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Race Weekend Review: August 25-26, 2018

F1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Vettel vanquishes Hamilton after first-corner skirmish

Francorchamps, Belgium, Aug. 26/18 (GRW): Coming off his DNF in the German GP last month, Sebastian Vettel has a tough road ahead if he is to beat Lewis Hamilton out of the drivers’ championship this year. After the German GP, Vettel had a 17-point deficit and then after the Hungarian GP which saw Hamilton win over Vettel one-two, this gap grew by another seven points. At this rate Hamilton looked to be well on his way to becoming the 2018 champion. But at Spa, after the four-week summer hiatus, Vettel demonstrated that he was the equal of Hamilton, if not better, chasing him down to regain the lead on the first lap and, after that, never yielding the lead to Hamilton for the remainder of the race’s 44 laps. This win for Vettel reduces Hamilton’s lead by seven points and gives the Ferrari camp hope that Vettel may yet be able to wrest the title from Hamilton in the second half of the 2018 season.

F1 FERRARI VETTEL SPA resizeVettel at Spa (Ferrari photo)

Coming into qualifying, Vettel looked like having the best chance of winning the pole, having led all but one practice session. Vettel was the fast in Q1 and Q2 but he was defeated by rain which came inconsistency in Q3, helping Hamilton win the pole. This rain also helped the two Force India cars qualify third and fourth. This team was back on the track after having been bought out of receivership by a consortium led by Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence.

The race started with a bang as Fernando Alfonso’s car came flying out of the pack near the back of the field as they approached the first corner. This contretemps saw the immediate retirement of three cars – Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, and Charles Leclerc. Daniel Ricciardo also got a lot of damage and he fell a lap down while repairs were being made. Ricciardo soldiered on but, once it was clear that he stood to neither gain or lose positions if he continued, they retired the car from the race.

Pole-sitter Hamilton was able to hold onto the race lead through the first corner but Vettel was right on his tail and passed for the lead coming up the fast stretch after Eau Rouge/Raidillon – and he never looked back. Hamilton was able to close the gap considerably after the mid-race round of green-flag pit stops for fresh tires but eventually Vettel pulled away again and he took the checker by an 11-second margin over Hamilton.

Max Verstappen qualified seventh but he was able over the course of the race to claw his way forward to a third-place finish. Valtteri Bottas had been sent to the back of the field for the start on account of replacing part of the power unit but he also made good progress up through the field and finished in fourth place.

The next F1 race is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza next Sunday, September 2.

Click HERE for the results of the Belgian GP.

IndyCar Gateway podium resizeThe podium of Will Power, Alexander Rossi, and Scott Dixon hoist their trophies on stage following the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park -- Photo by: Matt Fraver

Verizon IndyCar Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park
Power beats Rossi to revive his championship hopes

Madison, IL, August 25/18 (GRW): Scott Dixon led 145 laps of the 248-lap race but Will Power led the final 12 laps to win by a 1.3-second margin over Alexander Rossi. Dixon finished third.

The win came a year after Power completed just five laps at Gateway before a crash ended his night and his title hopes. Saturday's victory lifted the 2014 IndyCar Series champion to third in the standings and within 68 points of leader Scott Dixon, who finished third in the race. Rossi, with his third straight podium finish following a pair of wins, maintained second in the championship and crept within 26 points of Dixon with two races remaining.

Power passed Dixon for the lead on Lap 150 of the 248-lap race on this 1.25-mile oval. The Australian then zoomed away to a gap of more than seven seconds before making his final pit stop for a splash of fuel 18 laps from the end, surrendering the lead back to Dixon.

Power regained the lead on lap 240 after Dixon and other drivers made their last stops for fuel. Rossi, attempting to complete the race in one less pit stop – as he did in winning the 2016 Indy 500 and four weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, nursed his No. 27 Honda home in second place for his eighth podium finish of 2018.

The next Verizon Indy car race will be run at the Portland road course next Sunday, September 2.

Click HERE for the results of the Gateway Indy Car race.

NXS ROAD AM ALLGAIER resizeJustin Allgaier leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Johnsonville 180 at Road America
A second road-course win for Allgaier after Davidson falters

Elkhart Lake, WI, Aug. 25/18 (GRW): Justin Allgaier made it two road-course wins in a row, winning here at Road America just two weeks after winning at Mid-Ohio. Matt Tifft finished second ahead of Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Elliott Sadler.

James Davidson, an Australian driving the No. 18 Toyota here this week, took the lead with just eight laps to go but he tangled with Justin Marks and lost the lead, finishing in eighth place two spots behind Marks.

Considerable interest was generated when Bill Elliott announced that he was going to drive the No. 23 car on this race. These old-timers who come back for a bit of fun tend to not produce impressive results. Elliott had a troubled day and finished well back in 23rd place. He was never a factor in the race.

Austin Cindric, who led most of the Mid-Ohio race in the No. 22 Penske Mustang qualified eighth but had to start at the back because his crew changed a tire after qualifying. Although he was able to lead a couple of laps at the end of the first Stage, he was never a contender and he ended up a DNF after engine failure a few laps later on lap 15 of the 45-lap race.

The next Xfinity race will be at the Darlington raceway next Saturday, September 1.

Click HERE for the results of the Road America Xfinity race.

 NCWTS CTMP restartBOWMANVILLE, ON - AUGUST 26: The trucks get a re-start with two laps to go with Todd Gilliland, driver of the #4 Frontline Toyota, in the lead at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on August 26, 2018 in Bowmanville, Canada. (Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Kyle Busch Motorsports Teammates Wreck in Final Corner; Hayley Wins and Advances

Bowmanville, ON August 26, 2018, , (Jamie Maudsley/PRN)) - The previous five versions of the NCWTS Chevrolet Silverado 250 at CTMP have been decided by not just bump-and-runs, but a number of slam-and-bams, which is exactly what Justin Haley needed to win Sunday's overtime thriller through the hills of Clarington.

The kicker is Haley wasn't the villain, but an innocent bystander who was able to stickhandle through the turn 10 carnage on the final lap. He parlayed his patience into the lead for the final few hundred feet to the checker, the only time Haley would spend at the head of the field all day.
Todd Gilliland took the lead on the final restart, a green-white-checker overtime, with teammate Noah Gragson - and his fresher tires - chasing him down. Gragson pulled up to Gilliland's bumper at the end of the Andretti straight, before inching even closer exiting turn nine. As the duo exited the left hander, Gragson dove to the inside of the right-hand turn ten, and smashed into the side of Gilliland, trying to turn a corner that he wasn't going to make. Gilliland ended up in the tire barrier, while Gragson spun, and Haley sauntered on by.
Haley talked about the finish in victory lane, "I know the history of this place, and the finishes of the previous races. With them being teammates, I thought it was a long shot for them to wreck each other, but we ended up being in the right spot. At the end of the day, this is what we came here to do, and we accomplished out mission. We have locked in a spot in the next round, and we don't have to worry about the wild card race at Talladega."
John Hunter Nemechek, famous for his 2016 finish in the race, and eventual pro wrestling audition versus Cole Custer was able to snake his way through the final corner action as well to come home second, and talked about the runner-up finish, "We were up and down all day, and then we had a great battle with Brett Moffett late in the race that ended up being for second spot when the KBM teammates took each other out. I'm just glad we didn't get in it."
Moffett was able to score the bronze-medal with his dodging skills, and said, "We were going for Stage points, and that put us 12th starting the final Stage, but we were able to get through the traffic, avoid the wreck at the end, and have a good points day."
Ben Rhodes started on the pole, but Gragson had the strongest mount early, as he took the lead from Rhodes on lap four, and led the rest of Stage one to pick up maximum points.
Four trucks stayed out without pitting at the end of the first Stage, putting Gragson fifth on the Stage two start, but Noah was running second by corner three, and took the lead again shortly after.
It was during Stage two that Gilliland, the 18-year old flexed his muscle, climbing as high as third, behind Gragson and Haley. With Stage points meaningless to Gilliland, the crew called him to pit road with just over 2 laps remaining in the segment. Gragson won his second segment, with Moffett passing Haley late for second, but it was Gilliland's strategy that put him in the best position, restarting fourth, with only the worn tires of Johnny Sauter, Grand Enfinger, and Cody Coughlin in front of him.
That trio was no match for Gilliland's fast KBM machine, and fresh tires, as he swiftly claimed the lead, and started to open up a gap on the field.
The next yellow set up a ten to go shootout, with Gragson up to fourth, and within two laps Gragson had climbed to third, taking second with a 'two left-side tires on the grass pass' on the outside of turn eight. Once in the runner-up spot he set the sights on Gilliland, but the leader had worked up a gap of over three seconds.
It was the final yellow on lap 59 that set Gragson up to challenge Gilliland for the win, and put Gilliland back in the clutches of the fastest truck of the day.
Gilliland, on the verge of his first career win was crushed after the race, "He just drove through me on the last corner, and that sucks. It's very frustrating, and especially frustrating because it was a teammate. We were looking at a one-two finish, and then I get wrecked. I'd go fight him right now, but I can't."
Gragson talked about the wreck that took away the one-two KBM sweep, "I had a great truck, and we were able to make moves all day. I got a good run on him from the exit of turn nine, and I thought I had a clear path. I expected his spotter to tell him I was there. I just ran out of room, and I really have to apologize to the #4 team, as well as the whole KBM team."
Timothy Peters was a late substitution for injured Daulton Sargeant, and came home fourth, while former series champion Matt Crafton wound up fifth.
Sauter was sixth, Stuart Freisen was the top Canadian in seventh, while Austin Hill, Gragson, and Alex Tagliani, who won the NASCAR Pinty's Series race earlier in the day, rounded out the top-ten. D.J. Kennington wound up 12th.
The event at CTMP was the first of the 2018 playoff season, and with the win Haley has punched his ticket to the second round. Sauter is second, Moffett third, and Gregson fourth. Crafton and Freisen are tied for fifth, one point to the good of the cutline, with Harrison Burton being the first driver on the outside looking in

The next NCWTS race is at Las Vegas on September 14.
Click HERE for the results of the NCWTS race from CTMP

NPS CTMP CohenBOWMANVILLE, ON - AUGUST 26: Alex Tagliani and Kevin Lacroix line up for a late-race restart (credit: Howard Cohen)

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Total Quartz 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Tagliani Wins a Race Long Battle Over the Points Leader

Bowmanville, ON, Aug 26/18 (Howard Cohen/PRN): With LP Dumoulin leading the Pinty’s NASCAR points championship, he needed to have the best starting and finishing positions for Race 10 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. LP won the pole with a time of 1:23.408 seconds, 106.134 MPH. Andrew Ranger was close behind at 1:23.623 seconds to start beside LP on the front row. Alex Tagliani, Kevin Lacroix and other drivers were also within a half second of LP making for a very exciting start and finish!

The weekend was a combination of sun, rain and fog, making the teams work hard to get their cars set up and ready to race. Saturday practice had teams changing set-ups, from tires to springs, trying to get the cars to handle the ten turns at CTMP. Rain in the afternoon washed out qualifying and practice times were used to set the starting positions. This did not sit well with all the teams but you can’t always fight the weather.
Sunday started with a layer of fog and a chance of rain. By early morning, the fog had cleared, the rain threat disappeared and the need to prepare rain tires was forgotten, something the drivers were pleased to hear.

The green flag fell under cloudy skies and the top 8 cars fought their way through Turn 1 and never stopped. By the time they came around to Turn 9, there were mere inches between them. Alex Tagliani traded places with LP Dumoulin and Andrew Ranger, then traded places again in Turn 10, then again along the front straight. For the next several laps, the lead changed several times between the three leaders. Dumoulin came in for a quick pit stop on Lap 15 just as the first yellow flag came out. This was a bonus for LP as he was able to stay on the same lap. There were four caution flags that used up a full quarter of the race and that kept the leaders bunched up, not allowing anyone to stretch out a lead.
The weather changed during the race from cloudy and cool to sunny and warm, causing teams to change their set-ups during pit stops. A mid race pit stop put Tagliani towards the rear and he battled his way back to the front, taking the lead back from Gary Klutt. Ranger faded back as his car suffered engine problems and that took him out of podium contention. Kevin Lacroix charged from his 15th place start to the front to make the battle even more crowded. JF Dumoulin was in the top six all day and also lead for a brief period. DJ Kennington stayed near the front all day and finished sixth. The top eight cars were like a high speed freight train headed for the checkered flag. In the end, Alex Tagliani managed to keep the others at bay and won the race by a very close margin with Lacroix second and LP Dumoulin third.
The season standings changed with LP Dumoulin still in the lead but only 14 points over Tagliani, Cole Powell in third place followed by Kennington and Ranger. The championship is far from over and the final three races will be hard fought and fun to watch.

The next Pinty’s series race will be at St. Eustasche, QC, on Saturday, September 8.
Click HERE for the results of the Pinty’s race from CTMP.

CTCC at CTMP resize


Canadian Touring Car Championship at CTMP
CTCC Contenders Counting Down To Secure The Championship Title

Bowmanville, ON, Aug 26, 2018 (CTCC): This weekend, CTCC was attending another major event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the Chevrolet Silverado 250. The drivers’ lineup counted 18 contenders eager to take on the four-kilometre circuit and presented a remarkable performance for the spectators.

CTCC has welcomed many new race car drivers this season, and this weekend continued with the same trend. Two new entrants joined the field in the GT Cup class: Amir Farahmand from Toronto, ON, with the No. 25 BMW M4 and Martin Harvey from Berthierville, QC, with the No. 80 Porsche GT3.

As the GT Cup class continues to grow with an exceptional diversity of exotic sports cars, both drivers had to adjust to the unique setup of the Championship and manage the speed differential. In Friday’s qualifying session, it didn’t take long for Harvey to make an impression. This long-time participant in the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup series snatched the overall and GT Cup pole position, besting the time set by the No. 72 Ferrari 458 of Mario Guerin by a surprising 0.719 seconds.

In the weekend’s opening 40-minute contest, Harvey immediately launched into the race lead and pulled out a substantial advantage over the pursuing No. 72 Ferrari 458. Slowing down in the final laps, it was the Porsche leading the Ferrari to the checkered flag as Harvey recorded the GT Cup class win by 2.396 seconds in his CTCC debut.

In Saturday afternoon’s weekend finale, the overall and GT Cup finishing order was reversed with Guerin crossing the stripe 17.378 seconds in front of Harvey. The Porsche driver had been pressuring Guerin intensely throughout the middle portion of the race, but unfortunately pushed too hard, a spin in turn two on lap 21 costing his time, but not a position, in the running order.

Series rookie Ethan Simioni padded his lead atop the GT Sport class rankings with a victory in Friday’s opening round, but the driver of the No. 58 BMW M4 GT4 was relegated to a runner-up result in the second contest, fighting with both No. 66 and No. 55 Honda Civic, often trapped between Gary and Tom Kwok. At the end of Round 10, Simioni got away, finally chasing the No. 8 Audi R8 GT4 LMS of Malcolm Strachan to the checkered flag.

In the Super Touring class, Marc Raymond (No. 27 Porsche Cayman) swept to back-to-back victories, with Scott Giannou at the controls of the No. 86 Toyota 86 earning a pair of second place results.

Claremont, Ontario’s Paul Joakim was the only driver to rival Touring Class point leader Shawn Little this weekend, the driver of the No. 12 Mazda narrowing his point deficit with twin wins in the penultimate CTCC event. Nevertheless, Little maintains a healthy advantage in the standings and will be looking to secure the championship for the Velocity Motorsports Club team in the season finale.

CTCC presented by Pirelli will conclude the 2018 campaign and crown their class champions in a one-day, doubleheader event (September 29) on the airport circuit of ICAR Mirabel.

Click HERE for the results of the CTCC races at CTMP.


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