Thru Noggles Goggles .::. September 3rd
IndyCar officials have placed driver Tristan Vautier on probation and fined him $10,000 for actions during IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying Aug. 31 at Baltimore. Vautier violated Rule 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.b when his car made contact with the disabled car of Graham Rahal under a waving yellow flag condition. - 188.8.131.52 Engaging in reckless, careless, and/or overly aggressive actions or unsportsmanlike behavior toward other members. - 184.108.40.206.b A waved yellow means reduce speed, passing not permitted, be prepared to change direction or stop, a hazard wholly or partially blocking the track. The probation period will end following the IZOD IndyCar Series season. If improvements are not met, IndyCar may impose other penalties at its discretion. Vautier may contest the imposition of the penalty pursuant to the procedures and timelines detailed in the protest and appeal procedures of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook.
With the North American portion of the IndyCar Series schedule nearly secure for 2014, IndyCar boss Mark Miles said Sunday he’s about to focus on organizing two sets of international packages for 2015. One set of races would be held in late winter, the other early in fall. The first would be part of the IndyCar Series championship, the other would be a set of exhibition races. Both are designed to extend the IndyCar Series’ reach and revenue. “We’re not taking anything away (from the current schedule), we’d be adding to it,” Miles said. Ideally, he said, there are two or three international races per set, with the late-winter races held in the Southern Hemisphere and the fall races in Asia/Australia.
The North American part of the schedule, which is expected to be released after the company’s Sept. 25 board meeting, is targeted to end Labor Day weekend. As for a May road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Miles said there’s still work to be done before a presentation can be made to the company’s board of directors. As for a return to Baltimore for a fourth year, Miles said scheduling is the biggest obstacle. The venue isn’t available on this date next year, and the condensing of the IndyCar schedule is making the process challenging, he said.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser made his first appearance at an IndyCar race in more than a year, driving the Indy Racing Experience’s two-seater car in pre-race festivities. Unser, 74, has been recovering from back surgery in February. The focus was supposed to be on a 2-inch section of his spine but was expanded to 8 inches due to the deterioration of it. Unser said the back problems aggravated the knees he had replaced in May 2012, and he stayed away from races because he didn’t want people to see him struggling. “I didn’t want to be pushed around here in a wheelchair,” he said. “Racing is tough enough, but I didn’t want people to think I’m crippled; I’m just old.” Unser said the difficult part of the weekend was navigating a street circuit he’d never been to. But he said his back held up to the bumps. “Back’s great; it’s the mind that’s not working right,” he joked.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing had plans to participate in Sunday’s IndyCar race in cooperation with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, but an engine problem at their debut race in Sonoma, Calif., prevented it. Lucas Luhr, who secured the American LeMans Series’ LMP1 title with an overall race victory here this weekend, said he was “very much” looking forward to trying this circuit in an Indy car. Apparently, so was team owner Greg Pickett, who will soon decide whether to have the team with an Indianapolis base in the new United SportsCar Racing series or move it to IndyCar. That decision is expected later this month. LMP1 isn’t included in the reorganized sports car series, and Pickett isn’t sold on LMP2. But he said he enjoyed the IndyCar experience in Sonoma.
Klaus Graf, who helped Pickett form the sports car team and drives alongside Luhr, said he won’t be surprised if Pickett chooses IndyCar. Pickett spent a lot of time in IndyCar when his former son-in-law, Scott Sharp competed in the series (1996-2009). More than half of the Muscle Milk team has worked in IndyCar or Champ Car, including team manager/engineer Brandon Fry.
Jack Hawksworth won Sunday’s Firestone Indy Lights race with Sage Karam second, allowing Karam to take the series lead by two points as Carlos Munoz was involved in an accident.
Before the start, James Jakes and Dario Franchitti were assessed 10-position grid penalties for unapproved engine changes and both drivers are now over the season limit.
[USAC sprint car regular] Zach Daum stretched his feature winning streak in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series to three Sunday in the 33rd Pepsi Nationals, co-sanctioned by the Stark Automotive Group/Mid-State Equipment Badger Midget Series, at Angell Park Speedway. It was Daum’s third POWRi Midget victory in five days. The 22-year-old from Pocahontas, Ill., won the Great Clips Jason Leffler Memorial at Wayne County (IL) Speedway on Wednesday and the opening night of the Pepsi Nationals on Saturday. Daum earned $4,000 for his triumph in the 50-lap feature Sunday, $5,000 for his victory in the Leffler Memorial and $2,000 for his Saturday win. Daum also strengthened his hold on the POWRi championship. He leads Andrew Felker by 240 points, 3,500-3,260, with eight events remaining.
“Between this and winning the Leffler in the same week, I’m ecstatic,” Daum said. “I never would have thought it possible I could have won one of them, much less two and we got the third win in the middle. The Pepsi Nationals is one that you want on your resume. It’s up there with the (USAC) Hut Hundred and the Night Before the 500 (at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis as a prestigious win. We’d had a hard time figuring this place out. We had a couple of top fives in POWRi races, but I guess we’ve figured it out now.”
Daum did win a Badger feature on June 30 at Angell Park, but the co-sanctioned races bring in a deeper field and the distance and speed on a fast one-third mile track made Sunday’s race one of the most demanding in midget racing. The cushion was treacherous. Darren Hagen was leading on lap 35 when he jumped it in turn three and whacked the wall; Dalton Armstrong, who was on pole, and brother Caleb Armstrong were eliminated after contact with the wall. Tyler Thomas bounced on the cushion and rolled over hard. None of the drivers were injured. “The cushion was nasty,” Thomas said. “There were quite a few cars that bit it on the cushion. I was in the wrong place and hit the cushion the wrong way and it rolled me.”
Daum had started seventh in his Toyota-powered Eagle and steadily moved up. He was third for a lap 20 restart behind Hagen, who had taken the lead on lap eight after Dalton Armstrong went out, as did Billy Balog. Daum passed Balog with a slide job in turns one and two on the 27th lap. Hagen had a quarter-lap lead. Caleb Armstrong hit the turn three wall to bring out a yellow on the 35th lap. Hagen was next to fall out after the restart, putting Daum in front for the final 16 laps.
“I rode around at the beginning and stayed out of trouble,” Daum said. “I’ve driven in the Hut Hundred (winning it in 2011) and some of the (USAC) Silver Crown races and they’re longer than most of the drivers have done. You learn to pace yourself. There wasn’t much there on the bottom, so I had to go to the cushion and everybody else was up there. I wasn’t entering the turns on the cushion and used it only when I needed it. I ran right below it.”
After the final restart on lap 37, Daum bolted to a commanding lead and kept extending it. He won by a quarter lap over second-place Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind. Kuhn had started 10th and had to pit under caution on lap 19 to change a right rear tire. He barely beat the pace car out to prevent going a lap down. Kuhn was sixth for the final restart. He passed Jake Blackhurst and Danny Stratton and was up to fourth two laps later. Billy Ballog was running second and Parker Price-Miller third. “Guys ahead of me were flipping and I was lucky to miss several of them,” Kuhn said.
Price-Miller fell back with a severe wheel vibration and Kuhn slid past Balog in turns three and four on the 43rd lap to take second. Kuhn wrapped up his fourth Badger Midget title and also delivered the Badger owner championship to Bill Ecker and Amy Reisdorf. But the Pepsi Nationals was also a disappointment and farewell for Kuhn. “It’s the last Badger race and the last race at Angell Park I’ll ever run,” Kuhn said. “I won a lot of Badger races, but never this one and I wanted to win it. It’s nice to win my fourth championship. There are three other guys with championships and it’s distinguished company.” Kuhn plans on driving the remainder of the POWRi schedule with the exception of Macon (Ill.) Speedway on Sept. 21 and the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl in Tulsa next January before retiring. “I’m done after the Chili Bowl,” he said.
Balog finished third. The 34-year-old from Heartland, Wis., a five-time champion in the Interstate Racing Association Outlaw (410 c.i.) Sprints and with 13 victories this season, is working on sixth. He rarely drives midgets. “It’s (third) a win for us,” Balog said. Jake Blackhurst finished fourth and Felker was fifth.
Zach Daum, Brad Kuhn, Billy Balog, Jake Blackhurst, Andrew Felker, Danny Stratton, Parker Price-Miller, Davey Ray, Seth Motsinger, Brandon Waelti, Kurt Mayhew, Cody Weisensel, Bryon Walters, Tyler Thomas, Darren Hagen, Caleb Armstrong, Dalton Armstrong, Garrett Aitken, Daniel Robinson.
Chris Urish won the Ted Horn 100 USAC Silver Crown race at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. (Ken Simon photo)
Chris Urish won Sunday night’s unpredictable Ted Horn 100 TRAXXAS USAC Silver Crown race at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. He was running third with four laps remaining, then inherited the lead after leaders Chris Windom and Shane Cockrum encountered problems. Urish officially led the final three laps in his Urish Motorsports Beast/Foxco. Robert Ballou led the first 80 laps before he too encountered problems, then Chris Windom led the next 17 laps before his misfortune. Bobby East finished second and is the new series point leader, while A.J. Fike ended up third ahead of Cockrum and Ballou.