By John Gardner
If you couldn’t find some racing to enjoy this past weekend, you just weren’t trying. Almost everybody in the business was doing the business, with Formula 1 in Monaco, NASCAR in Charlotte for the Nextel All-Star Challenge along with the Craftsman Truck Series, IRL at Indy for final qualifying, Champ Car at Monterrey, Mexico, Grand-Am at Mont-Tremblant for a six-hour enduro, ALMS and the World Challenge at Mid-Ohio and the NHRA nearby in Columbus.
Of course, it is conceivable that you had other, more important things to do and missed it all. That’s where we come in:
Formula 1: Raikkonen Dominates in
The Grand Prix of Monaco may be one of the most glamorous, prestigious racing events in the world, but it also one of the most difficult in which to pass. That wasn’t an issue on Sunday for Kimi Raikkonen, who started from pole and led every lap to score his second straight dominant victory of the season, firmly establishing McLaren/Mercedes at the top of the technological heap for the moment, but it was for those behind him.
The narrow streets around the seaside principality are picturesque to a fault, but there is only one legitimate place to attempt a passing maneuver, and that is coming out of the tunnel along the waterfront. Renault’s Fernando Alonso gambled on the soft-option Michelin tires, and ran second until late in the race when the Williams/BMW teammates Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber managed to squeeze past at that very spot as Alonso’s tires gave up their grip.
Alonso managed to hold on to finish fourth, ahead of an angry pack that included Raikkonen’s teammate Juan Pablo Montoya (who started next-to-last as a penalty for causing an accident in practice), Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher (who started last after an crashing in qualifying and failing to set a time) and Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, who claimed the final points-paying position.
Only 18 cars took the green flag, as the BAR/Honda squad was banned for a second race, and the narrow circuit caused enough attrition to allow those starting in the back to make a decent finish. A spin by Minardi’s Christijan Albers on Lap 24 blocked the track, causing Michael Schumacher to run into the back of Red Bull’s David Coulthard, putting Coulthard out and damaging Schumacher’s front wing. Coulthard’s teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi damaged his rear suspension against a barrier while trying to fend off M. Schumacher, and also retired. An over-optimistic passing attempt at Ste. Devote by Sauber’s Jacques Villeneuve against teammate Felipe Massa for fifth place caused both to go off-course, Massa falling a lap down to ninth and Villeneuve headed to the pits with front wing damage, coming back to finish 11th behind Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.
While all the drama was taking place behind him, Raikkonen sailed serenely to the finish, seemlingly able to pull out massive gaps at will. At one point he was more than 30sec ahead of the field, but eased off at the end to finish with a 13.4sec margin of victory.
Off-track, the big news was that the teams have agreed with the FIA to change the qualifying procedure so that there will only be one session on Saturday, instead of one on Saturday and another on Sunday. Whether this new procedure will be in place at the next event is not yet known.
The series will be back in action next weekend at
Grand Prix of
1) Kimi Raikkonen, No. 9 McLaren/Mercedes-Benz, 78 laps
2) Nick Heidfeld, No. 8 Williams/BMW, -13.877sec
3) Mark Webber, No. 7 Williams/BMW, -18.484sec
4) Fernando Alonso, No. 5 Renault, -36.487sec
5) Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 10 McLaren/Mercedes-Benz, -36.647sec
Driver’s Championship: 1) Fernando Alonso, 49; 2) Kimi Raikkonen, 27; 2) Jarno Trulli, 26; 4) Mark Webber, 18; 5) Nick Heidfeld, 14; 5) Ralf Schumacher, 14.
NASCAR: Martin Scores Popular All-Star Challenge Win
There is perhaps no other driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series who commands as much respect from his fellow competitors as Mark Martin. He will retire at the end of this season, and if he does so without winning the title, he will go down in history as the Stirling Moss of NASCAR – the best driver never to claim a championship.
“The Hardest-Working Man in Stock Car Racing” played his cards, tires and strategy just right in Saturday night’s Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, finding himself with four fresh tires and in the preferred top groove of the newly-reground 1.5-mile track on a restart with 19 laps to go, running second to then-leader Elliott Sadler. Sadler had opted for two tires on the previous pit stop and spun his tires on the restart, allowing Martin to take a lead that he would not relinquish.
A disappointed Sadler hung on to finish second ahead of rookie Brian Vickers, who controversially transferred into the race by winning the preceding Nextel Open with a punt of leader Mike Bliss into the infield as the pair approached the checkered flag.
Three-time All-Star Challenge (nee The Winston) winner Jeff Gordon was fourth, ahead of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett, defending series champ Kurt Busch and Jeremy Mayfield. Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.
Nearly half the 22-car field was eliminated in a grinding crash with five laps remaining in the first of the race’s three segments when Tony Stewart tapped the rear bumper of Joe Nemechek, spinning him into Kevin Harvick. The resulting carnage also involved Michael Waltrip, Kasey Kahne, Terry Labonte, Martin Truex Jr. (voted into the event by the fans), Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Earnhardt Jr. The latter two were able to continue, but Edwards eventually retired before the race’s end.
Ryan Newman started from the pole and looked like the man to beat, but crashed in the final segment, taking out teammate Rusty Wallace as well.
Martin won over $1m for the victory, but that seemed of secondary importance to him as he basked in the glow of victory and dedicated his win to the fans. He vowed to return to the series next year for this one event if his Roush Racing team would provide him with a car. By the size of the grin on Jack Roush’s face, that looks like a done deal.
The series will be back in action next weekend at Lowe’s for the traditional Memorial Day 600-miler.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Mark Martin, No. 6 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 90 laps
2) Elliott Sadler, No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford Taurus, 90
3) Brian Vickers, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
4) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
5) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 1562; 2) Greg Biffle, 1521; 3) Jeff Gordon, 1438; 4) Elliott Sadler, 1413; 2) Kurt Busch, 1407.
Craftsman Truck Series: Kyle Busch Wins
Nextel Cup rookie Kyle Busch, younger brother of series champ Kurt, became the youngest winner in the history of the Craftsman Truck Series in a one-off guest appearance Friday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Busch started third on the grid and took the lead on the fifth lap, holding it through a rash of early-race cautions. He fell back in the pack after his pit stop and worked his way toward the front, and was running second to polesitter Mike Skinner when Skinner made a mistake in traffic and crashed what appeared to be the dominant truck in the race. Busch was able to hold off Terry Cook and Ted Musgrave in the closing laps, including a three-lap green-white-checker sprint to the flag. Johnny Benson and Steve Park completed the top five, with Bill Lester, Dennis Setzer, Brendan Gaughan, Matt Crafton and Ricky Craven rounding out the top 10.
In becoming the series’ youngest winner, Busch displaced the late Ricky Hendrick, who won at age 21 in 2001.
In addition to Skinner, trouble also befell three other high-profile drivers. Defending series champ Bobby Hamilton and former series champ Jack Sprague both suffered crash damage, costing
The series returns to action in two weeks at
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Top Five:
1) Kyle Busch, No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 136 laps
2) Terry Cook, No. 10 ppc Racing Ford F-150, 136
3) Ted Musgrave, No. 1 Ultra Motorsports Dodge Ram, 136
4) Johnny Benson, No. 23 Bill Davis Racing
5) Steve Park, No. 62
Driver’s Championship: 1) Ted Musgrave, 1088; 2) Bobby Hamilton, 1047; 3) Ricky Craven, 1029; 4) Jimmy Spencer, 993; 5) Dennis Setzer, 940.
IRL: Brack Subs for Rice, Posts Fastest Indy Qualifying Lap
Brack was brutally injured in the 2003 IRL season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, and has gone through a long and painful rehabilitation process to prepare himself for the day when he could climb back into an Indy car. It was a class move by team owner Bobby Rahal to give Brack the call, and Brack repaid the kindness by posting the fastest four-lap qualifying speed of the month on Saturday at 227.598. He will start 23rd, ahead of Ryan Briscoe, Patrick Carpentier, Ed Carpenter, Jaques Lazier, AJ Foyt IV, Marty Roth, Larry Foyt, Jeff Ward and Felipe Giaffone, all of whom completed their qualifying runs this past weekend.
Indy’s Grand Master, four-time winner AJ Foyt, provided a bit of drama in the closing minutes of Sunday’s traditional “Bump Day” as he made a last-minute third team entry for Giaffone, who was able to bump Arie Luyendyk Jr. in the final half-hour of the day.
The 89th edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Auto Racing will take place next Sunday.
IRL IndyCar Series Indy 500 Qualifying Top Five (four-lap average):
1) Tony Kanaan, No. 11 Andretti-Green Racing Dallara/Honda, 2:38.1961/227.566mph
2) Sam Hornish Jr., No. 6 Penske Racing Dallara/Toyota, 2:38.3997/227.273mph
3) Scott Sharp, No. 8 Fernandez Racing Dallara/Honda, 2:38.5024/227.126mph
4) Danica Patrick, No. 16 Rahal-Letterman Racing Panoz/Honda, 2:38.5875/227.004mph
5) Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Penske Racing Dallara/Toyota, 2:38.6414/226.927mph
Champ Car: Patience Pays Off for Junqueira at
Bruno Junqueira emerged victorious on Sunday as the Champ Car series traveled south of the border for the Grand Prix of Monterrey, using a veteran’s patience to avoid a race full of calamity that caused nine cautions.
Starting fifth on the grid, the Brazilian bided his time for three-quarters of the race, taking the lead briefly on Lap 61 of 76 before losing it again. He finally regained the lead for good on Lap 68 and held off surprising rookie Andrew Ranger to the checkered flag. Alex Tagliani finished third, ahead of Justin Wilson and polesitter Sebastien Bourdais, who fought back from 11th after tangling with Paul Tracy. Former champ Cristiano da Matta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bjorn Wirdheim, Oriol Servia and A.J. Allmendinger completed the top 10.
With the win, his eighth in the series, Junqueira has eked out a one-point lead in the championship over his teammate (and defending series champ) Bourdais. If things keep going this way, perhaps Junqueira can finally make a run at the championship that has thus far eluded him.
The race was held in hot conditions, with an estimated crowd of 110,000 packing
The series will be back stateside for its next outing, at the Milwaukee Mile on June 4, for one of its two oval races of the season.
1) Bruno Junqueira, No. 2 Newman-Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, 76 laps
2) Andrew Ranger, No. 27 Conquest Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -1.375sec
3) Alex Tagliani, No. 15 Team
4) Justin Wilson, No. 9 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -8.233sec
5) Sebastien Bourdais, No. 1 Newman-Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -9.161sec
Driver’s Championship: 1) Bruno Junqueira, 59; 2) Sebastien Bourdais, 58; 3) Justin Wilson, 47; 4) Paul Tracy, 36; 5) Andrew Ranger, 32.
In the supporting Toyota Atlantic race at
Grand-Am: Wallace/Lammers/Duno Put Crawford Back on Top at Mont-Tremblant
If you like sports car racing and happened to miss the Grand American Road Racing Association’s Rolex Sports Car Series six-hour race at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant on Saturday, you missed a good one. This race had everything: a big field of competitive cars, changing weather conditions, lots of passing, shifting strategies and a close, exciting race to the finish with the outcome in doubt all the way.
The Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac/Crawford team of Andy Wallace/Jan Lammers/Milka Duno managed to overcome all the obstacles to claim its first victory since late last year (which was a sprint race at Homestead, without Lammers as third driver), edging the Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley duo of Stefan Johansson/Cort Wagner by just under four seconds. The Ganassi team car of defending series co-champ Scott Pruett and his new co-driver, Luis Diaz, was third, followed by the Finlay Motorsports BMW/Riley of Memo Gidley/Michael McDowell and the Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac/Riley of Christian Fittipaldi/Jorg Bergmeister.
In the GT class, the Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 of Ian James/Chris Gleason/Joey Hand was victorious, finishing 13th overall and eight laps behind the overall winners. Second in class was the Synergy Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of David Murray/Craig Stanton/Mae Van Wijk, 27.9sec behind, and third in class was the sister PTG BMW of Hand (doing double duty), Tom Milner Jr. and Justin Marks.
The race started out in deplorable conditions, with heavy rain making visibility next to impossible for the 40-car field. The wet conditions also contributed to a lot of early attrition, with numerous crashes. The rain abated just past the halfway point, and the weather stayed dry until the last hour, when intermittent sprinkles added a touch of drama to the closing laps. A restart with an hour to go saw Pruett leading a pack of six cars, all within five seconds of each other. A classic battle ensued as Max Angelleli, driving the SunTrust Racing Pontiac/Riley, worked his way from fourth to first. All those top six positions shuffled, and with 10 minutes remaining Wallace got past Angelleli to take the lead for the first time. He held on to the finish ahead of Johansson as Pruett faded to third trying to save fuel and Angelleli fell back to sixth after losing first, second and third gears.
The series’ next outing will be another six-hour enduro at historic Watkins Glen on June 12.
Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Top Five:
1) Andy Wallace/Jan Lammers/Milka Duno, No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac/Crawford, 188 laps
2) Stefan Johansson/Cort Wagner, No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley, -3.843sec
3) Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley, -24.739sec
4) Memo Gidley/Michael McDowell, No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW/Riley, -32.344sec
5) Christian Fittipaldi/Jorg Bergmeister, No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac/Riley, -35.664sec
ALMS: Dyson Lolas Go 1-2 at Mid-Ohio
Veteran privateer sports car team owner Rob Dyson and his Dyson Racing squad have spent an enormous amount of both time and money to make their quick little Lolas capable of running with the juggernaut Audi R8s in the American Le Mans Series over the last couple of years, and it has been tough sledding. The Audi will go down in history as one of the greatest sports racing prototypes ever, ranked with such legendary machines as the Ford GT40 and Porsche’s 917 and 956/962 models.
Dyson has managed to beat the Audis twice in the last two years, and did it again on Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. To make things even sweeter, the team managed a 1-2 finish, its first in the ALMS. James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger led teammates Andy Wallace (fresh from a win in the six-hour Grand-Am race on Saturday) and Chris Dyson home after two hours and 45 minutes on the beautiful Mid-Ohio circuit, with Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro finishing a lap down in third in the best of the two Audis.
Finishing fourth was a very interesting car, the factory Zytek 04S that customarily races in
Taking an emotional win in the GT1 class was the factory Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, who finished fifth overall. They were actually beaten to the flag by the sister Corvette of Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta, but a 20sec penalty was assessed to them because of an infraction on their final pit stop, giving Fellows and O’Connell the win. Fellows dedicated the win to his father, who was killed in an accident in late April, and to the father of crewman Mike West, who also recently died as the result of an accident.
The GT2 class win went to Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, who finished ninth overall to give longtime Porsche 911 team owner Alex Job his first-ever win at the
The two-race-old Courage/Mazda of Guy Cosmo/Jamie Bach, powered by a modified Mazda RX-8 rotary engine, claimed the LMP2 win after the Miracle Motorsports Courage/AER of Jeff Bucknum/Chris McMurry was excluded due to Bucknum exceeding the maximum time of two hours behind the wheel.
Many of the ALMS teams will be packing up to ship everything to
ALMS Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Top Five:
1) James Weaver/Butch Leitzinger, No. 16 LMP1 Dyson Racing Lola EX257/AER, 117 laps
2) Andy Wallace/Chris Dyson, No. 20 LMP1 Dyson Racing Lola EX257/AER, -26.328sec
3) Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro, No. 2 LMP1 Champion Audi R8, -1 lap
4) Hayanari Shimoda/Tom Chilton, No. 15 LMP1 Zytek Engineering Zytek 04S, -4 laps
5) Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell, No. 3 GT1 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-R, -5 laps
On the undercard at Mid-Ohio, German Porsche sensation Wolf Henzler led from his third pole of the season to score his first series win in the Speed World Challenge GT series, bringing his Porsche 911 Cup home ahead of the Cadillac CTS-V duo of John Heinricy and Max Papis. In the World Challenge Touring race, three-time series champ Pierre Kleinubing drove his Acura TSX around a first-lap crash at Turn One that affected nearly a quarter of the field and then slid past a battle between teammate Peter Cunningham and the BMW 325Ci of Bob Stretch to take the lead on Lap 21 and win the race. The World Challenge will join the Champ Car series at
NHRA: Schumacher, Force and
Tony Schumacher laid down the fastest quarter-mile pass in drag racing history to win the Top Fuel final at National Trail Raceway in
In Funny Car, John Force did it once again, scoring his record 117th win, and to do it he had to put a holeshot on former Top Fuel champ Gary Scelzi, who has beaten Force in their last three head-to-head matches. Thirteen-time champ Force, who beat Tony Bartone, Dale Creasy Jr. and his old nemesis Ron Capps to get to the final round, beat Scelzi off the line by .020sec, and got to the other end just .008sec ahead with a 4.776/324.51. Scelzi, who defeated Tony Pedregon, last week’s winner Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon in eliminations, tripped the lights at a faster-but-losing 4.764/326.79. A three-hour rain delay was a boon to Force, who parked his ride in the sandtrap after his defeat of Capps. His crew needed the extra time to get the car cleaned out, but when it’s your day, it’s your day.
Greg Anderson’s comeback continued this week, as he scored his 33rd career victory by defeating Kurt Johnson in the finals. The two have met nine times in the finals, and
The series heads to the Heartland next weekend for Memorial Day, setting up camp at Heartland Park Topeka.
NHRA Final Round Results:
2) Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools Dragster, 4.513sec/324.90mph
1) John Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 4.776sec/324.51mph
2) Gary Scelzi, Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus, 4.764sec/326.79mph
1) Greg Anderson,
2) Kurt Johnson, AC Delco Chevrolet Cobalt, 6.787sec/204.20mph
Racing on TV This Week (all times ET):
7:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
2:00 pm, espn2: IRL Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day/Pit Stop Challenge, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
5:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Busch Series qualifying, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
7:00 am, Speed: Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe qualifying 1, Nurburgring
7:00 pm, FX: NASCAR Busch Series race, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
8:00 pm, espn2: NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series Qualifying,
6:30 am, Speed: Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe qualifying 2, Nurburgring (tentative)
7:30 am, Speed: Formula 1 Grand Prix of
1:00 pm, ABC: IRL
5:30 pm, Fox: NASCAR Nextel Cup race, Lowe’s Motor Speedway
8:00 pm, espn2: NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series Eliminations,