Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Postponed by Rain

Persistent afternoon rain canceled the remainder of scheduled track activity on the first day of qualifications for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, so the process begins anew May 17.

A revised schedule for Old National Armed Forces Pole Day calls for the 34 entries to make one four-lap qualifying attempt each on the 2.5-mile oval (10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET), followed by the "Fast Nine Shootout" (1:45-2:30 p.m.) in which the top nine cars return to determine the Verizon P1 Award for pole position and the first three rows for the May 24 race. Finally, positions 31-33 will be determined in a 45-minute session (3-3:45 p.m.).

Ryan Hunter-Reay (229.845 mph) and Carlos Huertas (228.235) were the only drivers to post four-lap qualifying runs before the rain today, but those will not count since not everyone was able to make an attempt. Two groups of cars will be accorded practice time from 8-8:20 a.m. and 8:20-8:40 a.m. (ET) May 17, prior to qualifying.

In today's morning practice, Helio Castroneves recorded a lap of 233.474 mph that, while unofficial, is the fastest lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the 1996 race when Eddie Cheever Jr., had the fastest race lap at 236.103 mph. That same year, Arie Luyendyk set the one- and four-lap qualifying records (237.498 mph and 236.986 mph, respectively).

"That 233 mph number was pretty cool, but it was with a little bit of help (with a tow from cars in front of him)," said Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet. "The guys have really done an amazing job over the last couple of days since the (May 13 crash). To lose a day and still be on top of the practice speeds is a testament to how hard they worked. The weather, there is nothing we can do about the weather. We'll just come back and see what's in store."

Castroneves seeks to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners, and he's in contention for pole history, too. Castroneves, with No. 1 qualifying efforts in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010, is tied with Foyt and Rex Mays. A fifth would put him second among all-time Indy 500 pole winners, one behind Team Penske consultant Mears. Castroneves also could give team owner Roger Penske a record-extending 18th pole position at the Indy 500.

Added Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader: "It's a little bit of a disappointment that we didn't get to qualify today because the Team Penske cars were very strong in the practice sessions. I've been happy with the car even though we continue to struggle a bit with the balance. We are confident that we know what direction we need to go with the weather. It's going to be a fast, exciting qualifying session, I know that."

In 2014, Ed Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award in the Fast Nine Shootout with a four-lap average speed of 231.076 mph - the second consecutive year that Carpenter started from the pole. He'll seek to become the first to earn the pole in three consecutive years May 17. Twenty drivers have won the race from the pole - most recently Castroneves in 2009.

"Last year we were pretty solid, so I think we can get in (to the Fast Nine Shootout), but we've got to play our cards right and find a little bit (of speed)," said Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet. "The thing we've got to figure out is how to make the fourth lap still be good."

INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES

WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's raining, and I think INDYCAR has got a pretty good plan to run tomorrow and get everyone through the line and have a Fast Nine. If anything, it'll be even more exciting, having it all really compressed. Looking forward to it. It's really difficult to see where everyone stacks up, but I felt very comfortable and I wasn't so much yesterday. Yeah, we'll see what happens."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's a little bit of a disappointment that we didn't get to qualify today because the Team Penske cars were very strong in the practice sessions. Hopefully tomorrow the forecast will break up a bit and we can see if the Verizon Chevy has the speed to win the pole position. I've been happy with the car even though we continue to struggle a bit with the balance. We are confident that we know what direction we need to go with the weather. It's going to be a fast, exciting qualifying session, I know that."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet): "That 233 mph number was pretty cool, but it was with a little bit of help (from a tow). The Shell V-Power Nitro+ guys have really done an amazing job over the last couple of days since the flip. To lose a day and still be on top of the practice speeds today is a testament to how hard they worked. The weather, there is nothing we can do about the weather. We'll just come back tomorrow and see what's in store."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 6 Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet): "It was nice to post a big number in the morning even though it doesn't really mean very much. It was with a tow, but it was fun to see it pop up on the dash. I still don't really know where we stack up in terms of our four-lap speed, but we're pretty good. Tomorrow, hopefully we'll get into the top nine. If we don't, I think we'll be close. That should give us a pretty reasonable starting position for the race. It's going to be a scramble, but I feel better about it today than I did a few days ago."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda): "It's a shame we couldn't get qualifying in today, but it's the same for everybody. Our Steak 'n Shake car was pretty quick this morning and we'll be qualifying early in the day tomorrow at around 10:30 or so and I feel pretty good about our chances. We'll have to see how it plays out. Definitely the guys that will run two hours into the session will be facing a little bit warmer of a track, so hopefully that plays to our advantage. I would have liked to have got in today, but they would have only gotten a handful in today so we would have had to go again anyway and I would rather have to only hold my breath for four laps instead of eight."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): "Days like today are hard. It stinks for all of the fans. I feel like the series is just in a funk as far as weather. It seems like it rains every important day or it's forecasted to be a bad weather day. I really hope this all moves out and it's a beautiful day tomorrow, where we can put on an awesome show for the fans. One thing about today being delayed is tomorrow's schedule and activities are going to be intense. There's going to be a lot of pressure. Everyone gets one shot to put it in the Fast Nine and that's it. You have to balance going fast and being aggressive to get into the Fast Nine, but knowing you only have that one opportunity. You can't be too aggressive and overshoot it and have a bad run because there's no second attempt. It will be a great day, it will be exciting. Hopefully a lot of people come watch us!"

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet): "We'll get here tomorrow and try to do the whole program again. We didn't get it in today. The team looks good. We tried a couple of different things this morning in practice and JR (Hildebrand) looked really solid. We're really getting up to speed with our program. If we get all of our details right tomorrow, we should be in the hunt."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 24 The Robert Graham Special Chevrolet): "We ran two qualifying stints this morning to get our balance squared away and the car felt good. To be honest, I'm not too disappointed we got rained out. Our car really works well when we have hotter conditions and Sunday is expected to be warmer than today. I just feel badly for the fans who came to see the qualifying. Hopefully everyone can make it out to see a run for the Fast Nine and the pole. I believe we are in the position for a spot in the Fast Nine. We were ninth today with the 'no tow' speeds. So we are on the edge. I'd love to have our little one-car Dreyer & Reinbold - Kingdom team slide into the Fast Nine and battle the big teams. So I'm anxious to get going for Sunday with the Robert Graham Special." 

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): (On dealing with rain delays): "You get used to them over time. In your earlier years, you have to think about things more. The pressure piles on a little bit, but it's part of it. You just have to wait for it, be patient and keep your thoughts cool and calm and collected and get on with the job. It's not a big deal. You want to just get on with it, though. Unfortunately, that's just the way it goes sometimes."

GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins / Curb Honda): "It's disappointing for us. With a late draw in the qualifying line, we had an excellent opportunity to do a true qualifying simulation in this morning's practice and watch what speeds everyone else posted on their qualifying runs. This would have given us a great opportunity to make the Bowers & Wilkins Honda even faster and secure us a spot in the Fast Nine Shootout. But we know we have a fast car and are ready to come back and do it again tomorrow."  

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.”

Le Mans, MotoGP Style

The French round is one of the most illustrious in the MotoGP calendar - here we look back at the history of the French GP.

Since the start of the World Championship in 1949, the Grand Prix of France has taken place 52 times, the first one on the 8895-meter Albi track in 1953.

Since then, the gala round of the World Championship was held on eight different track layouts, including Rouen, Reins, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Mans, Paul Ricard, Nogaro and Magny-Cours.

In the modern GP era, the Grand Prix has hosted some fantastic races, such as the battle in 1988 between Paul Ricard, Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson, Christian Sarron and Kevin Schwantz.

After a race full of overtaking, a few corners from the end the Australian was ahead and was almost in sight of the finish line, but the engine of his Honda NSR 500 suffered a threat of seizure and he lost all chance of victory, although he could cross the finish line in fourth position ahead of Wayne Rainey.

1991 was unique in that were two rounds of the World Championship in the same season on French soil; one GP at Paul Ricard in France and a second round, where Brazil was replaced by Le Mans with two races remaining, in which Rainey earned the second of his three world titles with Yamaha.

Grands Prix in France have often proved favourable for Spanish riders. Carlos Cardus (uncle of the current Moto2 ™ rider Ricky Cardus) achieved his first victory at Le Mans in 1989 in the 250cc class and the next year he would do the same after beating his main rival for the title, John Kocinski, who was pushing too hard to catch the Spaniard and crashed.

Alex Crivillé won the 1998 French GP at Paul Ricard to become the first Spanish rider to lead the provisional standings of the 500cc World Championship. The following year, he finally won the title.

In the French GP in 2001 Max Biaggi took his first victory in 500cc as a Yamaha rider and in the following year, in the MotoGP era, Le Mans was the setting for the first front row composed entirely of machines with four-stroke engines.

Later in 2003, Le Mans witnessed the first ‘triple’ domination from Spanish riders in the World Championship, with Dani Pedrosa achieving victory in 125cc, Toni Elias in 250 and Sete Gibernau in MotoGP™.

During the 2007 season, at the French GP at Le Mans Suzuki achieved their only win in the MotoGP class, beating Australian Chris Vermeulen in an epic race in the rain. That was also the first victory for Bridgestone tyres in the wet.

In 2009 Jorge Lorenzo achieved the second of his four victories in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, in a chaotic "Flag to Flag" race in which his teammate Valentino Rossi suffered a fall.

Since the arrival of MotoGP™ in 2002, the most successful riders in Le Mans have been Rossi (2002, 2005 and 2008) and Lorenzo (2009, 2010 and 2012) with three wins each. They are followed by Sete Gibernau with two wins in 2003 and 2004. Behind them, Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Marc Márquez have one victory each.

Who will be the next winner of the French GP? Will a Ducati finally win at Le Mans?

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

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.