Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daly Confirmed for Indianapolis, NASCAR at Martinsville, MotoGP Season Opener

With the Easter break behind us, racing returns this weekend with IndyCar and NASCAR returning to the race track while the MotoGP season begins under the lights in Qatar.

Daly To Attempt Indianapolis 500
Conor Daly will drive for AJ Foyt Racing in the Indianapolis 500 this May. Daly, an Indiana native, won the 2010 Star Mazda Championship and has spent the better part of two years racing in Europe. Daly has won in the Indy Lights Series and Indianapolis is scheduled to be his IndyCar debut. In his Star Mazda Championship season, Daly won the two oval events at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Iowa Speedway. Derek Daly, Conor's father, raced in the Indianapolis 500 on six occasions with his best finish being 12th in 1985.

Conor Daly ran in the GP2 weekend in Sepang with Formula One before Easter. He scored two points after his 7th place finish in the second race of the weekend. Nothing has been announced about his future racing endeavors in Europe.

With Daly being confirmed for Indianapolis, that brings the unofficial Indianapolis 500 entry list to 28 cars, the 25 full-timers, AJ Allmendinger, Carlos Muñoz and Daly, with speculations of Schmidt, Ganassi, Sarah Fisher-Hartman, Ed Carpenter, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan and Panther Racing all running additional cars for Indianapolis as well.

NASCAR at Martinsville
NASCAR returns to Virginia without Virginia's top driver. Denny Hamlin will miss Martinsville after breaking a vertebra in a last lap accident at Fontana 10 days ago. Mark Martin will replace Hamlin this weekend, while Brian Vickers will run the Gibbs Toyota at the following four races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the points standings after finishing in the top ten in all five events. Brad Keselowski averaged a finishing position of 3.5 through the first four races before a 23rd at Fontana. Keselowski is second in points. A new name in the top 10 in points is Paul Menard in 8th, after finishing in the top ten in the last three races. Names outside in the top 10 are Matt Kenseth in 11th, Clint Bowyer in 14th, Kevin Harvick in 15th, Jeff Gordon in 18th, Ryan Newman in 20th and Tony Stewart in 22nd.

Last year, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson led a combined 440 laps, only to have both drivers finish outside the top ten after getting together with Clint Bowyer on one of the green-white-checker attempts. Ryan Newman went on to win the race.

MotoGP Season Opener
The 2013 MotoGP season begins in Qatar this weekend as Jorge Lorenzo looks to defend his championship. He is teamed again with Valentino Rossi who returns to Yamaha after two seasons at Ducati. Dani Pedrosa will be teamed with fellow Spaniard Marc Márquez at Honda after the retirement of Casey Stoner. Márquez won the Moto2 championship last year after winning nine of seventeen rounds. The factory Ducati team will be Italian Andrea Dovizioso and American Nicky Hayden. Dovizioso moves back to a factory team after one season at Tech3 Yamaha. American Ben Spies moves to the customer Ducati team, Pramac Racing, after a dreadful 2012 season at Yamaha.

At the official test in Sepang last month, Pedrosa led Lorenzo with Rossi, Márquez, Cal Crutchlow and Stefan Brandl all within a second of the Honda. The Ducati's of Hayden and Dovizioso were 9th and 10th respectively with Ben Spies down in 15th.