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Car FYI’s Revved Up Weekend Review: August 6-August 8, 2021

Photo Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar


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NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Larson Fends Off Elliott For Watkins Glen Win                    

 

The premier event of NASCAR’s triple-header at the Watkins Glen International road course in the state of New York featured the NASCAR Cup Series competing for 90 laps on the 2.45-mile track. Sunday’s running of the Go Bowling at The Glen started with Penske Racing teammate at the front with Brad Keselowski on pole position alongside Joey Logano. Keselowski led the opening nine laps but lost the lead in dramatic fashion when his #2 Wabash National Ford Mustang spun entering turn 10 on the 10th lap. Apparent brake issues complicated Brad Keselowski’s race and a similar loss of control occurred entering turn 1 on lap 56 with his car colliding with Logano’s #22 car.


After Joey Logano took the first stage and Martin Truex Jr. claimed the top spot after the second stage, the closing race stage for the Go Bowling at The Glen started with two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camrys of Truex and Christopher Bell leading the way but two Chevrolet Camaros from Hendrick Motorsports came alive and making a march to the front. After a tight top-three contest in the early laps of the third stage, Kyle Larson’s #5 machine and the #20 car of Bell came together on lap 55 into turn one. Bell’s Stanley-sponsored Toyota was spun while Larson proceeded through the corner largely unscathed. Christopher Bell, winner at the Daytona road course in February, would settle for a seventh place result after 90 laps.


The winning move of the race at Watkins Glen took place during the final pit stops as both Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Larson arrived to their over-the-wall teams for a tire change and fuel. Larson’s aggressive entry and a faster pit stop by his Hendrick Motorsports crew allowed the #5 Chevy to leave ahead of the #19 Toyota. Through the final laps, Chase Elliott was able to apply pressure to this Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Started the race in the rear due to an inspection issue that also resulted in the ejection of crew chief Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s #9 Chevrolet found his way around Truex for second place and proceeded to close a more than 5-second gap as Larson also contended with some late-race lapped traffic. Maintaining a 2.430-second gap over Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson won his fifth race of the 2021 season in the Cup Series. Though celebrating the victory as well as tying for the lead in the point standings, the race winner expressed regret for the incident with Christopher Bell in post-race.


Martin Truex Jr. crossed the line in third place at the Go Bowling at The Glen followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.



NTT IndyCar Series: Music City Miracle For Marcus


Anticipation for the IndyCar’s first street race in Nashville, Tennessee built up quickly since the event’s first announcement on the 2021 schedule. Greeting competitors of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series’ inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was a 2.17-mile, 11-turn road course that uniquely incorporated a crossing the Cumberland River twice per lap running on Nashville’s Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge resulting in a strikingly picturesque sight in motorsports.

 

As all drivers adjusted to the tricky, unfamiliar temporary street circuit, the pilot of the #26 Andretti Autosport machine had found a massive competitive edge that the 21-year-old exercised throughout practice and qualifying. In the Firestone Fast 6 qualifying session, Colton Herta recorded a pole-winning lap time more than half a second faster than second place Scott Dixon. Herta’s mastery of the Nashville street course was on full display in Sunday’s race leading the most laps for a single driver and mounting some breathtaking passes for position.


A race lending itself to being unpredictable being a first of its kind event, Sunday’s 80-lap Big Machine Music City Grand Prix introduced the city of Nashville to IndyCar by staging some of the most chaotic moments the open wheel racing series has seen. With 9 caution period running for 33 laps, the first yellow flag for the stopped #4 car of Canadian Dalton Kellett was tame compared to some of the incidents that would take place throughout the late afternoon competition. Coming to green after the first caution period ended, the #8 Chip Ganassi Racing machine driven by Marcus Ericsson collided heavily with the rear of Sebastien Bourdais’ #14 AJ Foyt Racing car. Despite being propelled partially airborne with the contact, Ericsson continued after receiving a new front nose.


The biggest mishap in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix happened on a lap 19 restart. Will Power ducked under Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud as the race in an attempt to take eighth place entering turn 11. As Power’s #12 vehicle and Pagenaud’s #22 machine were side-by-side into the corner, the Frenchman’s Menards-sponsored car was bumped ending up in the wall. Due to the narrow track, several drivers unable to find a path around Pagenaud’s stopped race car caused a jam in the corner ultimately resulting in IndyCar calling a red flag to clear up the stationary vehicles. This red flag period as well as additional cautions did cause some concern late in the event as daylight diminished but the full 80-lap distance was completed.


Inheriting the lead on under caution on lap 56, Marcus Ericsson recovered from an early lap accident but the Swedish driver and his #8 Chip Ganassi Racing team faced the dual challenge of fuel economy as well as a charge from Colton Herta. Starting sixth place on the lap 57 restart, Herta’s #26 car marched to second place by lap 62 and set sights on Ericsson’s Huski Chocolate-sponsored vehicle. While Ericsson had the top spot as well as more pit-to-pass than Herta, his driving style needed to be more conservative in order to save fuel. Colton Herta, on the other hand, pressed hard for a passing opportunity on the tight Nashville street circuit but made a costly mistake on the 74th lap. Late braking into turn 9 was a strength for Herta throughout the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix but his Honda-powered #26 Gainbridge machine ran wide into the corner and crashed into the wall ending the hopes for victory for the driver that dominated much of the race weekend in Nashville.


After a short green flag run to the finish, Marcus Ericsson took a surprising victory in the first IndyCar race on the streets of Nashville. Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon took second at the end of the 80-lap affair while Canada’s James Hinchcliffe enjoyed a high-fought podium position taking third in what has been a difficult 2021 season for the Andretti Autosport driver.




NASCAR Xfinity Series: Gibbs Bests Series’ Road Racing Greats At The Glen


Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Watkins Glen, the Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200 at The Glen, started with JR Motorsports Justin Allgaier starting on pole but Penske Racing’s Austin Cindric took the lead in a hurry through the opening corners at the 2.45-mile track. Cindric driving the #22 Ford Mustang led the opening 21 laps that included the first stage victory and would finish the event in third place.


The second stage of the Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200 at The Glen concluded with the #16 Chevrolet of A.J. Allmendinger narrowly edging out the #54 Monster Energy Toyota driven by Ty Gibbs at the finish line for the top spot. This battle served as a prelude for the closing laps of the race at Watkins Glen. Ty Gibbs led much of the third stage but a pair of late cautions resulted in the 18-year-old coming under attack during the restarts. When a green flag resumed the race after lap 70 following Erik Jones’ turn 6 crash, Austin Cindric poked his Car Shop-sponsored machine into the lead for a lap. However, Gibbs charged back to take the position into turn 10 and held first place until the final yellow appeared for a stopped vehicle. Allmendinger, who had taken second from Cindric late in the event, was briefly able to lead the #54 car but was unable to hold off a determined Ty Gibbs who went on to claim his 3rd series victory in just 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. With the victory, Joe Gibbs Racing’s #54 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series has won 10 events (Kyle Busch with 5 wins, TY Gibbs with 3 wins and Christopher Bell with a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway).


A.J. Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Harrison Burton rounded out the top five finishers for Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200 at The Glen. Finishing just short of the top five, Brandon Jones climbed from a 21st place starting spot to take sixth helping to maintain his place in the series playoffs taking place in late September.



NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Austin Hill Wins Shortened Watkins Glen Regular Season Finale


Almost a month since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last competed on the dirt of Knoxville Raceway, the sport’s tailgaters returned to action on the 11-turn Watkins Glen road course for the United Rentals 176 at The Glen. The visit by the truck series to the track since 2000, this revival coincided with an important moment for the championship ambitions for drivers and teams. With the top-10 competing for the series playoffs starting at the August 20th race at World Wide Technology Raceway, the race at Watkins Glen featured several positions in play. 


The United Rentals 176 at The Glen started with the #16 United Rentals Toyota driven by Austin Hill leading a 40-vehicle field from pole position. On the fifth lap, Todd Gilliland’s #38 Crosley Brands Ford F-150 took the top spot and remained in the position long enough to grab the first stage win. Hill recaptured first place for the end of the race’s second stage. Intended to be a 72-lap event, lightning close to the Watkins Glen International race complex forced a premature end to the truck event with the #16 Toyota Tundra taking victory. The second consecutive win for Austin Hill, the result propels the driver to a 2nd place spot in the reset drivers’ standings entering the playoffs.


Finishing second in the United Rentals 176 at The Glen, John Hunter Nemechek left the road course with the overall points lead resulting in a 15-point bonus heading into the playoffs where the driver of the #4 Toyota already secured the top spot prior to this race after scoring five wins this season. Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top five.


In post-race, Chandler Smith’s #18 Toyota Tundra truck was disqualified after finishing in 18th place but remained 10 points ahead of Tyler Ankrum preserving the rookie’s place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs.



IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: IMSA SportsCar Weekend


Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin welcomed 35 cars spread across five categories for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this past weekend on the prestigious 4.048-mile Road America road course.


The #31 Whelen Engineering Racing’s Cadillac DPi started on the pole position for the IMSA SportsCar Weekend. Sunday’s 2-hour, 40-minute main event at the Road America circuit ultimately turned into a fuel economy run with overall victory going to the #31 DPi class machine shared by Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani. While the Acura machine shared by Dane Cameron and Oliver Pla had a health lead into the homestretch of IMSA SportsCar Weekend event, the #60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian needed to pit for fuel relinquishing the first-place position. The second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for the Whelen Engineering Racing team, the drivers of the red and white Cadillac close to within 41 points of the drivers’ point standings in the DPi category.


Porsche left Road America with two class winning entries in the GT classes. Cooper MacNeil and Matt Campbell sharing the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR bested the #3 Corvette Racing machine to take victory in GTLM. In GT Daytona, the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R wheeled by Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor and Canadian Zacharie Robichon rose from sixth place on a restart to take the eventual class win.


Ryan Dalziel and Dwight Merriman won the LMP2 category at Road America for Era Motorsport while the LMP3 class victory went to Core Motorsport with Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett driving the #54 machine.

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