The Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead was the final race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, with Jeff Gordon taking first place, followed by Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle in the top five. Crossing the line in 15th position, Brad Keselowski’s points tally made him the winner of the Sprint Cup Championship, bringing Penske Racing its first Sprint Cup championship and beating Hendrick Motorsports five-time champion Jimmie Johnson who took third place, with Clint Bowyer taking second spot.
Following last week’s altercation between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, resulting in Gordon receiving a $100,000 fine and losing 25 points for intentionally wrecking Bowyer, there was much speculation as to whether Sunday’s race would provide an opportunity for the settling of scores between the two drivers. But both drivers were totally professional and the race was incident free. Despite last week’s incident, Bowyer managed to finish in second place in the final points standings with Gordon finishing tenth.
Born in February 1984, Bradley Aaron Keselowski won his first championship in the 2010 Nationwide Series – a first both for the driver and Penske Racing. By winning the Sprint Cup Series Championship, Keselowski became the second of only two drivers to win both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Championships, the other drivers being Bobby Labonte.
Starting his NASCAR career with the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series season, Keselowski made his debut at Martinsville Speedway, with his best finish of the season being 16th at Mansfield. Keselowski driver opened the 2005 season in seventh place at the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 and after running every race of the season, finished 21st in points. The 2006 season presented some challenges for Keselowski as the team he was driving for lost its sponsorship and had to suspend operations. He filled in for other drivers during the season and in subsequent years Keselowski drove for various teams, filling in when the opportunity arose. In 2009 he achieved his first Sprint Cup victory at Talladega’s Aaron’s 49.
Keselowski joined Penske Racing in 2010, running the #12 Dodge Charger in the Sprint Cup Series, as well as the #22 Discount Tire car in the Nationwide Series. 2012 has proven to be Keselowski’s best Sprint Cup season, and with the Sprint Cup championship under his belt, fans can no doubt expect to see great things from this talented young driver in the future.
The Pure Michigan 400 race program includes practice sessions on Friday, a qualifying session on Saturday and the Race on Sunday at Noon. The track is a D-shaped Oval with a distance of 2 miles, and the race consists of 200 laps. For more information visit www.mispeedway.com
Date: 19 August 2012
Venue: Michigan International Speedway
Country: United States
As the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday offered excitement from start to finish, ending with Tony Stewart taking the checkered flag and the championship title. Having won the NASCAR season championships in 2002 and 2005, this was Stewart’s third championship victory – a victory for which he had to battle against very strong competition. The last 40 laps of the 267-lap event proved to be a duel between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards that kept fans in suspense right to the finish line. Although Stewart and Edwards ended the season tied in points, the championship title went to Stewart because of his five victories during the season, compared with one victory for Edwards.
What made Stewart’s victory even sweeter was the fact that it was not without obstacles. Eearly on in the race he discovered a hole in his car’s front grille forcing him to stop for repairs. His team put a new grille over the damaged one, securing it in place with electrical tape, and sending him on his way again. At one stage Stewart was 40th in the field, but climbed to 5th place before a 74-minute rain delay broke his stride once more. But nothing was going to stand in Stewart’s way as he fought his way to the front of the field, and the battlefor first place became a duel between himself and Edwards.
In a post-race interview, Stewart acknowledged that the first 109 laps of the race had been very challenging and commended his crew for their hard work. Commenting on his daring driving style which saw him passing a trio of cars on the inside of the track, Stewart said:”That shows you how bad I wanted to win this thing.” He also noted that a driver can’t hold anything back when going for a championship.
Martin Truex Jr. finished in third place, with Matt Kenseth taking the fourth spot and Jeff Gordon coming in fifth. Having scored two wins in the season, Jimmie Johnson had a disappointing finish to the season, finishing 32nd due to engine trouble and an incident in lap 143 where he spun out and hit the wall. Nevertheless, Johnson ended in sixth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings with 2304 points. Both Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards clocked up 2403 points, with Kevin Harvick taking third place with 2345 points, Matt Kenseth at fourth place with 2330 points, and Brad Keselowski in fifth place with 2319 points.
Canadian Robert Wickens may not have finished the race in Barcelona on Sunday, but he nevertheless won the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship on points. Starting the last race of the season with a nine-point lead over Jean Eric Vergne of France, it initially appeared that Wickens may have lost the title due to an accident on the first lap with his Carlin Motorsports teammate. Vergne had tried to pass Wickens on the inside of the track, but his car’s front left wheel made contact with Wickens’ side pod. This incident was followed up at the next corner with the right front of Wickens’ car hitting the left rear of Vergne, breaking Wickens’ steering and putting him out of the race as he collided with Nathanel Berthon.
Vergne tried to continue, but damage to his car’s steering and rear suspension, along with contact by Mofaz racer Fairuz Fauzy, eventually put him out of the race. Vergne would have had to finish fifth or higher in order to take the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship from Wickens, but with both drivers out of the race, the victory went to Wickens.
In an interview following the race, Wickens noted that while it was not how he had wanted to end the day, nor how he expected to be crowned champion, but was nevertheless pleased with the result. He pointed out that he and Vergne had enjoyed being teammates, they had raced hard and fair all year and it was a pity the last race of the season ended with contact at the first corner. He also thanked the Carlin team, describing them as being flawless all year, and thanked Marussia for making his championship win possible.
One of the rewards for winning the Formula Renault 3.5 championship is a half-day of test-driving a Lotus Renault on a full F1 track in Abu Dhabi next month, which Wickens describes as a “fantastic” prize. Having finished second in the 2009 F2 series and second in the GP3 series in 2010, and now claiming the Renault 3.5 championship, as well as being named Marussia Virgin F1 team reserve driver this year, Wickens appears to be well on his way to fulfilling his hopes of becoming the first Canadian driver to achieve in auto racing’s top series since Jacques Villeneuve – the 1997 F1 World Champion.
While the championship results may have outshone the actual victory of the day, it should not be overlooked that Albert Costa of Epic Racing took the checkered flag in Barcelona, having started in pole position, with Wickens second on the grid and Vergne starting from fifth.
The majority shares of V8 Supercars Australia Auto Racing Championship will now be controlled by Archer Capital, and the series is valued at an estimated $316 million. Archer Capital is based in Sydney and funds Australian Motor Racing Partners Pty Limited. The organization will now own sixty percent of the series. The remaining forty percent of the V8 Supercars will be retained by the management holding and teams. Even though Archer Capital has taken on some debt in taking over the series, Andrew Gray, Director of the Australian Motor Racing Partners, expressed his optimism in regard to the takeover.
Andrew Gray spoke at a conference, which is viewable on the V8 Supercars website, saying that Australian Motor Racing Partners are a company that considers themselves long-term investors and that they are patient. He commented that the industry has grown and that they foresee a lot more growth in the future. Tony Cochrane will remain the chairman of the V8 Supercars Series, continuing to supervise the daily management that includes races in Australia, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi. Last year, the sport attracted approximately a hundred and twenty thousand spectators for each event. It is hoped that the new structure of V8 Supercars will develop the sport and create an infrastructure for the sport to continue on a steady growth pattern, and possibly add additional venues to the series.
The Australian Motor Racing Partners have a very distinguished history behind them, and are known to be successful in developing businesses and brands. With the backing of this leading company, V8 Supercars has a wonderful new future ahead of it. Financially the sport will be able to continue and develop under the watchful eye of the new investors, who will also be assisting in promoting the sport.
Tony Cochrane is also excited about the future, being quoted as saying: “It has been a fantastic and exciting 14 year journey to date, and this new ownership structure and investment are an exceptional outcome for everyone who loves this sport. Everyone in V8 Supercars should be immensely proud of the business and the sport that has been created. For my part, I am most proud of the nearly 1,600 jobs that are now contained within V8 Supercars. I have been asked and have agreed to continue with my role as both chairman and full voting board member as I see the coming years as the most exciting and most dynamic in V8 Supercars’ history.”