NASCAR back at dirt track for 1st time since ’70

NASCAR is set for an off-road detour through the dirt.

The Truck Series is headed for the Eldora Speedway half-mile dirt track for a one-night only special designed to reconnect NASCARwith its early roots and give fans raised on asphalt and stock cars a taste of the wild races run in the dust.

The last time one of NASCAR’s top touring series competed on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970, when Richard Petty won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (called the Grand National Division at that time) race at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

The dirt drought ends when the trucks race Wednesday night at Tony Stewart-owned Eldora in Rossburg, Ohio.

Stewart, still a regular on the weeknight racing circuit, has naturally become a big booster of NASCAR’s return to dirt. Most of the field drove their first Eldora laps at Tuesday’s practice.

”It’s a neat facility,” Stewart said. ”It’s well lit, it’s a wide racetrack, it gives you a lot of options of where you can go and what you can do. I think it gives those guys an opportunity. The practice day on Tuesday should help a lot of those teams be able to get acclimated before they come back to the track on Wednesday.”

Eldora’s grandstands are sold out for the 9:30 p.m. ET race, even as some of the series’ biggest winners, like Kyle Busch, are sitting out. Ryan Newman and Dave Blaney are the only Cup drivers in the field. The race will feature a handful of so-called ringers, such as Scott Bloomquist, a member of the National Dirt Track Hall of Fame with more than 500 victories in a lengthy career. The 49-year-old Bloomquist is set to make his NASCAR debut driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

”It’s going to be something different I’m sure, but it’s a race car and I’ve driven a lot of race cars,” he said. ”Never a truck, but it’s still a race car.”

The race also gets a twist on qualifying. There are five, eight-lap qualifying events and a 15-lap last-chance race to come up with the 30 competitors (regularly 36 in the series) who will start the 150-lap Mudsummer Classic. Because there is no pit road, the race is broken into three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps.

Trucks driver James Buescher raved about Eldora after he tested there.

”It was a lot more fun than I expected it to be,” he said. ”It’s definitely going to be interesting when we get 30 trucks on the track at the same time in tight quarters like that. It’s going to be an action-packed race. I just hope there’s not too many cautions.”

It could happen. After all, the trucks weren’t built to race on dirt, so some adjustments were needed.

The Goodyear dirt tire has been widened from 10 to 11 inches to provide a larger contact patch with the track and give the trucks more grip. While the Eldora right-side tire will basically remain the same height as a NASCAR tire run on asphalt tracks, the left-side is 3 inches shorter (85.8 inches) to build in more stagger, which will help the trucks turn better.

The trucks will be fitted for mesh shields and hood deflectors to hold off debris kicked up from the muck.

The drivers who know how to get dirty are the easy favorites.

Kyle Larson, pegged as NASCAR’s next big star, is one of the few drivers with experience on the dirt oval. Larson is one of only two drivers to sweep the USAC Four Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway. Larson also won in the USAC Midgets in 2012.

There’s a reason this track was selected for him to make his second Truck Series start of the season.

”I have been looking forward to this race for a really long time,” he said. ”I’ve had a lot of fun racing at Eldora and have had quite a bit of success, so I am excited to get back. I can’t wait to see how the trucks run there.”

Even with the lengthy gap between NASCAR dirt races, fans and drivers are buzzing over the race, a rarity in a series that often runs in front of mostly empty grandstands as a support race in a Sprint Cup weekend.

But a big crowd, big ratings and a great race could go far in making an Eldora a regular stop on the Truck Series circuit – and maybe make stock car racing there a reality.

”If it has incredible success, who knows how far this could go?” driver Kenny Wallace said. ”You could put the Nationwide Series there. One thing I always remind people of – and I race dirt all over the United States – this is where Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman came from. Three quarters of the field in Sprint Cup came from dirt tracks just like Eldora. I think this is a really good deal.”

The race comes six weeks after the death of NASCAR driver Jason Leffler on a dirt track in New Jersey. State police say a mechanical problem was to blame for the spinout that ended with Leffler’s car slamming into a concrete wall.

The 37-year-old Long Beach, Calif., native was a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series and a one-time winner in the Truck Series.

Daniel Ricciardo plays down spin in Silverstone testing

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo minimised the importance of an off-track moment on what was effectively an audition for a seat with Red Bull in 2014.

The Australian, who races for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, lost the car at Silverstone’s Luffield corner on his seventh lap of a test on Thursday.

“I had a small off, but otherwise it was a trouble-free day. The off was my mistake; I lost the rear,” he said.

The 24-year-old added: “I drove to my ability and did what I could.”

Ricciardo set the third-fastest time of the day in his afternoon’s running in the Red Bull. He also set the quickest lap, behind the wheel of his regular Toro Rosso in the morning, when he was 0.215 seconds quicker than he was in the Red Bull.

The second-fastest driver was another Red Bull junior, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, also in the Toro Rosso.

Sainz, who races in the GP3 feeder series, took over the car from Ricciardo in the afternoon and was 0.044secs slower.

Ricciardo said: “It was a good opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience two different beasts.

“In terms of the inevitable speculation, I think this test is something for Red Bull to look at, but there’s still the rest of the season with Toro Rosso to do, so I’ll switch my focus back to that and won’t get too caught up in any rumours.”

Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa,  who races in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and is a possibility for a seat at Toro Rosso next season, drove the Red Bull in the morning and was 0.771secs slower

than Ricciardo managed later on.

The headline lap times are not necessarily an accurate comparison of relative pace because it is impossible to know the specifications in which the teams run the cars, with fuel loads, tyre choice and a number of other factors all having a significant effect on performance.

The ‘young-driver’ test has that name because rules state only drivers who have competed in no more than two grands prix may take part.

However, it is a misnomer this year because race drivers have been allowed to feature, under strictly controlled conditions, so they can try out a new type of tyre introduced by supplier Pirelli.

The Italian company has changed the design of the tyre in an attempt to prevent the multiple blow-outs that were experienced at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last month.

So far at the test there have been no problems with the tyres, which are being used by all drivers.

Among the hopefuls to get an outing in a Formula 1 car were Britons James Calado, who races in GP2, and Oliver Turvey, a McLaren test driver.

Calado set the sixth-fastest time of the day in his Force India.

He said: “It has been fantastic to get an opportunity to drive this week. It’s another world compared to what I am used to with so much to learn.”

Turvey was just ahead of him in fifth place in the McLaren, in which Dane Kevin Magnussen set the fastest time of the first day of the test on Wednesday.

Brawn aware of Mercedes limitations as Hamilton prepares for hot Hungarian test

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is under no illusion of the problems his marque face in this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix in a bid to head into Formula One’s summer break on a high.

Searing temperatures are expected over Budapest, with the early race-day forecast predicting 36C, the kind of conditions the Mercedes’ duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg cannot cope with.

Where there is heat there is high tyre degradation on the Mercedes cars during a grand prix, which has undermined the team’s sizzling qualifying form as Hamilton and Rosberg have taken six of the last seven pole positions between them.

Add in the fact Mercedes were banned from last week’s young driver test at Silverstone where Pirelli’s new range of tyres were analysed by the other 10 teams, and the Brackley-based marque heads to the Hungaroring on the backfoot.

Following a number of high-speed blowouts during the British Grand Prix, Pirelli was forced to revise its rubber which means from this weekend last season’s construction is now married to this year’s compounds.

Mercedes, after conducting a private test with Pirelli in Barcelona in May which resulted in their ban, only have data given to them by the Italian manufacturer from the young driver test to fall back on.

Appreciating the difficulties, Brawn said: ‘The final race before the summer break is always a milestone for the team and an opportunity to review our performance before our staff enjoy a well-deserved break during the summer shutdown.

‘Our team are currently second in the constructors’ championship with two race wins to date.

‘However, the season has not been without its challenges and we have had some very tough races.

‘This happens over the course of a season and you have to take the highs and lows and find your path to making improvements.

‘Both Nico and Lewis have visited the factory in the two weeks since we returned from Germany and everyone has been working very hard to investigate our tyre sensitivities ahead of the elevated temperatures we will undoubtedly experience this weekend in Budapest.

‘Friday will also be our first opportunity to work with the new tyres on our car, so we have a great deal to learn in a short space of time.

‘We want to finish the first half of the season on a high, but the challenge facing us is clear.’ 

For Hamilton, the fact he has failed to yet win for Mercedes in his debut campaign, whilst Rosberg has taken the chequered flag twice, is irksome.

But the 28-year-old has a superb record in Hungary, winning on three occasions in his six years in F1, and there is an obvious eagerness to improve on that record.

But like Brawn, Hamilton recognises that is easier said than done.

‘It is an important weekend for us, and we need to get off to a good start on Friday when we have the chance to try the new tyres for the first time,’ said Hamilton.

‘I’ve spent some time at the factory since we returned from Germany and I know everyone is working really hard to improve our overall performance and to address the issues we experienced at the last race.

‘It would be great to reward all of that effort with a strong weekend in Budapest, and I’ll certainly be pushing to make that happen.

Future related, Crutchlow Five Team Approach

Cal Crutchlow. (Foto: Getty Images)

CALIFORNIA – Cal Crutchlow said that he would not be too hasty in making a decision about his future in MotoGP next season. Although, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider was approaching five teams.

Crutchlow are confident that the results on the mat finish seventh MotoGP race at Laguna Seca United States did not change everything. Because the performance is currently still making interest other teams to sign him.

“I think we were at Laguna Seca result does not change anything about my future. Thing is clear so far I always go faster and be a tough challenge rivals. Though the race at Laguna Seca goes bad, it is not changing anything,” he said.

Drivers who currently lie fifth MotoGP standings states would take a decision after Indianapolis MotoGP title, next August. Although, he admitted that he is negotiating with five teams.

“I’m not going to rush to make a decision and I’m also not going to make any decisions at Indy. I still need time to think about it. I was talking with five teams, and not just from this championship. So we’ll see,” he said as Crash reported.

British rider claimed it wanted to move to a factory team in order to achieve maximum results. Ducati itself be the strongest candidate for him, following the departure of Nicky Hayden certainty to the Superbike arena.

Rossi Break Alex Barros Record in Assen

Valentino Rossi apparently reached a new record after winning the MotoGP Netherlands, on June 29, 2013. The Doctor became the oldest active riders capable of winning the Grand Prix series of primary classes.

After more than two years of famine victory in MotoGP, Rossi ultimately successful victory in MotoGP 2013. Success in Circuit Assen is a 80th victory of the Italian racer in the primary classroom Grand Prix (500cc and MotoGP).

However, the official website launch MotoGP, Rossi has also created a new record in the Grand Prix event. The Yamaha rider became the oldest active rider capable of winning the Grand Prix series of primary classes. Rossi beat the record of former Brazilian driver, Alex Barros.

Rossi’s first win in the primary classroom occurred in British 500cc race, at the Donington Park Circuit, United Kingdom, July 9, 2000. 34-year-old rider wins at Assen occurred 12 years and 355 days later.

The previous record was held by Barros, with 11 years and 204 days. Barros won the first victory in the 500cc class Circuit Jarama (Spain), 26 September 1993, and last in MotoGP Portugal, 17 April 2005. Third place went to Phil Read with 11 years and 16 days.

Rossi chance to break the record in all classes belong to Loris Capirossi. If starting from the first 125cc win in the series, August 18, 1996 (Czech Republic), Rossi was 16 years and 345 days. While the record belongs Capirossi was 17 years and 49 days.

MotoGP 2013 will continue this weekend at Sachsenring, Germany. Rossi is currently still ranked five of the standings with a score of 85 points.

There’s no reason Alonso Leave Ferrari

Fernando Alonso Diaz (Foto: Reuters)

MARANELLO – At Scuderia Ferrari, Felipe Massa was not only exposed to the issue who leave. Fernando Alonso did not escape from a similar rumor. In contrast to Massa, Alonso reportedly frustrated by the performance of the car is still difficult to compete with rivals – Sebastian Vettel.

If the mass is said to be resigned or was sacked because of his own performance, Alonso gossip factor is more to car problems. Of the nine series that has been passed, the Spanish driver was still struggling for a consistent set-up on his F138 car.

You could say, the achievements of the podium five times, including two times the main podium, more due to his own skill as Alonso winning two world titles in 2005 and 2006 seasons. When asked of his manager, Luis Garcia Abad, the rumors were brushed away.

“(Rumor) was unprovoked. I would suggest a change in the team just because (Alonso) failed to win a title (since joining Ferrari), “said Abad, as cited Formula1FanCast, Tuesday (23/07/2013).

“Alonso is the fourth most widely rider won the Grand Prix. He also won two consecutive seasons. Some riders even retired from Formula One without winning any of the series, “he concluded.
(raw)

Waiting for “coolest pair” in Formula One

Rumor attraction of Red Bull withdraw from Lotus Kimi Raikkonen continues to grow. The Iceman combination with Sebastian Vettel assessed will be very cool for the world racing pole.

Raikkonen comeback this season acted pretty incredible. Despite a long absence, the Finnish driver is able to penetrate the top three standings F1 Vettel and become a competitor as well as his former team, Ferrari.

It made Raikkonen into one of three candidates who will replace Mark Webber, who decided to retire at the end of the season. Kimi stay competitive with Toro Tosso duo, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

However, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton-Raikkonen Vettel assess the combination is the most interesting. Because, Raikkonen could be assessed a new rival for the defending champion.

“Today will be a very cool look at Kimi in Red Bull. He would complicate Seb (Vettel),” said Hamilton in the British newspaper, The Sun.

“Kimi is a superb rider, everyone knows it. So it will be very interesting what he would do with a better car,” added the champion of the 2008 F1 season.

Lotus Party is still reluctant to release their hero is. Raikkonen himself insists there is no agreement whatsoever on the future. “If I know (about the future) will definitely be my responsibility to stop these nonsense rumors,” said Kimi.

Raikkonen started his career in 2001 with Sauber defending. After that, he moved to McLaren a year later before solidifying Ferrari in 2007.

33-year-old man had quit F1 in 2009 and performed at the rally event World Rally Championship (WRC) and Nascar. In 2012, the 2007 F1 champion eventually back to racing pole.

The Doctor Talking Himself Motivation

Yamaha Factory Racing rider, Valentino Rossi claimed not hard to find the motivation to be able to go fast in MotoGP. Through the interview on his personal website, he claims could not imagine if he had to work outside the racing world.
“My job is my passion. I can not do it other than that. I love anything related to the world of racing, riding motorcycles, working with my team and life in the paddock. Not hard to find motivation. I just want to go fast, “he said.
In the interview, Rossi also argued riders today are more serious and professional, even higher level of their competition. So far Rossi does have to compete with Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez.
“There are three generations can be compared. I am the oldest generation. I fight with Loris Capirossi, Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi, although at that time I was younger. Furthermore, there is Jorge, Dani and Casey. While Marc is representative of most young. The difference is, today more professional rider. They practice harder and higher levels of competition, “he said.
Until now, Rossi is ranked fifth in the driver standings with 101 points. He left behind 37 points from the standings, the Repsol Honda debut, Marquez.

Jorge Lorenzo: I Already Ordinary race for Injury Conditions

Twice a really bad accident did not dampen the spirit of the MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo to race forward again. He still comes to the Laguna Seca circuit ahead of the first official practice of MotoGP in the U.S. ninth series. The Spaniard was stated, if the doctors permit, he would not hesitate to join the race on Sunday (21/07/2013) this. Because he was used to performing in a state of physical injury at Laguna Seca.
Three weeks ago Lorenzo suffered a fatal crash during the official practice ahead of the Dutch GP in Assen. Two broken collarbone and had surgery. Two days after surgery pen installation, the Spaniard severe fall while racing at Sachsenring Circuit, Germany. The incident resulted in the messy pen and must be reinstalled with eleven screws.
But apparently he did not give up. Through twitter twitter he was ready to appear at the U.S. GP and wait for recovery from injury to perform at the Indianapolis circuit. But he was still present at Laguna Seca, ready should be allowed to perform, he would appear.
“This is my second surgery on the left shoulder blade in a month’s time. Clearly there is still pain. But it felt my condition was better than the time at Assen. At that time I was just a day of rest, whereas now I have a week recovering. So conditions I am better than at Assen, but it was worse than the time in Germany, “he said.
Different from the previous statement when he said he would not appear at Laguna Seca. Problem was he said, initially he did not think was possible appeared at Laguna Seca.
“I think I am better at home calm. But then the incidents experienced by Dani (Pedrosa, Repsol Honda) at the Sachsenring, it opens my chances to seize the top position. Anyway I feel better condition the body is in two the last day. Here’s what changed my mind to perform, “he said.
Lorenzo know very well the physical condition of the track at Laguna Seca and never had the experience of performing in the circuit in poor fit.
“The circuit has many changes of direction, up and down and very short trajectory. We have to face 30 laps or more. In healthy physical condition it is difficult to finish the race there, now imagine if we are in a state of injury as I am today. But I’ve got thoughts raced there in a state of injury as well. In 2008 I raced there with an ankle injury and two on the first lap I was memetahkan back two wrist. In 2009 I do not break the scapula, but an injury to the ligaments of the shoulder muscles, so I race there with conditions the weight and finish in third position. In 2011, I fell and injured during the official practice waist but not too seriously, so I do a lot of racing experience in injured condition in the circuit, “he said.
Concretely, Lorenzo said, depending on the development of the last two days. “Tomorrow we’ll see. Mornings at Laguna is usually very cold, foggy, and humid. Calm and we should see other drivers before entering the track.’s Very important so as not to fall and lose points,” said Lorenzo.