Thursday, July 25, 2013

Today in Racing News

Lots of news to cover for a Thursday in July so let's get right to it.

Dillon Wins at Eldora
For the first time in nearly forty-three years, a NASCAR national touring division raced on a dirt track and it happened to be Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Full-time Nationwide Series driver and 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon took the 150-lap* feature event with full-time Nationwide Series driver and 2011 4-Crown Nationals champion Kyle Larson finishing second with full-time Sprint Cup Series driver and 1999 USAC Silver Crown champion Ryan Newman in third. Championship eligible Truck Series drivers took six of the top ten including fourth through eighth with Joey Coulter, Brendan Gaughan, Timothy Peters, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Matt Crafton with 1984 USAC Silver Crown champion and 1995 World of Outlaws champion and Ohio-native Dave Blaney in ninth and Max Gresham rounding out the top ten. Pole sitter Ken Schrader led fifteen laps before finishing fourteenth. 

Matt Crafton holds on to the points lead and is forty-eight markers up on Jeb Burton. James Buescher is third, fifty-one markers back, Ty Dillon fourth, fifty-six markers back with Crafton's ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter tied for fifth with Timothy Peters, seventy-three points back. Sauter owns the tiebreaker over Peters with two wins to one. The Truck Series will be on the track again on August 3rd at Pocono Raceway.

*- Race went 153 laps due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Davison to Debut at Mid-Ohio
Australian and runner-up in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights championship James Davison will make his IndyCar debut at Mid-Ohio on August 4th for Dale Coyne Racing. Davison will become the fourth different driver to get behind the wheel of the #18 Coyne Honda in 2013. Davison has won twice at Mid-Ohio in Indy Lights competition and both wins came from pole position. Davison tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Mid-Ohio on June 24th of this year. This appears to be just a one-off for Davison as Mike Conway will race the doubleheader at Houston and Pippa Mann racing at Fontana. Former Panther Racing driver and the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion JR Hildebrand is the rumored driver for Sonoma with two-time Indy Lights race winner Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin Wilson, rumored to be the driver for Baltimore. Neither Hildebrand nor Wilson have been confirmed. 

Possible Change at Barracuda/Herta Autosport
It has been rumored Barracuda Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport will be making a driver change for Mid-Ohio and possibly for the rest of 2013. Current driver, French-Canadian Alex Tagliani has had a rough 2013 season with only two top tens with them coming in race one at St. Petersburg and the most recent race at Toronto. In the eleven races between top tens for Tagliani, his average finish was 19.36 with six finishes of twentieth or worse. No change has officially been made but all reported signs point to the team hiring a driver who has never made an IndyCar start and is a "young Italian." GP2 race winner and runner-up in the 2011 GP2 Series championship Luca Filippi is the favorite to land the seat. Filippi was rumored to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2012, starting in the Indianapolis 500, however that deal never came through. The last Italian-born driver to compete in an IndyCar race was Giorgio Pantano substituting for an injured Charlie Kimball at Mid-Ohio last year. 

Bryan Herta Autosport also looks to bring a new driver to Indy Lights to Mid-Ohio. The team tested Zimbabwean Axcil Jefferies earlier this week. Jefferies last competed in the now defunct FIA Formula Two Championship where he ran the final five rounds of the championship, finish twelfth in the championship standings and best finish was seventh at Spa-Francorchamps. 

Vautier Racing at Mid-Ohio a Week Earlier
IndyCar doesn't race at Mid-Ohio until August 4th but IndyCar Rookie of the Year contender Tristan Vautier will race there this weekend in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. The Frenchman has never raced at Mid-Ohio before and is doing this for extra seat time. Three other drivers on the F1600 grid have IndyCar connections. Americans Sam Chastain and Adrian Starrantino and Norweigian Ayla Agren race for Bryan Herta Autosport. The 2012 Skip Barber Summer Series and Winter Series champion Jake Eidson leads the F1600 points standings with Aaron Telitz second, fifteen points behind. 

Brickyard Grand Prix
Tomorrow will be the second running of the Rolex Sports Car Series Brickyard Grand Prix form Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wayne Taylor Racing and Starworks Motorsport are tied for the championship lead with 194 points with co-winner of the last two races Christian Fittipaldi third, four points back, the Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing entry fourth, five points back, João Barbosa, co-winner of the last two races, sixth, six points back and the Ganassi Racing entry seventh twelve points back. 

The Brickyard Grand Prix is the third and final round of the North American Endurance Championship. Barbosa leads his Action Express co-driver Fittipaldi by three points with the Ganassi duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas six back, 8Star Motorsports drivers Michael Valiante and Stephane Sarrazin seven back and Max Angellelli and Jordan Taylor eight back. 

Indianapolis will bring out a few bigger names from the world of racing. 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will team with Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters driver, American Joey Hand in a second Ganassi Racing entry. Sébastien Bourdais will run a second entry for 8Star Motorsport with Venezuelan Emilio DiGuida. Bourdais won the Brickyard Grand Prix last year with Alex Popow. AJ Allmendinger returns to Indianapolis after finishing seventh in his first career Indianapolis 500 start just two months ago. He teams with Gustavo Yacaman and Michael Shank Racing. Rubens Barrichello returns to Indianapolis and for the first time to run the road course since the 2007 United States Grand Prix. Barrichello will team with Doran Racing's Doug Peterson. In eight United States Grand Prix starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barrichello has one victory, four podiums, a pole position and five points paying finishes. 

On the GT side, defending Brickyard Grand Prix winners John Potter and Andy Lally lead the championship standings by six points over John Edwards and Robin Liddell. In the North American Endurance Championship standings, Edwards and Liddell lead Anthony Lazzaro and Emil Assentato by two points and Bill Auberlen by four. The Brickyard Grand Prix will be Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET with SPEED showing the race at 7:30 p.m.

Austria Returns to the Formula One Calendar
Starting in 2014, Formula One will return to the homeland of Niki Lauda. Austria will return to the Formula One calendar for the first time since 2003. The once Österreichring and A1-Ring now-named Red Bull Ring will play host to a round tentatively scheduled for July 6th. The track is owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz and has hosted a DTM race since 2011 and a European Le Mans Series race just took place their last Saturday. Austria is the third different race scheduled to join the Formula One calendar in 2014. The Grand Prix of America set to take place on the streets of Weehawken and West New York, New Jersey and the Russian Grand Prix set to take places on the streets of Sochi, Russia are tentatively on the 2014 schedule along with all 2013 rounds except for Suzuka, who has yet to sign a deal for 2014. Formula One races this weekend at Austria's neighbor to the east, Hungary.