Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Five: The Chase, the Corkscrew, 130R, Harbourfront and... the Other Chase

The second weekend in October is always one of the busiest of the year. One event leads into the next for almost twelve hours. For some in the United States they will have to stay up until very early in the morning to see all the victory celebrations and champagne poured. From a metropolis to a mountain, a hairpin to a corkscrew and to a backyard, there is plenty of motorsports from different varieties to choose from.

Bathurst 1000
The 60th Bathurst 1000 marks the 21st race of the 2016 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship. It is the second of three endurance race held during the season.

Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards won last year's race and it marked Lowndes' sixth Bathurst 1000 victory, putting him in a tie with Larry Perkins and Mark Scaife for third all-time. It was Richard's fourth Bathurst 1000 victory. Both return in the #888 Red Bull Racing Holden. Lowndes is currently third in the championship behind his teammates Shane Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup. Van Gisbergen is looking for his first Bathurst 1000 victory and Alexandre Prémat will be his co-driver in the #97 Holden, who has four Bathurst 1000 starts. Whincup is a four-time Bathurst 1000 winner and his #88 Holden co-driver Paul Dumbrell's only Bathurst triumph came in 2012 pairing with Whincup.

Scott McLaughlin is fourth in the championship and David Wall will be his co-driver in the #33 Volvo. McLaughlin scored his best Bathurst finish in fifth last year with Alexandre Prémat. Defending Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom won at Bathurst in 2013 and Dean Canto joins him in the #1 Prodrive Racing Ford. Canto finished second at Bathurst in 2012 with David Reynolds. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb are paired in the #19 Tekno Autosport Holden. Davison won the 2009 Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander. Webb won the Bathurst 12 Hour earlier this year driving for Tekno Autosport and he or Van Gisbergen could become the first driver to win both events in the same year.

Chaz Mostert stunned everyone two years ago when he and Paul Morris won the Bathurst 1000 and Mostert looks for his second Bathurst 1000 victory in the #55 Rod Nash Racing Ford with Steve Owen, who finished second last year with Mark Winterbottom. Garth Tander and Warren Luff won the Sundown 500 last month and now the #2 Holden Racing Team Holden. Tander's third and most recent Bathurst victory was in 2011. Michael Caruso is the top Nissan driver in the championship and Dean Fiore joins him in the #23 Nissan. Tim Slade, driver of the #14 Brad Jones Racing Holden, rounds out the top ten of the championship and Ashley Walsh will be his co-driver for Bathurst.

DJR Team Penske has two Fords entered with the #12 Ford for Fabian Coulthard and Luke Youlden and the #17 Ford for Scott Pye and Tony D'Alberto. Nick Percat won the 2011 Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander and Cameron McConville joins him in the #222 Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden. Rick Kelly and Russell Ingall are both two-time Bathurst 1000 winners and they will pair to drive the #15 Nissan. Richie Stanaway makes his Bathurst 1000 debut as co-driver for Chris Pither in the #111 Super Black Racing Holden. Simona de Silvestro and Renee Garcie return for the second year in the #360 Nissan. They finished 21st last year.

The 60th Bathurst 1000 will begin at 8:10 p.m. ET on Saturday October 8th.

Pirelli World Challenge Finale
The final round of the Pirelli World Challenge season takes place at Laguna Seca. One race will decide the championship and four drivers are still alive in the GT class.

K-PAX Racing McLaren's Álvaro Parente enters with the championship lead on 1,554 points. The Portuguese driver leads all drivers with five victories this season. He has a nine-point advantage over Wright Motorsport Porsche's Patrick Long. The American started the season with EFFORT Racing but switched teams after EFFORT Racing had to withdraw due to financial issues. Long won the first race of the season in Austin but hasn't won since sweeping the Mosport weekend in May.

Cadillac drivers Johnny O'Connell and Michael Cooper are tied after 20 races. Both drivers sit on 1,451 points with O'Connell owning the tiebreaker. O'Connell's sweep of the Sonoma weekend kept his hopes of winning a fifth consecutive championship alive, however for either Cadillac driver to have a hope to win the championship, they will need Parente and Long to retire before the halfway point in the race. O'Connell leads all drivers with nine podium finishes this season and Cooper has victories at Barber and Mid-Ohio.

The final race of the GT season will be at 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Four drivers are still fighting for the championship in GTS with ANSA Motorsports KTM driver Brett Sandberg holding a comfortable lead in the championship. The New Jerseyan has 1,473 points after three victories and ten podiums from 17 races. He leads Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro driver Lawson Aschenbach by 111 points. Aschenbach leads GTS with four victories but only has six podiums this season. Parker Chase has yet to win a race this season but is third in the championship, 146 points back of Sandberg. The Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta driver has six podiums this season. Roush Racing Ford driver Nathan Stacy kept his championship hopes alive with a victory at Sonoma and three consecutive podium finishes. Stacy trails Sandberg by 160 points.

Race one for GTS will be at 4:55 p.m. ET on Saturday with race two at 1:50 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Japanese Grand Prix
After the Malaysia Grand Prix, three drivers are still alive for the World Drivers' Championship as Formula One heads to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead to 23 points over Lewis Hamilton after the German finished third while Hamilton's engine expired while leading the race with less than a third of the race to go. Daniel Ricciardo's victory keeps his title hopes alive as he is 84 points behind Rosberg. Rosberg has finished second the last two years in the Japanese Grand Prix and has scored points in all but two of his Suzuka starts. Hamilton has won the last two Japanese Grand Prix and both have come from second on the grid with Rosberg starting on pole position. Ricciardo has finished in the points in only two of four Suzuka starts and his best finish at the track is fourth.

Kimi Räikkönen jumped his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel in the championship after finished fourth and Vettel's race ending in a first corner accident with Rosberg. The Finn has 160 points to the Germans 153 points. With his second-place finish at Sepang, Max Verstappen sits on 147 points. Valtteri Bottas has 80 points, six above Sergio Pérez. Nico Hülkenberg has 50 points and Fernando Alonso rounds out the top ten on 42 points, jumping Felipe Massa by a point.

Jenson Button finished ninth in his 300th career start at Sepang and Jolyon Palmer scored his maiden Formula One point and Renault has scored points in consecutive races. Scuderia Toro Rosso has one finish in the points in the last five races. Haas is coming off a double-retirement at Sepang. Both Manor Racing entries made it to the finish in Malaysia and Sauber is still looking for its first points of the season but Marcus Ericsson is coming off a respectable 12th-place finish.

The Japanese Grand Prix will take place at 1:00 a.m. ET on Sunday October 9th.

Hong Kong ePrix
The 2016-17 Formula E season begins this weekend on the 1.16-mile Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit. This marks the inaugural Hong Kong ePrix.

Sébastien Buemi returns to defend his title in the #9 Renault e.dams Z.E. 16 with Nicolas Prost returning as his teammate for the third consecutive season in the #8 Z.E. 16. Buemi enters as the all-time leader in victories, pole positions and fastest laps in the series history. Prost ended the 2015-16 season by sweeping the London doubleheader and finished third in the championship, good enough to clinch the Teams' Championship for Renault e.dams.

Lucas di Grassi finished second in the 2015-16 championship by two points behind the Swiss driver. Di Grassi is second all-time in victories but leads all-time in podiums with 14 from 21 starts. Despite being one of the most consistent drivers in Formula E's short history, he has yet to win a pole position. Di Grassi will drive the #11 ABT Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler FE02 with Daniel Abt returning in the #66 ABT Schaeffler FE02. Abt's five podium finishes without a race victory is the most all-time.

Sam Bird will race the #2 Virgin Racing Virgin DSV-02 in his third season with the team. Bird will have  a new teammate for a third consecutive season as three-time World Touring Car Championship champion José María López will drive the #37 Virgin DSV-02. Bird has three career victories. Dragon Racing retains Loïc Duval and Jérôme d'Ambrosio in the #6 and #7 Penske 701-EV respectively. D'Ambrosio's two Formula E victories have both come after Lucas di Grassi has been disqualified from a race. Duval is still looking for his first career victory.

Mahindra Racing has added Felix Rosenqvist in place of Bruno Senna in the #19 M3ELECTRO and Nick Heidfeld returns to drive the #23 M3ELECTRO. Stéphane Sarrazin returns in the #4 Venturi VM200-FE-02 with Maro Engel joining the series in the #5 Venturi VM200-FE-02. Andretti Autosport has retained Robin Frijns for the #27 ATEC-02 with António Félix da Costa moving into the #28 ATEC-02 after two seasons with Team Aguri, where he won at Buenos Aires in 2015. Inaugural Formula E champion Nelson Piquet, Jr. returns to NextEV NIO in the #3 NEXTEV TCR Formula 002. Oliver Turvey remains Piquet, Jr.'s teammate in the #88 NEXTEV TCR Formula 002.

There are two new teams on the Formula E grid. The Chinese team Techeetah replaces Team Aguri and has Jean-Éric Vergne coming off from Virgin Racing and Ma Qing Hua, who ran the final four races last season with Team Aguri. Vergne will drive the #25 Renault Z.E. 16 and the Frenchman has four podiums and four pole positions in his Formula E career but has yet to win a race. Ma will drive the #33 Renault Z.E. 16 and he won two WTCC races in 34 starts in the series.

Jaguar Racing returns to international motorsports competition for the first time since running in Formula One 12 years ago. Mitch Evans and Adam Carroll will drive the #20 and #47 Jaguar I-Type 1 respectively. Evans was the 2012 GP3 champion and won five GP2 races in four years in the series. Carroll also won five races in GP2 but last raced in the series in 2011. He was the 2008-09 A1GP champion driving for Team Ireland. Carroll has spent the last few seasons in the British GT Championship and has raced in GTE-Am with the #88 Gulf Racing Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship this season.

The Hong Kong ePrix will be at 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday October 9th.

Charlotte Motor Speedway
Twelve drivers remain in the Chase after the eliminations of Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher after Dover.

Martin Truex, Jr. won two of the three first round races with Kevin Harvick winning the other first round race. Truex, Jr. led 392 of 400 laps at Charlotte in May at the Coca-Cola 600. He has three consecutive top five finishes at Charlotte. Outside of Harvick's victory at New Hampshire his best finish in the first round was 20th. Harvick has 11 top ten finishes in his last 12 Charlotte starts.

Brad Keselowski finished in the top five in all three first round races and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were the only other drivers beside Truex, Jr. and Keselowski to finish in the top ten in all first round races. Keselowski has five top ten finishes in his last six Charlotte starts and has finished 13 of 14 Charlotte starts. Busch has finished outside the top ten in the last three Charlotte races.

Joey Logano advanced with a second at Chicago and a sixth at Dover being his best finishes during the first round. Chase Elliott finished third in the bookends in round one with a 13th at Loudon sandwiched in-between. Kurt Busch's fifth at Loudon was his only top ten finish during round one. Denny Hamlin had two top ten finishes in round one. Logano has the best average finish at Charlotte among Chase drivers at 9.5. Elliott finished eighth at Charlotte in May.

Carl Edwards' only top ten finish in round one was sixth at Loudon. Jimmie Johnson finished the latter two races of round one in the top ten and he has only one top five finish since finishing third at Charlotte in May. Austin Dillon advanced to round two with an eighth-place finish at Dover, his first top ten finishes after five consecutive outside the top ten. Edwards has 15 top ten finishes in 23 Charlotte starts but only has one victory. Johnson leads all drivers with seven Charlotte victories.

The NASCAR race from Charlotte is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on October 8th.

1. Over or Under: 2.5 New Zealanders in the top five of the Bathurst 1000?
2. Over or Under: 20.5 points being the margin between the PWC GT champion and vice-champion?
3. Over or Under: 0.5 safety car periods at Suzuka?
4. Over or Under: 3.5 average finish for Renault e.dams in Hong Kong?
5. Over or Under: 125.5 laps led by Martin Truex, Jr. in the Cup race?

Last Week's Over/Unders
1. Over: Four Americans won at Petit Le Mans (One in Prototype, one in PC and two in GTD).
2. Under: Force India scored 12 points at Malaysia.
3. Over: Three Chase drivers finished behind Chris Buescher at Dover.
4. Over: Sébastien Ogier won Tour de Corse by 46.4 seconds over Thierry Neuville.
5. Under: Four nationalities were represented in the top five in the Magny-Cours World Supersport race.

1. Shane Van Gisbergen wins the Bathurst 1000.
2. One of the PWC GT championship eligible drivers qualifies outside the top six.
3. Only one McLaren finishes in the points.
4. At least two drivers score their first Formula E points.
5. Both Busch brothers finish in the top ten at Charlotte.

Last Week's Predictions
1. The entire PC podium finishes ahead of the GTLM race winner (Wrong. Only the top two in PC finished ahead of the GTLM winner).
2. Max Verstappen scores fastest lap of the race (Wrong. Nico Rosberg had fastest lap).
3. None of the bottom four in the Chase entering Dover advance to round two (Wrong. Austin Dillon advanced and Kyle Larson did not).
4. Sébastien Ogier wins at least six stages (Correct. Ogier won six stages).
5. Two Ducatis finish on the podium in one of the World Superbike races (Wrong. Chaz Davies won each race but was the only Ducati on the podium in each race).
Last Week: 1/5 Overall: 4/10