It was a star-spangled weekend, with lots of racing action. Formula 1 got back to business as usual in
With our Independence Day weekend concluded, please take a moment to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy, and those who gave their lives to ensure them, while you digest the weekend’s results:
Formula 1: Alonso Dominates French Grand Prix
Normal service resumed for the Formula 1 World Championship in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours on Sunday. There was still some talk in the paddock about the USGP debacle of two weeks ago, but from outward appearances it was like nothing ever happened.
Fernando Alonso completely dominated the race, taking the pole and leading all 70 laps to win his fifth race of the year and give Renault its first victory on home soil since 1983. McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen might have had a faster car in the race, but had to start 13th after qualifying third because he blew an engine in Friday practice that cost him 10 grid spots because of the engine change. He came back to finish second, but 11.8 seconds behind.
Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher got the final podium spot, followed by BAR/Honda’s Jenson Button and
Suffering mightily today was the Williams/BMW team. Mark Webber qualified 13th and finished two laps down in 12th after having to deal with extreme cockpit temperatures that left him with a severe burn on his hip. Teammate Nick Heidfeld qualified 14th and finished four laps down in that same position after having differential problems in the race. Also failing to finish was Raikkonen’s teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified 10th but was running third after the first round of pit stops (McLaren running a two-stop strategy to everyone else’s three), but Montoya had gearbox trouble following his first pit stop and retired on course at Lap 47.
Off the track, there was a lot of talk about a telephone call that FIA president Max Mosley made on Thursday to Coulthard, who is the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association. Apparently Mosley was not pleased with a statement signed by 19 drivers (all F1 race and test drivers except the Ferrari and Jordan teams) released in defense of Michelin after the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council meeting on Wednesday during which the seven Michelin teams that did not race at Indy were found guilty on two charges (failing to bring proper tires to the race and failing to race by using the pit lane instead of Turn 13). Mosley’s call was characterized as “threatening” and there is now considerable animosity between the drivers and Mosley. A private meeting between Mosley and the drivers has been scheduled for next week.
The teams now have to hustle back home and get ready for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.
1) Fernando Alonso, No. 5 Renault, 70 laps
2) Kimi Raikkonen, No. 9 McLaren/Mercedes-Benz, -11.805 sec.
3) Michael Schumacher, No. 1 Ferrari, -81.914 sec.
4) Jenson Button, No. 3 BAR/Honda, -1 lap
5) Jarno Trulli, No. 16 Toyota, -1 lap
Driver’s Championship: 1) Fernando Alonso, 69; 2) Kimi Raikkonen, 45; 3) Michael Schumacher, 40; 4) Jarno Trulli, 31; 5) Rubens Barrichello, 29.
Indy F1 Update: The Aftermath by John F. Gardner (7/4/2005)
Is the F1 series crumbling before our eyes?
NASCAR: Smokin’ Lamp Remains Lit at Daytona
Tony Stewart is on a serious roll, all of a sudden. The multi-talented racer known as “Smoke” had a totally dominant night at Daytona on Saturday, leading 151 of 160 laps (setting a new record for number of laps led in a 400-mile race at Daytona) and annihilating the competition to take his second win in a row and vault himself to third in the championship.
It was Stewart’s first points-race win at Daytona, and he celebrated by not only climbing the fence, but mounting the flagstand atop it to declare his supremacy. After the performance he put on, no one could argue the point.
Jamie McMurray tied his best result of the year by finishing second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was good, but didn’t show the strong Daytona form of recent years. Like Stewart, veterans Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett duplicated their finishes of last week by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mike Wallace, Matt Kenseth, and Ken Schrader completed the top ten.
Michael Waltrip and Johnson looked like the only people who might mount a serious challenge to Stewart, but Waltrip was taken out by a flat tire that put him into the wall on Lap 74 and also collected Joe Nemechek and points leader Greg Biffle. In the closing laps, Johnson had trouble getting by McMurray and fell out of the draft, falling back to sixth at the finish. That was enough to return him to the championship lead, though, as Biffle could finish no better than 36th.
Another costly incident took place earlier in the race, on Lap 35, when Jeff Gordon slowed for his first pit stop and traffic stacked up behind him. The resulting crash severely damaged the cars of Biffle’s Roush Racing teammates Mark Martin and defending series champ Kurt Busch as well as Scott Riggs, and inflicted minor damage to McMurray, Kenseth, and Earnhardt Jr.
The start of the race was delayed two and a half hours by rain, and the checkered flag flew at 1:40 Sunday morning, playing havoc with NBC’s Saturday-night schedule as the peacock network televised its first race of the year.
The summer Daytona race marks the halfway point in the season, and now the focus is on the “chase for the Chase,” as teams jockey for points to make the top ten or to be within 400 points of the leader when the checkered flag flies at
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160 laps
2) Jamie McMurray, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge Charger, 160 laps
3) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160 laps
4) Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge Charger, 160 laps
5) Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford Taurus, 160 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 2378; 2) Greg Biffle, 2305; 3) Tony Stewart, 2242; 4) Elliott Sadler, 2178; 5) Rusty Wallace, 2173.
Busch Series: Truex Seals Deal With Win at Daytona
Defending Busch Series champ Martin Truex Jr. has been the subject of a lot of paddock scuttlebutt in recent weeks, focusing on his future employer. His contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. was expiring, and some pretty big teams were reportedly wooing him, including Penske Racing (as replacement for retiring Rusty Wallace).