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Ryan Blaney wins controversy-plagued All-Star Race

The NASCAR All-Star Race has been a polarising event in recent years for its perceived gimmicks (some of which would later be implemented for points rounds) to compensate for poor racing. The 2022 race, held at the much-maligned Texas Motor Speedway, did little to quell fan frustration as an officiating conundrum befell the finish: Ryan Blaney was only metres away from crossing the finish when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked, creating a caution that resulted in overtime; despite lowering his window net for the cooldown lap and being unable to return it to the original location, he held off Denny Hamlin to win anyway.

Right before Blaney could take the checkered flag, the yellow came out for Stenhouse hitting the backstretch wall, though he did not receive severe damage. Nevertheless, NASCAR elected to call the caution. Under traditional rules, a race would end if the yellow flag waved on the final lap, but All-Star rules mandated it must conclude under green, justifying overtime.

Before the restart, Blaney took down the window net under the assumption he had won, but could not replace it in time and therefore continued racing. Such an act comes with obvious safety concerns, and Section of the rulebook stipulates window net fasteners must remain secured at all times (without the use of tape or zip ties) during a race. Despite this, no penalty was given.

Blaney quickly quashed concerns of having the win taken away from him by beating Hamlin to the finish in overtime. It is Blaney’s first All-Star victory and first for Team Penske since Joey Logano in 2016.

To little surprise, the fiasco was widely ridiculed by many, including fans and drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on Twitter that NASCAR will “gladly let you debate the window net so as you don’t reflect on how ridiculous that yellow flag situation was as Blaney was crossing the finish line to win.”

Scott Dixon Wins Fifth Indianapolis 500 Pole

Scott Dixon dominated qualifying to win his second consecutive Indianapolis 500 pole position with authority, putting up a four lap average of 234.046 mph, the second fastest pole speed of all time en route to his fifth pole for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

IndyCar’s “Iceman” was the last to hit a rapidly-cooling track, beating out his teammate Alex Palou and Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Rinus Veekay who make up the rest of the first row in second and third respectively.

“This is stage one,” Dixon said on pit lane. “Obviously it doesn’t mean nothing come next Sunday. We’re starting in the right spot, we haven’t had a good record of keeping it in the right spot, but we’ll definitely be trying come next Sunday.”

Ed Carpenter will start on the inside of Row Two in fourth place, flanked by CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kanaan in fifth and sixth respectively. Kanaan’s team made a herculean effort to put the car on the track after electrical issues threatened their qualifying runs.

Dixon was just as dominant in the Fast Twelve as well. The New Zealand native was the third car on track in the first session of the day and picked up right where he left off from practice this morning, as he set the bar high with a hyper consistent four lap average of 233.510 mph. That held to be the fastest ahead of Veekay and Palou in second and third respectively.

“We already knew he had a DRS issue” – Red Bull’s Christian Horner

Oracle Red Bull Racing lead the Constructors’ championship, following another 1-2 finish with Max Verstappen continuing his run of winning every race he finishes in 2022. The Dutchman also now leads the Drivers’ standings.

It was an enthralling Spanish Grand Prix, which did present Red Bull with a number of issues. Verstappen lost ground on Charles Leclerc early on after running into the gravel, but also suffered from a faulty DRS. This made passing George Russell virtually impossible later in the race, an issue which Sergio Pérez also found.

Eventually, with Leclerc retiring and both Red Bull’s finding their way past the British driver, Red Bull were left with a much-needed 1-2 finish. It wasn’t all plain sailing though with who would take the win, as Pérez whilst in the lead, was asked by the team to give the Dutchman the position. Pérez followed the instructions but informed his team that a chat was needed after the race.

Team Principal Christian Horner was extremely happy with the result, and was happy to see both of the Red Bull drivers working together. Horner also noted that the team knew prior to the race that Verstappen had a DRS problem.

“It is fantastic for the Team to bring home our second 1-2 finish in three races, which was hugely important for us in the fight for both Championships. Both drivers got great starts and things were settling down quite nicely, but a massive gust of wind sent Max into a slide and that dropped him down to fourth.

“A difficult beginning but a good end!” – Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen continued his run of winning every race he’s finished so far this season, after taking a dramatic victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Dutchman incredibly now leads the championship as well, after Charles Leclerc was forced into retirement.

Verstappen remained in second for the opening stages of the race, keeping Leclerc within distance. However, Verstappen suddenly tumbled to the the bottom end of the top five, the Dutchman went off at Turn 4 after being caught by a huge gust of wind that unsettled his RB18.

The reigning World Champion got his head down, and was quickly on the back of George Russell who was in second. The battle for second soon became the battle for the lead, after Leclerc pulled into the pits after suffering a power unit issue. Verstappen was met by his own gremlins, as his DRS malfunctioned yet again, resulting in a furious Dutchman.

Verstappen failed to find his way past Russell, who defended brilliantly. Instead, Oracle Red Bull Racing opted to put Verstappen on a different strategy. Verstappen pitted onto a set of soft tyres and hunted Russell back down, before taking the race lead when the British driver pitted again. Verstappen had the pace to open up a gap, pit again, then make his way past Sergio Pérez late on to claim his fourth victory of the season.

Verstappen was over the moon with his victory, in what was an exciting Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

Verstappen wins an eventful Spanish Grand Prix as Leclerc retires

Max Verstappen led an Oracle Red Bull Racing 1-2 as he battled to win the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

Sergio Pérez drove a fine race to finish in second position. George Russell finished on the podium after another fine drive which featured close wheel to wheel racing with Verstappen.

The race started under hot conditions with air temperatures at 36 degrees C and track temperatures at 49 degrees C at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Pirelli tyre choice at this race is the white-striped hard compound tyres (C1), yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C2), and red-striped soft compound tyres (C3).

Charles Leclerc was on pole position with Max Verstappen on the first row. Carlos Sainz and George Russell started on the second row.

Close to Perfect Weekend for Drugovich after Feature Race Triumph

MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich has completed a double winning race weekend in round four of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 season after winning Sunday’s Feature Race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and extending his lead at the top of the championship.

The win marks MP Motorsport’s fourth successive win at the Spanish circuit after Drugovich’s victory in Saturday’s Sprint Race as well as the Dutch racing outfit taking both victories in 2020, the last time F2 raced at the circuit.

Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan finished in second place after starting on pole position with ART Grand Prix’s Frederik Vesti completing the top three on his first visit to the podium in Formula 2. Following on from his podium in the Sprint Race, Logan Sargeant had another strong result in fourth place.

When the five lights went out, Vesti got the jump on the Hitech Grand Prix car of Jüri Vips to take second place at turn one. Cem Bölükbasi and Liam Lawson also had lightening starts as both drivers made up seven positions on the first lap.

After a promising qualifying, PREMA Racing’s Jehan Daruvala became the first and only casualty of the race as he suffered a power failure which left him stranded at turn seven of the track and brought out the safety car.

Martins re-takes FIA F3 Championship lead with Spain Feature Race win

Victor Martins took his second win of the FIA Formula 3 Championship season in the Feature Race in Barcelona on Sunday morning.

Roman Stanek led the field away from the line, ahead of Martins, Alexander Smolyar and Isack Hadjar.

Everyone made a clean start, with Martins wasting no time in getting around the outside of Stanek at Turn 1 and finishing the move off at Turn 2 to take the lead.

Zak O’Sullivan and Reece Ushijima tangled exiting Turn 12, as they did a couple of times in the 2021 GB3 Championship. The stewards deemed no further action was necessary, with GB3 champion O’Sullivan sitting 16th after starting 18th.

Ushijima’s Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate Rafael Villagomez crashed out on Lap 3 at the same corner after colliding with Kush Maini, scrambling the safety car.

Kyle Busch wins All-Star Race elimination qualifying

Heat races to set starting grids are not uncommon in motorsport. Nitro Rallycross and Formula E take it another step further with a one-on-one elimination format. On Saturday, the NASCAR Cup Series determined the field for Sunday’s All-Star Race with a slightly different approach: a four-tyre pit stop at the end of pit road and one lap around Texas Motor Speedway.

New for 2022, the starting lineup for the All-Star Race was determined using a bracket system that gave pit crews a bigger role. Previous All-Star Races also utilised crews such as having drivers make mandatory stops while setting a flying lap in qualifying or during the race, while the Pit Crew Challenge—in which crews made their stops before pushing their cars to the finish—was a fan favourite until its discontinuation in 2012.

Kyle Busch‘s #18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew proved to be the best as he defeated team-mate Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney to win the pole.

“This is a cool event,” commented Busch’s crew chief Ben Beshore. “A good way to showcase our pit crew and they did a great job. They put in a lot of hard work this off-season and throughout the year. They clicked off awesome stops there and it’s exciting.”

Twenty cars were locked into the All-Star, and the top eight in traditional qualifying advanced to the knockout round. Aric Almirola kicked off the experiment on an inauspicious note when he missed the green light to signal the start, causing him to fall significantly behind and William Byron to easily win. Blaney defeated Ross Chastain to take on and eventually defeat Byron.

Tyler Reddick takes maiden win for Big Machine Racing

Scott Borchetta can finally call his Big Machine Racing Team a NASCAR Xfinity Series race-winning organisation, even if the help of a Cup Series regular was needed. Tyler Reddick, in his second start for the team, took the lead after the final caution in a wreck-filled affair to win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ten cautions for crashes took place, knocking out multiple drivers like pole winner Noah Gragson, Sheldon Creed, Jesse Iwuji, Ryan Sieg, and J.J. Yeley. Iwuji missed qualifying on Friday as he was at an exercise with the United States Navy, leaving Kyle Weatherman to qualify his car, while Yeley had impressed by starting fourteenth in MBM Motorsports‘ best qualifying effort ever. The latter was caught in a particularly large crash on lap 137 that claimed six other drivers on the frontstretch, which turned out to be the final yellow flag of the day.

Reddick, who was in first prior to the crash, continued to lead on the ensuing restart while fellow Cup full-timer William Byron gave chase. However, Byron and JR Motorsports team-mates Sam Mayer and Justin Allgaier could not catch Reddick. The two-time series champion has now hit double-digit race wins, becoming the forty-fourth driver to do so and the second such story in 2022. Cole Custer, a fellow Cup driver, accomplished the same at Fontana in February; coincidentally, Custer’s win was the first for his owner Bobby Dotter (SS-Green Light Racing).

Big Machine Racing, currently in its second season of operation, had struggled to begin 2022. Despite a solid rookie season in 2021, Jade Buford struggled with a single top-twenty finish (eighth at COTA, which is to be expected out of someone with road racing experience) before Kaz Grala and Reddick replaced him; Reddick drives for Big Machine ally Richard Childress Racing at the Cup level. Although Reddick being a Cup driver means his win would not lock the #48 team into the owner’s championship playoffs, it obviously provides the spark that it had been sorely needing.

Race results

1248Tyler Reddick*Big Machine Racing TeamChevrolet167Running
21588William Byron*JR MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
391Sam MayerJR MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
467Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
5321Austin HillRichard Childress RacingChevrolet167Running
6518Ryan TruexJoe Gibbs RacingToyota167Running
788Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
81098Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord167Running
91316A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet167Running
103810Landon CassillKaulig RacingChevrolet167Running
111111Daniel HemricKaulig RacingChevrolet167Running
12754Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota167Running
132027Jeb BurtonOur MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
14419Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota167Running
152368Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
161951Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet167Running
171845Stefan ParsonsAlpha Prime RacingChevrolet167Running
182591Mason MasseyDGM RacingChevrolet167Running
193526Jeffrey EarnhardtSam Hunt RacingToyota167Running
202478Josh WilliamsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
21298David StarrSS-Green Light RacingFord167Running
222631Myatt SniderJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet167Running
232707Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingFord167Running
24224Bayley CurreyJD MotorsportsChevrolet167Running
253638C.J. McLaughlinRSS RacingFord166Running
26212Sheldon CreedRichard Childress RacingChevrolet166Running
273313Timmy Hill*MBM MotorsportsToyota166Running
283035Patrick EmerlingEmerling-Gase MotorsportsChevrolet164Running
291602Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsChevrolet148Track Bar
302844Ryan EllisAlpha Prime RacingChevrolet146Accident
311466J.J. YeleyMBM MotorsportsFord137Accident
323723Anthony AlfredoOur MotorsportsChevrolet137Accident
333236Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet137Accident
341734Jesse IwujiJesse Iwuji MotorsportsChevrolet137Accident
351239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord129Accident
3619Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet95Accident
37345Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet87Accident
38316Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet21Engine
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff pleased with season-best qualifying result in Spain: “I think we have made a solid step forward this weekend”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff believed the team made the most of qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix, with George Russell in fourth and Lewis Hamilton in sixth. 

“P4 and P6 are probably the best positions we could have expected to slot into today, given the challenges we have faced in the first five race weekends, and the progress we are now starting to make with the car.”

Wolff said that, unlike their competitors, the team had shifted their focus to solving the bouncing issue before pursuing further development. Now that they have a handle on the porpoising, Wolff is confident that the team can move forward and shrink their gap to the front. 

“Overall, I think we have made a solid step forward this weekend, and we know how to unlock more performance, too. Our rivals have continued development while we have paused to solve the bouncing – so when we pick that up and start to better understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone, then I think we will be closing them down.”

Wolff said that W13 is better suited to the race rather than qualifying, which may play a role in their ability to defend their position or even move up the order. 

“Our car tends to be stronger in the race” – Alfa Romeo’s Frédéric Vasseur

Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN are looking strong ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, despite a mixed qualifying result. Valtteri Bottas performed brilliantly to qualify in seventh, whilst Guanyu Zhou could only manage fifteenth.

Bottas ended Saturday as ‘best of the rest’, and did well to recover from a disappointing Friday. The Finnish driver has a great chance at scoring some big points during the Grand Prix, where overtaking looks set to be a challenge.

Zhou had the pace to qualify better than he did, however, the Chinese driver didn’t have a new set of soft tyres to use in Qualifying 2, having used all his fresh sets during the opening part of qualifying. Despite this, Zhou has got the pace to battle for points on Sunday, if he can work his way through the midfield.

Alfa Romeo Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur, is confident that points can be scored by both drivers during the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

“The team bounced back really strongly from a challenging Friday, and this clearly shows we are not letting any adversity get in the way of our work. On this day, P7 on the grid was the best possible result and Valtteri delivered an impressive lap to bring home this result.

“The gap to the cars in front is not that big!” – Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas has a great chance of scoring some strong points at the Spanish Grand Prix, after qualifying in seventh-place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

After missing out on some Friday running due to a technical fault, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN driver made strong progress throughout Saturday, and fully deserved his seventh-place start. Bottas qualified as ‘best of the rest’, with the three main teams locking-out the top six. Bottas claimed seventh spot with a 1:19.608, nine-tenths behind polesitter Charles Leclerc.

Bottas is delighted with his performance, especially as he predicts overtaking to be difficult during the race.

“I am happy about today’s result, we had a strong qualifying and we are in a really good place for tomorrow. In theory, we didn’t expect this track to suit us too well, but I think the upgrades gave us a good step forward in terms of performance. We had a solid FP3, which allowed us to make up some of the ground we lost yesterday, and we were quite consistent in each run throughout the day.

“I am glad we qualified well as I don’t think it will be easy to overtake on this track: I think P7 was the best result we could get today so I am happy we have achieved it – actually, the gap to the cars in front is not that big! Our car is usually better in the race, so we could be in for a good Sunday.”

Charles Leclerc: “I’m very happy with my lap and our performance in general”

Charles Leclerc recovered from a spin early in Q3 to take a fourth pole position of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Saturday.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver was left with a lot of work to do in his final run after losing control of his F1-75 at the chicane on his first run, the spin ending his chance of putting in a lap time.

However, he recovered well to snatch top spot away from Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to secure career pole number thirteen, and he goes into Sunday’s race confident of a third victory of the season after strong long-run pace in final practice.

Ferrari struggled with their tyres over the longer runs on Friday, so Leclerc was happy with the progress they made as they look to beat Verstappen on Sunday.

“We really turned things around since yesterday and our team did an amazing job,” said Leclerc. “We struggled a lot in the first two practice sessions this weekend, especially with the tyres.

“It’s our best qualifying position as a team this season” – George Russell

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s George Russell qualified fourth ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix— his best qualifying result this season. He did, however, believe that there was even more performance to be found, as his tyres weren’t in optimal condition for his final run.  

“Today was a good step in the right direction. It’s our best qualifying position as a team this season, ahead of one Red Bull, and a positive session for us as we’ve finally got a good baseline. The pace gap to Ferrari on pole is still big, but there was more potential for us, too – the tyres were not in a perfect window and that made it tricky, especially in Q3.”

Russell predicted that he will be in a “better place” on race day, and is unsure of how surrounding cars will fare in comparison. Ultimately, he was pleased that the team found a “good baseline” that they can further improve upon as the season continues. 

“There’s a long race ahead tomorrow and I think we’ll be in a better place then – while some of the cars around us are a bit of an unknown. And on the development, we’ve finally now got a good baseline, and we need to continue this path and find more performance.”

“We are getting closer to the front” – Lewis Hamilton

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the improvement in performance the cars have shown this race weekend, which has translated in another step “closer to the front” with both Mercedes reaching Q3. 

Drugovich Holds off Iwasa for Sprint Race Win in Barcelona

Felipe Drugovich took the lead of Saturday’s Sprint Race at turn one of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and never looked back on the way to his second victory of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 championship which bumps the Brazilian up into the top spot of the championship standings.

The MP Motorsport driver held off the DAMS rookie, Ayumu Iwasa, for the entirety of the race with the Red Bull junior glued to the back of him as he took the first podium of his Formula 2 career.

Drugovich was booted out of reverse grid pole due to a three-place grid penalty for impeding his championship rival Théo Pourchaire in Friday evening’s qualifying session.

This put Trident’s Calan Williams into the front spot of the grid which was the cause of early dramatics when the young Australian stalled at the start of the formation lap and was forced to start from the pit-lane..

Now starting from fourth on the grid, Drugovich benefited from the empty grid position as he powered past Jake Hughes and Pourchaire when the five lights went out to start the race. In the post race interview, Drugovich said,