inked a deal to form a “partnership” with Chelsea Football Club.

After delaying their WEC attack from the 6 hours of Spa due to a crash in testing, Toyota has announced that their TS030 HYBRID LMP1 challenger is ready to 

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