NISSAN Confirmed as naming rights sponsor for Winton

The all-new Nissan NP300 Navara will be the name behind Event four of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria this weekend.

The event will be known as the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint to celebrate the upcoming launch of Nissan’s latest pick-up utility.

As well as event naming rights sponsorship, Michael Caruso’s #23 Nissan Altima V8 Supercar will race at Winton in a fresh NP300 Navara livery.

The striking red colour scheme of the #23 NP300 Navara Nissan Altima V8 Supercar is also a nod to the upcoming race debut of the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LM P1 car at next month’s Le Mans 24 Hour, part of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Fans attending the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint will get a chance to see the all-new Nissan NP300 Navara on display at the circuit this weekend.

The all-new Nissan NP300 Navara is ‘powerful made clever’, a tough, powerful and capable vehicle with premium ride, comfort and interior, smart technologies and sleek, modern styling.

NP300 Navara is built on Nissan’s 80 year history of building reliable and innovative pick-up utilities, or ‘utes’, with over 14 million Nissan pick-ups sold globally.

“Winton is a great fit with our all-new Nissan NP300 Navara,” said Nissan Motor Co. (Australia) Managing Director and CEO Richard Emery.

“This event is a favourite with dedicated motorsport fans, many of which will be driving to the event or camping at the circuit with their own Navara.

“The NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint comes at an opportune time for us as the NP300 Navara goes on sale in Nissan dealerships around Australia in the days following this weekend’s event.”

The NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint also marks the 30th anniversary of the first time the rural circuit hosted the Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercars Championship in 1985.

Nissan has taken victory at Winton in 1989 (George Fury, Nissan Skyline), 1990 (Jim Richards, Nissan Skyline), 1991 (Jim Richards, Nissan GT-R) 1992 (Mark Skaife, Nissan GT-R) and 2013 (James Moffat, Nissan Altima).

Erik Jones' dominating Kansas run goes dry

No one had a faster truck than Erik Jones in Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway.

But speed requires fuel, and with only a handful of laps remaining, the fuel cell in Jones' No. 4 Toyota ran dry. His lead, and a dominating performance, evaporated.

"It just sucks," a disappointed Jones said afterward. "We had by far the best truck; we were up to an 11-second lead at one point.

"It's just so terrible for these (Kyle Busch Motorsports) guys when we bring that fast of a truck."

Jones, who finished 11th, wasn't alone in his misery. Almost as soon as second-place Tyler Reddick moved into the top spot, his No. 19 Ford (Brad Keselowski Racing) began to sputter. He led seven laps and had the lead from 162-164 of the 167-lap race, before he too was out of gas.

Incredibly, Daniel Suarez suffered the same fate – when Reddick slowed, Suarez, also in a KBM Toyota, inherited the lead. One lap later, and just two laps from the finish, the orange No. 51 entry's tank ran dry.

All of which left two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton out front, and two laps later, headed to the winner's circle.

Jones, who started on the pole and will make his Sprint Cup Series debut in Saturday's SpongeBob SquarePants 400, led five times. Before his fuel problems, he lost the lead only on pit road.

"No, I didn't know how short (on fuel) we were," he said. "I knew the fuel window. I knew we had to save. I couldn't give the lead up to the 19 (of Reddick) at that point, if a caution had come out (and knowing) how big track position is if we'd have lost the lead we'd never been able to get it back.

"It's just a shame, I saved as much as I could there later on and it just wasn't enough."

Reddick's charge to the front was almost as impressive as that of Jones. The winner at Daytona International Speedway in the series' opener, Reddick and teammate Austin Theriault both started Friday's race in backup entries after crashing during qualifying.

Terry McCarl injured in crash at Knoxville

Terry McCarl, the winningest driver in Huset’s Speedway history and eight-time 410-sprint car champion, was injured Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway during the National Sprint League race at the famed track south of Des Moines.

McCarl started third in the feature event and had just completed the first lap of the 25-lap race. According to several sources, McCarl’s left front steering arm broke coming down the front stretch, rendering the car uncontrollable.

The car never flipped, and McCarl was able to get the car stopped, but in a precarious position, just at the end of the straightaway and entering the first turn. McCarl’s familiar No. 24 came to a stop sideways in the turn, with the left side of the car exposed to oncoming traffic.

Brad Loyet, who was running 18th at the time, hit McCarl directly between the cockpit and the left rear tire, the most unprotected part of a sprint car. McCarl’s car suffered major damage, and the seat bar that runs beneath the driver’s seat was bent from the impact.

McCarl suffered a fractured vertebrae, and his return to racing is unknown. He was able to get out of the car and walk to a nearby ambulance.

The prognosis for suffering such an injury ranges from being sidelined from three weeks to a year. The next few days will tell a lot for McCarl’s future after the swelling from the injury has subsided.

“I’ve never broken a vertebrae, but I’ve had many scares,” said Jimmy Kite, five-time Indianapolis 500 starter and former USAC sprint car driver. “The hardest part of the conversation with your doctor is ‘What if it happens again.’ As a driver, you always want to get back in the car. But in this situation with the severity of the crash and where he was hit, he’s going to want to obviously do the proper treatment.”

McCarl is sixth in the championship points in the NSL with two top-10 finishes in the first three races of the year. Earlier in the year, he won a World of Outlaws race in Las Vegas, the 10th of his career.

“We’re as quick as we’ve ever been right now,” McCarl said Friday, the day before the accident. “I don’t have any plans of quitting anytime soon.”

Spain preview - will car upgrades upset the pecking order?

After a three-week gap, this weekend sees the teams and drivers rev back into action with the first European race of the season in Barcelona. As is customary at this time of year, all of the major players will be bringing serious updates to their cars, so it will be fascinating to see whether there are any changes to the pecking order at a track reckoned to be the best reflection of true form.

Reigning champions Mercedes, of course, have won three of the opening four races, but Ferrari’s victory in Malaysia demonstrated that the Italian team have seriously closed the performance gap, and ever since they have kept the Silver Arrows honest.

The indications from the opening rounds were that Mercedes still have a power and downforce advantage, but Ferrari have superior tyre wear. Will those remain each team’s outstanding characteristics in Barcelona, or will their respective updates change anything significant?

Ferrari’s brilliant strategy in choosing a soft-medium-soft tyre schedule nearly enabled Kimi Raikkonen to score an upset win in Bahrain last time out, as team mate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg opted for soft-soft-medium, and team boss Maurizio Arrivabene plans to maintain that aggressive ploy while Ferrari continue to work on closing the gap.

"In Bahrain we put together an aggressive strategy and this is exactly what we discussed," he says. And he warns: “We now have some solutions for Barcelona. We are doing all of our development step-by-step but I think here we are going to finally take a good package."

Mercedes, however, are determined to weigh up all of their options, rather than just rushing developments through to try and stem the Ferrari tide. Non-executive chairman Niki Lauda says that they won’t be bringing revised engines to this power circuit. "What may appear as a disadvantage now will become an opportunity when it really counts, in the second half of the season," he says. "The right thing to do is to not change work programmes on a whim. In any case, we'll have big changes to the car at Barcelona."

Lauda also says that he isn’t surprised that Ferrari have recovered so quickly after last year’s disappointments. “Their resurgence is deeply rooted in last season, in the good job done by (technical director) James Allison, in the restructuring of the team."

Both Lauda and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believe that their drivers are at their peak, and that Bahrain signalled Rosberg’s return to form. He is currently 27 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton, but Wolff is adamant that the German will be back on the pace this weekend.

"Nico wouldn't be in Formula One as a multiple race winner and a challenger for the championship if he allowed himself to be destabilised after a few races,” Wolff says. "I fully expect him to come bouncing back. I don't know when it will happen, but he's always going to be there, no doubt."

Elsewhere, Red Bull and Toro Rosso are hoping for good news from Renault. The French power unit manufacturer’s director of operations Remi Taffin says that they have high hopes after making changes based on lessons learned from the first four races: “Barcelona is much more of a traditional circuit than the first four tracks we have visited so far this year. The layout flows a lot more, with high and medium speed corners rather than tight, slow hairpins and long straights.

“The three-week gap has given us an opportunity to look at all the information from the start of the season. We have been flat out to counter the issues encountered early on and we will have a modified spec of engine for this race that should give improved reliability and driveability.”

That should be a relief to Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz after their recent powertrain tribulations.

Williams are bringing not just updates but better knowledge of how to get the best out of their Pirelli tyres, which already helped to reduce the deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari in Bahrain. The Grove-based team will run test and development driver Susie Wolff in FP1 - her first appearance of the season.

Lotus have also heavily revamped their promising E23 Hybrid, which among other things will feature a Williams-like nose this weekend. And reflecting his performances in China and Bahrain, tester Jolyon Palmer will get another outing on Friday morning.

McLaren will be bringing more development to their MP4-30, but perhaps the most noticeable difference to the Honda-powered car will be in the livery department. The team have dropped the chrome colour scheme that has adorned their cars since 2006 and replaced it with a more “predatory” stealth-grey look. Local favourite Fernando Alonso will be hoping the new look brings him extra luck at a track he won on in 2006 and 2013.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, at which the teams tested in February, places very high demands on tyres, especially the left front, because of its wide range of high-speed corners and rough asphalt. Thus tyre suppliers Pirelli are bringing their orange-marked hard and white-marked medium tyres this weekend.

“Spain is obviously one of the more familiar venues that we go to, as there has already been plenty of data gathered during testing,” says the Italian company’s motorsport director Paul Hembery.

“One of the things we have noticed so far is that this year Barcelona will once again be a front-limited circuit, from a tyre perspective. Last year, the increase in traction and torque from the cars meant that for the first time the race became a rear-limited event, with the useful life of the rear tyres dictating the pit stop strategy.

“Thanks to the improvements we made to the rear tyre construction for this year, we’re back to Barcelona being a front-limited circuit again. However, we do not expect this to mean that there will necessarily be more pit stops this year: last year the majority of competitors used a two-stop strategy and that will probably be the case again.

“The start of the European season traditionally means that many teams bring important upgrades, and it will be very interesting to see how these interact with our 2015 tyres.”

The 4.655-kilometre Barcelona track, a staple on the calendar since 1991, is largely unchanged since last year, though changes have been made to the kerbs at Turn 9 and Turn 15. A new CCTV camera has also been installed at Turn 3 - the site of Alonso’s unusual pre-season testing crash.

As in 2014, two DRS zones will be in operation over the weekend. The first has a detection point just after Turn 8 and an activation point after Turn 9, while the second has a detection point just ahead of Turn 16 with the activation point 157m along the pit straight.

The weather is expected to be dry, sunny and warm all weekend, with a high of 26 degrees Celsius on race day. Sunday’s Grand Prix will start at 1400 hours local time (1200 GMT) and will run over 66 laps or 307.104 kilometres (190.825 miles).

Bowe to Drive a Holden in TCM...... WTF

John's release on his social media site.

"I confirmed today I'll park Mustang Sally for this weekend's Touring Car Masters round at Winton Raceway.

I've accepted Gary O'Brien's invitation to drive his new Torana SLR 5000. For me, it's a great challenge as I love to play a role in developing cars.

It's what I've done throughout my career. It's not the first time I've raced a Holden either.

I've driven a couple. Who remembers the 1980 'Race of Champions'? I drove a Commodore in that race and I actually won.

Mustang Sally is still race prepped and ready to go... I've spoken to Steve Johnson about having another steer in Sally. We'd need to raise a budget though.

I don't think I could have anyone else drive her so I'm hoping he can join us during the year.

Gary and his Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars team have done a remarkable job building the SLR 5000.

If you're at Winton, make sure you swing past the TCM garages and take a look for yourself. "

Cheers JB

NASCAR XFINITY Series Team Penalized For Rule Violation At Talladega Superspeedway

The No. 40 team OF Driver Derek White that competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series has been penalized for a rule infraction discovered during pre-race inspection May 2 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The infraction is a P3 level penalty and violates the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:

12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
20.17.2.1: Overall vehicle weight
            B. Any and all ballast added to the vehicle must be bolted inside an added ballast container, inside the main frame rails, and/or inside the front sway bar mounting tube.

As a result of this violation, crew chief Kevyn Rebolledo has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. Additionally, driver/owner Derek White has been docked 15 NASCAR XFINITY Championship driver and car owner points.