James Hinchcliffe of Oakville won the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway this afternoon over his Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan.
It was almost no contest, with the third-year Indy car star dominating from start to finish. He took the lead at the start and, except for pit stops, was never out of first place.
As is his custom, he pulled a Canadian flag out of the cockpit when he climbed out of the car in Victory Lane.
This was Hinchcliffe's third victory of the 2013 season and moved him up in the points standings. After a great start, in which he won two of the first four races, his season had tailed off slightly.
Marcos Ambrose was the top "road racer," finishing seventh - although the Australian drives full time in the Cup series. Top "ringer" was Boris Said, who finished 18th. Ron Fellows of Mississauga, returning to the Sprint Cup circuit for the first time in several years, was 22nd in a Canadian Tire-supported effort.
Juan Pablo Montoya, very keen to win one of the two NASCAR road races, was second in the final laps but ran out out of fuel before the finish line and was officially classified in 34th.
Jacques Villeneuve of Montreal didn't really get to race. His Phoenix Racing Chevrolet suffered from gearbox problems and he retired 19 laps into the 110-lap race.
The Victory Podium presentation was subdued at Le Mans today at the conclusion of the 24-hour race.
Audi finished first and third for its 12th overall victory and Tom Kristensen won his ninth classic but the death of Allan Simonsen early Saturday and several near-tragedies, one involving Toronto driver Tony Burgess, negated any wild celebrating.
Kristensen took his No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro diesel-powered hybrid across the line, a lap up on the second-place Toyota. Kristensen co-drove to victory with Allan McNish and Loic Duval.
The No. 8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson was second. It was Toyota's first 24-hour podium with its gasoline-powered hybrid prototype.
The No. 3 Audi of Oliver Jarvis, Marc Gene and Lucas Di Grassi was third.
In GTE-Pro, Porsche scored a triumphant 1-2 finish with its new 911-based RSR. The German marque returned to factory sports car competition after an absence and the winning car was driven by Richard Lietz, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas.
A crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans early in the day Saturday cost Danish driver Allan Simonsen his life (details below). A crash during the nighttime caused a fright for Canadian driver Tony Burgess.
Burgess, of Toronto, who was competing in the LMP2 class while driving a Lola-Judd B12/80 Coupe for HVM Status GP, left the pits and was on the first lap of his night-time stint (he'd driven several stints earlier) when the car left the road.
According to a team release, the impact was heavy - in fact, the car caught fire - but Burgess was able to get out on his own and walk to an ambulance. He was taken to the track medical centre but then transferred to hospital as a precaution.
In the race, Audi with Allan McNish driving was leading by more than a lap over two Toyotas just past the halfway mark.
Elsewhere, here is some qualifying news from Saturday before we get to two race results.
At Sonoma Raceway in California, Jamie McMurray won the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race there. Marcos Ambrose will go off second, with Carl Edwards third, Greg Biffle fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth.
Canadians: Jacques Villeneuve will start 22nd and Ron Fellows will go off 25th. Villeneuve has been under fire since he walked into the place, with more than one driver - Clint Bowyer was the first to sound off - suggesting that if JV gets in anybody's way he's going to find himself wrecked.
It's interesting that the "boys" of NASCAR, while loving nothing more than putting it to Danica Patrick week in and week out, are suddenly extremely protective of her. More than one mentioned Villeneuve's punting her off the track at Road America in a Nationwide Series race last year as the reason for their apparent anger.
For his part, Villeneuve claimed he'd made some mistakes for which he was sorry (although, in the case of Patrick, he didn't sound like it at the time) and pointed out that he'd been punted off more than a few times himself.
So if you like tradin' paint with your racing, that NASCAR race should be must viewing come Sunday afternoon.
Meantime, in Iowa, Helio Castroneves and Will Power will share the front row for Sunday's afternoon's IZOD IndyCar Series race. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will start third and Marco Andretti fourth. The other Canadian in the field, Alex Tagliani of Montreal, will start 12th in the 24-car field.
Saturday night at the oval speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Pete Shepherd III of Brampton won his second series race in as many weeks. One of the best young drivers in the country, Shepherd - who struggles to find sponsorship money - has won five races in the 18 starts he's made in the last four years.
There are many observers who say that if he could run full-time, he would either win championships or be a contender.
Two-time series champion Scott Steckly of Milverton finished second, while J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge was third, Jason Hathaway of Dutton was fourth (he was the subject of a feature article in this weekend's Toronto Star Wheels, by the way) and Steve Matthews of New Liskeard finished fifth.
The rest of the top ten: Martin Roy, Napierville, Que.; L.P. Dumoulin, Trois-Rivieres; Jeff Lapcevich, Grimsby; Hugo Vannini, Repentigny, Que.; D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas.
Four points separate the first three in the standings, with Kennington leading at 115, Hathaway second with 114 and Lapcevich third with 111.
And at Road America in Wisconsin, A.J. Allmendinger won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It was Dinger's first NASCAR victory and, it would seem, solidifies his position at Penske Racing.
For the second and third times in recent days, there have been deaths in auto racing.
Shortly after this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans started today, Aston Martin Racing driver Allan Simonsen, 34, of Denmark, was killed when he lost control of his car and crashed (photo courtesy of 9thcivic.com). It had started to rain and several other cars went spinning off the circuit in the vicinity of Simonsen's crash.
Doctors treated him at the scene but he was declared dead at the medical centre. Simonsen was the first driver to die in the race since Jo Gartner in 1986.
The remaining cars followed a safety vehicle around for an hour while repairs were made to guardrails. The other Aston Martin cars - all Vantage V8s entered in the GTR-Pro and GTE-Am classes - continued in the race at the request of Simonsen's family.
Simonsen was a highly versatile driver. A Formula Ford champion, he drove GT-class sports cars and won races and championships in them. He was driving in this Le Mans with countrymen Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen, who are leading the GTE-Am championship in the FIA World Endurance Championship series.
Meanwhile, at the Nurburgring in Germany today, racing driver Wolf Silvester died from an apparent heart attack during a club race. He was 55.
Simonsen's and Silvester's deaths follow that of Jason Leffler, the NASCAR star who died in a sprint car race in New Jersey more than a week ago.
There’s a lot to set up for this weekend, so far as racing and racing news is concerned, so let’s get going.
- The FIA told Mercedes on Friday morning that it was a naughty, naughty F1 team for participating in that secret/private tire test conducted by Pirelli.
And for that, it’s been banned — banned, I say — from participating in this year’s Young Driver Test in which teams learn absolutely nothing because the drivers being tested have to pay for the privilege.
Sorry — just figured it out.
As the teams charge these young drivers several millions of dollars each to drive 10 or 15 laps in an F1 car, the ban means Mercedes has actually been assessed a monetary penalty.
Whew! I’m glad the penny dropped on that one.
For a moment there, I thought this had all been much ado about nothing . . .
- The definitive sign that the apocalypse is upon us: Nissan has unveiled an electric car it will enter in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.
- Speaking of Le Mans, Audi has the pole for this weekend’s Classic. Gee, what a surprise. In fact, the team swept the top three positions. And Aston Martin is on pole in both GT categories.
Speed Channel will have full coverage — well, almost full — starting Saturday morning and you’d better enjoy it because when Fox Sports takes over Speed in August, the amount of motorsport coverage online and on TV will likely plummet.
Bentley Motors, which has had success at Le Mans over the years, sent out a link earlier this week to a terrific video called Les Bentley Boys and it features the drivers who dominated the marathon over the years.
A little known fact is that, in 1924, the race was co-won by a Canadian, John Duff of Hamilton, who also finished ninth in the 1926 Indy 500 and at one time held many speed records. Duff remains the only Canadian to ever score an overall race win at Le Mans and he’s in this video.
To enjoy Les Bentley Boys, click here
- Canadian drivers Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve will both race in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway in California. JV will saddle up for Phoenix Racing (Hendrick motors) and Fellows’s Canadian Tire-sponsored car is being prepared by Richard Childress Motorsports. Both have a good chance to shine.
Hey, I just thought of something. Want to see Ron in action at Sonoma? Click here.
Now, think back to Road America a year ago. You will recall that Villeneuve punted Danica Patrick out of what could have been a top five finish in a Nationwide Series race. The assault was one of those things but it was Jacques’ attitude later — essentially he said he couldn’t care less what he’d done — that got people angry.
Danica is now a Sprint Cup driver and this will be the first time that they've raced together in the Sprint Cup series. People who follow the sport know that sooner or later there will be payback. I suggest Jacques Villeneuve might find himself knocked out of the race in California on Sunday, courtesy of you-know-who.
(Photo courtesy of www.zimbio.com)
- In Iowa, meantime, the IZOD IndyCar Series will run another short-oval race Sunday and both James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani will be out to turn their seasons around. Tag has had the most atrocious luck this season and Hinch wants to rediscover the magic that took him to Victory Lane twice during the first four races.
For channels and times, please see George’s TV Listings for Race Fans at wheels.ca
- At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (have we said the words Canadian Tire enough yet?) will run the Clarington 200, the last major race on the half-mile oval there before it’s demolished late in July to make way for another road course.
And along with defending national champion and defending race winner D.J. Kennington, two-time champion Scott Steckly, defending pole winner Pete Shepherd III of Brampton (who won the series race at Delaware Speedway near London, Ont., last weekend) and a contingent of racers from western Canada and Quebec will come Steve Mathews from New Liskeard, Ont.
Mathews arrived on the national scene in 2009 and set fast time during practice for his first race, eventually finishing sixth. Last weekend at Delaware, after 22 starts primarily on ovals, he scored his first podium by finishing third. In all, he has three top-five finishes and has won two poles.
Talking about the oval at Old Mosport, Mathews said in a series release that he likes the track. “It can be a little tricky, but everyone knows it well and will be ready for the race. I don’t expect anyone to be surprised.”
The Clarington 200 will go to the post Saturday at 7 p.m. Practice and qualifying will be held during the afternoon. If you miss being there in person, it will be on television —TSN, Sun., June 30, 1 p.m. ET; RDS2, Fri., July 9, 11 p.m. ET
- Also at CTMP this weekend, the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Series is back for the BARC Grand Prix of Ontario, rounds 5 and 6 of the championship. Points leader Zach Robichon of Ottawa will be in action, as will former champion Shane Jantzi of Ayr and two-time Shannonville winner Craig Willis.
- First out of the gate to promote races next weekend — Canada Day, by the way — is Thorold’s Merrittville Speedway. The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Series will be the headliner. Just as good: Piller’s Hot Dogs will be $1 all night in the grandstands. Rounding out the on-track action will be the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modifieds, another Hoosier Stock Duel on the Dirt Home Track Event and the 2nd Enduro Qualifier accelerated by Niagara College.
The Canada Day Weekend Celebration will also include a Firemaster Productions fireworks display.
- Before I shoo you out the door to go play before settling in to watch all of this weekend’s racing, either live-in-person or on television, let me leave you with a local angle at Le Mans. Did you know, for instance, that 20 of the 56 entries in this weekend’s race are using Multimatic Motorsports of Markham’s Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) damping technology?
Of the 20 users, eight are Ferrari GTE entries, two are Porsche GTs, three are Zytek LMP2s, two are HPD LMP2s and five are Lolas. This proven damping technology from Multimatic has revolutionised the damper market over the last decade and has become the technology of choice for professional race teams the world over, according to a release.
- Finally, a corporate announcement from Multimatic. Overseeing the Multimatic motorsport business from Le Mans onwards will be George Howard-Chappell. A well-known engineer throughout the paddocks of the world, Howard-Chappell joins Multimatic as Motorsports Business Director after more than a decade masterminding Aston Martin Racing’s motorsport programs.
Prior to that, Howard-Chappell worked at Lotus in both Formula One and GT racing, where he specialized in chassis development.