Friday, September 20, 2013

The Final Weekend of Summer

For those in the northern hemisphere, Sunday is the beginning of Autumn as the days will get shorter and colder. Though summer is ending, racing is in full swing with series hitting tracks around the globe.

Formula One returns to Singapore for their annual race under the city lights. Sebastian Vettel has won two consecutive races in Singapore and leads the World Drivers' Championship by fifty-three points over Fernando Alonso. Vettel won the final two rounds in Europe with Alonso finishing second to him at each Spa and Monza. Alonso is a two-time winner at Singapore with third in the standings Lewis Hamilton the only other driver to have won at Singapore. Keep an eye on Nico Rosberg who has always been fast on street course. His first career podium was at Melbourne in 2008, he finished second in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, has finished second and first the last two years at Monaco including winning from pole this year and two of Rosberg's four fastest laps have come on street courses.

In New Hampshire NASCAR runs their second race of the Chase. Matt Kenseth's win at Chicago over teammate Kyle Busch secured the Wisconsinian's point lead, now eight ahead of Busch. Jimmie Johnson is third ahead of Kevin Harvick. Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch are tied for fifth. The final two drivers to be placed in the Chase are seventh and eighth. Jeff Gordon is twenty-four back with Ryan Newman twenty-eight back. Clint Bowyer is tied with Newman while Greg Biffle rounds out the top ten. Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. round out the final three Chase positions. Toyota's have won the last two races at New Hampshire and a total three of the last nine with Chevrolet taking the remaining six. The last Ford to win at Loudon was Greg Biffle in the first race of the 2008 Chase. Jeff Burton has the most Cup wins at New Hampshire with four.

Sam Hornish, Jr. leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series into Kentucky. The Ohioan is up seventeen points on 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon with seven races to go. Regan Smith is third in points despite having the most wins for those eligible for the Nationwide title. Elliott Sadler is fourth ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brian Vickers. Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne (only one of three championship eligible drivers to have won a race in 2013), Kyle Larson and Parker Kligerman round out the top ten. No Cup drivers are entered for Kentucky, giving the championship eligible drivers a great chance for a win in 2013, however, a few Truck drivers will be racing Saturday including points leader Matt Crafton, Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton and Joey Coulter as they look to spoil the party.

Austin gears up for a sports car filled weekend. The American Le Mans Series debuts at the track on Saturday. Pickett Racing and drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf have already locked up the final LMP1 title. Marino Franchitti leads teammate Scott Tucker by four in LMP2 while Level 5 leads Extreme Speed by fifteen in the team title. Corvette has pulled out to a thirty-one point lead over the Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMWs while the SRT Vipers are only eight back of RLLR. In the driver standings Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner lead teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonia García by two and RLLR driver Dirk Müller by eight. SRT Viper drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens are thirteen back. In PC, Colin Braun leads Mike Guasch by eight and Jonathan Bennett by twelve. CORE Autosport leads PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport by eight. In GTC, Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen lead Nelson Canache, Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly by six while Flying Lizard Racing Alex Job Racing by eight.

The FIA World Endurance Championship makes it's debut Sunday with a six hour race. Audi is four-for-four in 2013 and has a commanding sixty-one point lead over Toyota. Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval hold a twenty-two point lead over André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer. If the pattern stays true to the first four rounds, it will be McNish, Kristensen and Duval's turn to win at Austin. Former IndyCar drivers Bertrand Baguette and Martin Plowman along with Mexican Ricardo González lead the LMP2 standings by fourteen over their OAK Racing counterparts of Alex Brundle, Olivier Pla and David Heinemeier Hansson. In GT, Aston Martin drivers Stefan Mücke and Darren Turner are up two points on Porsche drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz and five up on the Ferrari pairing of Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni. The points are reversed in the Manufactures' championship. Ferrari is up four on Porsche while Aston Martin are fifteen back. In GTE AM, 2010 Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay and Raymond Narac lead Jamie Campbell-Walker and Stuart Hall by six points.

The Four-Crown Nationals take place this weekend at Eldora Speedway and the USAC Silver Crown title is on the line. Bobby East leads Jerry Coons, Jr. by five entering the final race of 2013. Bryan Clauson leads Dave Darland by five in the National Sprint Car Championship. Since the beginning of August, Darland has won four of nine races while Clauson has only won two in that same time frame. Brady Bacon is third, fifty-six back. After Eldora there will be five races to go in the Sprint Car season. Rookie Christopher Bell leads Clauson by thirty-seven in the National Midget Dirt Championship. Bell has four Midget wins in 2013 while Clauson only has three including the most recent Dirt Midget race at Angell Park Speedway. After Eldora the National Midget Dirt Championship will have seven races to go.

Toomas Heikkinen looks to clinch the Global Rallycross Championship at the Dirt Track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. He has won five consecutive rounds.

GP2 is also in Singapore for what is their penultimate round of 2013. Swiss Fabio Leimer leads British driver Sam Bird by six and Monegasque Stefano Coletti by twenty-four. Eleven drivers are still mathematically eligible for the title including American Alexander Rossi but he would have to score maximum points in the final two weekend with Leimer going scoreless in the final two rounds and Bird scoring no more than six points in the final two rounds to win on a tiebreaker.