Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mazda, And Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Plays Gracious Host to Historic IMSA Race Weekend

Mazda Prototype cars No, 70 leads eventual Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Pole winner No. 55 out of Turn 11 on to the front straightaway at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Mazda, And Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Plays Gracious Host to Historic IMSA Race Weekend

The way the weather opened up to perfect springtime cloudless skies over Saturday and Sunday, it seemed as though everything else would be perfect for Mazda Motorsports and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda race event weekend ... and it almost was. The one thing clear, from the beginning, was that this weekend seemed poised to go down in the motorsports record books and be remembered as historic (as opposed to hosting 'Historics').

The race weekend was full of competition everywhere for nearly every fan featuring the IMSA sanctioned series that include - Feature Race: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Click HERE for pre-race entry list. Support Races: IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge | Global Mazda Battery Tender MX-5 Cup (Click HERE for entries) | Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo | Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama (Click HERE for entries).

Located right next to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca race track's Start/Finish Line and pitlane, is the Mazda Motor Corporation's effort to honor people who have purchased their cars.  On display (L to R) Mazda6, Mazda3, and a IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mazda Prototype Class gasoline-fueled MZ-2.0T inline four cylinder engine powered sportscar ... all displayed in "Soul Red." Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

For Mazda Motorsports' contribution, all one had to know was that the MX-5 Cup would hold its first two races of the season in a unified effort (no Skip Barber) using the latest global spec version of the MX-5 Miata roadster released last year. The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has received rave reviews and multiple awards since its 2015 debut, including World Car of the Year.

During the opening rounds (1 & 2) of the 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, the field of 40 cars and drivers, Mazda showed the way to lead in an undeniable effort at the development of race car drivers, racing, and the pursuit of happiness to all who witnessed this exercise in abundant competition.

Before the drop of the first Green Flag of the season, John Doonan, director of motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), noted, "This MX-5 Cup race weekend represents almost two years of hard work by hundreds of people.  Having great partners like Battery Tender, BFGoodrich Tires, Long Road Racing and the many engineers within Mazda, both here and Japan, makes this a very special weekend. The rush of cars going into turn two on Friday afternoon will be an amazing sight. Those not in Monterey can tune in to the livestream. I predict epic racing action."

... and epic racing action ensued.

The 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires field of 40 drivers. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2016)

Included in this field of race car driving standout hopefuls were 2015 MX-5 Cup champion John Dean II, Sarah Montgomery (recipient of the Spirit of Mazda for March 2016), Certified Stunt Driver Drake Kemper, Earned $100,000 Mazda Scholarship awardees Robby Foley (2015 Skip Barber Champion), Glenn McGee (Mazda Road to 24 iRacing Shootout), Ara Malkhassian, Nikko Reger, Mark Drennan, Patrick Gallagher, Dean Copeland, and Gareth Nixon to mention a few.

With 40 global spec Mazda MX-5 Miatas in the field, room to race at speed seemed just a little hard to come by. On the first lap, the track was not wide enough to accommodate the thundering herd (4+ wide) as the dust at the rear of this image (exit of Turn 2) attests. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016) 

This excerpted and edited from Mazda Motorsports - 

In the historic first race of the 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, reigning 2015 series champion and Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) scholarship driver John Dean II (No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing) started the race on pole after an impressive qualifying session. Dean II led the 40-car field to the green flag for the start of the 45-minute race. With six lead changes and numerous position changes among the top-three, the first race of the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup was nothing short of thrilling.

Entering the first turn, Patrick Gallagher (No. 72 McCumbee McAleer Racing) fell back from second to eighth after getting trapped in the motorcycle lane in the first turn.

The incident allowed rookie Mark Drennan (No. 50 Winding Road Team TFB) to move up one spot to second while veteran Ara Malkhassian (No. 11 ALARA Racing) slid up two positions to third. Malkhassian’s place was short-lived, however, as MRT24 scholarship driver Robby Foley (No. 63 Atlanta Motorsports Group) made a move 10 minutes into the race to take the position.

Halfway into the race, only .115 seconds separated the top two drivers. As the top five continued to battle, Gallagher made his way back from mid-pack, overtaking Nikko Reger (No. 01 Copeland Motorsports) for fifth. In lap 14, at the exit of the last turn, Drennan would be punted off track, falling back to eighth. Gallagher slid into second, followed by Dean Copeland (No. 7 Copeland Motorsports) in third.
Looking down on the action through Turn 3 during late race movements with No. 1 Dan Martinson, Rogers, MN Atlanta Motorsports Group, No. 27 Nick Igdalsky, Long Pond, PA McCumbee McAleer Racing, No. 99 Drake Kemper, Thermal, CA Sick Sideways Racing, No. 23 Glenn McGee, Tampa, FL Sick Sideways Racing. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

With less than 10 minutes remaining, Dean II led the field, followed closely behind by Gallagher and Foley in third. In lap 21, Gallagher made an exciting move for the lead, overtaking Dean II; the two were separated by only .263 seconds. Reger made an assertive move in lap 21 to slide into candidacy for podium position.

With one lap remaining, Dean II had one more opportunity to overtake Gallagher, but fell short. Gallagher won the race by 0.121 seconds, followed by John Dean II. Although he crossed the line in third, Reger was penalized for his car being underweight in the post-race technical inspection; Foley took the third place podium.

“We got trapped in the motorcycle lane and my car ended up in the dirt,” recalls Gallagher, when asked about the incident early in the race. “But I knew the car was going to be good at the end of the race and that’s what we planned. I stayed calm. I knew it was a 45-minute race and I just started picking off cars one by one.”

A notable finish was Gareth Nixon (No. 3 Nixon Investments) who won the Battery Tender Hard Charger award. Nixon began the race in 40th position and picked up 23 spots to finish in 17th place.

John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations, did the official trophy presentation and noted, “Today’s race was the combined effort of many people and companies.  It was great to see 45 minutes of superb racing without a single caution flag.  It was special to have so many people from Battery Tender, BFGoodrich Tires, Long Road Racing and others here with Mazda.”
[Reference Here]

MRT24 scholarship driver Robby Foley (No. 63 Atlanta Motorsports Group) is interviewed by Racer's Steve Smith and  Tony Karis in post Round 2 press conference on his win. Robby was able to score two podium finishes in the first two rounds (P3 & P1 respectively) of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

And this -

Robby Foley Takes the Second Win of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Foley took the win, followed by Copeland in second and Dean II in third.

“Toward the beginning of the race, I was having some trouble with the brakes and that’s why I fell to third,” recalled race 2 winner Foley; he continued: “The guys behind me were racing really hard, but I was in that bubble where I couldn’t quite catch John and Patrick. I was matching their times, but couldn’t catch them. The caution actually helped me out and I was able to get back to the leaders. I took a chance in turn 2 near the end of the race and made it stick.”

Other notable finishes included rookie Nicholas Evancich (No.41 Sick Sideways Racing) who took the Battery Tender Hard Charger award with 22 positions gained moving from 35th position to 13th place.

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires will be at Watkins Glen on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 2016.

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup cars as they leave the Corkscrew and enter the technical downhill Turn 9. Driving (leading right to left) are No. 9 Matt Fassnacht, New York, NY ALARA Racing, No. 82 Max Faulkner, Rumson, NJ McCumbee McAleer Racing, No. 03 Ashton Harrison, Villa Rica, GA GB Racing, and No. 29 Justin Raphael, Franklin Lakes NJ McCumbee McAleer Racing. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Round 2 Details Here >>>

With the introduction to racing of the new global spec MX-5 Miata in Rounds 1 & 2, Mazda Motorsports also re-engineered its IMSA Prototype Class car from a SKYACTIV Diesel power-plant configuration used over these last three years to a 2-litre gasoline powered engine. The new package had showed some better pace over the diesel during the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hour endurance races as well as on the Toyota Grand Prix Long Beach street course previously run ... but now it was time to show what had been learned through the introduction of this new racing approach to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca home track.

From the drop of the first Green Flag for practice of the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the No. 70 and No. 55 bested the speeds set by all other competitors in the 4th Round of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series (save the final warm-up practice before the race) before setting first-ever Mazda Prototype program Pole Award in qualifications.

Tristan Nunez happy that these Mazda, Advanced Engine Research Ltd. (AER), and SpeedSource prepared Mazda Prototype gasoline-fueled MZ-2.0T inline four cylinder engines love the hills of Monterey. The first thing noticed by the driver with this change in configuration is how smooth the power is delivered in every gear through the RPM range ... there is great low-end torque with zero turbo-lag. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

This excerpted and edited from Mazda Motorsports -

Tristan Nunez turned a fast lap of 1:18.143 (103.103 mph) [IMSA Prototype track record - 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championships, David Brabham set a pole position time of 1:10.103 in a Le Mans Prototype] to lock up his first TOTAL Pole Award in the No. 55 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda co-driven by Monterey resident Jonathan Bomarito. Tom Long settled for second, running 1:18.379 (102.793 mph) in the No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda co-driven by Joel Miller.
It is the first pole for the Mazda Prototype team that began life with a stock block diesel engine, but has leapt into contention this year with the new Mazda MZ-2.0T gas-powered engine.

“I’m at a loss for words. I think the whole team is at a loss for words right now,” said Nunez, shortly after his fast lap.  “We knew what we had coming in here. We had a strong car and our car loves this track. I mean, it’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, after all. We pushed our hearts out - in both cars. We’re starting tomorrow’s race one - two, so what better place than Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - especially for our first pole? I’m extremely honored to be the one that got to do that so it’s awesome.

“I was driving on the edge - the absolute edge,” said Nunez. “I think we’re going to be doing that in the race as well. And we’re prepared to do that.

“We’ve been struggling for the past three year,” Nunez explained. “It’s been a challenging three years and now it’s really showing that we used that time to practice, like practicing pit stops. That’s so important plus every other little piece of the puzzle that we needed to get right. We put in the work, and it’s showing right now. We’re really going to show what we’re made of tomorrow in the race.”

The race, however, ended in a more disappointing fashion. After starting the race and gaining two successive leads of over 12 seconds on the field of large displacement earth-shaking DP Corvettes and experimental racing machines, the Mazda Prototype cars did not finish the race with such promise as the qualifications performance and the first 26 laps would suggest.

Biggest story of the two hour race in the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Class at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in one image. The No. 60 Michael Shanks Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 driven by Oz Negri and John Pew (leading) qualified last in class go on to win Round 4 while the cars that qualified the best at P1 and P2 (following) encountered racing trouble starting on Lap 26. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

This excerpted and edited from Mazda Motorsports - 

What had been a perfect weekend for the Mazda Prototype team at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca turned into disappointment in the final hour of today’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda. Tristan Nunez, who started on the pole position, and co-driver Jonathan Bomarito finished fourth in the No. 55 Mazda Prototype, which matches the best-ever finish for the team. The No. 70 Mazda driven by Tom Long recorded the fastest lap of the race (1:19.206) and ran in second place before handing over to co-driver Joel Miller. Unfortunately, soon after Miller climbed aboard, the oil pump failed [Turn 6 and stopping on the Rahal Straight], knocking the car from the race. They finished eighth in the Prototype class and 18th overall.

Until trouble found the No. 70, it had been a dominating performance by the two-car team.
When the race began, Nunez led with Long second for the first 25 laps (40 minutes into the two-hour race), pulling away from the rest of the field by more than 16 seconds. A yellow flag then flew, and the two Mazda came to the pits for fuel, tires and driver changes. An issue with refueling the No. 55 car led to a lengthy stop, which dropped new driver Bomarito to sixth place. At the restart, Bomarito sliced through the field, aggressively climbing to second place.

Running second to the eventual winner, Bomarito saw an opportunity to make a pass for the lead in heavy traffic going into Turn 10, but spun into the gravel at the exit of the corner. He was able to continue, but the tires were damaged enough that he was unable to match his earlier pace.
Jonathan Bomarito greets and talks with fans gathered during the pre-race grid walk ... a cherished tradition when everyone gathers on pit row (fans, drivers, mechanics, team owners, & etc.) where the cars are lined up in order of qualification before race start. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Jonathan Bomarito, Driver, No. 55 Mazda Prototype
About jumping from sixth into second in only a few laps: “I knew we had the refueling issue, so I knew I had to push hard to get by the [Daytona Prototypes] because we didn’t want the No. 60 [eventual winner] car to get away. We were able to do that. It was fantastic and it was good, hard racing.

About the spin: “We had some traffic coming into [Turn] 10 and I saw an opportunity to go for the lead. It was just a little bit too aggressive getting back on the power and lost the rear-end. So, that was pretty much our race right there. Once you spin and flat-spot or hurt the tires, there’s not any coming back from that. We were on a storybook weekend and we didn’t finish it so I’m gutted for the team and everyone at Mazda and SpeedSource. These guys work harder than anybody else, so you wear that on your shoulders as a driver and you want it for them really bad.”

Tom Long, Driver, No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda Prototype
“Today was a difficult day, but if you look at the weekend as a whole, we had an incredible effort from our whole Mazda Motorsports team. The car that they gave me to race was absolutely fantastic. It was on rails around Mazda Raceway. It felt so good to be out there and set the fastest lap of the race. We certainly had the pace, but things didn’t fall our way today. It’s difficult to deal with, but you just swallow it and it fuels you for for the next time.”

No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda Prototype bookended up the back straight between Turns 5 & 6 by the No's 912 and 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Joel Miller, Driver, No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda Prototype
“I don't know if ‘character building’ is the right term. But, this is motorsports and these things can happen at the worst times. The 55 car battled through and came home with fourth - again matching our best result. The highlight of the weekend for us was to lead every practice and qualifying on the front row.

“Being as dominant as we were, I think that’s where we’re supposed to be for a team of this caliber. We went out there and did our jobs. The results are coming. Now, we know we’re going to show up at each race and have the potential to do that. It’s expected to be that way. We’re going to work on our set-ups to be better when we get to the next race.”

Lastly, in the GTLM Class, more history was made by Ford when the Eco-Boost powered Ford GT scored its first ever victory before its anticipated participation in the famed 24 Hours Of Le Mans.

Ganassi Racing's Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook pilot the new Ford GT through the Corkscrew turn to a fuel conservation aided win in the GTLM Class at the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

This excerpted and edited from - 

Ford GT Makes History With GT Le Mans Win At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Just four races into the heralded Ford GT program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe earned a breakthrough GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory in the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Westbrook and Briscoe benefited by a mix of speed and strategy to earn the victory. Briscoe qualified the No. 67 Ford GT second on Saturday and slotted into second behind the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE of Daniel Serra through the early stages of the two-hour race. He ran one position ahead of teammate Dirk Muller in the No. 66 Ford GT until he pitted to turn the car over to Westbrook 45 minutes into the race.

During that stop, the car momentarily got stuck in first gear, and by the time Westbrook rejoined the field he had fallen all the way back to sixth in class. With the loss of track position, the team elected to conserve fuel.

Father and son (top) celebrate Ford GT's first win - father Dan Binks, Crew Chief Corvette Racing, and son Phillip Binks, Mechanic (bottom) to the Chip Ganassi Racing effort on the No. 67 EcoBoost powered Ford GT as it becomes race ready for the 24 Hours Of Le Mans. Image Credit: Norm DeWitt (2016)

“[The pit stop] cost us five or six seconds and five or six positions, and you aren’t going to drive it to the front from that position” Westbrook said. “So that’s what you get when you race with Chip Ganassi, you get out of the box solutions.”

The out of the box solution eventually paid big dividends. Westbrook worked his way up to second in the running order, behind teammate Joey Hand in the No. 66, as his other competitors made their final pit stops.

With 15 minutes remaining, Westbrook dove to the inside of Hand entering Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s famed Andretti Hairpin (Turn 2). With six minutes to go, Hand pitted for a splash of fuel, dropping him back to an eventual sixth-place finish.

Westbrook, meanwhile, had conserved enough fuel that he did not have to stop again, going on to score the win by 12.545 seconds over Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 68 Ferrari. It was Westbrook’s ninth career victory in major U.S. sports car racing and his third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and was the 12th major U.S. sports car win for Briscoe.

“It’s just so exciting,” Briscoe said. “It’s been a tough few months getting this program running. These guys have been working so hard. We’ve struggled with battles. We struggled a bit with balance but figured it out. We just missed the pole, and to get the win for Ford is huge. It means a lot for me and the whole program.”

Dave Pericak, Director, Ford Performance, on the first victory for the Ford GT:  “We’ve been waiting for this win for a long time. I think it’s great that it came as a fuel economy win. It’s great for Ford EcoBoost, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Third place went to Frederic Makowiecki and Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
[Reference Here]

Between hosting a full schedule of practice and races over three days, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca continued to prove its mettle and position in motorsports culture and history.

From historic first-ever full field races in the new global MX-5 Miata roadster platform, history-making first-ever Pole Award with the re-made Mazda Prototype platform plus highest-ever finish in the 3+ year IMSA Prototype program, and a first-ever win by the re-introduced Ford GT before the 24 Hours Of Le Mans ... all hosted at one of the most grand road tracks in the racing world - Mazda, as always, did itself well in creating a motor culture set of memories in a fashion no other manufacturer of cars can, or will, do.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Mazda, Battery Tender, BFGoodrich Tires, Long Road Racing, Continental Tire, IMSA, MX-5 Cup, Prototype, GTLM, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, #MRLS, Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, Ford GT, EcoBoost, Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tribute To The Final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race #TPCR40 After 40 Year Run

Drivers for the final and 40th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race held on Saturday, April 16, 2016.  Former racers: Al Unser Jr., Jimmy Vasser (not in photo), Eddie Lawson, Rod Millen, Max Papis, Mike Skinner and Ken Gushi. Actors: Stephen Baldwin, Ricky Schroder, Alfonso Ribeiro, Chris McDonald, Frankie Muniz, Brian Austin Green, William Fichtner, Adam Carolla and Brett Davern. Also: NBC Sports personality Rutledge Wood, swimmer Dara Torres, Toyota Senior Vice President Bob Carter and business executives Dave Passant and Doug Fregin Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Tribute To The Final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race #TPCR40 After 40 Year Run

So just how does an annual charity event that lasts 40 years and raises more than $2.3 million to the “Racing for Kids” organization on behalf of this race and its participants by Toyota Motor Company get started?

According to Chris Pook, founder and organizer of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, through a simple gathering of motorsport competitors at a pre-race C-300 volunteer organization cocktail reception. A party where a prodding and joking attitude spurs the wish to see famous world champions and motor culture standouts racing side-by-side on a young, newly formed street race course.

The gathered group with Chris Pook included Theodore Racing Formula One car constructor from Hong Kong - Teddy Yip, INDY500/CART/NASCAR car builder, team owner, driver, and 11 year world Formula One competitor - Dan Gurney, former world Formula One champion - Phil Hill, and world Formula One champion - Graham Hill. The conversation that had Teddy Yip mention how great it would be to see these famous people perform in a demonstration race was shared with the Toyota Motor Company's Marketing Director for the Toyota offices in Torrance - Al Hagen ... and the rest, as they say, is history (see video above).

Another ex-F1 driver, Bob Bondurant, showed up and in 1975, four Toyota Celica cars, outfitted with Simpson 5-way driver harnesses, performed a five lap exhibition race on the track through the streets of Long Beach.

The race-ready, identically-prepared Toyota Scion FR-S cars will produce 210 horsepower, and are equipped with performance enhancements - VIDEO. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

This final edition here in 2016 was raced with equally race-prepared 210-horsepower Toyota Scion FR-S 2-door sport coups.

The 40th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race “Racing For Kids” charity all-star participants were a field of intensely competitive personalities who laid it all out for the final trophy and bragging rights. Listed in order of their first win in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and the years they performed in the race as follows:

Al Unser, Jr. (@AlUnserJr) 1985, 2009 and 2014
Pro/ Overall winner in 1985, 2009, Pro winner in 2014. Dubbed “King of the Beach,” as the winningest driver in Long Beach, with six Indy Car wins and three Pro/Celebrity wins. Also a 2-time Indy 500 winner, and 2-time IndyCar Champion.

Ricky Schroder 1989 and 1996
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 1989. Most recently starred in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.” Golden Globe winning actor best-known for roles in “Silver Spoons,” “NYPD Blue” and “Get Him to the Greek.”

Eddie Lawson 1993
Pro/ Overall winner in 1993. Motorcycle Hall of Famer and four-time 500cc World Champion. He also earned back-to-back AMA 250 Grand Prix Series, AMA Superbike Series Championships, won the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour race, and was a two-time winner of the Daytona 200.

Alfonso Ribeiro (@Alfonso_Ribeiro) 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 1994 & 1995, Pro/ Overall winner in 2015. Currently the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on ABC and “Unwrapped 2.0” on the Cooking Channel. Known for his iconic role of Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and in 2014, he took home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Rod Millen (@LeadFootNZ) 1992 and 1995
Pro winner in 1995. Winner of three-consecutive Grand National Sport Truck titles, 5-time Toyota Pikes Peak Unlimited class winner, and 3-time Toyota off-road stadium truck champion.

Sean Patrick Flanery (@SeanFlanery) 1997 and 1998
Celebrity/ Overall Winner in 1997, Pro/ Overall Winner in 1998. A television and film actor, best-known for his roles in “Powder,” “Boondock Saints” and Showtime’s “Dexter.” His second book, Jane Two: A Novel, drops in April.

Dara Torres (@DaraTorres) 2002, 2004 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2002. 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer, who was named as one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. In 2002, she was the first woman to win the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race.

Max Papis (@MaxPapis) 2004
Pro/ Overall winner in 2004. “Mad Max,” a stock car race driver has competed in many top-level motorsports events including the Le Mans 24 Hours, Formula One and Champ Car. He has three Champ Car victories.

Chris McDonald (@YesItsChrisMcD) 2001, 2004 and 2005
Celebrity winner in 2004. Currently co-starring in HBO’s “Ballers,” after a stint on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” He has starred in over 100 movies, but is best-known for playing ‘Shooter McGavin’ in “Happy Gilmore.”

Frankie Muniz (@FrankieMuniz) 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011
Celebrity winner in 2005. Starred in “Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness,” and best-known for his role in “Malcolm in the Middle.” His diverse resume also includes race car driver, drummer of pop-rock group’s Kingsfoil, and Ambassador for the Armed Forces Foundation.

Mike Skinner (@SkinnerRoundUp) 2007 and 2008
Pro winner in 2007 & 2008. 1995 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, and the 1997 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. He has competed in over 550 races in NASCAR’s top three divisions.

Doug Fregin 2009, 2012 and 2014
Charity auction winner in 2009, 2012 & 2014. He has donated over $320,000 to “Racing For Kids.” Co-Founder of Research in Motion (now Blackberry) and Quantum Valley Investments Fund.

Brian Austin Green 1997, 2010 and 2011
Celebrity winner in 2010. An actor, director, and producer, who came to fame on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” recently starred on “Anger Management” on FX. He’s also known for roles in “Desperate Housewives,” “Smallville” and “Las Vegas.”

Jimmy Vasser (@JimmyVasser) 2010
Pro/ Overall winner in 2010. Former Toyota Atlantic Series and IndyCar driver. 1996 IndyCar World Series Champion. He is an IndyCar team owner, and owns three Toyota dealerships.

Ken Gushi (@KenGushi) 2011
Pro winner in 2011. He was once the youngest, most successful drift competitor in Japan, and in the U.S. With numerous Top 3 finishes in national and international drifting competitions, his racing career has just begun.

William Fichtner 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2011. A television, theater and film star, he will be seen in the June releases of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

Adam Carolla (@AdamCarolla) 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2013
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2012, Pro winner in 2013.  He is best known as a comedian, actor, radio personality, television host and New York Times bestselling author.  He can be heard daily on his podcast “The Adam Carolla Show.”

Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood) 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2013. A NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports, he can also be seen in History Channel’s “Lost In Transmission,” and as co-host of “Top Gear USA” which just finished filming its sixth season.

Brett Davern (@BDavv) 2013, 2014 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2014. Actor who stars as ‘Jake Rosati’ in MTV's hit series “Awkward.” He recently appeared in the Beach Boys bio-pic “Love & Mercy” and “The Stanford Prison Experiment.”

Dave Pasant 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2013 and 2015
Celebrity winner in 2015, and 7-time charity auction winner. A retired insurance executive, he has participated in this race six times, donating a total of $417,000 to “Racing For Kids.” He is also an executive producer of “Road Hard,” starring Adam Carolla.

Bob Carter
Carter is the Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

The race, itself, was as raucous a contest as was predicted ... damaged cars, YELLOW Flags, and a FULL Course Red Flag stopping the field during the race due to the potential injuring of a course worker that could have ended up a lot worse than it looked on the broadcast ... which was bad.

Alfonso Ribeiro (L), already having obtained the lead was pursued heavily by Max Papis (M), currently a Race Steward for the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Rod Millen (R), 5-time Toyota Pikes Peak Unlimited winner, riding his tail. This trio rounded out the top three finishers. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

In the end, Alfonso Ribeiro won the 40th and final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, truly a fan favorite event at the Grand Prix of Long Beach that will be missed more than Toyota or the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, at this moment, knows.

"I owe an awful lot to the city of Long Beach, they've been so supportive, and to Toyota, 40 years putting on this fantastic Pro/Celebrity Race and promoting Long Beach the way they have," Ribeiro said.

Max Papis won the Pro category by finishing 4.872 seconds behind Ribeiro.

"It is just an amazing event and who won was the kids this event supports," said Papis. "This is the best street course in America, maybe the world."

Rod Millen, the Pro winner in 1995, was third and followed by Adam Carolla and Mike Skinner, the Pro winner in 2007 and 2008.

Race Overview Here >>>
(contains photos of the drivers at race's end performing donuts for the crowd)

Finishing Order Here >>>

From Left to Right: Max Papis P2 celebrates with the last and 40th winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Alfonso Ribeiro and P3 Rod Millen during their victory lap around the track at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016).

“The pace of this race was extremely fast and the drivers were very competitive at the start,” said President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association Jim Michaelian. “There was some exciting action in the field that had the fans on their feet, and we are glad everyone will walk away unscathed.

Congratulations to Alfonso Ribeiro on his victory. A special thanks to all this year’s participants who helped make the final race exciting. All their enthusiasm is, ultimately, for a great cause, and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race was proud to be able to make it happen one last time.”

Trophy celebration for one last time for this enjoyable TGPLB event fan favorite. Standing on the Victory Circle Podium is (L to R) Max Papis P2, Alfonso Ribeiro P1, and P3 Rod Millen. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing for Kids in the name of each participant, for a total of $100,000, and an additional $5,000 to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts on behalf of Ribeiro. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is a national nonprofit program benefiting infants, children and teens with physical deformities caused by birth defects, accidents, abuse or disease through the gift of reconstructive surgery.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS Sportsnet on May 8 at 6 PM ET, and will re-air numerous times. (Check your local listings for details)

Fans can follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB (#TPCR40) and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Al Unser Jr., Jimmy Vasser, Eddie Lawson, Rod Millen, Max Papis, Mike Skinner and Ken Gushi, Stephen Baldwin, Ricky Schroder, Alfonso Ribeiro, Chris McDonald, Frankie Muniz, Brian Austin Green, William Fichtner, Adam Carolla and Brett Davern, Rutledge Wood, Dara Torres, Bob Carter, Dave Passant, Doug Fregin, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, #TPCR40, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, #TGPLB42, Chris Pook, Teddy Yip, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Bob Bondurant, Al Hagen, Toyota

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Green Flag To Checkered Flag - #TGPLB42 Was One For The Record Books

P1 Simon Pagenaud as he is approached for his first interview in the TGPLB42 Victory Circle. Question in post-race press conference - "We talked before last year about going to Penske, and when you don't reel off that first win when you're driving for Team Penske pretty quickly, does the pressure kind of mount race to race to get that first win? The next question you're going to be sick of, now that you've got your first win, when are you going to get your next one?" - SIMON PAGENAUD: "Here we go again. You guys never stop, do you? Well, I guess it's just like racing. You never stop, you always go to the next step, and that's very true. It's a great question." Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

Green Flag To Checkered Flag - #TGPLB42 Was One For The Record Books

The story of the 42nd edition of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race in Round 3 of the Verizon IndyCar Series was told without pause (Yellow Flag) for debris, accidents, or just to take a breath.

From the drop of the Green Flag to start the contest between 21 Honda and Chevrolet powered open-wheel race cars featuring three main leaders (Penske Racing's Verizon Pole Award winning Helio Castroneves, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, and Penske Racing's Simon Pagenaud), the race did not see another flag wave until the record-setting end when Simon Pagenaud held off an always charging Scott Dixon to the Start/Finish Line ...

Pagenaud leads Dixon to the Start/Finish line at the #TGPLB42. Image Credit Ken Manfred (2016)

... crossing it as the Checkered Flag flew with a 0.3032 of a second margin ... the closest finish in the 33 IndyCar/ChampCar races held at Long Beach and the fastest ever with an average speed of 100.592 mph.

This was Simon Pagenaud's first win since joining Team Penske as it's fourth driver with Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Helio Castroneves. By crossing the line ahead of Scott Dixon under controversy of a violation of Rule (found on Page 97 - highlighted in post-race comments below), it gave Pagenaud five career Verizon IndyCar Series wins overall.

Driver relation discussions begin on Parade Lap around the TGPLB42 circuit. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

This excerpted and edited from TRANSCRIPT - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Post-Race Press Conference -

Q. In the drivers' meeting, what was the rule regarding your right-side tires and the yellow blend line coming out of the pits? What did they tell you you had to do with your right-side tires?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I will not go into that. I don't know. I don't remember to be honest what they said. But certainly in practice we have to look -- what we've got to do. I don't recall.

Helio Castroneves comments on the rarity of a 100% Green Flag event - You're right, it's very rare. I guess that's one of the things related to the aero package. It's very difficult to get close to another guy, at least I was having this issue. I'm not sure about Scott. But I feel that probably those are the scenario. So if you don't get even close, you can't take a chance, or young drivers cannot make mistakes, and the yellow doesn't come up. I don't think it's a matter of long distance. I think it's just a matter of that kind of scenario, and that's why it was very difficult to pass.Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

Q. It's rare for a street race to go green the whole way. Would you like to see a longer race next year?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: You're right, it's very rare. I guess that's one of the things related to the aero package. It's very difficult to get close to another guy, at least I was having this issue. I'm not sure about Scott. But I feel that probably those are the scenario. So if you don't get even close, you can't take a chance, or young drivers cannot make mistakes, and the yellow doesn't come up. I don't think it's a matter of long distance. I think it's just a matter of that kind of scenario, and that's why it was very difficult to pass.

After a conversation with Simon Pagenaud, Scott began to adjust his gaze toward the real culprits to his P2 finish behind the Penske Racing driver. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome the second-place finisher today, Scott Dixon, driver of car No. 9, the Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, reigning series champion, with a second-place finish today. Still second in the points, 14 behind Simon Pagenaud. Take us through your day today, please.

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was definitely a pretty fierce battle up front, a bit of lapped traffic, some pit stop sequence, people trying to pit short, go longer, etc, etc, so it was quite exciting, I think, for ins and outs and when to use your overtakes and things like that. I think on the last one we got caught off guard a little bit before the pit sequence had already been finished, and then to hear when we're coming down the straight that the 22 was just coming out, we had actually backed off already and started saving fuel. With the gap that we had on Helio, I really didn't think we had to worry about too much and didn't get any warning from the pits. Obviously that scenario was a lot closer than we anticipated, and then when we got to Turn 1, it appeared that Simon turned a little early and crossed the line that you're not meant to cross. But it is what it is, so second place today, and Team Target did a hell of a job, and pit stops were clean, and I think we had really good pace, but personally I think we should have won the race.

Q. Scott, I'll ask you the same question that was asked of Helio. Coming out of the drivers' meeting, how did you understand that yellow line at the end of pit road, how was that supposed to work for the drivers?

SCOTT DIXON: This one is always very clear and is always mentioned, and we have two drivers' meetings a weekend, and it was clearly stated. I think if you look at the PDF, it's even in the PDF view that everybody gets, and I believe in the first one on Friday, it was asked several times about that. By all means any time you could not put more than two wheels over the line, and that was my understanding. I thought we were done with warnings and all this sort of wish wash stuff and we're going to stick to hard rules, but obviously that wasn't the case today.

THE MODERATOR: If we can clarify at this point, the rules violation that was put into effect was Rule, which is lane usage, which reads, "Failing to follow designated procedures entering or exiting the pit area, including the proper use of the acceleration and deceleration zones." Now, within the new penalty guidelines that were established this year for the race stewards, they do have the capabilities of issuing just a warning under that guideline, and that was a decision of the race stewards that it was the best decision in that instance to issue a warning.

SCOTT DIXON: In defense of that, I thought we had outlawed warnings. Yes, a warning was clarified at some point, but this was the problem we had in the offseason with people getting warnings all the time, especially when you're using it to your advantage when it's the last pit stop sequence or anything like that. If you're just going to get a warning every time you're going to do it, that's why this was discussed so deeply in the off-season, and why there was about 40 or 50 warning zones in the rule book removed. Obviously a few topics of conversation after this weekend. I don't even know why we discussed the pit lane exit if we're not going to stick to rules. Everybody else abided by it.

Q. My question is kind of on the same tone. The way I understood you say that is that for that particular rule there's a warning in effect, so what rules have warnings and which rules don't?
THE MODERATOR: There was a guideline, penalty guidelines document that was issued prior to the Phoenix race a couple weeks ago, and as I said, this one does have the ability for the steward to issue either a warning or to order a car to the back of the field for what they determined a mid-level penalty or a maximum penalty, which would be a drive through and/or a stop-and-go penalty. The race steward decided to issue the warning in this instance.
#TGPLB42 podium - P3, Castroneves - P1, Pagenaud - P2, Dixon. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

Q. Scott, you're pretty collected; is that Kiwi reserve, or do you have a speed bag at home to take out some frustrations?

SCOTT DIXON: Well, I was pretty mad once I got out of the car even with the last sort of 15 laps waiting for a drive-through or at least a swap of positions. I was even a little mad at Simon after the race, but it's not his fault. You've got to try to take advantage whenever you can, but he doesn't make the rules or put the rules forward. Huge credit obviously to Simon. He raced a fantastic race, and it was a great win for him and the team. You know, I can't be mad at him, so I'll direct my anger some other direction.
Q. Could you see the violation? Did he not appear where you thought he would as you're coming down the front stretch?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it definitely seemed a lot closer. When you're coming down there and we go through this scenario every practice session, every qualifying, etc, etc, and typically when you see the car, they still have to go down quite a ways to then turn back, which tries to stop the cars merging or hitting each other on the exit, and it seemed closer than normal. But when you're in those confines and going at the speeds you are, it is sometimes a little hard to judge.

Q. You've been to a lot of racetracks around the world; can you imagine some sort of physical barrier, rumble strips or whatever, not to block the track for people not pitting, but can you imagine some barrier that would take away the whole idea of a judgment call there so you've got to go around it or you don't?

SCOTT DIXON: It shouldn't be a judgment call. It's a rule, so that's what it comes down to.
Q. Scott, I'm curious what it's like for the driver in the cockpit, just how far in front they can see with the way the front wing is, because when Simon was interviewed after the race he was asked about that exit and the warning, and he said, well, the rule was as long as I kept my right-side tires to the right of the dots, I was fine, and he clearly missed like about three feet of those -- there's some little things down there just to the right of those yellow lines, so he thinks he didn't violate anything until he'll see the video, but I'm just wondering what you can actually see in the cockpit.

SCOTT DIXON: You know, I don't know how many times we go in and out of the pits over a weekend, but a lot. You can see it pretty clearly, yeah.
"I won. I'm happy." stated Simon Pagenaud at the post race press conference. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome to the podium the winner of today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, driver of car No. 22, the PPG Automotive Finish Chevrolet for Team Penske, Simon Pagenaud. Simon earned his fifth career victory today, his first with Team Penske, his first win since Houston 2014. He extends his championship lead. Simon, congratulations.
Q. When they said your pit exit was under review, was there any time when you were wondering, oh, can I have my magic moment kind of hindered here?

SIMON PAGENAUD: No, I actually didn't know. Nobody mentioned it. (Strategist) Kyle (Moyer) didn't tell me on the radio. I just focused on the job. I really honestly didn't know it was that close. I wouldn't have changed anything honestly. We're talking -- to make it like an easy call to say it's no penalty or no warning, it would have been that much more. So it just made it great for TV and for you to understand, but actually INDYCAR has made it really clear this year what you can and cannot do, and it was certainly on the verge of being a stronger penalty, but I did get a warning. I only did it once in the race. Same for Munoz. Munoz did the same thing, so I guess it was a clear understanding for race control.
Q. Simon, I know you made it clear, you said IndyCar has made it really clear what you can and can't do, but are you concerned that going forward warnings are kind of a gray area and if you're on the losing end you might get bit by somebody that gets a warning type deal?

SIMON PAGENAUD: I mean, no, I thought it was -- they've done this manual. They've done a manual that they actually sent to all the drivers, and the drivers' association and IndyCar and the teams actually worked with IndyCar to understand what was going to be a warning, what was going to be a minimum penalty, so a warning, mid-penalty and higher penalty. Each one of those levels has a different consequence.

You know, going into the race, I know the rule book, so I know that that line, I know you can take risks. I know you can get on the limit. It's just racing at the end of the day, and quite frankly, like I said, another inch to the right wouldn't have changed the outcome of the race.

Q. Remarkably this race stayed green, which is the first time it's happened in many years, and a lot of the drivers are saying it was too quick, and they would like a three-pit race, a lengthened race. What's your take on that?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I won. I'm happy. (Laughter.)

No, I don't have any -- it was very quick. I mean, it was like -- after 50 laps, I was like, wow, we're almost done here. The pace of the cars are really fast nowadays compared to 10 years ago. The pace is really, really strong. We brake really late. We carry a lot of speed through the corners and pretty fast on the straights, too. We go up to 190 on the straight now.

So yeah, there's a lot of speed. I don't know, personally it was fun for me as a driver because it was pure racing. It was about doing a perfect out lap, being on the limit every lap, so it's certainly not as exciting from outside, but I thought the pit sequence made it exciting. I'm a happy person. I thought our strategy worked out well, so personally I think the job is done.
Pagenaud's No. 22 Penske Racing Dallara bounces across rumble curbing through Turn 9 past the colorful "Suite Row" while leading Scott Dixon at the #TGPLB42. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

Q. Somebody was talking the other day, and they said that part of their problem with passing in a lot of corners is the brakes are so good that you brake way later than you used to and everybody can do it because the brakes are that good. Is that, in fact, a problem when you want to pass where you used to and now it's not so easy?

SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think the cars are just -- I mean, actually before the weekend, I study a lot, as you guys know, so I reviewed a lot of onboard cameras from this track, and I reviewed Bourdais's lap from 2003 compared to Helio's lap from last year in qualifying, and it's incredible the difference.

I suggest you guys look at it because our cars are really fast these days. They're a lot faster than we say. Certainly the braking zone is really short, and the aerodynamics are really high, so it's difficult to follow a car.

But this track here has got a long straight, so it allows you to draft and get past in Turn 1. I did it two times today with two fast cars, so it's possible. It's just you kind of have to find different ways to make the car work in straight line.

Race Control by a committee is not a solution because no one really ever knows when a rule is ... not a rule. Hard targets are never hard when no one wishes to have the will to actually enforce a rule, especially when the race outcome is at hand.

To be clear, all decisions from Race Control are in the opinion(s) from three on-track race stewards that report to a President (as follows top to bottom - assumed) - JAY FRYE - President, Competition and Operations, INDYCAR | Trio of race stewards - Dan Davis, Max Papis, and Arie Luyendyk - race director Brian Barnhardt does not have a vote.

One suspects that this (above) is where Scott Dixon, team owner Chip Ganassi, and Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull will direct their collective - as Scott Dixon put it ... "You know, I can't be mad at him [Pagenaud], so I'll direct my anger some other direction."

Takuma Sato led the way for Honda Sunday, finishing, as the first Honda-powered Dallara DW12 IndyCar, fifth at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2016)

OFFICIAL BOX SCORE - Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach >>>

When racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, everything on the track is open to interpretation and the only hard targets that exist are concrete walls, catch-fencing, corner tire cushions, and, of course ... cars plus the debris from parts that come loose after the Green Flag flies. Thank you Race Control by committee for this operational clarification.

As for the series points championship after three rounds of sixteen scheduled, Simon Pagenaud (who finished second in each of the first two races) takes a 14-point lead over Dixon into the next event, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 24 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

... notes from The EDJE


Hummmmmmmmmmmmm ...

Video broadcast evidence would suggest that this violation of Rule ... as in Rules, Schmules! Here Scott Dixon pulls the same exact blendline violation ahead of Helio Castroneves into Turn 1 after his second pitstop, coming out on Lap 54. Image Credit: Alex James via Facebook

Causes one to wonder even more - when is a rule, a rule?

One might suggest that JAY FRYE - President, Competition and Operations, INDYCAR | Trio of race stewards - Dan Davis, Max Papis, and Arie Luyendyk - race director Brian Barnhardt does not have a vote - show this image to Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull) as well as 4-Time IndyCar Champion and runner-up to the #TGPLB42, Scott Dixon.

Additional UPDATE:

O U C H ! - Race Control isn't even looking at the track during the race, one suspects, what with all of this post race video evidence of WHOLESALE Rule violation going on!

Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan on pit exit violating Rule Image Credit: Dave Villagomez via Facebook

You know, with so many post race video confirmations on this Rule violation, Race Control should slap a bunch of post race WARNINGS to those who crossed the line so that they all know rules are to be followed. If Race Control actually had consistency in the application of penalties on infractions and the intention to actually be effective ... half of the field will be racing at the Grand Prix of Alabama with timidity along with Simon Pagenaud and Carlos Munoz.

More ...

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Helio Castroneves, IndyCar, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato, Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, #TGPLB42, The EDJE, Verizon IndyCar Series, Race Control, Race Steward, Rule

Monday, April 4, 2016

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Debrief

Bill Patterson paints a victory portrait of Scott Dixon in Victory Lane following his win in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway, Image Credit: Richard Dowdy - VICS

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Debrief


Qualifications - Smashing and setting a record - Previous record of 183.599 at PIR held by Arie Luyendyk (March 23, 1996).

Helio Castroneves, the 40-year-old Brazilian shattered the track record - set 20 years ago by Arie Luyendyk (183.599 mph) - by touring the historic one-mile oval in a stunning two-lap average of 192.324 mph to win the pole in his REV Group Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet.

Helio becomes the first driver to officially lap any one-mile oval faster than 190 mph - this would actually be a World Record mark as in a Guinness Book type of World Record.
[Reference Here]

Chevy vs Honda results post Quals. (revisited later as a post race review) -  Chevy had all top 10 positions on the grid.

At Race tire failures - First, Helio Castroneves, after leading out strongly, has a tire go down – Lap 40 - and it is diagnosed as a cut tire (outside front right - inside breach).

Second, also from the lead with as many laps on the tires as Helio, Juan Pablo Montoya's tire goes down – Lap 96 - it is the same tire position (outside front right - inside breach). The report on this one, however similar, is insisted to be from a different cause. Little explanation beyond this was given but the announcers speculated that since both cars were from Team Penske, that the camber may have been a bit over adjusted causing this tire failure to happen.

Chopping while driving - Charlie Kimball, and Tony Kanaan seemed bent on "protecting" their line with semi-aggressive squeeze downs to the line ... some without any on-track penalty. Kimball pays with a spin on Lap 134 but Newgarden suffers.

Restarts and Honda (RHR and Rahal):
• Outstanding start, re-starts highlight Hunter-Reay’s run - A likely top-three finish for Hunter-Reay was stymied by caution flags that twice waved just after he had completed scheduled pit stops, dropping him well back in the field each time as his competitors took advantage of the yellows to make their own stops. The poorly-timed cautions negated an aggressive race start for Hunter-Reay that saw the Andretti Autosport driver gain five positions in the opening lap. Hunter-Reay continued to fight back throughout the 250-lap contest, making multiple passes for position on each succeeding re-start and surviving a late-race brush with the wall to finish 10th.

• Rahal makes largest gain of the night to finish fifth - Rahal also had a strong race start and climbed through the field during the first half of the race, moving from 19th on the starting grid to sixth by the race’s Lap 125 mid-point. Rahal was able to both conserve fuel and maintain position through the remainder of the contest to net a fifth-place finish.

• Ill-timed caution flags cost Hunter-Reay, Andretti and Rossi - Two other Andretti Autosport drivers, Marco Andretti and rookie Alexander Rossi, also had likely top-10 finishes taken away by the same caution flags that hindered Hunter-Reay. Andretti dropped off the lead lap as a result of the second caution on Lap 120, to finish 13th, while Rossi was forced to make a stop for a cut tire while the pits were closed during a Lap 197 caution, resulting in a drive-through penalty and 14th-place finish.
[Reference Here]

Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan enter Turn 3 during the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

At end - Debris and Yellow Flags ... not! Ryan Hunter-Reay brushes the wall and leaves carbon-fiber on the front stretch on Lap 240 ... 10 laps from the end-of-race. Yellow Flag finally flown on Lap 248 as Alexander Rossi brushes the wall - Race ends on a Yellow White / Yellow Checkered Flag.

Bravo to Scott Dixon for his 39 Win and first-time win at Phoenix International Raceway. His win ties him for 4th on the all-time American Open Wheel win list with Al Unser. Next target on the list is Michael Andretti at 42 wins. When Dixon was at 38 wins, he had 19 Oval and 19 Street/Road course ... going into Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ... he is going to have to win to balance this all up again!

Chevy vs Honda results post Race - Graham Rahal wasn’t able to reach the podium but did break into the top 5 with a P5. No Honda engine cars led any laps and only two drivers were able to break into the top 10 at race end - Rahal P5 and RHR P10. Only 4 Honda cars were able to finish the race on the lead lap. In 2016 and 2 races, Honda cars have been in front of the field for 18 of the 360 laps competed.

Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber said he was on "cloud 9" after Saturday night's intense 250-lap Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix that attracted a crowd estimated just shy of 20,000.

It was successful enough to all-but ensure the series will be back at the Avondale oval in 2017, but likely will drop to late April, possibly Saturday night, April 29. That's because the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four will be at University of Phoenix Stadium early in the month, and Easter next year is April 16.
[Reference Here]

The podium of Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power following the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS


• Dixon has won an Indy car race in 12 consecutive seasons. It is a Indy car record.
• This is the 101st Indy car victory for cars owned by Chip Ganassi. It is the first-ever win for Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix International Raceway across all series that race here.
• Simon Pagenaud finished second. It is his 14th career podium finish and second-consecutive second-place finish. Pagenaud leads the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings for the first time in his career.
• Will Power finished third in his first start of the season.
• Tony Kanaan finished fourth, his fourth top-five finish in as many starts at PIR.
• Graham Rahal finished fifth, his season-best finish.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “The biggest thing was just maintaining and trying to keep pace with whoever was in front and behind us and trying to figure out what we needed to make the car better. We tried to put ourselves in position to be there in the end. I can’t give enough credit to Team Target. They did amazing job. The pit stops were flawless and the strategy let us stretch out the fuel when we needed to and we were able to put some good cars a lap down early on. It was a good race and a good start for a return to Phoenix.”
About tying Al Unser for fourth on the all-time wins list: “It’s mind-boggling. I love doing what I do. I just feel privileged and lucky to one be driving in INDYCAR and two for a team like Chip Ganassi Racing. It’s amazing to be part of this team.”

1. Simon Pagenaud         83
2. Scott Dixon                 79
3. Juan Pablo Montoya    74
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay       56
5. Tony Kanaan              54
6. Helio Castroneves        53
7. Graham Rahal             44
8. Mikhail Aleshin           43
9. Takuma Sato              42
10. Max Chilton (R)          39

1. Max Chilton                39
2. Alexander Rossi           34
3. Conor Daly                  32
4. Spencer Pigot               16

NEXT UP: The majority of the series will participate in a test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, April 6.

Round 3 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season will be the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17.
(ht: VICS)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Verizon IndyCar Series, Phoenix International Raceway, Scott Dixon, Target, Chip Ganassi Racing, TCGR, Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, The EDJE, Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Facebook Blessings For Porsche, Busby, and Knoop

Porsche #67 (top) and #68 as they race at full speed near the Start/Finish line early in the 1985 24hrs. of Daytona. Image Credit: Fan Photo via Jim Busby Facebook 

Facebook Blessings For Porsche, Busby, and Knoop

The image above was posted by a fan on Facebook and it caught the attention of its single signatour, car builder and racecar driver, Jim Busby.

This episode of a shared motorsports FB story reminds one of the syndicated Paul Harvey radio broadcast "The Rest Of The Story" ... a national radio program that ran from 1976 until Paul Harvey's passing in 2009.

You'll remember hearing - "'Hello, Americans,' he would say at opening the program. 'This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for Newwws!'"

This from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -

The Rest of the Story was a Monday-through-Friday radio program originally hosted by Paul Harvey. Beginning as a part of his newscasts during the Second World War and then premiering as its own series on the ABC Radio Networks on May 10, 1976, The Rest of the Story consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line "And now you know the rest of the story."
[Reference Here]

Jim Busby's cover photo from his Facebook page. Jim (center) is sitting before a race with one of the comments of the photo stating "Looks likes Bob is ready to get on with the task at hand." Image Credit: Jim Busby via Facebook

This from Jim Busby on his Facebook page - 

How cool is Facebook! Someone just posted this. I don't remember signing it as a promo picture for BFGoodrich, so it must have been a fan's picture that they brought by for an autograph.

The best part of this picture is that it was snapped at the 1985 Daytona 24 hour race and the shot appears to be taken at the Start finish line with both of our cars in the frame. Both of these 962 Porsches were brand new for this race. Only minutes later the 68 car would be completely demolished at this same spot on the track. Pete Halsmer was lapping a slower car at 200 MPH. They came together and It sent Pete into the concrete wall. Pete was ok, but it was the end for the 68 car. The 67 car went on to lead much of the race and finish 3rd with me, Jochen Mass and Rick Knoop.

Thanks to Facebook I've seen many photos of our cars over the years that I may never have seen otherwise.
[Reference Here]

So, as Paul Harvey would be keen to say at the closing of his regular syndicated national broadcast daily noontime news program - 'This is Paul Harvey, ... Good day!' - which was delivered with a down note on Harvey, then an up-tone note on the word, day.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Porsche, Daytona 1985, Jim Busby Rick Knoop, Jochen Mass, Pete Halsmer, 962 Porsche, Facebook, Fan, Paul Harvey, The EDJE