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Race Weekend Review – June 1-2, 2019

Race Weekend Review – June 1-2, 2019

NTT INDYCAR Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader at Belle Isle

PHOTO NEWGARDEN xxx JB1 8652ANewgarden leads Race No. 1 in the wet (INDYCAR)

• Race 1: Newgarden turns a fortunate lap stop into a dominant win

Detroit, MI, June 1/19 (GRW): The Belle Isle IndyCar doubleheader is the last vestige of a bright idea the series’ brain trust had a few years ago. We still have two races here on the weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The fortuitous timing of his sole pit stop helped vault Josef Newgarden into the lead over polesitter Alexander Rossi and, once in the lead, he never had to pit again and he was able to hang on to win the race by a 0.8-second margin over Rossi.

The Saturday race was nearly rained out in the big weather event which caused the NASCAR Pinty’s race to the East to be postponed for a day. The IndyCar race eventually started about two-hours after the scheduled time – and, instead of being a 60-lap race over the 2.35-mile street course, it was run to a time limit of just over one hour. In the end Newgarden completed 43 laps on his way to the race win.

There was still a light rain falling when the cars went out behind the pace car on rain tires – but it was letting up. Alexander Rossi, who had started from the pole in his Honda-powered Andretti entry took the lead when the track went green and he led the first 18 laps. Now the track was drying and it was almost time for everyone to change over to slicks. Newgarden was the first to come in to change over his tires.

No sooner had he committed to making this pit stop than the race’s second caution came out after Ed Jones went into the barriers in Turn 7. This was the cue for everyone else to pit now during this yellow. Of course, this meant that Newgarden, who had already pitted, was able to stay out and inherit the race lead when the others stopped.

After that, no one had to make another stop during this abbreviated race. There were two more yellows. The most notable came on lap 24 when Scott Dixon made a boo-boo and slid off straight into the barriers in Turn 6. The race was over for the five-time series champion. Later, Matheus Leist went off in Turn 7.

But none of that impeded Newgarden’s progress and he kept on charging the rest of the way to the checkered flag. Rossi was second, Takuma Sato third, Felix Rosenqvist forth and Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth.

"It was great to have a victory here," said Newgarden, whose best previous finish in 13 Detroit races was second place in the second race of 2017. "I think we've been strong here in the past. We've not been able to fully get a win. I think, as a team, we executed. We had the car. We definitely had the compliance, the speed from the car. I think Chevy gave us the power, the drivability. Today was a lot about drivability, especially in the wet. We had all that that we needed."

Click HERE for the results of IndyCar at Belle Isle Race No. 1

• Race 2: Dixon makes up for his stumble on Saturday with a win on Sunday

Detroit, MI, June 2/19 (GRW): Despite his unassisted error on Saturday which took him out of the race, Scott Dixon made up for it by winning here on Sunday. He started sixth on the grid but he was soon in the lead. He led three times for 44 of the race’s 70 laps, taking the win ahead of series rookie Marcus Ericsson and Will Power.

The weather this day was sunny and clear with no hint of the rain from the previous day. Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi, who had contested the race win the day before, qualified for the front row on Sunday. The field took the start in an orderly manner but, only a couple of turns later, it turned bad. Mid-field a bunch of cars tangled and almost blocked the track. Most affected were Simon Pagenaud and Will Power - both with gearbox problems from having been hit in the rear. Power drove away but then he stopped on the track before he got going again; he was able to get his problem sorted without falling off the lead lap. Pagenaud, the recent Indy 500 winner, was not so lucky. He spent some time in the garage while his problem was fixed and he was laps down when he rejoined the race. In the end he finished 12 laps down to the race winner.

A few laps later, Sebastien Bourdais had a startling collision with Spencer Pigot when the latter car cut across his path to turn into the pits. Bourdais’ car vaulted up on the other car’s rear wheels and it looked as if it was almost going to do a ‘blow over’. Bourdais was able to continue and he finished the race on the lead lap in ninth place. As for Pigot, his day was over.

On lap 32 we saw the third caution. James Hinchcliffe had come out of the pits on cold tires and was still going a bit slowly when Newgarden and Rossi were coming up fast behind him. Hinchcliffe pulled a bit to the left but Newgarden was collected and Rossi spun into them. Both Hinchcliffe and Newgarden sustained damage and this effectively ended the race for both of them. Rossi recovered and continued, finishing the race in fifth place.

Later, Felix Rosenqvist had a single-car incident which ended his race on lap 65 – and prompted the TV commentators to speculate on his chances of retaining his job with car owner Chip Ganassi. Given that there were only five laps left to go when this happened, INDYCAR took a page from NASCAR’s book and red-flagged the race until the track was cleared . This gave an opportunity to end the race under green, not yellow.

When the track went green the cars were lined up in the order Dixon, Ericsson and Power and they ran this way to the finish, Ericsson finishing about two seconds behind the winner Dixon.

"Today was all about redemption," said Dixon, adding he felt like "an idiot" for crashing by himself in Saturday's race. "The team nailed the strategy, the car was super-fast. We were able to get the mileage we needed to, which was going to be really tough, with the exception of those last couple cautions. I can't believe we ended up here today and it's just fantastic.”

 Click HERE for the results of IndyCar at Belle Isle Race No. 2

The next IndyCar race will be held at Texas Motor Speedway next Saturday, June 8.

 PHOTO MENCS KYLE BUSCH BOWYER MENCS PR1 BuschLead 060219Kyle Busch ahead of Clint Bowyer (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway
• Busch takes the win; his fourth of the year

Long Pond, PA, June 2/19 (GRW): Even as a 400-mile race, the races at Pocono are a grind. Kyle Busch, had led earlier in the race but he took the lead for the final time with 21 laps to go and he went on to win the race by a two-second margin over Brad Keselowski. On his way to the win he led the most laps in the 160-lap race – 79 laps. If there is any question about Busch’s strong showing this year, the fact that he has already won four times should answer that. On his performance so far this year, he has to be a deserving candidate to win the championship again.

Busch had started on the front row alongside polesitter William Byron. His Joe Gibbs teammate Erik Jones finished third, Chase Elliott was fourth and Clint Bowyer was fifth. Byron ended up in ninth place at the finish.

Byron led the first 22 laps of the race before Kyle Larson took over the lead on the way out of the pits during the competition caution on lap 30 – a lead he held until the end of the first Stage on lap 50. During the second Stage, Keselowski, Busch, Bowyer and Elliot held the led for a few laps each, but as the end of the Stage approached, Larson regained the lead and he won the second Stage as well as the first.

After that the race order became somewhat confusing because different crew chiefs were gambling on finding the right time to make their final pit stops and position their cars for good finishing positions. Busch led for 21 laps of the final Stage’s 60 laps until he pitted. Kevin Harvick, who has yet to win a Cup race this year, had hopes of winning this one, running in second place behind Busch – but during his pit stop, a tire got away from a crew member and he was sent to the rear of the field with just 35 laps to go.

During this final cycle of pit stops, Daniel Suarez inherited the lead and he led for 9 laps before he made his pit stop. Byron and then Daniel Hemric led briefly but, when they pitted, Busch regained the lead ahead of Eric Jones and Bowyer. Ricky Stenhouse hit the wall on lap 147 bringing out the final caution with 13 laps left in the race.

The front 11 cars on the track did not pit while those behind, with nothing to lose, did come in for fresh tires. Harvick’s hopes to salvage a good finish ended when he was seen in the pits with his car’s hood up. He did come back out but he finished a lap down.

Larson took the final restart in seventh place but his hopes were dashed when he hit the wall in the first turn and fell back – eventually finishing in 26th place. Keselowski got past Jones for second place and that was the way they finished.

Busch said, “I started hitting on a couple things that made me a little bit better here with Dave Rogers (his former crew chief), and then when I got Adam (Stevens, his current crew chief), it just kind of clicked for us. We’ve been really good here ever since.”

Click HERE for the results of the MENCS race at Pocono.

The next MENCS race will be held at Michigan International Speedway next Sunday, June 9.

PHOTO NXS PR1 Custer WinnerSticker 060119Custer records his third NXS win of the year (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway
• Custer steals the win from Reddick in the final turn

Long Pond, PA, June 1/19 (GRW): By rights, Tyler Reddick should have won this race. He had to start from the rear of the field after the transmission was changed and then, late in the race, he was penalized for an uncontrolled tire during his final pit stop with less than 20 laps to go in the 100-lap race. When the yellow flew on lap 95 he was still back in ninth place. And then he pitted for fresh tires.

But he was able to take this restart in eighth place and, with the benefit of fresh tires he was up into third place behind Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe when the next yellow flew on lap 99 sending the race into overtime. On this final restart Reddick beat Custer into the first turn and it looked like that was the end of the story for Custer. But, going into Turn 1 on the white flag lap, Reddick brushed the outside wall – but he held onto his lead over Custer. Through the Tunnel Turn and up the short straight into the final turn Reddick held the lead.

But as Reddick turned into the third corner, he slid a bit high and Custer was able to dive under him and regain the lead. After this it was a drag race down the front straight to the finish line and Custer had the advantage. He took the checker by a margin of 0.226 seconds over Reddick.

Briscoe finished third. Ryan Preece, who had also pitted for fresh tires late in the race, was fourth while Christopher Bell was fifth. Custer had won the pole with Bell second fastest in qualifying. Unfortunately for Bell he spun his car in the first turn on the restart after the second caution and he never again showed winning form. Bell may be a popular favourite to win the series championship but, if he keeps having trouble like this, other drivers like Custer and Reddick are beginning to look like stronger possibilities for Xfinity driver-of-the-year.

“Tyler gave me a real run for my money there,” Custer said. “I have no idea how he made it stick on that restart on the bottom passing me but he did. He was unbelievable on the brakes at the end. I was just able to kind of force a mistake a little bit trying to pack air on him. It was a fun end of the race. I wish I didn’t have to do it like that, but it probably made it exciting.”

Click HERE for the result of the Xfinity race at Pocono.

The next Xfinity race will be held at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, June 8.

galstad DGP 0619 153678Montoya in the Acura ahead of the No. 77 Mazda (Galstad/LAT) 

IMSA WeatherTech Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle
• Cameron/Montoya Acura hold off Nasr/Derani Cadillac for the win

Detroit, MI, June 1/19 (GRW): Coming off their win at Mid-Ohio early in May the No. 6 Team Penske duo of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya won again here at Detroit in the Acura DPi by less than half a second ahead of the No. 31 Whelan Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani. In the final minutes of the 100-minute race, Nasr closed right up Cameron’s car but, even though he was setting the car’s fastest race laps, he was unable to get close enough to make a serious attempt to gain the lead.

Given that this Belle Isle ‘street circuit’ is so narrow and bumpy with the barriers right up against the sides of the pavement, it is little wonder that this race saw so many cautions. There were five full-course yellows for a total of 45 minutes, nearly half of the race’s running time. There are reasons why promoters favour street courses, but for my money this does not produce very satisfying racing conditions.

In qualifying, Montoya in the No. 6 Acura had won the pole with the No. 7 Acura of Helio Castroneves/ Ricky Taylor alongside. At the start, Montoya took command while Castroneves fell back to fourth behind the No. 55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito/Harry Tincknell and the No. 31 car in Derani’s hands.

There was an immediate caution when two GTD cars tangled going into the first corner. On lap 18 the No. 50 Juncos Cadillac hit a barrier and continued but it was enough to bring out the first caution. Given that the minimum 35 minutes of driving time had been completed by then some of the teams opted to switch out their drivers at this point – including Cameron for Montoya and Nasr for Derani. The No. 77 Oliver Jarvis/Tristan Nunez Mazda did not pit and it led for the next six laps until the track went green again and then back to yellow when the No. 86 Acura NSX crashed fairly heavily. On this restart, Cameron promptly regained the lead – a lead he was only to relinquish for a single lap when he made a quick pit stop for more fuel.

The No. 7 Acura finished third ahead of the No. 84 JDC-Miller Cadillac of Simon Trummer/Stephen Simpson and the No. 85 JDC-Miller Cadillac of Misha Goldberg/Tristan Vautier.

“To win in Detroit finally, it’s good,” said Montoya. “It’s nice to be here. It’s nice to be here with Acura – it’s an amazing program – and Team Penske. [Team owner] Roger [Penske]’s home race. I felt yesterday I did a really good job in qualifying. To convert that into a win, Dane did an amazing job out there today too. We did everything we needed to do again.”

The only other class in this field here, which is reduced due to the tightness of the little Belle Isle circuit, was the GTD class with 13 entries. The No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3, driven by Patrick Long initially led the first 26 laps of the 58-lap race through the first two cautions. Then it was overtaken by the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 driven by Richard Heistand/Jack Hawkworth. After the driver change, Hawksworth quickly drove down the Porsche and held on the win the class.

The No. 73 Porsche finished second, 0.8-seconds behind. The No. 12 AVS Lexus of Frank Montecalvo/Townsend Bell was third while the No. 44 Lamborghini of John Potter/Andy Lally was fourth.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA race at Belle Isle.

The next IMSA WeatherTech race will be a six-hour race held at Watkins Glen on June 30.

PHOTO PINTYS JUKASA Ranger Lacroix For LeadRanger battles Lacroix for the lead (photo: Mathew Manor/NASCAR)

NASCAR Pinty's Series APC 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway
• Ranger holds off a hard-charging Lacroix for the race win

Hagersville, ON, June 2/19 (GRW): Andrew Ranger led the final 79 laps of this 200-lap race to
win here on Sunday afternoon. This race was scheduled to run on Saturday night but it was
postponed until the following Sunday afternoon due to rain on Saturday. Ranger was ab le to
hold off the advances of Kevin Lacroix, who finished a mere 0.2 seconds behind him after a
late-race restart which took the race into overtime territory one lap beyond the scheduled 200
laps.

Peter Shepherd III was third while L.P. Dumoulin was fourth and Alex Tagliani was fifth.

Earlier in the race it looked like it was all going D.J. Kennington's way as he led for a run of 68
laps until he lost the lead to Julia Landauer and the Donald Theege. Later he blew a tire but he
recovered to finish in eighth place.

Julia Landauer is a 27-year-old female driver from New York state driving here part-time with
the D.J. Kennington team. She was named to the NASCAR Next program for 2017; this is a
program intended to help aspiring NASCAR drivers become established. She ran three races
last year in the Pinty's Series. Here at Jukasa she trailed her car owner Kennington in second
place for several laps before taking the lead momentarily when he pitted during the second
caution and, given that she was sharing his pit crew, she stayed out and pitted on the next lap.

In the first race of the season Lacroix beat Ranger to the checker so after two races their points
standings are almost identical with Ranger one point ahead of lacroix (91 points to 90).

Click HERE for the results of the Pinty's race from Jukasa.

The next Pinty's Series race will be held at Autodrome Chaudiere, QC, on Saturday, June 29.

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