1. Paul Tracy gets ride decision Monday
2. Daytona 200 winner changed engine
3. Ken Wilden gets 12 Hours of Sebring ride
1. Tracy close to INDYCAR employment
Paul Tracy has his fingers crossed that today (Monday) will be the day he finds out whether he has an INDYCAR deal for 2011.
Those of us who follow his Twitter posts have been expecting good news for a couple of days now.
Last Tuesday, for instance, he wrote: "Going to the gym. Then it’s time to get these deals put to bed."
But then on Thursday, he wrote: "First and inches to the goal line. Problem is, every time we move, the goal line seems to move. Got to get there . . ."
On Friday, (at 3:37 a.m.) there was this: "CAN’T SLEEP. TO (sic) MUCH ON MY MIND."
And finally, on Saturday: "Hate it when decisions get held over till Monday."
Speculation has Tracy close to a deal with Conquest Racing, which is operated by former driver Eric Bachelart. Let’s hope it’s for a full season. Tracy, one of the greatest, committed, entertaining and most loyal racing drivers of our time, deserves a farewell tour.
DiSalvo gets second chance, wins Daytona 200
My Toronto Star Wheels column on Saturday was about Canadian motorcycle racing superstar Miguel Duhamel (if you missed it, click here), who won North America’s most famous race, the Daytona 200, five times.
Duhamel wasn’t in this year’s event, which is probably just as well. There is much to report – and talk about.
The winner on Saturday was Jason DiSalvo aboard a Ducati. But DiSalvo was allowed an engine change mid-way through the event during a long red flag brought about by concerns that the tires supplied by spec manufacturer Dunlop were not safe.
That engine change and subsequent victory left a sour taste in some mouths.
The concern about the tires came about because resurfacing of the Daytona International Speedway resulted in increased grip. Temperatures on Saturday were much higher than on days when tests were conducted. So, higher timperatures combined with the increased grip resulted in significantly higher tire temperatures and the decision was made, in the interests of safety, to stop the race and order all competitors to change their front tires.
The race, scheduled for 57 laps, was also reduced to 42 laps – the first time that has happened in the 70 years of the event.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
Moments before the red flag, DiSalvo raised his arm to signal he was pitting because his motor had conked out. He told a TV reporter that he was finished. "Looks like our day is done," he said.
But because the red flag was out for so long, his team completed the engine change before the race was restarted and the American Motorcycle Association gave him permission to continue and he went on to win.
How fair is that?
Cory West was second behind DiSalvo on a Suzuki and Jake Zemke, who won the 200 in 2006 as well as the pole for this particular race, was third on a Yamaha. It was Ducati’s first win in the famous race.
As DiSalvo flashed across the finish line, Dane Westby and Taylor Knapp crashed right behind him. Auto racing crashes at 200 miles an hour are scary but motorcycle wrecks at that speed are terrifying.
Fortunately, both those riders were okay. I suspect, however, that this story isn’t over.
Racing and Racers
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne won the Camping World Series truck race at Darlington on Saturday. Ron Honaday finished second and Todd Bodine was third.
Two things: Kahne was subbing for Kyle Busch, which is okay in one way because Busch owns a truck team but not in another because, yet again, a Cup driver has scored a win in a minor-league series, which is something NASCAR is trying to avoid.
The other thing is that Ron Hornaday had to qualify for this race on time. He was a go- or go-homer, which is really hard to believe. Ron Hornaday is truck racing. Or used to be, I guess.
Kenny Wilden of Oakville will be at the wheel of a Jaguar RSR XKR at next weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring, which will be available for streaming video viewing at americanlemans.com starting at 10:15 a.m. next Saturday morning, March 19.
(That’s corrrect: there’s no live TV coverage of this iconic event. ABC (WKBW-TV in Buffalo) will provide post-race coverage next Sunday from 12:30 p.m. till 2 p.m.)
Wilden will be co-driving with P.J. Jones and Rocky Moran Jr. in the GT category. Said a Jaguar release:
"Wilden has established himself as one of the best drivers and coaches in North America. The Canadian has earned four national championships with wins in many types of cars from showroom stock to endurance to open wheel, oval and prototype.
"His resume includes claiming the Players GM series crown in 1992, Michelin Enduro Series champion in 1994 and back-to-back runner-up positions in 1995-1996, multiple wins and podiums in the Atlantic Series and second overall in the championship in 1999, success in Trans-Am and Grand-Am series. His most recent accomplishment was winning the 2009 Grand-Am Koni Challenge GS."
Way to go, Ken.
Speaking of next Saturday, Mark Webber will drive his Red Bull Formula One car over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to publicize the season-opening Australian Grand Prix a week later.
I’ve got a great idea. How about Paul Tracy (see first item, above) driving his Conquest Racing Indy car over the Prince Edward Viaduct (a.k.a. Bloor Viaduct) to publicize this July’s Honda Indy Toronto?
How about it, Charlie Johnstone?
And, finally, a little bird tells me that Guelph and Toronto’s Robert Wickens will be in F1 next year, driving for Virgin Racing. I’d like to believe that.