There was lots of good racing this past weekend, with some compelling strategy, surprise winners and all the things that make this sport great. Formula 1 had one of its biggest races of the year at Silverstone, the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch series were at Chicagoland (Joliet, Ill., actually), the Craftsman Truck Series was at Kentucky Speedway and the Champ Cars took to the streets of Toronto along with the Trans-Am and Toyota Atlantic series.
It was also a big weekend for two-wheel fans, as
So, without further adieu, sit down, strap in, shut up, hold on and let’s get to it:
Formula 1: Montoya Charges to Victory at Silverstone
Former CART and Indy 500 champ Juan Pablo Montoya hasn’t had much to shout about since moving from Williams to McLaren this year, but he was all smiles after posting a dominant victory in Sunday’s British Grand Prix at the historic Silverstone circuit.
Montoya qualified fourth and got a great jump at the start, going wheel-to-wheel with the Renault of polesitter Fernando Alonso to take the lead going into the second corner. He managed to barely maintain the lead after the first round of pits stops and sailed home to take the fifth victory of his career.
Alonso finished second ahead of Montoya’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified second but had to start 12th after blowing an engine in practice for the second straight race. Alonso’s teammate Giancarlo Fisichella would have taken the final podium spot but stalled his engine on his second pit stop (for the second time in two weeks), much to the chagrin of team manager Flavio Briatore. Fisichella had to settle for fourth, ahead of home favorite Jenson Button of BAR/Honda, who never lived up to the promise of his third-fastest qualifying time.
Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were sixth and seventh, with the Toyota of Michael’s brother Ralf taking the final point. Barrichello, who always does well at Silverstone, had outqualified Michael and was running ahead of him mid-race when the team changed his pit strategy from two to three stops. The only beneficiary of the strategy change seemed to be Michael, however.
The win came at a good time for Montoya. He’s had a miserable season, missing two races with injuries, being disqualified at
The series’ next stop will be the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in two weeks.
British Grand Prix Top Five:
1) Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 10 McLaren/Mercedes-Benz, 60 laps
2) Fernando Alonso, No. 5 Renault, -2.739sec
3) Kimi Raikkonen, No. 9 McLaren/Mercedes-Benz, -14.436sec
4) Giancarlo Fisichella, No. 6 Renault, -17.914sec
5) Jenson Button, No. 3 BAR/Honda, -40.264sec
Driver’s Championship: 1) Fernando Alonso, 77; 2) Kimi Raikkonen, 51; 3) Michael Schumacher, 43; 4) Jarno Trulli, 31; 4) Rubens Barrichello, 31.
NASCAR: Junior Gambles and Wins in
By all rights, you should be reading about how Matt Kenseth dominated Sunday’s Nextel Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway to take his first win since March 2004. That’s not how it turned out, though.
Surprising almost everyone in the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gambled on a two-tire stop in the late going and managed to get the lead in the closing laps, holding off Kenseth to score his first win of the season and blunting much of the criticism that has been hurled at his team this year.
Kenseth was truly the class of the field, and led 176 of the 267 laps. Spending most of the day up front with him, in varying orders, were Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart.
The pivotal moment occurred on Lap 249, when Jeff Gordon (having a miserable day running in the mid-20s) and Mike Bliss crashed, bringing out the race’s final caution flag. Everyone pitted for their final fuel-and-tire stops. Earnhardt had worked his way up from 25th at the start to around 10th, and his two-tire stop brought him up to second behind Scott Wimmer, who chose not to pit and was swarmed on the restart.
Kenseth and Stewart, who had been running first and second, had to work their way past a gaggle of other gamblers when the green flag flew again on Lap 255. Kenseth got to second, but ran out of time to catch Earnhardt. Johnson, who came back from a lap down, fought his way to third ahead of Vickers and Stewart. Jeremy Mayfield, Ricky Rudd, Kurt Busch, Casey Mears and Mark Martin rounded out the top 10.
Tires were an issue once again today, with numerous blowouts and deflations. Earnhardt’s teammate Michael Waltrip was one victim, and others included Carl Edwards, Dave Blaney and Elliott Sadler.
Off the track, the week’s big news was that Roush Racing has signed Jamie McMurray to replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 car starting in 2007. He remains under contract to Chip Ganassi Racing through 2006, if Ganassi takes up his option in September. Ganassi has led everyone to believe he will, and that ought to make for a strained relationship over the next year and a half.