Hamlin takes Pole at Dover

Denny Hamlin rolled to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Dover International Speedway.

Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 160.121 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval. He'll start first in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks

The pole position was Hamlin's first of the season, third at the Monster Mile and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. The pole-winning lap was significantly slower than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May.

"It's great," said Hamlin, who also won the Dover pole in September 2012 and May 2013. "Obviously our car's shown speed all day long, which is something that we haven't had lately, so we're kind of building and getting a little bit better and starting to figure out our setups and whatnot. So we're getting better and obviously this kind of shows it."

Martin Truex Jr., second in the Sprint Cup standings, will share Sunday's front row in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet after notching the second-fastest lap at 159.723 mph. Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five.

Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick qualified sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch, making just his second start of the season in points-paying races since returning from serious leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, earned the 10th starting spot in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.

Some big names were left out of later qualifying rounds at the two elimination stages in the three-round format. Jimmie Johnson, a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, was among them. After leading opening Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, he posted just the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, failing to make the final cut to determine the top 12 starters.

"I think, in a sense, we maybe didn't make the changes we need to or thought we needed to change, because the car had so much speed in that first practice session, but it's a totally different race track," Johnson said. "And we tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn't enough."

Kurt Busch was also in that unfortunate group, making just the 13th-best lap to miss the cut for the final, five-minute round.

Keselowski was the final driver to make the cut after Round 1, edging Kasey Kahne by .005 seconds for the 24th spot. The Team Penske driver ended up qualifying 19th. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart also just missed the cut, posting the 26th-fastest lap.

Jeff Green and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

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.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teams Penalized

Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams have been penalized following last week’s event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The No. 1 team has been penalized for an infraction occurring during pre-qualifying inspection May 21. The right rear quarter panel wheel opening was modified after qualifying inspection.

The infraction is a P2 level penalty and violates the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing.

20.4.b: Body; All approved OEM-manufactured body components must be used as supplied except as required to stiffen, or to attach to other vehicle components. Tolerances from CAD surfaces and template tolerances are provided to allow for manufacturing, fabrication, and installation variability. Approved Parts: GM R: NSCS 0786. Part Name: Quarter Panel RS, Effective date Aug. 1, 2012.

20.4.2: Surface Conformance (a). Coordinate measuring machines, scanning equipment, and templates, among other tools, will be used to inspect body surfaces for conformance to the approved OEM and NASCAR CAD files.
           
As a result of this violation, crew chief Matt McCall has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.

Additionally, two teams – the No. 48 and No. 51 – have been assessed P1 level penalties for receiving written warnings in two consecutive events, both at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The No. 48 team received a warning from the May 16 event and also received one from pre-qualifying inspection from last week’s event. In addition to receiving a warning from the May 16 event, the No. 51 team also received one from pre-race inspection from last week’s event.

Per Section 12.5.3.1 of the NASCAR rule book:

Warnings and P1 penalty options: b. Multiple warnings issued to the same member or team will result in one or more P1 penalties; c. If the same team receives two warnings during the same event or two warnings during two consecutive events, whether the events are championship or non-championship, then this may result in one or more … P1 penalties at NASCAR’s discretion.

As a result of these infractions the No. 48 and No. 51 teams will receive the last two choices in the pit selection process, respective to qualifying results, for this weekend’s event at Dover International Speedway.

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

Juan Pablo Montoya Wins 99th Indianapolis

Juan Pablo Montoya often has said that his three Team Penske teammates pose the most formidable competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

In the closing laps of the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, that proved to be the case.

Montoya, who won the race 15 years earlier in his first start, held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Will Power by .1046 of a second -- the fourth-closest finish in race history -- in a thrilling battle over the final 15 laps that also included pole sitter and 2008 race winner Scott Dixon. Five of the 37 lead changes occurred in those 15 laps following a restart, with Montoya overtaking Dixon in Turn 1 for second place and Power in Turn 4 to lead Lap 197 by .0420 of a second.

"It was awesome," said Montoya, 39, of Colombia, after placing the winner's wreath around his neck and letting the milk dribble down his chin. "This is what racing in Indy car is all about, racing down to the wire. These guys, Team Penske, did an amazing job. I had the feeling that I had a really good car, but that fight at the end was really, really hard. All the way down to the wire. This is pretty awesome.”

The victory extended Roger Penske's record of Indy 500 victories to 16, and Montoya is the 11th different winner for Team Penske.

"You give that guy the bit and put it in his mouth and he doesn’t give up," said Penske, the race strategist for three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. "It’s a great day for Team Penske. I knew we had two up there, but the worry was Dixon and the 83 (Charlie Kimball). At the end of the day, they played fair. Good passing and we won the race.”

Montoya finished fifth last May in his return to the Indy 500 after a 13-year absence in which he won races in Formula One and NASCAR competition, and he is the first multiple winner in six races this season. He won the opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and extended his points lead over Power to 25 heading into the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans doubleheader May 30-31.

Montoya, who started 15th in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, fell to 30th early in the race after being hit from behind while under caution, which necessitated a pit stop to change out the rear wing assembly. He then overshot his pit box on Lap 95, which cost precious seconds. Montoya worked his way up to third by Lap 102 and remained in the top five to challenge for the win.

Power was two-tenths of a second behind Montoya entering the white flag lap, but couldn't make a dramatic last-turn pass.

"I just had too much push when he got by," Power said. "I had to lift on that last lap.He was definitely better when he got behind me. That's why he got the run. Anywhere else I'd be happy with second. But here ...

"It was a great month overall -- first, first and second, second."

Power won the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 from the pole and started second on the oval in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Kimball was .7950 of a second back in third -- a career best in five Indy 500 starts -- after starting 14th in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Dixon, who led a field-high 84 laps, was 1.0292 seconds arrears in fourth place in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Graham Rahal, who started 17th in the No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, finished fifth.

“I think we generally had a pretty good restart there," Dixon said. "I was just trying to pace it. When I really needed to go, I just couldn’t turn the car. We were fighting a little bit with the car overheating, so we were trying to go over different ignition maps. There was definitely a lot going on. As the laps were counting down I was trying to make something happen.

"I’m real proud of the Team Target guys. They did a good job all month but unfortunately we came away with fourth.”

Marco Andretti, Castroneves, JR Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden and front-row starter Simon Pagenaud completed the top 10 that includes five Americans on this Memorial Day weekend.

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.