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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

October 06, 2008

Bob Sr.'s Weekend Racing Highlights

Editor's Note: Bob Sr. is my dad. He has been racing cars for almost 50 years. If he's not racing on the weekend you'll find him watching auto racing on TV. Every Monday he'll post an update with highlights and the inside scoop on the previous weekend’s big races.

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The American LeMans Series (LeMans Prototypes and GT Racecars)
Road Atlanta, The Petit LeMans

Picture_38The next to last race of this professional series at Road Atlanta, Georgia saw favorite Allen McNish crash his Audi LMP1 on the warm-up lap! He is the winner of 8 straight races in the series and his chances looked hopeless. He apologized profusely to his crew and swore if they could fix it he'd drive it like never before. In this 1000 mile race he shares the car with Renaldo Capello and Emanule Pirro. Under these circumstances he took on the lion’s share of driving.

Starting 2 laps down he needed precise pit stop strategy. It took most of 10 hours to get back into contention, but that he did making a brilliant out-braking maneuver minutes from the finish.

Picture_39 This race was really one between the two manufacturers, Audi and Peugeot. This was the Peugeot Team's first venture into the series and they have already shown great promise. In the previous LeMans 24 hour race in France this past Spring they set the fastest time.

Peugeot's Minassian took the pole this weekend. Sarazin and ex-Formula One driver Christian Klien were his co-drivers. The Peugeot had more power and was able to reach higher straight-away speeds, but after 10 hours McNish was somehow able to not only catch but pass Klien! This was truly a heroic drive for McNish.

I thought Minassian was the faster Peugeot driver and should have been left in the car to fight McNish, especially given that Klien had never driven the car or the track before this weekend. In the pitch dark the attrition was heavy and closing speeds of the faster cars led to some spectacular crashes. At the post-race interview the diminutive Scotsman said "I'm really proud of this one…" It was one for the books.

Emanuele Pirro, McNish' co-driver said "Allen would not have been happy with a normal win, he had to make it extraordinary".

Scott Sharp put a damper on the Acura Teams chances by crashing early in the race during the first driver stint.

Coming in 3rd just 7.5 seconds behind was the other Team Audi R10 of Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner.

In a separate class (LMP2) the Penske Porsche team of Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves won while always maintaining a top five or six car position overall. The GM Corvette Team in GT1 class won again to cinch their class championship with Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows again the class of the GT1 field.

Jaime Melo and Mika Salo won the GT2 class in their Ferrari 430GT having won both the Petit LeMans and the 24 Hour Endurance LeMans classic.

The next American LeMans Series race is set for Oct. 18th at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. This four hour race going from daylight to darkness should be exciting once again.

NASCAR
Picture_41 Tony Stewart wins at Talladega
for the first time ever and it was his first win this year in a race where "The Big Ones" took most of the Chase drivers out.

Talladega noted for big multi-car crashes did not disappoint. Traveling 3 and 4 abreast, nose to tail lap after lap at 200 mph …shit happens. Fans love it though. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt. Just a lot of hurt feelings and empty wallets. The finish was in doubt for a bit as Regan Smith passed Tony going under the out-of-bounds yellow line right at the finish. Initially Smith and his crew celebrated, but track officials ruled Stewart the winner.

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