Racing Results: June 17-19, 2005

June 20, 2005

By John Gardner

It was as dramatic a weekend of racing as you could ever ask for. From the sublime triumph of American teams winning three of four classes and Tom Kristensen scoring an historic seventh victory at Le Mans to the ridiculous spectacle of Formula 1 taking the start at Indy with only six cars, with NASCAR at Michigan and Kentucky, Champ Car at Portland and NHRA at Englishtown in between.

Oh, say, can you see? Look no further:

Le Mans: American Teams Sweep Three of Four Classes

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s greatest sports car race, is held in France and has historically been dominated by European teams. The 73rd edition of this magnificent contest came to its conclusion on Sunday with a star-spangled victory in three of the four classes.

In the headlining LMP1 class, the Champion Audi squad from Pompano Beach, Fla., used reliability and experience to extract a 1-3 finish, defeating a faster but fragile pair of prototypes fielded by French legend and four-time Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo. In doing so, Champion Audi became the first American team to win Le Mans in 38 years, dating back to the Ford GT victory by A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney in 1967. To hear “The Star Spangled Banner” being played as the winners stood atop the podium before tens of thousands of fans was a moment not to be soon forgotten. Additionally, Danish driver Tom Kristensen, part of the winning team with Finn JJ Lehto and German Marco Werner, made history by becoming the winningest driver in the history of the race with seven victories, surpassing what was once thought to be an unbeatable record set by the legendary Belgian, Jacky Ickx. The Pescarolo trio of Emmanuel Collard/Jean-Christophe Boullion/Eric Comas fought back from problems to finish second, two laps back, with the second Champion Audi of Frank Biela/Emmanuele Pirro/Allan McNish another four laps behind. It was a stunning swan song for the phenomenal Audi R8, which has won five of the past six events at Le Sarthe and will be replaced by a new model next year.

In the GT1 class, the new Corvette C-6R finished 1-2 in its Le Mans debut, and like Audi had to overcome a faster adversary in the Prodrive-fielded works Aston Martin DBR9 team, which had both cars falter in the closing hours. Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Olivier Beretta took the class honors in fifth overall, with teammates Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis second (sixth overall) ahead of Aston Martin’s David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Sarrazin (ninth overall).

Three American Porsche teams filled the podium in the GT2 class, led by the Alex Job Racing trio of Leo Hindery/Mike Rockenfeller/Marc Lieb in 10th overall. The Peterson/White Lightning team of Jorg Bergmeister/Patrick Long/Timo Bernhard was second in class, 11th overall, and the Flying Lizard Motorsports squad of Johannes van Overbeek/Lonnie Pechnik/Seth Neiman were third in class/14th overall.

The LMP2 class is always the one that nobody seems to want to win, with heavy attrition usually determining the victor. This year’s win went to the British-based Ray Mallock Limited Lola/MG of Tommy Erdos/Mike Newton/Warren Hughes in 21st overall, with the two-car Paul Belmondo Racing team of Courage/Fords driven by Claude Yves Gosselin/Karim Ojjeh/Adam Sharpe and Paul Belmondo/Didier Andre/Rick Sutherland following in 22nd and 23rd.

Attrition was heavy during the race, with only 27 of the 49 starters running at the finish. The weather was hot and humid, with daytime temperatures in the mid-90s, but the race was safe, with many spin-offs and minor crashes thankfully resulting in no injuries.

24 Hours of Le Mans Top Five:

1) Tom Kristensen/JJ Lehto/Marco Werner, No. 3 LMP1 Champion Racing Audi R8, 370 laps

2) Emmanuel Collard/Jean-Christophe Boullion/Erik Comas, No. 16 LMP1 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo/Judd, -2 laps

3) Frank Biela/Emmanuele Pirro/Allan McNish, No. 2 LMP1 Champion Racing Audi R8, -6 laps

4) Franck Montagny/Jean-Michel Gounon/Stephane Ortelli, No. 4 LMP1 Team Oreca Audi R8, -8 laps

5) Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta/Jan Magnussen, No. 64 GT1 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-R, -23 laps

Complete Race Results

Formula 1: Schumacher Wins Indy “Race”

The debacle that was the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has already been covered in detail and we have nothing of constructive substance to add here.

United States Grand Prix Top Five:

1) Michael Schumacher, No. 1 Ferrari, 73 laps

2) Rubens Barrichello, No. 2 Ferrari, -1.522sec

3) Tiago Monteiro, No. 18 Jordan/Toyota, -1 lap

4) Narain Karthikeyan, No. 19 Jordan/Toyota, -1 lap5) Christijan Albers, No. 21 Minardi/Cosworth, -2 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Fernando Alonso, 59; 2) Kimi Raikkonen, 37; 3) Michael Schumacher, 34; 4) Rubens Barrichello, 29; 5) Jarno Trulli, 27.

Complete Race Results

F1 Drivers Drop Out of Indy in Protest (6/19/2005)
Six cars left in the race as drivers protest safety of tires.

In the supporting events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Marco Andretti won the Infiniti Pro Series race (much to the delight of father Michael and grandfather Mario), Belgian David Saelens won both Porsche Supercup races, and the Formula BMW USA races were won by 18-year-old Australian James Davison and 15-year-old Frenchman Richard Phillippe.

NASCAR: Biffle Leads Roush Rout at Michigan

If you were lucky enough to be driving for Roush Racing at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, your odds of success were pretty good. Red-hot Greg Biffle led the Roush armada to victory, taking his fifth win of the season, with four of the five team cars taking four of the top five spots.

Bouncing back from a disastrous night in the Busch Series at Kentucky on Saturday (see below), Biffle rallied to hold off Tony Stewart thanks to the reverse strategy from that which foiled his efforts at Kentucky .

Biffle and Stewart were the obvious strongest runners throughout the race. When the caution flew on Lap 167, Stewart (who had led the most laps) chose to pit for tires. Biffle, who had done just that the previous night and had two crashes and a DNF for his efforts, stayed on track. Biffle made the right choice and, with a particularly well dialed-in chassis, was able to hold off Stewart despite Stewart’s fresher tires.

Biffle’s teammates Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards completed the top five, while Joe Nemechek, Michael Waltrip, Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch and Rusty Wallace filled out the top 10.

The fifth Roush car, that of defending champ Kurt Busch, finished 12th behind Jeff Burton. Current championship leader Jimmie Johnson finished a lackluster 19th, whittling his points lead over Biffle down to just 49, and his teammate/car owner Jeff Gordon did even worse, finishing 32nd. Tires were an issue for many, including Gordon, but most teams were able to adjust and work around the problem as the race wore on.

The series will head west to Infineon Raceway for its first road race of the year next weekend. That should be big fun and, for those road racing fans among us, it might just make up a little for Sunday’s farce in Circle City .

NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:

1) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 200 laps

2) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

3) Mark Martin, No. 6 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 200 laps

4) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 200 laps

5) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 200 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 2173; 2) Greg Biffle, 2124; 3) Elliott Sadler, 1923; 4) Carl Edwards, 1914; Mark Martin, 1904.

Complete Race Results

Busch Series: Edwards Dominates at Kentucky

The NASCAR Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night might well have been called “The Carl Edwards Show,” as the red-hot phenom sat on the pole and dominated the race, leading 150 of the 200 laps. Even so, he almost didn’t win.

Edwards and Roush Racing Nextel Cup teammate Greg Biffle (driving in Busch for Brewco Motorsports) obviously had the fastest cars on the track, leaving everyone in their mirrors, but both pitted unexpectedly for tires with 31 laps remaining, dropping Edwards to ninth and Biffle to 11th.

Biffle, unfortunately, was involved in two accidents in the closing laps, but Edwards carved his way up through the field chasing then-leader Martin Truex Jr. Truex was running well, but just when it looked like Edwards wouldn’t have enough time to get to him, a caution came out (thanks to Biffle, who crashed with Tyler Walker) with 15 laps left that closed up the field.

Edwards, then fourth, immediately blasted by Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer and got right up to Truex’s bumper when another caution (again, thanks to Biffle) came out. The green flag flew for the restart with two laps to go, and Edwards put an over-under move on Truex that gave him the lead and his third Busch Series win of the season.

Bowyer, Sorenson and Paul Menard, who had his best career result in the series, followed Truex to the flag. Sterling Marlin, J.J. Yeley, Stacy Compton, Casey Atwood (in a one-off appearance for Evernham Motorsports) and Jon Wood completed the top 10.

The series heads north next week, where it will be the headline attraction at the Milwaukee Mile.

NASCAR Busch Series Top Five:

1) Carl Edwards, No. 60 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 200 laps

2) Martin Truex Jr., No. 8 Chance 2 Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

3) Clint Bowyer, No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 225 laps

3) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge Charger, 200 laps

5) Paul Menard, No. 11 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Reed Sorenson, 2186; 2) Martin Truex Jr., 2150; 2) Clint Bowyer, 2145; 4) Carl Edwards, 2120; 5) Kenny Wallace, 1991.

Complete Race Results

Craftsman Truck Series: Setzer Wins at Michigan

Dennis Setzer won his first Craftsman Truck Series race of the season at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, helped by a caution flag with two laps to go when the closely pursuing Ted Musgrave blew his engine while trying to chase down and pass Setzer.

Occasional series visitor Kyle Busch, trying to win his third Truck race in as many appearances this year, finished second ahead of defending series champ Bobby Hamilton, who was catapulted into the points lead thanks to former leader Musgrave’s troubles. Kevin Harvick was fourth, with Mike Skinner completing the top five. Rick Crawford, Chad Chaffin, David Reutimann, Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague filled out the top 10.

Busch took the pole, his first in the series, in a qualifying session that saw 30 of the field’s 36 drivers break the track record and led early, but a blown tire sent him to the back of the pack 30 laps into the race. The late caution not only ended Musgrave’s chances to win, but also those of Busch, who felt he could have caught the leader if the race had stayed under green.

Setzer’s win was the first for Chevrolet at Michigan, and also jumped him from fifth to second in the championship. The race had 13 different leaders and 17 lead changes, and ran under caution for 25 laps of the 100-lap distance.

The series will visit the historic Milwaukee Mile next weekend, where it will serve as the undercard to the featured Busch Series race.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Top Five:

1) Dennis Setzer, No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 100 laps

2) Kyle Busch, No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 100 laps

3) Bobby Hamilton, No. 04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram, 100 laps

4) Kevin Harvick, No. 92 Kevin Harvick Racing Chevrolet Silverado, 100 laps

5) Mike Skinner, No. 5 Bill Davis Racing Toyota Tundra, 100 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Bobby Hamilton, 1429; 2) Dennis Setzer, 1424; 3) Ted Musgrave, 1405; 4) Ricky Craven, 1373; 5) Ron Hornaday, 1328.

Complete Race Results

Champ Car: “Shorty” Gets Back on the Good Foot at Portland

There was, in fact, an open-wheeled race on Sunday in which all the competitors raced, but unfortunately, due to the Great Divide in American open-wheel racing, the Champ Car World Series’ event at Portland International Raceway went relatively unnoticed.

If you had been paying attention, you would have seen a heart-warming return to victory lane for one of the series’ best-liked former champions, Cristiano da Matta.

“Shorty,” as he is affectionately known, has not won a race since late 2002, the year he won what was then the CART title. In the interim he spent two frustrating years with the Toyota Formula 1 team, helping to lay the foundation that eventually led them to their first pole at Indy on Saturday, and returned to Champ Cars this year with PKV Racing, co-owned by series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, Dan Pettit and fellow former series champ Jimmy Vasser. Da Matta’s Portland win was the team’s first.

One of PKV’s biggest assets is legendary veteran crew chief Jim McGee, who called for a short pit stop when polesitter and early leader Justin Wilson’s car died on track and brought out a full-course caution, and that was the break da Matta needed to get out front. From that point he motored away from 2003 series champ Paul Track and defending series champ Sebastien Bourdais, pulling enough of a gap to pit and stay out front later in the race. Bourdais got past Tracy for second, and that was the order at the finish.

Mario Dominguez was fourth ahead of A.J. Allmendinger, with Vasser, Andrew Ranger, Ronnie Bremer, Bjorn Wirdheim and Timo Glock rounding out the top 10.

All in all, a far more entertaining show than that other deal, and congratulations to “Shorty.” Welcome back; we missed you.

The series heads to Cleveland, which rocks, next weekend for its annual visit to the wide-open spaces of Burke Lakefront Airport.

Champ Car World Series Top Five:

1) Cristiano da Matta, No. 21 PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, 105 laps

2) Sebastien Bourdais, No. 1 Newman-Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -10.127sec

3) Paul Tracy, No. 3 Forsythe Championship Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -17.570sec

4) Mario Dominguez, No. 7 Forsythe Championship Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -18.640sec

5) A.J. Allmendinger, No. 10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -26.708sec

Driver’s Championship: 1) Sebastien Bourdais, 106; 2) Paul Tracy, 95; 3) Justin Wilson, 77; 4) A.J. Allmendinger, 74; 5) Cristiano da Matta, 73.

Complete Race Results

On the undercard at Portland, rookie Klaus Graf won the Trans-Am race in one of Paul Gentilozzi’s Jaguars ahead of the Corvettes of Randy Ruhlman and Joey Scarallo, while Estonian Tonis Kasemets swept both ends of the Toyota Atlantic double-header.

Elsewhere on the road racing front, the Grand-Am Cup series made a one-off visit to Mosport. Gunnar Jeanette and David Empringham won the GS class in a Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT, heading Anders Hainer/Boris Said/Joey Hand in an Anchor Racing BMW M3 and Multimatic teammates James Gue/Tom Milner Jr. in another Mustang. In the ST class, the father-and-son team of Jim and Jamie Holtom won (the second win in a week for the elder Holtom) in a Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevy Cobalt, ahead of the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of David Haskell/Sylvain Tremblay and the Kensai Racing Acura RSX-S of Travis Walker/Aaron Povoledo.

NHRA: Dixon, Worsham and Line Victorious at E-Town

Larry Dixon has some kind of weird mojo going with racing on Father’s Day. He has won the past five Father’s Day races, including Sunday’s at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., driving Don Prudhomme’s Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster to a victory over a tire-smoking Dave Grubnic in the final round. Dixon’s win propelled him to third in the championship, 68 points behind leader Doug Kalitta. Dixon defeated Mitch King, Cory McClenathan and Kalitta enroute to the finals, while Grubnic got past Doug Herbert, John Smith and Jack Beckman.

In Funny Car, Del Worsham got his first win of the season and the 20th of his career by defeating Ron Capps in the final, 4.866/321.19 to 4.911/315.49. Worsham had to get past Tony Bartone, points leader John Force and Robert Hight to get to Capps, who beat Tony Pedregon, Whit Bazemore and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the prelims.

It was two in a row for Jason Line in Pro Stock, and three for the season, as he bested “Professor” Warren Johnson in the final round. Line got past WJ right at the finish line, posting a 6.692/205.98 to a losing 6.714/207.50. Line beat Greg Stanfield, championship-leading teammate Greg Anderson and Larry Morgan to advance to the final round, while WJ pasted Greg Anderson, Jim Yates and son Kurt Johnson to advance to the final.

For “Mr. Father’s Day,” it was payback time in victory lane when his kids showered him with silly string. Nice.

The series hits it again next weekend in the shadow of the Arch, with a visit to Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis.

NHRA Final Round Results:

Top Fuel:

1) Larry Dixon, Miller Lite Dragster, 4.533sec/329.91mph

2) David Grubnic, Zantrex 3 Dragster, 6.798sec/135.44mph

Funny Car:

1) Del Worsham, Checker Shuck’s Kragen Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 4.866sec/321.19mph

2) Ron Capps, Brut Dodge Stratus, 4.911sec/315.49mph

Pro Stock:

1) Jason Line, Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand-Am, 6.692sec/205.98mph

2) Warren Johnson, GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand-Am, 6.714sec/207.50mph

Complete Race Results

Racing on TV This Week (all times ET):

6/24:

6:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying, Infineon Raceway

9:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, Milwaukee Mile

6/25:

6:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Busch Series qualifying, Milwaukee Mile

7:30 pm, espn2: IRL Indycar Series race, Richmond International Raceway

9:00 pm, FX: NASCAR Busch Series race, Milwaukee Mile

6/26:

12:00 midnight, espn2: NHRA Powerade Drag Racing qualifying, Gateway International Raceway (tape delayed)

1:30 pm, CBS: Champ Car World Series race, Burke Lakefront Airport (Cleveland)

3:30 pm, Fox: NASCAR Nextel Cup race, Infineon Raceway

9:00 pm, espn2: NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series finals, Gateway International Raceway (same day)

11:00 pm, Speed: FIA World Rally Championship, Greece (same day)

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