Maiden win for Shane Van Gisbergen & McLaren in Silverstone

The #58 Von Ryan Racing McLaren of Rob Bell, Shane Van Gisbergen and Kevin Estre took the win in the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. The car took its first pitstop during an early Full Course Yellow-situation and acquired enough of an advantage to hold on to the lead until the end. The #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 of championship leaders Vanthoor, Frijns and Vernay took second despite suffering some electronic problems, with third going to their team-mates of the #3 Audi. Seven different brands were represented in the top-10 overall. In Pro-Am the #888 Triple Eight Racing BMW led for two thirds of the race, but after the last pitstop the #32 Leonard Motorsport Aston Martin took lead and held on to that position until the chequered flag. The Am Cup went to the #15 BMW of Boutsen Ginion-duo Grötz-Ojjeh, leading for most of the race, with their competition fighting for the other podium places.

An impressive field of 61 cars thundered towards Silverstone’ Copse Corner at the start of the second round of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series. Wolfgang Reip started from first after his teammate Alex Buncombe had conquered pole and while the Belgian managed to hold on to the lead in the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R, behind him Rob Bell moved the #58 Von Ryan McLaren from fourth to second.

Those positions did not change until 45 minutes into the race, when the evacuation of the stranded #16 Akka ASP Ferrari caused a Full Course Yellow-situation. Von Ryan Racing decided to pit both their cars and once the first round of pitstops was completely cycled through, that proved to be a golden decision. Shane Van Gisbergen had a 42 second-lead over Robin Frijns in the #1 Audi, and even though he had to save fuel to compensate for the early pitstop, the New Zealand driver managed to give the car to Kevin Estre with a healthy lead.

ISR Racing used a second Full Course Yellow-situation to move its #75 Audi up to second, but an inspired Laurens Vanthoor swiftly moved the black-and-blue Audi back to second. With the threat of the second Von Ryan McLaren gone after making contact with the #8 Bentley, the fight for third was now between Marco Bonanomi in the ISR Audi and Stéphane Ortelli in the #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8. Ortelli had already passed the #73 MRS GT Racing Nissan at the beginning of his stint and managed to close the gap towards Bonanomi completely. Eventually passing the #75 Audi was not necessary to claim third for Ortelli, for Bonanomi incurred a five second-penalty for not respecting the track limits.

Meanwhile in front, Kevin Estre had little trouble in holding to his lead, taking an emphatic first win for Von Ryan Racing, which was also the maiden Blancpain GT Series win for the new McLaren 650S. Frijns’ and Vanthoor’s second place increases their lead in the Blancpain GT Series driver standings, as well as the advantage of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in the team standings.

In the Pro-Am Cup Joe Osborne started the race at the wheel of the #888 Triple Eight Racing BMW and by using the same tactics as Von Ryan Racing in Pro, the Z4 even moved up to third overall, enjoying a healthy lead in the Pro-Am Cup. The second pitstop negated that advantage though, with other teams being able to makte their final pitstop during the second Full Course Yellow-period. Once all pitstops were done the #32 Leonard Motorsport AMR Aston Martin was in the lead, and despite Jann Mardenborough in the #22 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R charging hard, Stuart Leonard managed to bring the ‘Bumblebee’ Aston Martin he shared with Michael Meadows and Paul Wilson home in first. Third in Pro-Am went to one of the stalwarts of the Blancpain Endurance Series, with the drivers of the #14 Emil Frey Racing Jaguar taking an emotional maiden podium finish.

In the Am Cup, polesitter Fabien Barthez’ lead was short-lived when his #16 Akka ASP Ferrari lost a wheel after making contact with another car. After a couple of laps of interesting skirmishes the #15 Boutsen Ginion BMW appeared in the lead and Olivier Grötz and Karim Ojjeh brought the car home in first. The #24 Team Parker Racing Audi looked set for a podium finish, but in the dying minutes of the race the #25 Glorax Racing Ferrari of Mancini-Birzhin-Mastronardi and the #42 Sport Garage Ferrari of newcomers Hamon-Samon-Paillard managed to climb to a top-3 position.

Shane Van Gisbergen (#58 Von Ryan Racing McLaren): “The team made a great tactical choice. We knew we could do it, but it was still tough to save fuel and still keep a good lap time. I had a good run through the traffic, and did as many laps as possible. It is pretty exciting to win my first win in Europe and I already received the congratulations of my dad in New Zealand, even though it is 4 am over there.”

Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): “Our goal this year is to win championships, so taking a win in the first race and finishing second here is not bad. At the beginning of my stint I did my best to catch the #75 Audi, but I knew that it would be very difficult to catch Kevin in the McLaren. They were the better team this weekend, had a better strategy and thoroughly deserve the win.”

Stéphane Ortelli (#3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): “It was a tough final stint, but that is exactly what I like. The duel with the Nissan was nice and fair and I was happy I could get past, because they were quicker on the straights. This is an important podium for the team and it’s a good feeling to share a podium finish with Frank (Stippler, ed.) for the first time in our careers, even though we have been racing for the same team for some years now.”

Michael Meadows (#32 Leonard Motorsport Aston Martin): “It was pretty nerve wracking for us when Stuart was doing the final stint, being chased by Mardenborough. But he did exactly what he needed to do and drove a superb final stint. We had a very good race, a very clean race for once, and it paid dividends in the end.”

Karim A. Ojjeh (#15 Boutsen Ginion BMW): “Our race engineer did a fabulous job of getting us in when there was a Full Course Yellow and we took advantage of that. When I started the final stint we had a healthy lead, thanks to a absolute fantastic stint of Olivier, so there was not that much pressure on me. The car was awesome, so I could keep it cool and get it to the finish.”

Briscoe Gets Indianapolis 500 Call Up

Aussie Ryan Briscoe didn't think twice about accepting the short-notice request from Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sam Schmidt to drive in the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Briscoe, 33, was named today to fill in for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hinchcliffe underwent surgery May 18 for a pelvic and upper left thigh injury suffered in a crash during practice earlier that day.

Hinchcliffe is recovering and was transferred May 20 from the Intensive Care Unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Upon further evaluation, it was determined he will require no further procedures and is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries. Additional updates to Hinchcliffe's condition will be released when available.

"First and foremost, I feel absolutely terrible for Hinch," said Briscoe, who completed 21 laps in a one-hour "familiarization session" granted by INDYCAR to become acclimated to the car and aero kits that debuted this year. "I wish him the best and a speedy recovery."

Briscoe will join the rest of the 33-car field for the traditional one-hour practice May 22 on Coors Light Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN) in his rush to play catch-up.

"You (usually) sort of prepare for this race a year out," he said. "You visualize how you're going to go through practice, all the prep you're going to do, and something like this comes up and you throw that all out the window. I feel with my experience and the experience the team has, the experience that Hinch has had with (race engineer) Allen McDonald putting this car in really good condition for the race, I feel really confident that even with a few laps I'll be able to find my groove again."

Briscoe will make his 10th Indianapolis 500 start and 130th overall in Indy car racing from the 32nd starting position (middle of Row 11). James Davison, who returned to the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after Tristan Vautier qualified the car for him May 17, will start 33rd as determined by entrant points when a driver switch is made, per INDYCAR.

Briscoe was the 2012 pole sitter for the 500 Mile Race and that year tied his best finish of fifth from 2007. Last year, he started 30th in the NTT Data entry for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and finished 18th.

"We explored quite a few options and felt confident in Briscoe," team co-owner Schmidt said. "We were glad he was available and willing to drive for us with such short notice. Obviously, this was not a situation we were expecting to be in for the biggest race of the year, but we're making the best of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with James and his family right now."

99th Indianapolis 500 Starting Lineup

Starting lineup for the 99th Indianapolis 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:
                                           
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 02:38.7579 (226.760)
2. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:39.0458 (226.350)
3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:39.1900 (226.145)
4. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 02:39.6428 (225.503)
5. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:39.6439 (225.502)
6. (25) Justin Wilson, Honda, 02:39.8022 (225.279)
7. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 02:39.8626 (225.193)
8. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:39.8659 (225.189)
9. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:39.8670 (225.187)
10. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:39.9297 (225.099)
11. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 02:39.9703 (225.042)
12. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:40.0830 (224.883)
13. (32) Oriol Servia, Honda, 02:40.1585 (224.777)
14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 02:40.1828 (224.743)
15. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 02:40.2446 (224.657)
16. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:40.3041 (224.573)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:40.5064 (224.290)
18. (18) Carlos Huertas, Honda, 02:40.5473 (224.233)
19. (29) Simona de Silvestro, Honda, 02:40.8304 (223.838)
20. (7) James Jakes, Honda, 02:40.8651 (223.790)
21. (48) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 02:40.9140 (223.722)
22. (8) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:41.0051 (223.595)
23. (43) Conor Daly, Honda, 02:41.0865 (223.482)
24. (24) Townsend Bell, Chevrolet, 02:41.1119 (223.447)
25. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:41.2718 (223.226)
26. (63) Pippa Mann, Honda, 02:41.3600 (223.104)
27. (98) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 02:41.4958 (222.916)
28. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 02:41.5086 (222.898)
29. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 02:40.9022 (223.738)
30. (4) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 02:42.1617 (222.001)
31. (88) Bryan Clauson, Chevrolet, 02:42.6328 (221.358)
32. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 02:41.0602 (223.519) *
33. (19) James Davison, Honda, 02:40.8960 (223.747) **

* - Substitute driver for James Hinchcliffe, who qualified car on May 17; ** - Replacement driver for Carlos Huertas, who qualified car on May 17; *** - Replacement driver for Tristan Vautier, who qualified car on May 17. Note: Car order for Cars 5, 18 and 19 set by Verizon IndyCar Series entrant points entering event per Rules 8.1.8.6 and 8.1.8.6.1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook

XFINITY Team Penalized For Rules Violation

The No. 4 team that competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series has been penalized for a rules infraction committed during a May 16 practice at Iowa Speedway.

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. Weight affixed improperly.

As a result of this violation, crew chief Gary Cogswell has been fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. Additionally, car chief Charles Kent has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.

NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class Announced

NASCAR have announced the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The five-person group – the seventh in NASCAR Hall of Fame history – consists of Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. In addition, NASCAR announced that Harold Brasington won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Next year’s Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, broadcast on NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, live from Charlotte, N.C.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session in Charlotte to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2016 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, respectively, this evening in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Great Hall.”

The Class of 2016 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the second year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Kevin Harvick). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Jerry Cook and Robert Yates). The accounting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting was as follows: O. Bruton Smith (68%), Terry Labonte (61%), Curtis Turner (60%), Jerry Cook (47%) and Bobby Isaac (44%).

The next top vote-getters were Red Byron, Benny Parsons and Rick Hendrick.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Benny Parsons.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates.

Nominees for the Landmark Award included Brasington, H.Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. It is awarded to competitors or those working in the sport who have acted as a NASCAR ambassador through a professional or non-professional role. Anne B. France won the inaugural award last year. 

Class of 2016 Inductees:

Jerry Cook
Jerry Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77. All the while, he was vying with another driver from his hometown of Rome, New York, nine-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans, for supremacy in NASCAR’s open-wheel realm. After retiring from racing in 1982, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Cook served as the series’ director when it began in 1985 and remains with NASCAR as competition administrator.

Bobby Isaac
Bobby Isaac’s uncanny skill at drawing speed from a race car puts him on a short list of NASCAR legends. His 49 career poles ranks 10th all time. Maybe more impressive: Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969, which still stands as the record for poles in a single season. Isaac began racing in NASCAR’s premier series in 1961. He finished runner-up in the series standings in 1968 behind NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson. In 1969, he finished sixth in the standings after posting 17 wins and those 19 poles. In 1970, Isaac won the championship posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s in 47 starts. Isaac won 37 races in NASCAR's top series, ranking 19th on the all-time list.

Terry Labonte
Terry Labonte is a two-nickname NASCAR star. Early in his career he was known as the “Iceman” for his coolness under pressure. But his demeanor belied his determination.  Later in his career he became known as the sport’s “Iron Man” thanks to 665 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Winning two premier series championships, in 1984 and ’96, is impressive; the 12-year gap distinguishes Labonte further. No other driver has won his first two championships that far apart and Labonte is one of only six drivers with championships in two decades. Labonte’s stellar career is tucked between perfect bookends – his two Southern 500 wins, in 1980 and 2003. His 361 top-10 finishes ranks 10th all time.

O. Bruton Smith
O. Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., promoted his first stock car race in Midland, North Carolina at the age of 18. Smith’s early endeavors included operating the National Stock Car Racing Association – seen as an early competitor to NASCAR – and building Charlotte Motor Speedway. CMS became the foundation of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. Smith took SMI public in 1995, the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange. He was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, both in 2006; and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Curtis Turner
Called by some the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing,” Curtis Turner was among the fastest and most colorful competitors in the early years of NASCAR premier series racing. Turner competed in NASCAR’s first “Strictly Stock” race in 1949 in Charlotte and was the only driver to win a NASCAR premier series race in a Nash. He posted his first of 17 career victories in only his fourth start on Sept. 11, 1949, at Langhorne (Pennsylvania) Speedway. Although many of Turner’s victories came on short tracks and dirt ovals – much of his career pre-dated NASCAR’s superspeedway era – he won the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the first American 500 at Rockingham Speedway in 1965. He remains the only series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. He also won 38 of 79 races in which he competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division.

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

Harold Brasington
Harold Brasington, a South Carolina businessman, believed in Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, created the sanctioning body’s first superspeedway – a one-of-a-kind egg-shaped oval, paved on an old cotton and peanut field. Expecting 10,000 fans to show up at Darlington Raceway’s first competition on Labor Day of 1950, 25,000 spectators showed up for the inaugural Southern 500 – NASCAR’s first 500-mile race.  Darlington's success inspired Brasington to extend his reach north -- to North Carolina. He employed his track building and promoting expertise, helping in the creation of Charlotte Motor Speedway and building North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina.

Charlotte All Stars race wrap footage now available

With a deft move with three laps left in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin delivered the first victory in the non-points showcase event to Joe Gibbs Racing and to Toyota.
 
As he drove into Turn 1 to start Lap 97, with Kevin Harvick glued to his bumper and ready to make a run at the $1 million first prize, Hamlin moved up a lane in the corner and took Harvick's line away, causing Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet to lose momentum.

Watch it at www.rubberdown.com.au