The NASCAR Cup Series‘ Round of 16 came down to a tyre war of sorts as multiple playoff contenders found their hopes of advancing to the next round impacted by flat tyres in the waning laps of Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. One particular downed tyre was that of Chase Elliott after contact with Kevin Harvick. Although his Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Kyle Larson went on to score his sixth win of the year, Elliott and Harvick exchanged words after the race.
Martin Truex Jr., coming off his win at Richmond, and Denny Hamlin formed a Joe Gibbs Racing front row.
Stages #1 and 2
Truex led the first five laps before Elliott took the spot and held it to the competition caution on lap 40. Larson battled with Hamlin for second behind him before Larson passed his ally on lap 84. However, Hamlin would become the leader on lap 91 and take the stage victory. Larson, Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Truex, and William Byron rounded out the top ten. All ten drivers were in the playoffs, while the six who failed to finish in that range were Aric Almirola (twelfth), Tyler Reddick (thirteenth), Alex Bowman (fourteenth), Michael McDowell (eighteenth), Kurt Busch (twenty-first), and Joey Logano (twenty-second).
Elliott suffered a speeding penalty between stages as Larson and Keselowski began Stage #2 in the lead. The former briefly led before the latter did so, though Hamlin was once again on top by lap 145. About twenty laps into the stage, Almirola’s playoff hopes took a hit when his car started to smoke, and he was eventually black-flagged. On lap 166, Ryan Newman hit the wall and caused a stack-up that collected Chris Buescher, Cole Custer, Daniel Suárez, and Bubba Wallace.
The race resumed on lap 182 with Larson leading. Anthony Alfredo and B.J. McLeod produced another caution on lap 219 with a wreck that also claimed Spire Motorsports‘ Justin Haley and Corey LaJoie, resulting in a red flag that spanned nearly eight minutes. Alfredo eventually retired from the race due to crash damage, which locked Elliott into the Round of 12.
Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat has returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since Silverstone in 2018 with victory in Round 19 of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Croft.
Moffat who took pole position on Saturday controlled the pace throughout the race including dealing with an early safety car period which looked to potentially derail his hopes but despite pressure throughout by Jake Hill, he wasn’t to be denied his first success in nearly three years.
BTC Racing‘s Senna Proctor continued his excellent form after returning to the championship by once again finishing on the podium after he got the better of Colin Turkington around the outside of Tower Bend on the opening lap, while his teammate, Josh Cook completed the top five after an initial incident with Tom Oliphant which sent the Team BMW driver tumbling down the order.
Ash Sutton wasn’t up with his teammate but banked some vital championship points sitting sixth, while Adam Morgan, Chris Smiley, Dan Lloyd and Gordon Shedden rounded out the top 10.
It was Dan Rowbottom that will have some work to do ahead of Race Two with incidents involving Oliphant, Ollie Jackson and Aron Taylor-Smith on three separate occasions ending his charge at Croft.
At WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca if you qualify well, you have a very strong chance of winning the race. Colton Herta knows that well after putting his car on pole in 2019 and did it again today, taking his second straight pole for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
At a track his father Bryan Herta made his name, this is Herta’s third pole of the season and seventh of his career. He is joined on the front row by his Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi, who will start on the front row for the second consecutive week.
Group one hit the track in the first round of qualifying including four of the top five drivers in the championship in Scott Dixon, Patricio O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden, along with many other competitive drivers. Shockingly, Newgarden did not have the pace to advance while all of the other contenders made it into the second round. Herta went fastest with Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud also transferring. Newgarden will start seventeenth.
Alex Palou headlined group two along with Alexander Rossi, Will Power and second practice leader Scott McLaughlin. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Oliver Askew went fastest in the session, with Rossi second fastest and Max Chilton surprising the field with a third place finish. Palou narrowly escaped elimination finishing sixth, advancing with James Hinchcliffe and Power. Some fast cars were among those eliminated, including Ed Jones and McLaughlin.
In the second phase of qualifying, Herta once again topped the session like he did in group one. Palou advanced in third, and O’Ward left time on the table after a moment in turn four but was luckily able do still advance. Dixon, who is looking to keep pace in the championship hunt, was eliminated, and will start the race in eighth. Along with the championship leaders, Rossi, Power, and Askew all advanced to the fast six.
Team Penske rookie Scott McLaughlin finished at the top of his first career NTT IndyCar Series session, going fastest in practice two for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey. McLaughlin was one of the fastest cars throughout a red-flag filled session finding himself consistently inside the top ten for most of the morning.
All four Penske cars found themselves in the top ten at the end of the session with Simon Pagenaud fourth, Will Power fifth and championship contender Josef Newgarden in tenth. For a long portion of practice, Newgarden, McLaughlin and Pagenaud occupied the top three positions of the scoring sheets.
The first red flag of the session came out within the first ten minutes of the 45-minute session after Dalton Kellett suffered serious damage in turn four. The red flag ate up 12 minutes minutes of valuable track time as Kellett’s A.J. Foyt Enterprises machine was rescued from the gravel and the tyre barrier was repaired.
Practice resumed with 25 minutes to go, as teams began their qualifying simulations on fresh primary tyres. Just like first practice, many drivers still found themselves going off course. Colton Herta, Takuma Sato and more all found themselves dropping tyres into the gravel across the session.
Another red flag came out with ten minutes to go, as Rinus VeeKay went off-track in the same spot as Kellett in turn four, his second offroad adventure of the session. Luckily, this red flag did not take as long as before and everyone was able to get at least one lap on the alternate tyres to gather data as the session went green with three and a half laps to go.
The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff grid and regular season championship were decided in dramatic fashion Friday night as A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric took their season-long battle for the latter quite literally to the finish. In a wild overtime, the two ran and slammed coming to the line with a sideways Allmendinger crossing it in first to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Noah Gragson, winner of the two most recent races, started on the pole and led the first four laps before Daniel Hemric took the position. Brett Moffitt, back after missing the previous week at Richmond with an illness, saw his return come to an abrupt halt and his playoff hopes disappear when he crashed after nine laps. Shortly before the competition caution, Justin Allgaier became the new leader and would hold the position to the stage win. Hemric, Gragson, Justin Haley, Sam Mayer, Allmendinger, Cindric, Brandon Jones, Ty Gibbs, and Harrison Burton rounded out the top ten.
Allgaier continued to lead for the early portion of Stage #2 until B.J. McLeod and Tommy Joe Martins wrecked on lap 104. Hemric re-assumed the lead for the restart and maintained the spot through two more cautions for Spencer Boyd, Jade Buford, and Matt Mills‘ accident (which resulted in Mills throwing a water bottle) and another involving Allgaier and Joe Graf Jr. Mills expressed his regret for the bottle toss, explaining on Twitter that he was “[j]ust aggravated” as he had “lost brakes going into 3 and ran into 52 (Gray Gaulding) and was trying to slow up and get out of the way cause the pedal was stuck to the floor and I get ran over by the 90 car (Boyd) who is 4 laps down.” By the end of the stage, Hemric led Allgaier, Gragson, Haley, Cindric, Allmendinger, Gibbs, Jones, Ryan Sieg, and Jeb Burton.
Mayer paced the field to the final segment start, and continued to lead across Carson Ware‘s lap 199 spin before Cindric passed him. Cindric led eight laps before Martins turned David Starr, likely in retaliation for the latter slowing him coming to the stage finish at Richmond and ruining his hopes at a stage win. Martins remarked on Twitter that he was “[s]orry I’m not sorry” for the spin.
Cindric continued to lead and appeared poised to pull away with the regular season championship when Mayer was spun by JR Motorsports team-mate Allgaier and collected Josh Williams with three laps before the checkered flag to set up overtime. The session began with a strong restart by Cindric on the outside line as Allgaier followed, while Allmendinger rode the inside. Contact between Cindric and Allmendinger coming to the white flag allowed Allgaier to force a three-wide battle and briefly spar with Cindric before more bumping dropped him back and into Riley Herbst, sinking his win hopes.
Mads Siljehaug will not be the only driver making his Stadium Super Trucks début when the series contests the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach next weekend. On Friday, Crosley Brands CEO Bo LeMastus confirmed Brandon Parrish will also race in the series for the first time. Parrish had tested a truck on 7 September.
LeMastus posted on Facebook, “CROSLEY SPORTS GROUP proudly introduces our latest team member for the Indy Long Beach CROSLEY/ Robbie Gordon [sic] stadium truck race, BRANDON PARRISH, he has endless 2 wheel championships and will begin his 4 wheel career at Long Beach ! WELCOME! And remember ‘ with age we need a cage ‘”.
While the trucks will mark his first time racing competitively in four-wheel vehicles as LeMastus indicated, Parrish is more than familiar with doing so on bikes. The two became acquainted when Parrish was a teenager breaking into motocross, and he would race in the discipline before switching to Superbikes upon turning twenty. He partnered with LeMastus, via Crosley, to form a privateer entry in series such as American Sportbike Racing, Championship Cup Series, Formula USA, and WERA Motorcyle Roadracing.
A former business student at the University of Louisville, Parrish became an insurance broker in 2003. He ended his riding career in 2007 to form RiderSurance, an insurance agency that supports the riding community. He continued to be involved in motorsport as a motocross team owner alongside Crosley in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
On 7 September, approximately two-and-a-half weeks before the Long Beach weekend, Parrish piloted a stadium truck in a test at series headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. He wrote on Instagram afterwards, “I haven’t had this kind of fun in a long time!”
Team Penske‘s Josef Newgarden started out his weekend strong by finishing at the top of the first practice ahead of the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey. Newgarden held onto the top spot for roughly the last 15 minutes of the session, the only Chevrolet inside the top ten.
Almost every driver found themselves in the dirt during this session including the likes of Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott McLaughlin, Rinus VeeKay and more as the drivers got re-acclimated to the limits of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Only one off track excursion brought out a red flag, Helio Castroneves went straight into the gravel trap following a lock-up in turn two with 18 minutes to go. Luckily, the Brazilian kept the car out of the barriers and practice went back to green with 13 minutes left. He finished in thirteenth.
One more red flag flew for McLaughlin that ended the session as he came to a halt on the Rahal straight before turn seven with only seconds left.
Colton Herta, the defending race winner at Laguna Seca, finished just behind his fellow American and had an off-track moment of his own at the very end, going in the gravel on the outside of turn nine. Herta managed to keep his car out of the wall and undamaged.
Mike Wheeler has moved from the pit box to the meeting room. On Thursday, 23XI Racing announced he will permanently become the Director of Competition, a position that he previously shared with his crew chiefing duties. Robert “Bootie” Barker will take over as crew chief of the #23 Toyota Camry for the rest of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Wheeler joined the newly formed 23XI Racing for 2021 after spending much of his career with 23XI ally Joe Gibbs Racing. Working alongside driver Bubba Wallace, the #23 sits twenty-second in the driver standings with two top tens and a best finish of second in the regular season finale at Daytona. He was previously the crew chief for JGR driver and 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin from 2016 to 2019, during which they won five races.
“Mike Wheeler has been a huge part of helping build 23XI Racing,” 23XI president Steve Lauletta stated. “From day one, Wheels has helped put this team together, with a focus on the competition side. As we move towards 2022, it’s important for us to put the right people in place that help continue the growth of 23XI to the next level. As we finish out the 2021 season, this move allows Wheels to focus on our overall vision for 23XI and allow Bootie to help Bubba and the #23 team finish strong over the final eight races.”
Barker last worked in the Cup Series at Germain Racing for its early history, with his most recent campaign coming in 2017 with Ty Dillon; incidentally, Dillon is technically the first driver in 23XI’s history when he ran the exhibition Busch Clash, while the team currently works out of the now-defunct Germain’s shop. A crew chief for two decades, he has seventeen top tens, three top fives, a best race finish of third with Dave Blaney at the famous 2003 Darlington spring race, and a pole with Blaney at Rockingham that year. Barker also has four Xfinity Series wins, all with Scott Wimmer in 2002 en route to a third-place points finish.
“Being a part of 23XI Racing from when it was just an idea, to seeing the plans come to life, securing our temporary shop and working to build this team has been an amazing opportunity and one I’m excited to continue as the team grows and expands,” Wheeler commented. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be back on the box this season with the #23 team and Bubba, but to be able to solely focus on the next steps it takes to expand to a multi-car team (with Kurt Busch‘s arrival in 2022), build a new shop and get this team to where it’s in contention to win each and every week is exciting for me and I’m ready to give it my full attention as we finish this season and move in to 2022. Bootie has been a great asset to 23XI Racing all season and with his experience, he was the right choice to step in and finish the 2021 season with Bubba and the #23 Toyota Camry team.”
Michael Annett will not make the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs, but for unfortunate circumstances. Hours before Friday’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, JR Motorsports announced Annett has re-injured his right leg while exercising and will skip the race; being the final race of the regular season and with Annett being too far back in points, he is out of postseason contention. Josh Berry will replace him in the #1 Chevrolet Camaro for Bristol.
In July, Annett suffered a stress fracture in his right femur while working out. He attempted to race with the injury before the pain proved to be too much, forcing him out of the #1 for Atlanta and New Hampshire, with Austin Dillon and Berry respectively filling in; he also had to skip the Camping World Truck Series race at Knoxville and was replaced by Chris Windom.
He returned to the #1 at Watkins Glen, where he finished eleventh, before skipping the next two rounds at Indianapolis and Michigan while he recovered from surgery; Chase Elliott and Berry served as his backups. Upon being cleared to race again, he ran the next three races. However, he hurt the leg in another workout accident.
Entering Bristol, Annett was thirteenth in points with eight top tens and a best finish of third at Road America (his final race before the initial injury). To make the playoffs, he would have needed to crack the top twelve (he was thirty-four points behind twelfth-placed Myatt Snider) or win the Bristol race. Despite the four missed races, Annett would still be eligible for the playoffs had he qualified as NASCAR provides injury waivers.
After running much of the first half of the season in JRM’s #8, Berry has taken up more of a substitute role; he replaced Kris Wright in the Trucks at Atlanta and Justin Haley and Corey LaJoie in the Cup Series at Dover due to COVID-19, and currently drives Rackley WAR‘s truck after Timothy Peters‘ departure. In eighteen Xfinity starts in 2021, including three for Jordan Anderson Racing, he has ten top tens, five top fives, and a win at Martinsville. He will join JRM full-time for 2022.
I just can’t wait to go racing again following a six-week summer break in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge since our last event at Snetterton. As I have been since the first event at Thruxton back in May, I start Race 1 at Croft (18 Sep) lying second in my maiden GT5 season.
Despite achieving 11 top-three podiums in the 13 races staged to date, I trail championship leader Josh Steed by 67pts heading to North Yorkshire. He first raced in GT5 back in 2019 so I have to be pleased with what I’ve achieved in my first year in the category in that respect but I want that title!
Briefly looking back to Snetterton, Race 1 was very disappointing. Having started from third on the grid, I was tagged into a spin when I was in second place. I recovered from 16th to ninth but it was an opportunity lost in terms of a bigger points score.
I won Race 2 on the road but there had been the slightest of touches as I took the lead which, unfortunately, the stewards decided I had gained from which resulted in a one-place penalty dropping me down to second place. I felt a little aggrieved, but that’s life sometimes.Credit: Will Aspin
In Race 3, which was wet, I started from the front row but dropped to fifth at the start. It was the first time I’d started a GT5 race in the rain and the car bogged down with too little revs I guess. Lesson learnt for the next time it rains! I got my head down and caught up with the leaders but had a moment at Turn 1 which put me back down to fifth again but managed to get third at the flag in another very close race.
It has been announced that Mclaren Racing will run an array of classic Mclaren Formula One cars this year at Velocity Invitational, the brand new motorsports festival which has been created by the same team behind the popular Sonoma Speed Festival. It will be held from November 11th-14th at the incredible WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The motorsport and lifestyle event will host a special exhibition of historic Mclaren Formula One cars, with the help of two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Häkkinen. Mclaren will be running some of their most famous and successful Formula 1 cars at the brand new festival, the thousands who will be in attendance at the event will be able to catch a glimpse of the 1998 MP4-13A, driven in the Formula One World Championship by Häkkinen and David Coulthard.
The 1998 car which will be run is in fact the same one which Häkkinen drove to victory at the Australian Grand Prix, an exciting spectacle not to be missed! Also being run by Mclaren are the 2011 MP4/26A and the 2012 MP4/27A both of which were driven in the world championship by 2009 world champion Jenson Button and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
This isn’t all though as a few very lucky fans will get the chance to be driven around the historic circuit in the two-seater 1998 MP4/98T, in what would be an experience of a lifetime.
Velocity Invitational Founder Jeff O’Neill is hoping the event will set new heights for automotive lifestyle festivals in the United States, and is extremely pleased that Mclaren will showcase cars not seen in a very long time.
The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team revealed some exciting news on Tuesday, that construction on their brand new 400,000 square feet factory and wind tunnel has begun, in what will be an eighteen month construction process.
Aston Martin Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll and JCB Chairman Lord Bamford attended the ceremony to reveal the plans to the world. The factory has been designed by Ridge and Partners LLP and is being project managed by Ridge, construction consultancy Gardiner & Theobald and the team themselves.
The team have been forced into building new facilities after outgrowing their current base, the team is looking to grow it’s current headcount too by the end of 2022 or by the beginning of 2023 at the latest in what are exciting times for the Aston Martin team.
The new factory which is being built across the road from the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, will consist of three buildings. One will be for the team’s design, manufacturing and marketing teams, the second will house the team’s brand new wind tunnel and the third will be to redevelop and house the current existing factory and work as a central hub for the team’s staff and logistic team.
The new factory which will be the first completely new Formula 1 factory built since Mclaren’s Technology Centre in 2004, shows Aston Martin’s intent in Formula 1 to become a leading team in the world championship. The team are also going on a recruitment drive, in the hope of finding local talent in the factories neighbouring communities.
Susie Wolff says the decision to bring in Lucas di Grassi in place of Norman Nato for the 2021-22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season was necessary as they need two drivers regularly scoring points to help them in the Teams’ Championship.
The 2020-21 season saw Edoardo Mortara fight for the Drivers’ Championship, with the Swiss driver taking one victory in Puebla and ending second in the standings, just seven points adrift of eventual champion Nyck de Vries. However, the team ended seventh in the Teams’ Championship as Nato finished only eighteenth, even with a win in the final race of the season in Berlin.
Wolff, the Team Principal at Venturi, says the team are looking to make further progress up the grid, and to do that they need two drivers in contention at the front of the field, and bringing in the proven talent of di Grassi after his departure from the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team will hopefully give them a better chance of fighting for both titles next season.
“Last season we demonstrated that we have a strong package, there were many highlights throughout the season starting with a podium and finishing with a win,” said Wolff. “Edo showcased to everyone what we have known all along – that he’s a World Championship contender.
“Moving forward to Season eight, Edo is joined by Lucas – a proven Formula E Championship winner who also brings a wealth of experience. They will push each other and drive us forward as a team.
Lucas di Grassi will remain in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for it’s eighth season after being announced to race for the ROKiT Venturi Racing team alongside Edoardo Mortara.
The decision by the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team to pull out of Formula E at the end of season seven left di Grassi’s future in the balance, but the Brazilian has been drafted in at Venturi to replace Norman Nato, despite the Frenchman’s maiden victory in the Berlin E-Prix.
Di Grassi says the Venturi team has shown great progress in recent years, particularly with Mortara being involved in the championship battle right until the final race of the season, and he hopes to help continue the progress when season eight begins in January in Saudi Arabia.
“Anyone who knows me know how competitive I am – driving for a team that I know can fight at the front and really challenge for the championship is essential for me,” said di Grassi. “ROKiT Venturi Racing was simply the best choice and I’m really happy to be part of the team.
“I’ve followed Venturi since Season 1 and I know that they have a strong history in Monaco. The team performed very, very well last season. You can see that the team has progressed a lot in recent years, the momentum is really there and they have shown clear improvements in every area.
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda suffered the worst possible outcome at their home Italian Grand Prix, with both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda failing to make the start of the race due to mechanical issues at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
The weekend had started promisingly, Gasly qualified in sixth place on Friday for Saturday’s sprint qualifying, whereas Tsunoda failed to make it out of qualifying one. The weekend from then on quickly spiralled out of control, Gasly crashed out of sprint qualifying on the opening lap and Tsunoda finished sixteenth.
This would be the last we would see of AlphaTauri on track at Monza, with both cars then retiring from Sunday’s race before the lights had even gone out.
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda Technical Director Jody Egginton, was very disappointed with the unfortunate outcome of the team’s home race but is taking some consolidation from the fact that the team’s car looked strong yet again.
“Unfortunately, today’s race was over before it got going for both drivers. Yuki reported a braking issue on his laps to grid which, as hard as the guys tried, could not be resolved, forcing his retirement. Then, a system issue identified with Pierre’s car early on meant we had to retire that car also. Frustratingly, we have not been able to turn the strong performance shown by Pierre on Friday into points here.