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Preview: Weekend of May 10-11-12 – IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR

Preview: Weekend of May 10-11-12 – IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR

Round five of the Formula One championship heads to one of it most regularly visited venues, with teams and drivers assembling at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The circuit, in the hills above Barcelona, is a favoured F1 testing venue because it challenges every part of car design. The track configuration tests front and rear grip, across long and short comers, with a range of cornering speeds from the very fast Turn 3 all the way through to the low-speed final chicane. It features a long straight, rapid changes of direction and requires good braking performance. While resurfacing in 2018 means Catalunya isn't quite the abrasive track of old, Pirelli will still bring their hardest compounds to Spain cope with the high-energy demands of the circuit.
Ten weeks on from winter testing, warmer temperatures on the Mediterranean coast will create circuit characteristics, quite different to those experienced when teams conducted their pre-season programmes at the end of February. The cars also have moved on from their launch specifications and, for many teams, this race is circled as the date at which they bring their first major update of the year. Taken together; these factors suggest the form guide from testing cannot be relied upon to provide a clear indication of pace going into the Spanish Grand Prix.
The championship tables, however, pride a clearer picture. Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, with two wins each, have already pulled away from the chasing pack, with Bottas a point clear of his five-time World Champion team-mate. In the Constructors' Championship, the near-perfect start for" Mercedes, missing out only on three of the four points on offer for fastest laps, giving them an enormous advantage over rivals Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – albeit with the caveat that performance gaps on track are much smaller than the points tables would suggest.

A road course was laid out at the Indianapolis Motor speedway for the USGP which was held there for eight years from 2000 to 2007. The road course layout was revised in preparation for the MotoGP which was held there after the F1 race was no longer held. Further refinements were made in preparation for the IndyCar Grand Prix, which has been held here each year since 2014. The notable difference from the original Grand Prix layout include the elimination of a couple of turns inside Indy Turn 4, the simplification of the twisty bits inside Indy Turn 2 and the creation of an alternate track inside Indy Turn 1. This latter change eliminated having the motorcycles/cars racing at high speed through Indy Turn 1; this high-speed corner was the reason half the F1 field withdrew from the race in 2005.

The Kansas Speedway is a fairly recent addition to the inventory of NASCAR race circuits. The 1.5-mile oval was built in 2001. Track lighting was installed in 2011 making it possible for NASCAR to schedule night races here – as is this weekend’s NASCAR events.

Friday, May 10
1 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Digital Ally 250, Kansas Speedway

• 1.5 mi; 167 laps = 250 mi; Stages: 44/40/87 laps
• TV: Fox Sports Racing at 8:30P
• Noah Gragson, who was then driving for Kyle Busch, won here last year. Busch finished second while Stewart Friesen was third.
• The most recent truck race was held last week at Dover. Johnny Sauter win the race ahead of the defending champion Brett Moffitt. Harrison Burton was fourth.
• As of the most recent race, Dover, Grant Enfinger is leading in the points race with 241 points to Sauter’s 237 (just four points back), Friesen’s 230 and Moffitt’s 227. Only two NGOTS points-eligible drivers have race wins, one each to Sauter and Austin Hill.

• Click HERE for the NGOTS Entry List

Saturday, May 11
2. NTT IndyCar Series IndyCar Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

• 2.439 mi (3.925 km); 85 laps = 207 mi
• TV: NBC/SN-World at 3:00P
• A year ago here Will Power, driving for Team Penske, was t he race winner over Ganassi driver Scott Dixon and Canada’s Robert Wickens.
• The most recent IndyCar race was held at Long Beach four weeks ago. It was won by Andretti driver Josef Newgarden was second and Dixon third.
• With four IndyCar races having been run to date, Newgarden is leading in the points race with 166 points. Rossi is in second place in points with 138 while Scott Dixon is in third place with 133 points.

• Click HERE for the IndyCar Entry List

3. NASCAR MENCS, Digital Ally 400, Kansas Speedway

1.5 mi; 267 laps = 400 mi; Stages: 80/80/107 laps
• TV: TSN1/3 at 7:30P
• Last year, Kevin Harvick was the race winner here with Martin Truex second and Joey Logano third.
• A week ago, at Dover, Truex emerged as the winner, winning by a comfortable margin over Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson.
• The official NASCAR points standings after Dover have Kyle Busch leading with 460 points to Logano’s 455 (just five points back) with Harvick third at 397 points. More importantly perhaps is the fact that Busch has won three races while Denny Hamlin and Truex have two wins each so far.

• Click HERE for the MENCS Entry List

Sunday, May 12
4. FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain

• 4.655 km; 66 laps = 307.104 km
• TV: TSN1/5 at 9:05A
• Last year the Spanish GP was won by Lewis Hamilton ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull car home in third place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was then his teammate at Red Bull.
• This year, the previous Grand Prix was the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the oil-rich city of Baku. Bottas came home the winner ahead of Hamilton in the other Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) was third. With Verstappen fourth.
• In F1, after four races have been run so far this year, the Mercedes team has been dominant, having finished one-two at each of the first four races – Hamilton has won twice and Bottas twice. Bottas currently has 87 points, a single point ahead of Hamilton, thanks to his having set the fastest lap in Australia. Vettel is in third place with 52 points while Verstappen is fourth in points with 51. The only other driver within sight of the Mercedes duo is Charles Leclerc with 47 points. It is still early days – there are 17 more Grands Prix yet to be run this year.

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