1. Ferrari will escape further sanctions for team orders fiasco.
2. Is there anything to Dyson Racing entering Grand Am finale?
3. Stewart smokes NASCAR field, Chase field set
Who wants to bet that Ferrari won’t walk away scot-free from Wednesday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that’s been called to further investigate the team's fixing of the order of finish at the German Grand Prix in July?
You’ll recall that Felipe Massa was winning the race, with Fernando Alonso second, when the team radioed Massa to let Alonso past.
Oh, they didn’t come right out and say that because it would have been against the rule that the results of a race can’t be influenced or determined by team orders. What they did do, however, was inform Massa that the Scuderia felt Alonso was faster. The implication was that he should let him through, although nobody said exactly that.
But Felipe has a contract, and knows which side of his bread the butter is on, so he slowed down and pulled over so that his teammate could drive by.
And that’s how the race ended, with Alonso winning, Massa second and Sebastien Vettel third.
Afterward, the stewards hauled Ferrari on the carpet, fined the team $100,000 for breaking the rule, and referred the matter to the World Council for possible further actions, which will hold a hearing in Paris Wednesday (tomorrow).
Ferrari announced immediately that it would pay the fine and would not appeal the ruling of the stewards.
Last Friday, Alonso and Massa were notified that they will have to appear at the hearing Wednesday, as will all the other Ferrari heavyweights.
Now, the head of the FIA and – by extension – the World Council is Jean Todt, who used to run Ferrari and was the guy in 2002 who ordered Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher win the Austrian GP, which poor Rubens did by slamming on his brakes just before the finish line so that Schumacher could cross it first.
It was an embarrassing moment for everybody (including the fans!) and the "team-orders-influencing-the-order-of-finish" rule was adopted soon afterward.
Todt has announced he will be absent from Wednesday’s hearing, declaring that he may be seen as having a conflict-of-interest. All very well and good, but meaningless. All the other World Council members will undoubtedly know how Todt feels about the issue and will vote accordingly.
(FYI: Todt believes in team orders.)
And the hearing is being held on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, one of the most storied Grands Prix on the calendar that’s also being held at one of the most storied of circuits.
Does anybody really think that the World Motorsport Council will vote to censure Ferrari further and guarantee rioting in the streets of Italy?
That’s an exaggeration, but you get my drift: there are times to act and there are times to take a pass and this is one of those times to look the other way.
My guess is that the Council will put Ferrari on some sort of probation ("don’t do this again this season") and issue a warning to all the other teams that team orders will really, really, really not be tolerated in future.
What else are they going to do? What else can they do?
For a reaction from the paddock, be sure to listen to this week's podcast interview with wheels.ca's special F1 correspondent Gerald Donaldson, who will report directly to the Star from the press room at Monza. The podcast will be posted to wheels.ca by noon on Friday and "Gerry" will bring us all up to date on how the people in the paddock feel about whatever the World Council winds up doing, or not doing.
Should anything be read into this?
There are two sports car series in North American, the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series. Neither is particularly healthy so far as serious manufacturer support is concerned – i.e., the Audi and Peugeot factory teams don’t run the whole ALMS season.
Most of the participants in both series – okay, there are exceptions, but not many – are rich guys who run teams as a hobby. Many of the drivers are "gentlemen" racers – people who are out there looking for a thrill.
Neither series is going great guns. The Rolex shines during the 24 Hours of Daytona in January when it has entries coming out of its ears but not often afterward. The ALMS, whose two big races are the 12 Hours of Sebring in the spring and the Petit Le Mans in the fall, has managed to maintain an average entry list of about 30 cars per race by creating pay-driver sub-classes for prototypes and touring cars.
As was the case with Indy cars, two series don’t do much except alienate the audience. Ergo, most people agree there should only be one sports car series.
Dyson Racing has been a mainstay of the ALMS in recent years. In its history, it also ran in the Rolex series (it was one of the founding teams) but has been in the ALMS exclusively for three years.
In recent days, Dyson Racing announced it was teaming up with Godstone Ranch Motorsports to contest the last Rolex race of the season next weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
Now, maybe it’s just that those guys are racers and like to race. Or is there something else underfoot?
David Brabham told me at Mosport that his employer, Highcroft Racing, still wasn’t sure what it would be doing in 2011. Highcroft is one of the two or three big teams racing with the ALMS.
As I said, should anything be read into this?
Maybe. Maybe not. But it's worth keeping an eye on.
Well, it’s all over but the shouting. The lineup for the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, that is.
Tony Stewart won Sunday night’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Carl Edwards was second and Jimmie Johnson third, full story here) for his first win of 2010 but all eyes were on the performance of one Clint Bowyer, who was on the bubble holding down 12th place in the Chase while under assault from Ryan Newman, in particular, as well as Jamie McMurray and Mark Martin.
As it happened, Bowyer finished seventh at Atlanta (Newman was 8th, McMurray 15th and Martin 21st). Going into next weekend’s Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400 at Richmond, Newman will have to score every possible point he can (win the race, lead the most laps, etc.) and Bowyer finish worse than 28th for Newman to catch him.
So the Chase lineup looks like this: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Stewart, Carl Edwards, Burton, Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Bowyer.
It really is the cream of the crop.
Speaking of Kyle Busch, he – again, this time at Atlanta – defended his actions during the Camping World Truck Race at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night when he disrupted Victory Lane celebrations to yell at race winner Todd Bodine for calling him a dirty driver.
Kyle B. Just doesn’t get it and I’m surprised his Cup employer, Joe Gibbs, hasn’t spelled it out for him. As a friend of mine emailed this weekend:
"There are Anti-Kyle Busch Fan Clubs, Kyle Busch Sucks forums, Offical Hate Kyle websites, lists of reasons to dislike him, a beginner’s guide to hating him, jackass of the year awards, and on and on.
"He fails to realize what a negative impact his attitude is netting him and the sport. He is a really bad loser, hardly better at winning and should take a lesson from a guy like Marcos Ambrose who is happy, grateful and excited to have the opportunity (to race at the top of NASCAR), even in defeat."
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Oh, and just to add to NASCAR’s woes (fighting like mad to maintain its ties to Corporate North America), Bruton Smith – who owns most of the tracks NASCAR races at that NASCAR doesn’t own itself, called Homestead-Miami Speedway "Cuba North" this weekend.
How to win friends and influence people, eh?
For a blog on Saturday night’s IZOD IndyCar Series race and Friday night’s NASCAR truck race, please see the post below.
Patrick Carpentier finished 28th in that NASCAR Cup race Sunday night in Atlanta. He qualified 35th.
At Indianapolis, Larry Dixon won the U.S. Nationals Top Fuel class, while Ashley Force Hood was first in Funn Cars.
Bobby Bond of Mexico, N.Y., won the Budweiser International Classic 200 for supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway - finally. After rain kaiboshed proceedings Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday, they finally got in the Classic as well as the ISMA Supernationals on Monday.
Bond was followed across the line by Ray Graham, Jr., of Des Moines, Iowa, and Indy 500 veteran Davey Hamilton of Boise, Idaho.
Defending Classic champion Otto Sitterly of Canajoharie, N.Y., finished ninth. Legendary Bentley Warren of Kennebunkport, Maine, was 28th. Canadien content was supplied by Dave McKnight Jr. of Brampton (21st) and Gary Morton of Stouffville (32nd).
There was a fight on the track following a late-race accident that involved several cars. Doug Didero, formerly of Dundas and now of Charlotte, N.C., duked it out with Joey (the Jet) Payne of Farlawn, N.J. Judges ruled it "no decision."
Earlier Monday, Ben Seitz of Bourne, Mass., won the ISMA Supernationals, followed by Mike Lichty of Kitchener and Jeff Locke of Raymond, N.H.