Normal service was resumed this weekend, with Formula 1 back in Europe at Imola for the Grand Prix of San Marino, and NASCAR’s Nextel Cup and Busch series in action at Phoenix. The Grand-Am Rolex Series put on a thriller at Virginia International Raceway, and the IRL had the final pre-Indy race at Twin Ring Motegi.
Formula 1: Schumacher Gets Back on the Good Foot at Imola
Seven-time World Driving Champion Michael Schumacher took a popular win in the Grand Prix of San Marino circuit at Imola on Sunday, edging defending champion Fernando Alonso by just over 2sec in a reversal of their roles in last year’s race.
It was Schumacher’s first “real” win (excepting the controversial United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis last year) since 2004 and propelled him into second in the championship standings, 15 points behind Alonso.
McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, passing Schumacher’s teammate Felipe Massa on the last round of pit stops to secure the final podium position. Massa held on for fourth, ahead of Montoya’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Williams’ Mark Webber finished sixth, with Honda’s Jenson Button and Alonso’s teammate Giancarlo Fisichella taking the final points-paying positions. Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher and Button’s teammate Rubens Barrichello completed the top 10.
The teams will be back in action in two weeks at the Nurburgring for the Grand Prix of Europe, one of Germany’s two races this year.
Grand Prix of San Marino Top Five:
1) Michael Schumacher, No. 5 Ferrari, 62 laps
2) Fernando Alonso, No. 1 Renault, -2.096sec
3) Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 4 McLaren/Mercedes, -15.868sec
4) Felipe Massa, No. 6 Ferrari, -17.096sec
5) Kimi Raikkonen, No. 3 McLaren/Mercedes, -17.534sec
Driver’s Championship: 1) Fernando Alonso, 36; 2) Michael Schumacher, 21; 3) Kimi Raikkonen, 18; 4) Giancarlo Fisichella, 15; 5) Juan Pablo Montoya, 15.
NASCAR: Harvick Sweeps Phoenix
Kevin Harvick made it two wins in two nights at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, winning his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race since a victory at Bristol in the spring of last year. The victory followed on the heels of his win in the Busch Series race at Phoenix on the previous evening.
Harvick’s win was the culmination of a couple of factors. His car got good late in the race, and two of the front-runners, Roush Racing’s Mark Martin and Greg Biffle, both ran out of gas in the closing laps. Harvick took the lead when Biffle was forced to pit, and held off Tony Stewart, who started in the rear, to the finish.
Roush Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards had better luck with their fuel, finishing third and fourth, respectively, with Clint Bowyer taking fifth. Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10.
Kenseth’s third-place finish vaulted him into the points lead ahead of Johnson, who now trails by nine points.
The series heads for the wide-open spaces of Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the second restrictor-plate race of the year.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 312 laps
2) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 312 laps
3) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 312 laps
4) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Racing Fusion, 312 laps
5) Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 312 laps