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Car FYI Auto Racing Speed Report for March 4th to March 6th 2016

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Keselowski Overcomes Penalty to Win Windy Las Vegas Cup Race

Competing within the desert locale of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the third race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season provided an interesting challenger in the form of wacky weather. Extremely strong winds at the beginning of the race resulted in gusts that would have blown car covers off the Sprint Cup racing machine if not for some astute crew members. A very brief rain shower accompanied the wind minutes before the Kobalt Tools was scheduled to start. The momentary mist dissipated and Sunday’s race started with Kurt Busch’s #14 Chevrolet leading the 39-car field.

Slowed six times due to yellow flags including a lap 30 competition caution caused by the previous rainfall on the track, the Kobalt 400's most serious melee came on lap 225 shortly after a restart. Matt Kenseth’s #20 Toyota slid loose leading to an incident that would also collect Chase Elliott and Carl Edwards. The #24 Chevrolet of Elliott and Kenseth’s #20 car sustained race-ending damage while Edwards was able to continue after receiving repairs for the #19 Toyota.  

The second race with the low downforce race package on the NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars appeared to have replicated the results seen in Atlanta last week. 21 lead changes among 11 drivers included some competitive on-track action. This was especially true late in the Kobalt 400 when Kyle Busch’s #18 M&Ms Toyota was chased down by Brad Keselowski. Busch led since lap 224 but would lose the top position with just 6 laps remaining. Keselowski charged passed the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on route to his first win of the season. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship secured a spot in the 2016 Chase with his Penske Racing-owned #2 Miller Lite Ford in a race where he needed to rise up from a pit road penalty. Keselowski was a top-5 car through the day and worked to reclaim supremacy.

Kyle Busch’s report of a vibration in his #18 Toyota also gave Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson an opportunity to snatch improved finishing positions from the reigning champion. Second place went to the #22 Pennzoil Ford allowing Penske Racing to celebrate a 1-2 finish at Las Vegas. Third at the end of the Kobalt 400 went to Jimmie Johnson as his #48 Chevrolet just inched past Busch at the checkered flag. Fifth place finisher at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the #3 Chevrolet of Richard Childress Racing driven by Austin Dillon. Just outside of the top-5, the  Wood Brothers Racing proved they have what it takes to compete against the NASCAR Sprint Cup superteams. Ryan Blaney’s 6th place in the Motorcraft Ford Fusion is the best result the pairing have accomplished as they jointly pursue a full-season in the series.

Kyle Busch Narrowly Misses the Double in Sin City

While the late stage of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race dealt the #18 Toyota a bad hand, Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway transpired with odds favouring Kyle Busch. Boyd Gaming 300, the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota carried out a near domination that resulted in Busch leading 199 of the event’s 200 laps. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s most recent Xfinity Series victory is the first in his hometown and notches the Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval off the shrinking list of venues the younger Busch NASCAR pilot has not won on in the stock car division. At times leading by more than 10 seconds, Kyle Busch’s race win was decided by a 0.817-second margin over teammate Daniel Suarez. Making a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3, Erik Jones recovered from early race pit speeding penalties for the third-place position.  

The only lap not led by the #18 car of Kyle Busch was led by Darrell Wallace Jr. Wallace Jr’s day also became noteworthy on lap 138 when the day ended for the Roush-Fenway Racing #6 Ford Mustang. A three-car crash involving Justin Marks and Cody Ware resulted in Wallace Jr receiving the worst of an accident that ultimately needed a 19-minute red flag clean up. The incident was that of mixed fortunes since the #6 Ford was terribly wrecked after an otherwise respectable decent day, Wallace Jr did walk away from the nasty accident.  

Behind the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, Chevrolets rounded out positions fourth through eleventh. Chase Elliott in the #88 car for JR Motorsports and the #2 of Austin Dillon filled-out the top-five.

Pirelli World Challenge 2016 Season Launches Big in Texas

Photo Credit: Cadillac

The first two rounds of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge for seven classes of sports car racing took place on the 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas.

On Friday and Saturday the three Touring classes of the Pirelli World Challenge (TC, TCA and TCB) ran their pair of races with no repeating winners for the weekend. TC race 1 was won by Vesko Kozarov and his Nissan 370Z by a mere 0.371-second margin over the BMW of Toby Grahovec. Grahovec returned to win the TC class in race 2 convincing over Canada’s Nick Wittmer. After engine problems in the first race, Wittmer Honda Accord’s finish in the runner-up spot for race 2 was courtesy of an engine from his brother. Elivan Goulart took the TCA category in race 1 while the Kia Forte Koup of Jason Wolfe took the class win in race 2. TCB saw Ted Hough win race 1 while Will Rodgers took race 2 in class. Both Hough and Rodgers ran Mazda2 race cars.

In the Grand Touring category, Patrick Long led race 1 in his #31 Porsche GT3 car part of the GT class. Race 2 was a different experience for Long and his Effort Racing car as a crash at the start of the Sunday race promptly removed him from the competition. After 22 laps, a Cadillac Racing 1-2 finish saw Johnny O’Connell roll to victory over six seconds ahead of Michael Cooper. In the second race, Canada’s Kyle Marcelli crossed the line in fifth place in the CRP Racing Audi R8. Alec Udell and Sloan Urry swapped the top two positions for both races in the GT Cup class. Udell won race 1 while Urry took race 2. The only repeat class winner in the whole Pirelli World Challenge weekend at the Circuit of the Americas weekend was Mexico’s Martin Fuentes piloting Ferrari 458 Italia for Scuderia Corsa. In GTS, the Chevrolet Camaro of Lawson Aschenbach took the first race win while the KTM Xbow GT4 driven by Brett Sandberg grabbed the second race. Vancouver driver Max Riddle driving an Aston Martin for TRG-AMR finished eighth in the first GTS race and sixth in the second event.

Latvala Captures Rally Mexico, Volkswagen Equals Record  

Photo Credit: Volkswagen Motorsport

The Rally Mexico in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) was a big win for Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Mikka Anttila as well as for the Volkswagen Motorsport organization. The third round in the 2016 FIA WRC tour, this rally that attracted 300,000 spectators over the course of four days featured challenging stages including the Guanajuato stage that stretched 80 kilometers.

The Volkswagen Polo R of Jari-Matti Latvala pulled off the win in the Rally Mexico finishing with a 65-second lead over Sebastien Ogier, a fellow Volkswagen driver . Latvala’s 16th career win in the WRC, the triumph more dramatically reflects on Volkswagen’s presence in the series. The victory for Volkswagen allows the Polo R WRC race car to equal the FIA-sanctioned rally series’ consecutive win record set by the automaker between 2013 and 2014.

The two Volkswagens placed well ahead of the Hyundai i20 WRC piloted by Dani Sordo with co-driver Marc Marti. However, the team was assessed a two-minute time penalty in the post-race results when it was determined they exceeded the number of tires allowed to be used in the four-day rally event. Demoting the Hyundai to fourth place, the M-Sport Ford driven by Mads Ostberg was upgraded to the third place spot.


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