NOTEBOOK: Keeping It Alive Online
HARRISBURG, N.C. — The outpouring of emotion and support has moved us from readers, contributors and industry leaders concerning the final issue of National Speed Sport News, which was published March 23. Nearly every person we have spoken with has asked if the online version of National Speed Sport News would continue. The best answer we can offer at this point is that we certainly hope so. Details are still being hammered out behind the scenes. The good news is that for at least for the next several weeks, www.nationalspeedsportnews.com will be updated regularly. Many of the same contributors you have enjoyed reading in the pages of NSSN will support the website with content.
It was another dismal crowd at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Sunday afternoon. Despite a shift from the second race of the season to the fifth, more than half the seats at the two-mile superspeedway were empty for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. Interestingly, the race came down to a battle between California natives with Bakersfield’s Kevin Harvick edging El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson.
In his second full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Austin Dillon, the 20-year-old grandson of longtime NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, is expected to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut later this season in a Chevrolet fielded by Curb-Agajanian Motorsports.
How many times have you heard a racing driver say that you can’t win a race on the first lap? Well, a whole lot of veteran IndyCar Series competitors tried to disprove that adage Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. They all failed, resulting in a seven-car crash in the opening turn of the temporary street circuit. Marco Andretti, one of the aggressors in the accident, ended upside down, after he tried to outbrake a host of other competitors, but was hit from behind in the process by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves who was equally aggressive for the first lap of a street race. Others involved were Scott Dixon, Mike Conway and Ryan Briscoe. Andretti blamed Castroneves for the incident and the Brazilian driver acknowledged that his brakes locked up.
A.J. Foyt missed the IndyCar Series season opener after he had a heart stent inserted Friday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston. A recent test showed that Foyt had 95 percent of an artery blocked. It was Foyt’s fourth stent and the problem was discovered during tests conducted in conjunction with a recent triple bypass surgery performed on Foyt’s wife Lucy. Larry Foyt called the shots on the No. 14 wheeled to a 13th-place finish by Vitor Meira Sunday in St. Petersburg.
The return of Sebastien Bourdais to Indy car competition came to a screeching halt during the Sunday morning warm-up for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Bourdais crashed his No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing machine in turn 12. The damage was too severe to repair in time for the race. Ironically, the incident occurred on the same lap that rookie James Jakes crashed Coyne’s other car in a different turn. The Jakes entry was repaired and the Englishman finished 15th. Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car World Series title winner, is scheduled to run all of the road courses for the Coyne team this season.
Here come the Americans! Nashville’s Josef Newgarden edged Indiana’s Conor Daly as American drivers employed by Sam Schmidt Motorsports finished one-two in the season opener for the Firestone Indy Lights Sunday at St. Petersburg.
The season-opening Australian Grand Prix for the Formula One teams was certainly a snoozer. Defending World Driving Champion Sebastian Vettel won the pole by eight-tenths of a second and was even more dominant during the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park, driving his Red Bull entry to the checkered flag a whopping 22.7 seconds ahead of runner-up Lewis Hamilton, who wheeled a McLaren.
Noted automotive journalist David E. Davis, Jr. died Sunday after a battle with bladder cancer. He was 80 years old. Davis founded Automobile magazine, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and was editor of Car & Driver earlier in his career.
Late-model driver Bubba Pollard had a stellar weekend racing in the Gulf Coast Championship. Pollard won a pair of features, taking Friday’s event at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., and following it up with a victory Saturday at Mobile Int’l Speedway in Alabama.
A winner in the Chip Ganassi Racing entry during the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, Joey Hand will get a crack at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well. Hand will share a BMW M3 GT entry with Dirk Muller and Andy Priaulx in the twice-around-the-clock event June 11-12.