Motorsports Weekend Guide: August 22 to August 24

MWG Welcome to Hooniverse’s weekly look ahead to who’s racing what and where this weekend. I got a little long-winded in some of the descriptions, but people don’t really get upset with me writing too much, do they? You probably shouldn’t answer that. Anyway, make the jump to read about all the great series racing this weekend including these (and more):

  • F1 returns and I wrote too many words about it!

  • IndyCar season is almost over!

  • Global RallyCross at Daytona!

  • V8 Supercars have V8 engines!

  • And a few more items! Exclamation marks!!!

F1_Spa Formula One: Belgian Grand Prix (Spa Francorchamps) After its annual month-long hiatus in the summer, F1 returns in grand form at legendary Spa. With the 2014 car considered to have improved straightline acceleration, the top speed at the end of the Kemmel Straight could be significant with drivers basically flatout from the exit of La Source through the famed Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex and climbing up onto Kemmel. As for the drivers, only Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo  has had anything for the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who are 1-2 in the championship, respectively. The midseason break may have given Mercedes’ competition to come up with something to catch up, but only time will tell. Perhaps more entertaining news in F1: Max Verstappen (son of Dutch former F1 driver Jos Verstappen) will step in for Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne starting next year. Verstappen is just 16 (and will be 17 when he debuts), which will make him the youngest ever F1 driver. He makes a huge leap from the European Formula 3 Championship, where he is second in the championship. In more immediate news, Audi factory LMP1 driver Andre Lotterer will step into Caterham’s F1 car to replace Kamui Kobayashi at Spa. Caterham has languished in the back of the field all year, so don’t expect much, but Lotterer is exceedingly familiar with Spa if unfamiliar with Formula One cars. Though Kobayashi will allegedly get his seat back later this year, Lotterer will miss a round of the Japanese Super Formula season where he is doing well (see below). Website: F1 site. Spa siteEvent page. Supporting series: GP2. GP3. Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Live coverage: Sunday @ 8 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (TV).   IndyCar: Sonoma Grand Prix (Sonoma Raceway) IndyCar heads to its penultimate round after a dominating Will Power victory at the Milwaukee Mile last weekend. The grueling three-race, season-ending swing finishes next weekend with a 500-mile race at Fontana worth double points in the championship, but championship leader Power will first be focused on Sonoma’s rolling 2.52 miles. Power leads the championship by 39 points over Penske teammate Helio Castroneves and while a handful of other drivers are mathematically capable of winning the title, this championship really comes down to how these two perform. Castroneves has a tall task ahead of him: Power is IndyCar’s only multiple winner at Sonoma (three wins in the last four years) and the all-time laps leader at Sonoma, having led more than half the laps he’s run in wine country. Castroneves has won at Sonoma before, but Power will be the heavy favorite. The full list of supporting series includes the entire Road to Indy ladder and Pirelli World Challenge, holding its own penultimate round for the GT and GTS classes. Dyson Racing will run a second Bentley Continental GT3 to the mix at Sonoma while Scotsman Ryan Dalziel returns in an Effort Racing Porsche GT3 car after sweeping the two-race weekend at Mid-Ohio in his debut. If you’re going to the race, keep an eye out for a small parade of 24 Hours of LeMons cars on the track before the IndyCar race, something Sonoma Raceway curiously asked for. Website: IndyCar site. Sonoma siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Supporting series: Pirelli World Challenge. Indy Lights. USF2000. Pro Mazda Championship. (Road to Indy site) Live coverage: Sunday @ 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (TV). Live timing and streaming audio on IndyCar Race ControlPWC – Live on World-ChallengeTV.com on Saturday @ 2:35 p.m. ET & Sunday @ 4:40 p.m. ET.   Japanese Super Formula: Twin-Ring Motegi As mentioned above, Andre Lotterer will miss this round, which is a shame since he is currently second in the championship. His WEC rival, Toyota factory driver Kaz Nakajima, leads the championship while Lotterer’s Audi LMP1 teammate Loic Duval sits third. Super Formula is, in case you couldn’t tell, populated with world-class drivers practicing their craft. Strangely, the support series for the race on Motegi’s 2.9-mile road  course is Japan’s top motorcycle racing series, the All Japan Road Race Challenge. Website: Super Formula site. Motegi siteEvent page. Entry list. Supporting series: All Japan Road Race Challenge. Live coverage: No coverage in the U.S.   WRC_Germany World Rally Championship: ADAC Rally Germany For the very first time in World Rally Championship history, the Rally Germany will almost certainly be won by a car that is not a Citroen. Since its inclusion in the WRC in 2002, Sebastien Loeb won the first nine German rallies with Dani Sordo winning last year, all in the French factory-backed cars. Citroen has since pulled its factory support, though a small team or two still operate them. Volkswagen, who leads the championship by a wide margin, should feel confident in their chances to win on home territory in an all-tarmac rally that includes some incredible, narrow vineyard roads. Website: WRC site. Rally Germany siteEvent page. Weekend scheduleMaps! Live coverage: Sunday @ 6 a.m. ET on MAVTV. Live radio, streaming, and timing on WRC Live.   Rally America: Ojibwe Forests Rally With two rallies remaining, Isle of Man four-wheel record-holder David Higgins has already clinched the 2014 Rally America overall title,  winning all but one round this year. The Ojibwe rally winds through forest roads in Minnesota, including several state forests. As always, the Rally America entry list features some interesting one-off entries, all in Group 5: a 1991 GMC Sonoma, a 2004 Chevy S-10, a 1994 BMW M3, and, frighteningly, a 1987 Dodge Shadow (a not-too-distant relative of the wretched K-Car). Website: Rally America site. Ojibwe Forests Rally siteEvent page. Entry list. Spectator guide with Maps! Live coverage: No live video or radio. Delayed video broadcast October 12 @ 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.   Red Bull Global RallyCross: Daytona International Speedway While Rally America is off playing in the Minnesota dirt, GRC will instead tear up the Birthplace of Speed’s infield. The course will use parts of the interior road course used for the Rolex 24 before veering into the grass and sending the 600-horsepower mighty mites vaulting over a massive jump. Nelson Piquet Jr. leads the championship by a fairly wide margin (41 points) with five races remaining; a GRC championship would be a nice addition to Piquet’s resume, which includes races in F1, IndyCar, NASCAR, and even some GT racing. Website: GRC site. Daytona siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Supporting series: GRC Lites. Live coverage: Saturday @ 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (TV).   Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: Wild West Motorsports Park (Sparks, Nevada) Big horsepower, big jumps, big dirt. LOORRS is short-track racing for desert-racing chassis like those in Pro 4 with some lower categories. If short-track, big-truck racing is your jam, then you probably already know all about the Lucas Oil series. Website: LOORRS site. Wild West siteWeekend schedule. Live coverage: Delayed broadcasts shown every Sunday @ 2 p.m. ET & 5 p.m. ET on MAVTV or Sunday @ 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.   NASCAR_Bristol NASCAR Sprint Cup: Irwin Tools Night Race (Bristol Motor Speedway | Bristol, TN) With steep, short banked corners at the ends of long straights, Bristol’s half-mile oval is a throwback to the series’ short-track roots. The close quarters mean lots of action and they tend to produce fantastically close finishes. By the time you read this, the Camping Trucks race will have already concluded, having run Wednesday night (unless the rain puts a stop to that). In the headline series, Kyle Busch is a superstar at Bristol with an immense stack of victories in all three of the top series. Greg Biffle has driven well at Bristol historically but never won. With only three Sprint Cup races to qualify for the Chase, he’ll need a win badly. Website: NASCAR site. Bristol site. Weekend schedule. Supporting series: Food City 300 (NASCAR Nationwide). UNOH 200 Presented by ZLooop (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series). Live coverage: Saturday @ 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC (TV) and Performance Racing Network (Radio/Streaming Audio). Nationwide – Friday @ 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (TV) and MRN (Radio/Streaming audio).   ARCA: Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200 (Madison Speedway | Oregon, WI) The “other” stock car series sticks to the Midwest after a run at the Illinois State Fair’s mile-long clay oval last weekend. The half-mile concrete oval will find ARCA back on TV after a couple weeks without. It will also find current NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points leader Ben Rhodes in the mix while the K&N series has an off weekend. Website: ARCA site. Madison siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Entry list. Live coverage: Sunday @ 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network (TV).   British Touring Car Championship: Knockhill Knockhill is the kind of place you want to see BTCC’s take-no-prisoners style of racing. The Scottish racetrack runs just 1.27 miles with drivers clocking sub-minute laps. The course is narrow and relatively simple, but the monstrous kerbing means airborne touring cars after they clobber the red-and-white strips en route to the shortest way around the circuit. In the championship, BMW driver Colin Turkington leads by 20 points from Honda pilot Gordon Sheddon, once the privateer champion in BTCC. However, Jason Plato, catalyst for all things good and bad in BTCC, lurks just a few points behind in his factory MG 6. Website: BTCC site. Knockhill siteEvent page with weekend schedule. Supporting series: Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain. Ginetta GT Supercup. Renault Clio Cup UK. Live coverage: No TV in the U.S.; shown on ITV in the U.K. (See weekend schedule for times).   Event 05 of the 2014 Australian V8 Supercars Championship Series V8 Supercars: Sydney Motorsport Park 400 (Eastern Creek International Raceway) V8 Supercars haven’t run in a couple weeks, but when we last checked in on the Aussies, Mark Winterbottom was firmly leading the championship. However, the last round at Ipswich proved disastrous for the Ford driver known as “Frosty.” Two sixth places and a DNF were bad, but a mega weekend from Jamie Whincup put the Red Bull Racing Australia Holden driver a few points ahead of Winterbottom. The series now heads to Eastern Creek, an old standby with a good mix of high-speed sections and technical bits. More importantly for the points standings, this is the last race weekend before the three big endurance races, all of which are worth huge points. Red Bull Racing’s Whincup and his teammate Craig Lowndes have dominated endurance events lately, so a good weekend in Sydney is key to Frosty if he’s going to have a chance down the season’s stretch run. Website: V8S site. Sydney siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Supporting series: Porsche City Index Carrera Cup. Touring Car Masters. Australian GT. Radical Australia. Live coverage: No live TV coverage in the U.S. Races can be watched on V8 Superview (subscription service).   Tudor United SportsCar Championship: Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) IMSA leaves the top Prototype class at home this weekend for an interesting format: the GTLM and GTD classes will run together in a GT-only race for two hours and 45 minutes. Additionally, the Prototype Challenge class will run together with the Cooper Prototype Lites (usually a standalone support series) in a pair of 45-minute sprint sessions. VIR is deceivingly narrow and makes passing difficult, so expect dogfights in all the classes. In the GTLM points, some bad breaks for Corvettes have left both Vipers knocking on the door of the #3 Corvette’s championship lead. In GTD, 10 teams sit within 30 points of the title lead, held by AIM Autosports’ Ferrari 458, but Alex Job Racing’s Porsche team sit just behind them. With the class points leads so close together, a big shakeup seems imminent at VIR, where margin of error is slim to none. Website: TUSC site. VIR siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Entry list. Supporting series: Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Cooper Prototype Lites. Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Live coverage: Sunday replay @ 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.   Blancpain Sprint Series: Slovakiaring Blancpain’s top-flight GT3 cars will run a pair of 60-minute sprint races, each requiring a driver change within a 10-minute window in the race’s middle. Saturday’s race serves mostly to set the grid for the Sunday Feature race, but the racing tends to be good in both. Slovakiaring resembles a lot of new FIA tracks in that it’s not the most interesting in the world, but it does feature a large hill on one straight that occasionally lets cars get some air under the tires. I believe CBS Sports Network now carries live and in full the Sunday feature race. Website: Blancpain site. Slovakiaring siteEvent page. Weekend schedule. Entry list. Supporting series: Volkswagen Castrol Cup Poland. Suzuki Swift Cup Live coverage: Sunday @ 11 a.m. ET on CBS Sports Network (TV).   British Truck Racing Association: Donington Park Truck racing is everything we need in the U.S., what with the huge semis barreling around otherwise pristine and classic road courses like so many bison stampeding through an office building. The mayhem is barely controlled and if you believe the BTRA’s website, the trucks can accelerate to their top speed of 100 mph on the rolling start “as fast as a Porsche,” though they’ve cleverly failed to mention the type of Porsche. Nevertheless, as Hooniverse’s own Chris Haining will attest, this is true motorsports spectacle. There’s a distinct lack of coverage here, but if you’ve never watched any truck racing on  YouTube, go do that. Now. Website: BTRA site. Donington site. Event page with weekendschedule. Live coverage:  None in the U.S.   SCCA Majors Tour North: Grattan Raceway (Belding, MI) I’ve heard many racers tell me that the central Michigan racetrack is one of their favorites of all time. The two-mile circuit is incredibly technical and challenging with the absurdly off-camber Turn 3 a particularly daunting challenge. This weekend marks the final Northern Conference race on the Majors Tour this year. The entry list isn’t immense with 94 entries, but here’s something awesome: The GT2 class has exactly two entries, a Sunbeam Tiger and a Dodge Viper. Tiger vs. Viper, just I like drew it up in my third-grade notebook (with an actual viper and a tiger). Website: Majors Tour site. Event page. Weekend schedule. Entry list. Live coverage: Live timing on Majors Tour site or on Race Monitor.   SCCA_RallyCross SCCA National Challenge Rallycross: Great Lakes (National Trail Raceway | Hebron, OH) Here’s yet another round of the national rallycross challenge, which is basically autocross on a prepared dirt course. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Website: SCCA Rallycross siteEvent pageSupplemental regulations with weekend schedule. Live coverage: None.   ChumpCar World Series: Michigan International Speedway ChumpCar runs a single-day, 14-hour race on the interior road course at MIS. ChumpCar will once again share the track premises with the Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car Assocation with the remaining dates coinciding with Chump weekends, too. Website: CCWS site. MIS siteSupplemental regulations with weekend schedule. Live coverage: Live timing on CCWS site or on Race Monitor.   Did we miss anything? Headed to a more obscure race this weekend? Tell us in the comments!   [Lead photo copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Eric Rood | Other photos: Formula1.com, WRC.com, NASCAR Hometracks, V8 Supercars, SCCA.com]

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