Monday, September 1, 2014

Musings From the Weekend: The Summer's Dying Days

We crowned a champion, ran 1000km, went North of the Border and saw Marc Márquez win again this weekend. Labor Day signals the unofficial end to summer as kids start the dog days of school, the weather will start to get brisk, colors change and the next major holiday is Thanksgiving in three months. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Pass of the Year Nominee
Got to start by giving praise to Ryan Blaney and Germán Quiroga for their last lap battle at Mosport on Sunday. I have never seen a NASCAR road course race that close end so cleanly. Normally you see drivers banging into one another, ignoring track limits and it's just too overly aggressive. What Blaney and Quiroga did on the final lap at Mosport was a display of what great racing is. It is respecting your competitor and taking advantage of any opening they give you.

Blaney has been impressive the last three years. From winning in his third start in the Truck Series to a pair of victories in the Nationwide Series to landing the Wood Brothers' Cup ride in 2015. Hopefully Penske hangs on to him like a son of bitch because if he lets him go, he is letting go of a sure winner.

Back to Their Roots
NASCAR is going back to Darlington on Labor Day weekend. Why they ever left, I haven't a clue. No major changes to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The traditional July off weekend moves to June. A few races flop dates. Other than that no major changes.

I want to give NASCAR credit though on the Nationwide Series schedule and not the good kind. They moved the standalone Chicagoland race to the Saturday night of the June off weekend. Road America moves to August when NASCAR takes another week off because there will be five Sundays in August 2015. I find it ironic they moved that race to what will likely be a week after IndyCar at Milwaukee and three weeks after IMSA goes to Road America. I've stated many times series need to have dialogue to avoid over scheduling a market. There is no reason why Wisconsin needs three major races in four weeks. It's disappointing NASCAR would choose to do this. This affects many other series including Pirelli World Challenge who raced at Road America weekend with NASCAR this year. In likelihood, IndyCar will be at Sonoma that weekend and PWC ran with IndyCar at Sonoma last week. So who do they choose to go with in 2015? It's disappointing they are forced to make a choice.

The Truck schedule will see the addition of a race at Atlanta. It's disappointed the Truck Series aren't at Richmond, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Darlington or any of the small, local short tracks such as Memphis, Mansfield, South Boston, etc. that was the backbone for the series for many years.

He's Back
He was hardly gone. Marc Márquez made it 11-for-12 in 2014 with a victory at Silverstone. Another great battle with Jorge Lorenzo while Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso battled for third. Honda's perfect season continues. Márquez and Lorenzo went at it hard. You had slight contact, guys running wide. It wasn't as great their battle last year at Silverstone or Mugello and Barcelona this year but it was still top notch.

Apparently this will be the last race at Silverstone as Circuit of Wales has a five-year contract with a five-year option. I don't see Wales hosting the British Grand Prix. I doubt the track will ever be built. After all, how is the Formula One racing doing at Donnington? Oh, that's right.

Sad News
V8 Supercars will not be returning to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in 2015. After running there in 2013, the series took a year over after a scheduling conflict with the X Games, which were held in Austin for the first time in the events history.

Sad to see V8SC go but I never thought the series was going to catch a big following in the United States. The races are held at rough hours for most of the United States (reasonable hours if you live in Hawai'i or Alaska). When the event was first announced, I thought it would be similar to the Surfers Paradise race which featured two 300km races with a slew of international drivers from IndyCar, sports cars and touring cars pairing with season regulars. I think if they had done that with the American series and had IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA drivers pairing up, the events would have had a chance to be really successful but you'd have to run the V8SC races early in the year to avoid scheduling conflicts. Hopefully the series returns in the States in the near future. I think they would put on a great show at Laguna Seca.

Got To End On A Good Note
We can't end with a story like that. It's too depressing and it's a holiday. You can't be sad on holidays. To end on a positive, let's all wish former IndyCar driver and current Sauber reserve driver Simona de Silvestro who turns 26 years old today. She left IndyCar on a high note with five consecutive top fives including a career best second place finish at Houston and her first career top ten finish on an oval at Fontana. I think de Silvestro's birthday is enough of a reason to get some cake and schnapps for ourselves.

Happy Birthday Simona!
Winners From the Weekend
You know about Tony Kanaan and Will Power becoming IndyCar champion, Marc Márquez and Ryan Blaney but did you know...

Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta.

Esteve Rabat won his second consecutive Moto2 race at Silverstone. Álex Rins won his first race of the Moto3 season.

Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter won the Suzuka 1000km. It was Lexus' first victory in the event since 2009. The BMW Z4 GT3 of Akira Iida and Hiroki Yoshimoto won in GT300.

OAK Racing is 2-for-2 in the 2014 Asian Le Mans Series season. David Cheng, Ho-Pin Tung and Keiko Ihara were the overall winners at Fuji. In GT, the BMW Z4 of Team AAI of Jun San Chen, Tatsuya Tanigawa and Carlo van Dam were the winners. In the CN class, the Craft-Bamboo Racing Ligier JS 53 Evo of Mathias Beche, Kevin Tse and Samson Chan were the victors.

Daniel Serra and Ricardo Maurício split the Stock Car Brasil weekend at Curitiba.

Kevin Harvick won the Nationwide race at Atlanta.

Coming Up This Weekend
Formula One heads to Monza.
NASCAR has their final race before the Chase at Richmond.
Blancpain Sprint Series is heading to Algarve, Portugal.
World Superbike is back in action at Jerez.