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Race Weekend Review: June 10, 2018

FIA Formula One Heineken Grand Prix du Canada, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Polesitter Vettel leads every lap in Montreal to regain his championship points lead

Montreal, QC, June 10/18 (GRW): Perhaps the last really exciting moment in this weekend was when Sebastian Vettel won the pole in qualifying on Saturday. On Sunday, he rocketed into the lead at the start and he held P1 all the way even through his mid-race pit stop. Behind him, the top runners finished in the almost the exact order they had held coming out of the second turn on the first lap.

At the end of lap one the order was Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen. On lap 17, Hamilton pitted. Ricciardo came in a lap later and funnelled out of the pits behind Verstappen but in fourth place ahead of Hamilton. And that’s the order they ran in for the rest of the race, with never any real threats to this established order.

After the race, Vettel was asked to explain why we did not see an exciting race this day. Vettel’s reply was, “I don’t think it’s justified to criticise the racing, or criticise this race. I don't know if it was boring. From my point of view, obviously, it’s still busy inside the car no matter where you are but I don’t like… I don’t know why people today are so short-sighted. We had seven races this year, I think some were phenomenal, some were boring – but next week the World Cup is starting and I
promise you that a lot of the games will not be exciting – but still people will watch it – but some
games will be incredible. That’s what we always look forward to – but it can’t just always continue to go up and get better.”

The race was exciting for Lance Stroll who crashed half-way around the very first lap. He tangled with Brendon Hartley and they crashed into the wall just ahead of Turn 5 which is out on the back of the circuit. Both cars were heavily damaged but the drivers were unhurt. No doubt there were Stroll fans present who were disappointed to not even see their driver complete the first lap.

Fernando Alonso had another bad day. He started in 14th place and worked his way up as high as eighth place during the pit stop sequence but soon after, on lap 40, his car failed and he pulled in to the pits to retire from the race.

There was one last point of interest when the checkered flag was shown a lap early. Winnie Harlow, a “super model” was given the honour of waving the flag but apparently the locally-appointed starter in the flag-stand became confused and gave her the instruction to display the flag early. Under the rules the final race order reverted to the previous complete lap so the provisional results show the race finish as coming at the end of lap 68, two laps early.

With Vettel winning the race and earning maximum points (25) while Hamilton got only 10 points for his fifth-place finish, he regained his lead in the championship points standings with 121 points to Hamilton’s 120 points. Bottas has 86 points while Ricciardo has 84 points – so unless something amazing happens, it looks like the championship battle will be between Vettel and Hamilton for the rest of the season – but there still are 14 Grands Prix to be run and a lot could happen before this year is over.

The next Formula One race is the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France on Sunday, June 24.

Click HERE for full results of the Canadian Grand Prix

IndyCar TMS Dixon 16C5398 1 2 resizeVerizon IndyCar DXC Technology 600, Texas Motor Speedway, June 9/18: Scott Dixon with an emphatic celebration in Victory Lane (Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar)

Verizon IndyCar DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway
Dixon takes charge late in the race for his third win here

Fort Worth, TX, June 9/18 (GRW): Scott Dixon’s seventh-place starting position may not have foreshadowed a win but, after he took the lead on lap 130 of the 248-lap race, he led the field the rest of the way to the finish. This was the third win here at Texas for the Ganassi driver and his 43rd Indy car victory, moving him into sole possession of third place in the all -time winners standings behind only AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti.

Simon Pagenaud finished second ahead of his Penske teammate Alexander Rossi. James Hinchcliffe started way back in the field – in 15th place – but he worked his way forward throughout the race to take fourth place at the end. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fifth.

The race started under the afternoon sun and finished in the cool of the evening. This presented a challenge for Firestone whose tires were prone to blistering in the heat of the day. Prior to the race they asked each team to ‘scuff’ four sets of tires to use during the first, sunny portion of the race. This scuffing subjected the tires to a heat cycle which would have made them a bit harder and, hopefully, more resistant to blistering. Nonetheless, during the first half of the race many of the drivers did experience fairly severe blistering and had to pit out of sequence to take on fresh tires. This seemed to affect the Penske drivers most of all, while others – like Dixon, Robert Wickens and Hinchcliffe had few problems.

This problem with tire blistering meant that some drivers who were affected had to pit well before others who had less of a tire problem – extending the cycle of pit stops. During one of these long pit stop cycles, Wickens, the Canadian ‘rookie’, led for 31 laps before he pitted. Even after this pit-stop sequence was completed, Wickens was running in second place behind the now-dominant Dixon, who had taken the lead on lap 130.

Rossi got past Wickens dropping him to the third place but then disaster struck on lap 173. As Wickens swung low to pass the lapped car of Ed Carpenter, the Indy pole winner failed to see him and he turned down towards the apex collecting Wickens. Both cars shot up and hit the outside wall hard ending the race for both of them. Before this year, all of Wickens’ experience had been on road courses and he has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the ovals, But for this unfortunate occurrence, he looked like being a probable podium finisher if not the race winner.

Meanwhile the third Canadian driver in the race, Zachary Claman DeMelo, who had started in 21st place, had climbed up into the top ten. Just past lap 200, he saw his chance and swung high to pass a number of cars ahead of him. He came up on Will Power’s car and tried to squeeze past above him. Unfortunately Power was unaware of Claman DeMelo’s presence and he turned right, collecting the Canadian’s car and taking both of them out of the race. Afterwards, race officials gave both Carpenter and Power post-race penalties for “avoidable contact”.

Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe was working his way forward and he was now up into fifth place and, after the caution for the Power-Claman DeMelo crash ended, he took over fourth place behind Dixon, Pagenaud and Rossi – and that how the race ran to the finish.

This was Dixon’s second win of the season, his previous win coming seven days earlier at Belle Isle. It moved him into the lead in the points standings with 357 points, 23 points ahead of Rossi, while Power, who had been leading coming out of Detroit, dropped to third with 321 points. Wickens is seventh in the points standings with 244 points while Hinchcliffe is 11th with 209 points. The standard points payout is 51 points for the race winner.

The next IndyCar race will be the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI, on June 24.

Click HERE for full results of the DXC Technology 600

mencs bowyercar 061018 RESIZENASCAR MENCS FireKeepers Casino 400, Michigan Intl. Speedway, June 10/18: Clint Boyer leads Kevin Harvick (Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images/NASCAR)


Monster Energy Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway
Bowyer Outlasts Harvick’s Four Tires and the Weather

Brooklyn, MI, June 10, 2018 (Jamie Maudsley): For the second day in a row, NASCAR battled the elements at Michigan International Speedway for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at the two-mile playground of speedway.

Kurt Busch qualified on the pole and led 46 laps in the early going before Ryan Blaney was able to best Kyle Larson, who started 26th, for the Stage One win during a one-lap shootout.
Also on the move in Stage One were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Eric Jones, were all pre-race tech penalties, as a result of issues with their splitters. The trio would roll from the back of the grid, with Busch climbing all the way to 12th by the lap 60 stage end.

Kevin Harvick took the lead on the restart and cruised to a Stage Two victory of almost three-seconds over Clint Bowyer, as the teams continued to monitor the radar and the rain coming sometime soon.

Bowyer's crew chief Mike Bugerewicz made the call of the day, as they made a two-tire stop, putting Bowyer alongside Harvick for the lap-126 restart. Bowyer wasn't too confident, "We took two, and hoped some others would and give us a cushion between us and the cars that took four. I left my box, looked in the rear view mirror, saw a pretty big gap and thought we were in some trouble. It's tough enough to try and beat Harvick when you are equal tires. He was faster through one and two, but I took away his line pretty good in three. I knew I wasn't going to hold him off too long, but then the caution came out and it started to rain."

Bowyer fought off Harvick until Ricky Steinhouse spun, bringing out the 8th yellow of the day, with Bowyer out front. Almost as soon as the yellow flew, the skies opened up, and the field was brought to pit road. With daylight running out, NASCAR called the event early for the second day in a row, giving Bowyer his 10th-career victory, and second of the season after a Martinsville win.

Kurt Busch finished third, to make it a 1-2-3 finish for Stewart-Haas Racing, while Kyle Busch wound up fourth, and Paul Menard fifth.
Canadian D.J. Kennington, and Ontario based ACP teamed up at Michigan, as Kennington raced to a 34th-place result, in the first career start for Kennington in a Cup Car at Michigan, and the first time he had been on the track since an Xfinity start in 2008.

The next MENCS race will be the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 24.

Click HERE for full race results for the MENCS Firekeepers Casino 400.

NXS OwnerPic 060918 resizeNASCAR Xfinity LTi Printing 250, Michigan Intl. Speedway, June 9/18: Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Chevrolet, poses in Victory Lane with team owner Richard Childress (Credit: Daniel Shirley/Getty Images/NASCAR)

Xfinity LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway
Dillion Cashes in on rain-shortened race

Brooklyn, MI, June 9, 2018 (Jamie Maudsley): For the second consecutive week, NASCAR brought their high-drag, restrictor plate package to Xfinity Series, and the results at the 2-mile D-shaped oval in the Irish Hills of Michigan drew more rave reviews. The package debuted at Indianapolis in 2017, and was also utilized last weekend at Pocono, as well as having a similar package used for the Monster Cup Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
The practice sessions became 'drafting practice', not unlike places like Daytona and Talladega, a sign of things to come for Saturday's 125-lap race.

The field was set on points, and two of the five Cup 'ringers' were starting on the front row in Kyle Busch, and Paul Menard.

The field scrambled as soon as the green dropped, and other than a few odd times when the field was strung out single file, it was a three-wide, bump drafting spectacular, as nine different drivers took a turn pacing the field, with a total of 14 lead changes.

Busch and Elliott Sadler, captured stage wins, both with others right on their tails, as the largest lead anyone was able to muster all day was all of about five car lengths.

After starting 13th, Austin Dillion picked the right lines on a number of restarts and used his drafting talents to the fullest to duel with Kaz Grala on a lap-78 restart.

The green flag was delayed for three hours because of weather, and the end of the event would be cut short, as the skies opened up, drenching the track. The event was made official a few minutes later, and Dillion had helped snap a 55-race winless streak at RCR in the Xfinity series.

Fellow RCR driver Daniel Hemrick pushed Dillion to the lead for the first time and came home second to score a 1-2 finish for the organization. Cole Custer finished third, with Ryan Reed fourth, and Paul Menard fifth.

The next Xfinity Series race will be the Iowa 250 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, June 17.

Click HERE for full race results for the NXS LTi Printing 250.

TMS NCWTS carsontrack 060818 resizeNASCAR Camping World Truck Series PPG 400, Texas Motor Speedway: Stewart Friesen, driver of the #52 We Build America Chevrolet, leads a pack of trucks (Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images/NASCAR) 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series PPG 400, Texas Motor Speedway
Sauter takes his fourth win; Friesen a close second from the pole

Fort Worth, TX, June 8/18 (GRW): Johnny Sauter further consolidated his grip on this year’s Camping World truck series, winning here in Texas – his fourth win in the series first eight races this year. No one else has won more than one race so far. Canadian driver Stewart Friesen started from the pole and finished in second place, just 0.092 seconds behind Sauter – practically a photo finish.

This was a one-two-three finish for the GMS team with GMS driver Justin Haley finishing in third place. Technically, Friesen drives for the Halmar Friesen Racing team (his backer is the New York state industrialist Chris Larsen) but this year they have formed a technical alliance with GMS.

Grant Enfinger finished fourth and Matt Crafton fifth. Todd Gilliland crossed the finish line in sixth place after starting in the front row alongside Friesen and after leading the most laps in the race – 62 to Sauter’s 51 laps in the lead in the 167-lap/250-mile race.

This race was run in Texas as a support race to the Indy car race the next day while the other two national NASCAR series ran in Michigan. Hence, there were no Cup carpetbaggers here for this race.

Almost immediately after the start, Friesen dropped back several places while Noah Gragson took the lead for the next 19 laps until Gilliland took over the lead coming off the second caution. A third caution fell on lap 29 just 11 laps from the end of the first Stage. A number of drivers pitted at this time to gain track position at the end of the Stage 1 caution. Friesen stayed out and inherited the lead, leaving him to win the first Stage – and earn one playoff point for what that is worth.

Soon after the restart from the Stage 1 caution, Gilliland regained the lead and he was the dominant driver until the seventh caution came on lap 108 when he was shuffled back to third behind Chris Eggleston who had not pitted and Johnny Sauter who had stopped. On the restart, Haley took the lead briefly but his GMS teammate Sauter passed him for the lead on lap 117 – and he held on to that lead until the checkered flag flew.

Friesen took that same green flag in 10th place but he worked his way forward steadily over the remaining 54 laps, passing Haley and nearly catching Sauter for the win coming off the final late-race caution.

The next NASCAR Xfinity race is at Iowa Speedway next Sunday, June 17.

Click HERE for full results of the NXS PPG 400

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