Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
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(Courtesy of NHRA Communications)
Ten laps into the Grand Prix of Portland, Alex Palou was running in 16th place after starting from the pole, and his NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship hopes were in a heap of trouble.
Fast-forward 100 laps, and Palou earned his series-best third victory this season and has a 25-point lead in the championship standings with just two races remaining.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner for second-year NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Palou, who celebrates victories with a meal of fried chicken.
“We kept our heads down, and we knew the race was really long,” Palou said. “I cannot believe it. We made it (on fuel). The guys made it. They just gave me the numbers, and we just follow it. The strategy was amazing.”
NTT P1 Award winner Palou overcame losing positions from the anticipated snarl in Turns 1 through 3 on the opening lap at Portland International Raceway and used a combination of impeccable driving in the No. 10 PNC Bank Honda and smart pit strategy from Chip Ganassi Racing to beat Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda to the finish by 1.2895 seconds. Reigning series champion Scott Dixon finished third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda to keep his hopes alive for a record-tying seventh title.
Jack Harvey finished fourth in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda, with championship contender Josef Newgarden fifth in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
Palou leads Pato O’Ward by 25 points with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 19 and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26 remaining in the 2021 season. O’Ward led 28 laps early in the race but faded in the second half in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, finishing 14th.
Two-time series champion Newgarden is third in the standings, 34 points behind Palou. Dixon is fourth, 49 points behind the leader, and Marcus Ericsson is fifth, 75 points back. Ericsson finished seventh in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“I don’t care that much about the points at this moment,” Palou said. “I think the race we did today, it’s just amazing. Not me, but the guys, with the strategy, with the pit stops, with everything. With all the bad luck we had, we still won. I’m proud about that. Fried chicken tonight!”
Two races remain in the season, with a maximum of 54 points available at each: the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 19 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26 on the streets of Long Beach, California.
Palou took the lead for good on Lap 86 when Ericsson made his final pit stop from the top spot. The Spaniard never was threatened by Rossi down the stretch despite two restarts, inexorably expanding his lead lap by lap on the Firestone primary “black” tires, which have more durability than the Firestone alternate “red” tires that Andretti Autosport fastened to Rossi’s car on his final stop.
"It was a big fight, for sure,” Rossi said. “(Palou) did a good job, he didn’t make any mistakes. The red tires have a peak that’s a little bit better, but they certainly have a bit more fall-off, which is what they’re supposed to do. That’s the beauty of INDYCAR racing with the different strategies.”
The march to victory by Palou seemed almost unthinkable after the chaos that unfolded at the start of the race in the tight right-left chicane in Turn 1, one of the most fraught flashpoints in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Palou and Dixon both overshot Turns 1 and 2 of the three-turn chicane at the end of the front straight after Dixon’s car was nudged from behind by the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist, who also went wide in Turn 1 along with Colton Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda and others.
Neither Palou nor Dixon suffered damage in the melee that triggered the first of four caution periods in the race. But five drivers in the mid-pack and rear of the field – Will Power, Romain Grosjean, Oliver Askew, James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves – all were forced to the pits or paddock for repairs after contact in the fracas. Hinchcliffe was unable to continue.
INDYCAR rules state that cars avoiding the collision and remaining on the racing surface at the timing lines embedded in the track through the chicane are placed at the front of the field on the restart, with drivers avoiding the collision but leaving the racetrack placed behind them, followed by drivers involved in the incident.
That caused a massive reshuffle of the order, as O’Ward and Rahal claimed first and second on the restart on Lap 11 because they stayed on track and clean in the first-lap incident. Meanwhile, Palou was moved to 16th, Dixon 17th, Rosenqvist 18th, Rossi 19th, Newgarden 21st and Herta 22nd for the restart after INDYCAR officials reviewed timing loop data, and those drivers’ long road back toward the front began.
Palou, Dixon, Herta and Rossi were among the drivers who pitted under yellow on Lap 9. Those stops triggered a tactical battle of varying fuel and pit strategies for the rest of the race, as teams and drivers decided whether to overcut or undercut rivals with fast pit-in and pit-out laps and perfectly executed stops.
O’Ward stayed out front until he made his first pit stop on Lap 29, handing the lead to Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Total Quartz Honda. Various pit cycles thrust Ed Jones, Harvey, Dixon and Palou into short stints out front before Rahal took control of the race on Lap 44.
Rahal maintained a lead of around 2.5 seconds over O’Ward until rookie Callum Ilott and Dalton Kellett both slowed on track in separate spots on Lap 51, triggering the second caution period of the race on Lap 52.
While a handful of drivers pitted, Rahal elected to stay out and led until Lap 74, when he and second-place Jones pitted to hand the lead to Harvey.
Pit cycles then unfolded over the next 12 laps before Palou, who made his final stop on Lap 79, one lap before teammate Dixon, took the lead for good on Lap 86.
Palou pulled away from Rossi on restarts on Lap 89 and Lap 92 after brief caution periods and reached the checkered flag leading 29 laps for the race. Rahal led a race-high 36 laps before finishing 10th.
The Watkins Glen SpeedTour, September 9-12, proved to be one of the best shows to date for the 2021 race season. After a one-year hiatus the SpeedTour event attracted nearly 400 cars and featured racing from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli and International GT. The weekend also celebrated a special anniversary, as Tony Parella kicks off his 10th year as the owner of SVRA after acquiring the series on the day following the 2012 Hilliard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International (WGI).
Tradition continued as countless cars made the trek from the modern-day WGI circuit to the streets of Watkins Glen, N.Y. The entire village came together on Friday night to celebrate Watkins Glen’s racing heritage, while several cars competing in the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix made laps on the original 6.6-mile road course—the same course where racing returned to the United States following World War II.
The excitement around the weekend continued with the Oscar Koveleski Memorial Race with Groups 8 and 12B on Saturday, the Dick Mooney Memorial Race with Groups 6 and 12A on Sunday, as well as the annual Governor’s Cup featuring racing from 33 Alfa Romeos, and the Collier Cup where 18 MGs took the green flag. In addition, the schedule also featured races named for series’ partners MPI and Lucas Oil.
Throughout the weekend, 21 different racers climbed atop the podium, of which eight were able to sweep their group’s feature races. Peter Uzdavinis ruled Group 1 competition in his 1964 MG Midget, while Joel Quadracci drove his 1967 Brabham BT29 to victory in each of the Group 2 races. In Group 3, it was Kenny Williamson sweeping both features with his red and white 1963 MG B, while Randy Williams did the same in Group 4 driving his green and yellow 1966 Jaguar XKE. Scott Borchetta continued his winning streak in Group 6 driving his 1969 Chevrolet Corvette, while Bernardo Martinez swept the Group 8 competition for the second time this season driving his 1966 Alfa Romeo GTV. In Group 9, Bakir Begovic led the way driving his 1998 Benetton Formula One B198 to victory in both races, while Kermit Upton one-upped the competition winning both Group 12B races in his 1994 BMW M3.
In Group 5A, Mike Wright won the group’s opening feature driving his 1989 Lola T89/90 before being bested by Jeremy Treadway who won the second feature in his 1986 Lola 86/90. Doc Bundy and Travis Engen swapped the top two steps of the podium in Group 5B’s competition, with Bundy winning the first race in his 1964 Lotus 23B and Engen winning the second race in his 1962 Lotus 23B. After Dave Handy won Group 7’s opening feature in his 1980 March 822, the runner-up Hobart Buppert earned his spot atop the podium in the group’s second feature with his 1969 Lola T70 MKIII. In Group 12A, Tim Rubright won the first feature in his 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302s before Rick Ortman took the group’s second feature in his 1988 Chevrolet Corvette. Group 10’s Frank Cioppettini led the field to the checkered flag driving his 1998 Chevrolet Camaro.
Eighteen MGs took the green flag in Sunday’s Collier Cup, which is a salute to brothers Sam and Miles Collier. Natives of New York, the Collier brothers are credited for introducing the MG brand to the United States. After SCCA started the memorial race in 1954, it has been SVRA who has hosted the tradition of the Collier Cup since 1985. This year’s race featured fierce competition between racers Kenny Williamson and Andrew Moore. While Moore logged the quickest lap of the race, it was Williamson who crossed the finish line first in his 1965 MG MGB.
The Governor’s Cup kicked off Sunday afternoon’s activities with 33 Alfa Romeos going head-to-head on the WGI circuit. Alfa Romeo has a rich history at Watkins Glen with Frank Griswold driving an Alfa Romeo to victory in the first post-war race in 1948. Nick Fonte ran the fastest lap of the race in his 1987 Alfa Romeo 75T Evo IMSA, but it was ultimately Bernardo Martinez who won the race in his 1966 Alfa Romeo GTV. It was the same car Martinez used to sweep both Group 8 races.
For a full list of SVRA’s podium finishers at the Watkins Glen SpeedTour, visit SVRA.com.
SVRA heads to VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) for the VIR SpeedTour in just two weeks, September 23-26. Joined by the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, FR Americas, F4 U.S. Championship and International GT, the event will be streamed live to SpeedTour Plus+ Pass subscribers on the SVRA App, which is available for download, here: https://nagrasports.app.link/YHkRxfOxq7.
(Courtesy of SVRA)
Even at 5’1”, 14-year-old Katie Hettinger will walk into Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway a little taller this Saturday. That’s because on Sept. 4 at the .363-mile oval, Hettinger won the 50-lap Limited Late Model feature as part of the Bobby Isaac Memorial event.
In scoring her first victory at the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars,” the Dryden, Michigan-native became the youngest female race winner at Hickory at 14 years, 2 months and 10 days.
She did it in style too. Hettinger put her No. 71 Victory Custom Trailers/Incredible Bank Chevrolet on the pole, but she had to battle fellow Michigander Max Price for the lead, finally earning the top spot on lap 26. The 19-year-old Price stayed in Hettinger’s rearview mirror through the checkered flag as she took the victory in just her 11th Limited Late Model start at Hickory.
“Max and I raced side-by-side for a couple laps on the start before he got around me and then we just kind of stayed in line, pulling away from the rest of the cars, but he never pulled away from me,” Hettinger said. “I was still right behind him, but I had to match my corners right to be able to set up a pass. About 20 laps in my crew chief told me I only had 30 laps left, so I knew that if I wanted to win I had to make my move quickly.
“We were catching lapped traffic, so I put two corners together as best I could. I got a run on Max halfway down the front straightaway and he gave me room going into the corner, so I used it. We ran side-by-side for a lap and when we caught a lapped car, he went a little higher. I was able to get a good run on the bottom and got around him. After that, I was able to pull away and come home with the win.”
Hettinger is a third-generation racer who attended her first race at only four weeks old. By age five, she was racing Quarter Midgets. At first, it was only locally, but soon Hettinger was racing regionally and then nationally, collecting more than 40 wins.
At nine, she moved up to Junior Sprints and 600cc Micro Sprints, competing on dirt from 2016 through 2018. But pavement beckoned. A 12-year-old Hettinger transitioned to full-bodied stock cars in the Champion Racing Association (CRA) Junior Late Model Series. She proved to be a quick study.
After finishing fourth in the 2019 championship and earning the Sportsman of the Year award, Hettinger upped her game in 2020. She took two wins and earned three fast-time awards, one of which set a new track record at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway. She ended the season as the 2020 CRA Junior Late Model Series champion – the first and only female champion in the CRA’s 25-year history.
Since turning 14 on June 25 and getting her NASCAR license, Hettinger has scrapped the “Junior” tag from her Late Model. She competes at the highest level of local stock car racing, commuting from Michigan to race in the southeastern hotbed of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.
“If I want to go to NASCAR, then I have to race down here and get used to everything,” Hettinger said. “But just driving in general, I’m comfortable with it, I’m used to it, and I’ve always just loved going fast.”
Her win at Hickory came in her 19th overall start at the track. In addition to 11 Limited Late Model starts, she has made four Late Model Stock starts and four starts in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series.
“The Late Model Stock car is definitely faster. I feel like I have more control in the Limited Late Model just because I’m more comfortable with it and I’ve had so many laps in it, but the more I race the Late Model Stock and Carolina Pro cars, the more comfortable I get. The Carolina Pro Late Model is more fun because it’s faster and I get to race it at a lot of different tracks.”
A return to the familiar confines of her Limited Late Model is on tap for Hettinger Saturday at Hickory. It’s one of the nearly 30 races Hettinger has on her schedule this year as she balances being a high-school freshman with her near-weekly, 700-mile commute from Michigan to North Carolina.
“I juggle everything I do with sports and school and it can be hard sometimes, but a lot of people are very understanding and I’m able to stay on top of it,” Hettinger said. “I still get mostly A’s and some B’s, and I play a lot of school sports, so sometimes I miss a volleyball game, track meet or a basketball game but, overall, I’m able to manage it.”
Hettinger is committed to this juggling act. She’s racing in the Southeast now with an eye on her future.
“The driving styles down here are different, more aggressive, and the cars are faster too,” Hettinger said. “I’m getting some really good experience.
“After I turn 15, I’d like to test and run an ARCA car. The NASCAR Cup Series is my ultimate goal, and it always has been.”
Beyond the pit crew that helps her at the track, Hettinger has the full support of her family as she chases her NASCAR dream. This includes her 11-year-old sister Grace and 2-year-old brother Keith.
“My mom and dad are very supportive and understanding, and my sister races dirt sometimes, but she’s more of a dancer. My little brother loves racing and he always wants to go see Katie’s racecar. They’re all in this dream as much as I am.”
Formula DRIFT is announcing today that Vice-President, Ryan Sage, will assume the role of President of Formula DRIFT Holdings, LLC as Jim Liaw moves to a new position at Performance Racing Industry.
Although Jim is relinquishing a position he’s held since 2004, he will remain as a Formula DRIFT board member, focusing his attention on the company’s international and Federation relationships, including the FIA Drifting Commission.
Ryan, who is a co-founder with Liaw of the world’s most successful professional drift series, has served as the company’s Vice-President since 2004. He will take over Jim’s role at the end of the 2021 Formula DRIFT season.
“Change can be difficult but is sometimes necessary,” Jim reflected. “This is simply a new chapter in my life and the career I’ve established in the industry I love. Stepping down from my day-to-day role doesn’t mean I’m done with FD. On the contrary, I have full faith in the upward trajectory of the Series and the team that will take it forward. The FD team has grown into one the best Series operators in the world, taking it through the initial growing pains, the Great Recession, and now the Global Pandemic.
Jim continued, “Ryan and I have been David’s battling industry Goliaths for 20 years. And although we have formal titles, we’ve truly been equal partners in building Slipstream and then Formula DRIFT. I have complete faith that FD will reach new heights under his stewardship.”
In response, Ryan commented, “Jim has been my business partner, and most importantly, my friend for the past 20 years, so I’m excited to see him to take this new path in his life. He leaves Formula DRIFT with a legacy of helping to build the largest, most respected drifting organization in the world, as well as being at the helm when FD weathered it's biggest challenges. Myself and all the staff will obviously be sad that we won't see him in the office every day, but we’re also delighted he will retain his board seat and Federation responsibilities. We’re also highly motivated to continue applying the principles he instilled in us to take the Series into the future.”
The 2021 Formula DRIFT series is in the midst of an extremely exciting season, which continues on the Streets of Long Beach on September 17-18 for Round 7 of the FD PRO Championship. Both the PRO and Link ECU PROSPEC Championship teams will then converge on the House of Drift – Irwindale Speedway – on October 22-23 for the season finale, where the respective Champions will be crowned.
Alex Tagliani increased his lead in the NASCAR Pinty's Series Drivers Championship following Round 7 of the 2021 Championship held Sunday at the one-third mile Flamboro Speedway, located near West Millgrove Ontario. The driver from Lachenaie, Quebec finished fourth in the Motomaster Batteries 125, three seconds behind race winner Andrew Ranger from Quebec and D.J. Kennington and Brett Taylor, both from Ontario. It was Tagliani's third straight Flamboro top 10 finish.
The driver of the number 18 RONA - Viagra - St Hubert Chevrolet Camaro started his day with an 11th place finish in the morning practice session before improving to eight overall during to solo qualifying session in the afternoon. Even though his starting position placed him far from polesitter and teammate Treyten Lapcevich, Tagliani slowly worked the field and took every opportunity to increase his position to finish fourth.
" Unfortunately for the NASCAR drivers, we ran only once at Flamboro, the second half of the double header was postponed due to inclement weather," said Alex Tagliani. "I finished fourth, but it enabled me to score enough points to maintain first place in the drivers standings with an 11-point lead, three more than I had at the conclusion of the Mosport race last weekend. I am very pleased with the results, but there is still three races left on the 2021 schedule at Delaware Speedway. It is not a time to take things for granted. I must concentrate on our objective to win the title. Delaware is an oval track where I finished second in 2017. I am going to concentrate on winning the title."
The second event of the day, the Quick Wick Firestarter 125, which was due to start 40 minutes following the conclusion of the first race but was unfortunately postponed due to rain. Series officials are working on rescheduling the race.
Ten of the 18 starters finished on the lead lap.
The next and final rounds of the NASCAR Pinty's Series 2021 Championship, The Pinty's Fall Brawl will be held at Delaware Speedway, Ontario on September 26, 2021
NASCAR.ca has live coverage of each event, including live timing and scoring, on Race Center.
Beside his main Chevrolet Camaro RONA - VIAGRA - St-Hubert sponsors, the TAG Motorsport/Team 22 Racing number 18 car is also sporting secondary sponsors colours such as CanTorque, Fast Wheels, La Petite Bretonne, VR St-Cyr, Arai, Gatorade, 440 Laval Chevrolet, HomeSync, Car Design & Graphics by Jerry Hall, VTT Lachute and O'Sole Mio on tracks in Ontario and Quebec.
Fans can follow Alex Tagliani during the season by visiting www.tagliani.com, or by following him on Twitter at @TAGLIANI, or @TAGLIANI18 on Instagram and like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Tagliani.
The road west for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship comes early in 2022, as the sports car series and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca agreed to a three-year extension to keep America’s leading sports car series on the Monterey Coast. It also means the championship series returns to its spring dates, which for 2022 are April 29 through May 1.
The relationship between the County of Monterey and IMSA pre-dates the series before the merger of Grand-Am and ALMS. Over the years, some of the most dramatic IMSA races and finishes have occurred at WeatherTech Raceway, all of which led to determining the championship.
“The County of Monterey and our entire business community are genuinely pleased with the continuation of the IMSA series,” commented John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “There is great optimism in the air for a full return of teams, fans and sponsors to our beautiful and welcoming destination. We look forward to carrying on the sports car racing tradition.”
The return to Monterey is welcomed news. “WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the world’s most iconic road courses, and is a favorite stop for many of our stakeholders and competitors,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “The sports car racing heritage at this facility goes back to its earliest days, and we are proud to confirm this extension that will continue to bring our flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and other highly competitive IMSA-sanctioned series to the Monterey Peninsula for another three years.”
Tickets for this weekend’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship are on sale each day with the green flag waving for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. The Laguna Seca Recreation Area is fully open and families may enjoy go-karting, a Ferris Wheel and an assortment of activities for all ages. For ticket information, please visit WeatherTechRaceway.com or call the Ticket and Accommodations specialists at 831-242-8200.
The race will also be broadcast live on NBC Sports.
(Courtesy of WeatherTech Raceway)