Motorsports Update – September 17, 2012

American Le Mans Series
American Le Mans Series, presented by Tequila Patron VIR 240
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing returned to its winning ways Saturday in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr teamed for a three-lap victory in the four-hour race driving Muscle Milk’s Honda Performance Development ARX-03a. The day also belonged to Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, who clinched the GT title with a class victory; and Alex Job Racing’s Cooper MacNeil, who clinched the GT Challenge championship thanks to a class win with Leh Keen.

CORE autosport’s Alex Popow wrapped up the Prototype Challenge title with a third-place class finish in the No. 06 ORECA FLM09 as CORE teammates Colin Braun and Jon Bennett won in the No. 05 entry.

The P1 and P2 championships will go down to the season’s final race – Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Level 5 Motorsports’ Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker won in P2 in a back-and-forth affair with Conquest Racing’s David Heinemeier-Hansson and Martin Plowman.

In GT, Gavin and Milner led twice for more than three hours and took the lead for good at the one-hour, 15-minute mark in the No. 4 Corvette C6 ZR1. Gavin made his 100th ALMS start a memorable one by clinching his fourth class championship. Milner won his first at his home track to go along with a class victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2011.

The victory also sewed up the team championship for Corvette Racing and manufacturer title for Chevrolet.

GP Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini
Jorge Lorenzo charged to a dominant victory in a dramatic race ahead of Valentino Rossi and Álvaro Bautista this weekend.

It began with a partially aborted race-start due to issues with Karel Abraham’s bike prompted a re-start. The race was then shortened to 27 laps due to the additional sighting lap, yet in another twist, pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa then also had to start from the back of the grid after wheeling his bike into pit-lane to re-start it, after his team could not resolve a locked front-wheel in the given time.

The story unfolded further and the championship battle took yet another blow, as Pedrosa was taken out in the first few bends by the front wheel of Héctor Barberá, as the Repsol rider was making his way up the field. Afterwards, an apologetic Barberá cited missing his braking marker as the reason he locked up his front wheel, causing him to slide into Pedrosa. At the front it was Lorenzo who had made the best start, followed by a valiant Valentino Rossi and Stefan Bradl.

It was a crash-filled race as Abraham, Mattia Pasini and Cal Crutchlow all fell in the opening laps. Crutchlow’s teammate Dovizioso was sticking to Bradl, as Álvaro Bautista took Ben Spies for fifth. With 19 laps remaining Lorenzo had pulled out a lead over Rossi.

With 12 laps to go Bautista had caught up to the rear wheel of Dovizioso and was looking for a way through. After stalking him for over half the lap he made his way through into fourth to chase Bradl, whom he caught up with two laps later. Bautista looked like a man possessed as he then pushed his way past the German into the final podium spot. Behind the Spaniard, Bradl, Dovizioso and Spies were all closing in with seven laps to go to battle it out for third spot.

With three laps to go Dovizioso and Spies had made their way past Bradl. And it was Dovizioso who provided the nail-bighting finish, tussling with Bautista until the end. Yet it was Lorenzo who finally took the checkered flag with an ecstatic Rossi in second and Bautista recording his first ever MotoGP podium in third after a photo finish with Dovizioso. Ben Spied finished fifth.

AMA Pro Racing
New Jersey Motorsports Park
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champion Josh Hayes continued to race against the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing record books at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP).

The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha superstar logged yet another perfect weekend as he proved unstoppable.

Hayes’ run of dominance is unprecedented and the Mississippian is currently assembling a strong case suggesting he’s in the midst of the single greatest campaign in the sport’s history.

At NJMP, Hayes achieved two more significant milestones, upping his ‘12 wins tally to 13 and his victory streak to 10, both new series records.

GRAND-AM Road Racing
Next race:
Championship Weekend, Lime Rock Park, September 28-29 

World Superbike
Next race:
Portimao, September 28

Formula 1
Next race:
Singapore Grand Prix, September 21-23

MAVTV 500, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana
Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his only competition for the IndyCar championship crash out of the title-deciding season finale.

Will Power’s accident should have given Hunter-Reay a wide-open road to his first championship. Instead, he had to hang on for 500 nerve-racking miles, withstand several hairy restarts and a controversial red-flag to snatch the title away from Power on Saturday night.
Needing to finish fifth to win the title after Power exited the race, Hunter-Reay did one better, finishing fourth to put the American flag back atop the IndyCar podium.

Hunter-Reay claimed the title by three points over Power to become the first American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 to win the IndyCar championship.

Ed Carpenter actually won the race, earning his second IZOD IndyCar Series, Dario Franchitti as the runner-up, Scott Dixon finished third, Hunter-Reay was fourth and Helio Castroneves fifth.

Geico 400, Chicagoland Speedway
Brad Keselowski seized the Chase for the Sprint Cup series lead with a late surge and a 3.1-second victory over favorite Jimmie Johnson in Sunday’s Geico 400.

Johnson, a five-time Sprint Cup champion, led most of the race but slipped behind Keselowski after a final pit stop with about 35 laps left. And Keselowski kept him from catching up and eventually lengthened the lead.

Kasey Kahne was third while Denny Hamlin, the points leader entering the race, ran out of gas in the final lap and slipped from 11th to 16th.

O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Charlotte, NC
Shawn Langdon’s first Top Fuel victory highlighted an exciting and fast-paced final day of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took top honors.

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