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Race Weekend Review – September 8-9 (and 10), 2018

NASCAR MENCS Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Keselowski wins rain-delayed race on Monday; the first Cup win for Penske at IMS

Indianapolis, IN, Sept 10/18 (GRW): Rain nearly washed out the race weekend at Indianapolis but the cars finally got on the track – without practice or qualifying – on Monday. In the race, familiar faces took turns at leading – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer. Even Matt Kenseth, making a remarkable demonstration of the No. 6 car’s return to competitiveness, led for five laps mid-race.

Coming into the third Stage with 60 laps left to run, it looked like the race was going to go to either Bowyer or Hamlin. The cars needed to make at least one more stop during this final Stage and, coming off the ninth caution mid-way through this stage, Hamlin was leading Bowyer – but Keselowski who had been well back in the field during most of the race, was now up into fifth place after this restart – and, as the laps counted down, it was noted that he was on 15-lap fresher tires than the two cars leading the race. If there were to be another caution, he could close up on them and his fresher tires might give him the advantage.

The race kept going with little change in the order until lap 155 of the 160-lap race. The Jeffrey Earnhardt car lost control and collected Cole Custer making a big mess and bringing out the tenth and final caution.

Hamlin and Bowyer lined up at the front for this restart but Keselowski and Jamie McMurray – two drivers hungry for a win for their own reasons – made up the second row. On the restart, Keselowski quickly disposed off Bowyer and started to attack Hamlin. For the next two laps Hamlin held him off but the gap kept growing smaller and smaller. Finally, at the start of the final lap, Keselowski got alongside Hamlin and the two bumped a couple of times as they ran side-by-side. Keselowski got the better of this battle and shot out into the lead – while Hamlin seemed to have nothing left and he fell back to finish third behind Erik Jones.

MENCS Indy KissinBricks 09102018Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates by kissing the bricks (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

This was a strange weekend in which rain washed out all track activity on Saturday and Sunday, so both the Xfinity Series race and the MENCS race were postponed to Monday. This meant that the first time anyone got to drive their race car on the race track was in the race itself. Unfortunately this postponement resulted in a Monday crowd at the track that was minuscule.

As for the Big Three, Kevin Harvick ran far back for much of the race but he came on stronger near the end and he scored a fourth-place finish ahead of Bowyer in fifth. Kyle Busch had a few problems including being sent to the back because, just before the end of Stage 2, he pitted after the pits were closed. Not many laps later he made a unscheduled pit stop to replace a failed tire. This left him struggling to regain positions so he would have to consider himself fortunate to finish in eighth place – not that either Busch was ever happy with anything but a win. With his six wins so far he is locked into the playoffs which start with the next race – and with his lead in the points he clinched the regular season points championship – and earned some extra playoff points for this. Indeed this regular season championship is a more legitimate championship than the contrived Australian-pursuit season-end championship produced by the playoffs because the regular season title is based on points accumulated over the whole series of races, not some elimination lottery.

This was the final race in the regular season. The next race will be the first round of the 10-race playoff series to be held at Las Vegas next Sunday, September 16.

Click HERE for the results of the Brickyard 400.

NXS Indy PitStops 09102018John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #42 Fire Alarm Services Inc. Chevrolet, pits during the Lilly Diabetes 250 (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Allgaier and Reddick make it a one-two win for JR Motorsports

Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 10/18 (GRW): This race was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon but after rain caused all track activity to be cancelled, the race was rescheduled for Monday morning – and, as it turned out, it became the first half of a Xfinity-cup double-header on Monday. Given the lack of any practice or qualifying sessions, the starting lineup was set on car owner points which put Ryan Blaney in the No. 22 Penske Ford on the pole with Justin Allgaier alongside.

Allgaier took the lead immediately at the start of the race and ran strongly throughout, leading 41 of the race’s 100 laps. Daniel Hemric led for 25 laps but finished the race in fifth place, Chase Elliott led for 13 laps and ended up in fourth place behind Blaney who finished in third.

Tyler Reddick who, along with Allgaier and Elliott Sadler, drives for the JR Motorsports team, cycled up near the front under the competition caution which came on lap 10. After that , he was usually in the top ten. The final caution came on lap 80 after Ryan Preece in the No. 18 JGR car crashed heavily bringing out the red flag while the debris was cleared up.

On the restart, with six lap left to run, Reddick was in second place behind Allgaier and they held on to finish in this order.

Next week’s race, to be held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday, September 15, will be the last race in the Xfinity Series’ regular season.

Click HERE for the results of the Xfinity race at Indianapolis.

IMSA WT levitt 0918 LAG 10813#22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi, P: Pipo Derani, Johannes van Overbeek, #2 Tequila Patr?n ESM Nissan DPi, P: Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel (Michael L. Levitt/LAT) 

IMSA WeatherTech Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca
Derani, Van Overbeek Come from Behind to Win in No. 22 Tequila Patrón Nissan

Monterey, CA, Sept 9/18 (GRW): With half an hour to go in the 160-minute race the No. 55 Mazda looked to be set to win its first race this year but Harry Tincknell made a bad pass and spun off the track, handing the race lead over to the No. 22 Nissan of Johannes van Overbeek/Pipo Derani. Derani himself had spun earlier in the race but he had recovered to be in a position to capitalize on Tincknell’s misstep. He took the checker by a ten-second margin over the LMP2 ORECA of Jonathan Bennett/Colin Braun.

The No. 6 Penske Acura of Dane Cameron/Juan Pablo Montoya led the first 40 laps of the 103-lap race but after a wheel-banging incident with the sister Penske car it finished third. Tincknell recovered from his off to finish fourth ahead of the No. 31 Cadillac DPi of Felipe Nasr/Eric Curran.

The start of the race was punctuated by two crash-filled starts in a row. On the first start many cars were involved in a big melee which started at the back of the prototype pack. Three cars, including the no. 66 Ford GT and the No. 911 Porsche, were eliminated from the race. Soon after the second restart, the polesitter, the No. 10 car of Jordan Taylor fell out with gearbox problems. This car, which was strongly favoured pre-season, has yet to win a race this year.

In GTLM, the Ford GTs had a bad day, both being involved in crashes early on. The No 67 Ford could only complete 71 laps before retiring. The No. 25 BMW M8 of Alexander Sims/Connor De Philippi won this class.

In GT-Daytona, the No. 86 Acura of Katherine Legge/Alvaro Parente had been the fastest qualifier and, after avoiding the start-line carnage, came home the class winner, still with hopes of catching the class points leaders Michael Snow/Bryan Sellers.

The next IMSA WeatherTech race will be the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday October 13.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA WeatherTech race from Laguna Seca.

 IMSA Conti galstad WRLS 0918 491987 #46 Team TGM, Mercedes-AMG, GS: Hugh Plumb, Owen Trinkler (Jake Galstad/LAT)

IMSA Continental Tire Laguna Seca 120 at WeatherTech Raceway
Failed fuel conservation strategies produce a surprise result for Mercedes-AMG

Monterey, CA, Sept. 8/18 (GRW): The outcome of this race came down to fuel strategy with the two front-runners running out of gas in the final two laps. First the second-place No. 57 Mercedes-AMG driven by Christian Hohenadel was running out of fuel and it failed to complete that penultimate lap; it was credited with a 17th-place finish. Meanwhile the race leader, the No. 28 Porsche Cayman of Dillon Machavern/Spencer Pumpelly, was also in trouble. Machavern started the final lap in the lead but his car was sputtering and it slowed. He was able to finish that final lap, albeit down in seventh place.

This handed the race win to the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG of Owen Trinkler/Hugh Plumb with the No. 15 Multimatic Mustang of Scott Maxwell/Ty Majeski second just 0.33 seconds back. The No. 39 Audi R8 of Chad McCumbee/Patrick Gallagher was third.

The No. 15 team, which is a Multimatic entry, had not looked so strong at the start of the race. Majeski, who is in a development driver mode in this car, qualified for the race seventh quickest and was running in eighth when the first caution fell on lap 23 of what turned out to be a 70 lap race when the two-hour running time had expired. Things got confused when that first – and only – caution fell. With rules requiring each of the two driver pairings to complete 45 minutes on the track to qualify for points, this caution came too early for teams to make the switch over. Some, including the No. 15 team opted to bring Majeski in anyway with plans to have him pit again for the driver change later.

The caution went on longer than expected and the 45-minute window opened. Others pitted late in this caution period and Majeski was able to cycle around back up to third when the green came out again. Indeed, he was soon up into the lead for five laps as other teams pitted on a one-stop strategy. Of course Majeski had to pit before long to hand over to Maxwell who was down in 19th place when he got going again. A combination of spirited driving on Maxwell’s part, combined with many other cars opting to make a second pit stop for fresh tires given the slippery track surface, gradually elevated him up to fourth place with a dozen laps to go.

Clearly, the two cars which had been in the lead had opted to gamble on making the distance with just one pit stop and they paid the price when they ran out of fuel.

The top TCR class winner was the Compass Racing No. 77 Audi RS3 of Britt Casey/Tom Long, finishing one lap in arrears. In the ST class which has shrunk to just four entries, the No. 81 BMW 328i of Nick Galante/Devin Jones was the winner, three laps down.

The next IMSA Continental Tire race will be at Road Atlanta on Friday, October 12. This will be the final race counting towards the 2018 series championships.

Click HERE for the results of the Continental Race from Laguna Seca.

 Photo NASCAR Pintys St Eustache CamirandMarc-Antoine Camirand (Matthew Murnaghan)

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Lucas oil 250 at Autodrome St. Eustache
Marc-Antoine Camirand wins his first Pinty’s Series race

St. Eustache, QC, Sept 8/18 (GRW): After six years of trying, M-A Camirand has finally won a Pinty’s race. A late-race crash involving L.P. Dumoulin, Kevin Lacroix and Alex Tagliani forced an overtime finish. On the restart Camirand held off a determined Tagliani to take the checker by a margin of 0.3 seconds. The ‘rookie’ Cole Powell finished third ahead of Kerry Micks and Donald Theege. Tagliani had led the most laps of the 257-lap race, leading for 76 laps mid-race.

With just two races left in the 2018 season, L.P. Dumoulin continues to lead the points standings, albeit with his lead reduced to five points over Tagliani. Powell is third in the points standings with 428 points to Dumoulin’s 452.

The next Pinty’s race will be a first for this series – it will run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first time this series has run outside Canada, on Saturday, September 22.

Click HERE for the results of the Pinty’s race from St. Eustache.

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