Motorsports Update – October 1, 2012

American Le Mans Series
Next race:
Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, October 17-20

Gran Premio Iveco de Aragon
Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa took a dominant victory at his home ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo got the holeshot ahead of Pedrosa, with Yamaha’s Ben Spies in tow. The first two laps were not good for the Ducati team, as Valentino Rossi almost touched the rear wheel of Repsol Honda’s Jonathan Rea, with the Italian forced to run off. This was followed by a big crash form Nicky Hayden, who was violently thrown over the advertising boards in Turn 16, after failing to slow down in time. He received instant medical attention and was later declared ok by the medical centre, yet has been given a neck brace and is undergoing more precautionary checks.

Lap four saw Pedrosa close in on Lorenzo’s rear wheel. Meanwhile LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl took Spies for third, yet crashed out a few turns later as he lost the front pushing too hard. This left the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso to hunt down the American for a spot on the podium. It took Pedrosa until lap seven to make his move on Lorenzo, taking the lead for the first time.

On lap nine Lorenzo had a big wobble giving Pedrosa a bigger gap at the front, as Rossi was making his way up through the pack. With 13 laps left, Crutchlow ran wide coming onto the home straight, letting Dovizioso into fourth. Six laps later Pedrosa had pulled out a gap of over four seconds at the front, as Dovizioso made his way past Spies, with Crutchlow testing the inside line of the American. The Tech 3 pair provided a thrilling last couple of laps fighting for the final podium spot.

In the end it was Pedrosa who crossed the finish line first over six seconds ahead of second placed Lorenzo, with Dovizioso taking his sixth podium this year. Pedrosa has now cut the championship gap to Lorenzo to 33 points.

AMA Pro Racing
Next race:
Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans, October 5-7

GRAND-AM Road Racing
Championship Weekend, Lime Rock Park
Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor scored their third consecutive Lime Rock Park race victory and Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas wrapped up their third consecutive Daytona Prototype championship in Saturday’s Rolex Series season finale in the GRAND-AM Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park presented by BMW.

Angelelli and Taylor combined to lead a race-high 92 laps in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP, including the last 50 with Taylor at the wheel. The second-generation racer held off a late charge from Antonio Garcia to score his and Angelelli’s third victory of the season.

Second place went to Garcia and polesitter Richard Westbrook in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty third in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP.

The championship battle, meanwhile, went to Pruett and Rojas with a seventh-place result in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley. The teammates entered the race needing to finish ninth or better to clinch the DP driver championship, which they did by 12 points, 379-367, over Ryan Dalziel, who finished sixth. It was the fourth title for Rojas and a record-extending fifth DP championship for Pruett.

The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team picked up their sixth Daytona Prototype team championship. Chevrolet won the DP manufacturer championship in the first year of competition for the Corvette DP, and Riley earned the DP constructor championship.

While the GT team and driver championships were wrapped up at the previous round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca three weeks ago, the battle for the Lime Rock race victory came down to the final minutes.

One day after coming up just short in his bid to win the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner championship, Andy Lally suffered another heartbreak. With less than two minutes remaining, Lally surrendered the GT lead to Robin Liddell heading into Turn 1 and then Lally’s No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 slowed dramatically, entering the pits at the conclusion of the lap.

Once in front, Liddell pulled away to bring the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R home to its second consecutive Lime Rock race victory. It was the second Lime Rock victory for both Liddell and co-driver John Edwards, who earned the 2010 GT class victory. Liddell won last year alongside Jan Magnussen.

Dion von Moltke and Jim Norman ended the first season for the new Audi Rolex Series program on a high note, taking second and Alessandro Balzan and Johannes van Overbeek finished third in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458, securing the GT manufacturer championship for the legendary Italian automaker.

World Superbike
Next race:
Magny-Cours, October 10

Formula 1
Next race:
Korean Grand Prix, October 14

AAA 400, Dover
The story of the race at Dover International Speedway was written mostly by two caution flags – the first and the last. The last one ended up tying a huge knot in the fuel plans of various teams, and when it was all done, Brad Keselowski had his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Dover and took the lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.

Meanwhile, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson – all who led at one point – had to settle for lower positions because they had to either get gas or drive to conserve it.

The caution in question came on lap 317 when Matt Kenseth spun, and it brought everyone into the pits. But it had them there with roughly 80 laps remaining. The typical window for fuel at Dover is roughly 70 laps, which left crew chiefs consulting everything available to them short of a slide rule in order to figure out if their cars could make it on fuel.

For some teams, it was clear-cut. Johnson was instructed to back off to about 80 percent for the last 40 laps, which resulted in Keselowski, Busch, Hamlin and others driving on by. Although Busch was leading the race with 32 laps remaining, he was told at that point that he didn’t have enough fuel to make it. He was still ahead with 11 laps to go when he finally had to succumb to the call of the fuel can. That left the lead to Hamlin, but two laps later, he had to do the same thing.

While all this was happening, Keselowski chose to stay out. Some furious operation of laptops on his pit box had told crew chief Paul Wolfe that they had a chance to make it to the end of the race. But he needed some help from his driver to get there.

Fortunately for Keselowski, Wolfe was right, because coming fast on his tail were Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin – neither of which had any sort of fuel problem whatsoever.

As for Busch and Hamlin, the two combined to lead 341 laps – 309 of which were Busch – but they finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

For as much as the final caution played a role in the end of the race, it would have been a completely different race altogether if it wasn’t for the way the first caution happened. The race was proceeding nicely through its first 65 laps when cars started to make green-flag pit stops at their prescribed times.

Then the right front tire exploded on J.J. Yeley’s car and, in doing so, blasted away the race plans for the majority of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. It happened at the end of that round of green-flag stops, and when NASCAR finally got to the bottom of sorting things out, they found that only eight cars remained on the lead lap. Only six cars were on the lead lap at the end of the race – something that hadn’t happened at Dover since 2008. In the last eight races at Dover, no fewer than 13 cars had finished on the lead lap.

One driver that was able to recover from that was Martin, who found himself two laps down afterwards.

Johnson finished fourth and like Keselowski, maintained his position in an unconventional fashion – by driving slower. In doing so, he missed out on what would have been a record eighth win at Dover, but he left himself in good position in the Chase.

NHRA Midwest Nationals, Gateway Motorsports Park
Antron Brown raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday and in the process, increased his championship points lead.

Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the event, the first race for NHRA in the St. Louis area in more than two years.

Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites