|NASCAR suspends use of aerial camera systems|
|Friday, July 19, 2013 11:44 PM|
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR suspended the use of aerial camera systems Friday, nearly two months after a Fox Sports cable snapped and injured fans and damaged some cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ten people were injured during the Coca-Cola 600 when part of the drive rope landed in the grandstand. Three people were taken to hospitals and were checked out and released soon after.
“NASCAR has decided, in collaboration with its broadcast partners, to suspend all media partner usage of aerial camera systems that hang over race tracks,” NASCAR wrote in a statement. “The safety of our competitors and our fans remains NASCAR’s No. 1 priority and until total evaluation and analysis have been completed, usage of this particular technology enhancement and any similar enhancements, has been suspended.”
Fox successfully used the CATCAM system at the Daytona 500 and the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte. ESPN.com wrote Friday that ESPN had planned to use the Batcam system next weekend for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Aug. 11 race at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
“We have an excellent working relationship with NASCAR and totally understand their position,” Rich Feinberg, ESPN’s vice president of motorsports production, told ESPN.com. “We look forward to beginning our NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule at Indianapolis and televising 17 great weeks of racing.”
Getting Dirty: Go ahead, spill the dirt.
NASCAR is set for its first dirt race in more than 40 years on Tuesday when the Truck Series hits Eldora Speedway.
The last time one of NASCAR’s top touring series competed on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970, when Richard Petty won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (called the Grand National Division at that time) race at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
There are five 8-lap qualifying events and a 15-lap last-chance race to come up with the 30 competitors (regularly 36 in the Truck Series) who will start the 150-lap race at the Tony Stewart-owned track. The race is broken into three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps.
Set the DVR so the kids can watch the next day. The green flag drops at 9:30 p.m. ET on Speed.
“I really feel like this is a way for NASCAR to get back to the roots of the sport,” analyst Kenny Wallace said. “We’ve had a lot of fans express their concerns that we’ve forgotten our roots, country music, Saturday night racing, etc. I just really look at this as a home run, no matter what.”
Iron Man: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Josh Wise missed the memo that he should be off this weekend.
With a rare break in Cup action, Wise will still line up for some serious action on Sunday in the form of a triathlon.
Wise is participating in a 70.3-mile half-Ironman that will include a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Michigan, a 56-mile bike course and a 13.1-mile run in Racine, Wis.
Wise has been training for the July 21 event in Racine for about a year. At the most intense part of his training, Wise was swimming five miles, biking 150 miles and running 20 miles per week. In these final days before the race, he will carry a lighter training schedule to allow his body to recover and be in prime condition for Sunday.
“I’ve always trained really hard to be in good shape in the race car and this just added a fun element to that for me and goals for me to set,” he said.
Wolff makes full F1 test debut at Silverstone
SILVERSTONE, England — Showing no signs of exhaustion despite completing the equivalent of almost two grand prix races, Susie Wolff had one final job in the Silverstone heat on Friday.
Fresh from her full Formula One test debut, the British driver wanted to dispel any suggestions that she hadn’t earned her position at Williams.
As a development driver, it is Wolff’s job to convince the team she can cut it on the track. And it has nothing to do with her gender.
Completing 89 laps of the British Grand Prix circuit was her first big chance to do so on the road to becoming the first female driver on the F1 grid in almost 40 years.
What Wolff won’t do is use that landmark to her advantage.
“I’ve been asked that I seem very reluctant to play the ‘female card’,” the 30-year-old Scot explained. “But ultimately a race team is only going to put the best driver they can in their race car.”
“If that has kind of more meaning because I am female, then of course I’ll use that to my advantage. But I am not going to play that card as a way of ‘Give me the right now because I am a girl’.”
No, Wolff wants to be judged on her driving ability and speed.
To make the F1 grid, she would need to gain a “super license” which was reported last year to cost 10,000 euros plus 1,000 euros for each subsequent world championship point.
“It’s so bloody expensive,” Wolff said.
Surely her husband would pay for it, inquired one journalist.
That raised the issue of Toto Wolff, the former executive director of Williams, who recently left to join rival Mercedes as motorsport director.
“I pay for my own racing stuff,” she stressed, before tackling the issue head on: “There are so many questions and people saying I’m only where I am because of him.
“Make no qualms: he supports me a lot. I’m incredibly lucky to have him as a husband because there’s not many guys who would support their wives going into Formula One … but ultimately, the team had the decision about who was driving today. He had nothing to do with that and he just wanted to come as a husband, not the position he is in.”
In front of more than 7,000 spectators, she set the ninth-fastest lap of 1 minute, 35.093 seconds. F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel set the pace, with a lap of 1:32.894.
Wolff started racing at the age of 8 after her parents bought her and her brother karts.
Her early success led her to Formula Renault, the British F3 Racing Series and then, in 2006, she joined Mercedes-Benz as one of its drivers for the German Touring Car Championship. Her high point in DTM came in 2010 when she became the first woman in 20 years to finish twice in the points before focusing on breaking into F1.
Not since Italian driver Lella Lombardi in 1976 has a woman raced in F1. Giovanna Amati was given an opportunity by the Brabham team in 1992 but squandered three chances to qualify.
Wolff will assess later in the year what her prospects are of getting a spot into the driver line-up.
Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel was the fastest on the final day of a special in-season testing session with new tires.
The 3-time defending series champion completed 78 laps in his Red Bull at Silverstone on Friday during the tire test sanctioned by the sport’s rulers to quash the threat of a revolt by teams.
Vettel topped the timesheets with a lap at 1 minute, 32. 894 seconds. Adrian Sutil set the pace in the morning but ended up second-fastest, around three-tenths of a second slower than Vettel.
In-season testing was banned in 2009 over cost concerns but these unprecedented sessions were allowed to allay safety fears after concerns about tire blowouts on the same circuit at the British Grand Prix earlier this month.
Mercedes was banned from the sessions after holding unsanctioned testing in May.
The new compound of tire tested at Silverstone will be used from the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend and for the rest of the season.
“We had three days of testing with a lot of different drivers in a lot of different cars and no failures — in conditions that were hotter than the (British) Grand Prix — so that’s good,” Vettel said. “Obviously, we were very limited on what we could do but for me there is not that much difference with the tires. It was good to get in some laps though, good to get a feeling for them.”
Sixth-fastest was Felipe Massa, who is seeking a strong second half of the season to secure his future at Ferrari.
With 10 races of the season’s 19 races still to go, the Brazilian said showing more consistency on the track could be key to landing a deal for 2014.
Massa is already 100 points behind Vettel and 66 adrift of second-place teammate Fernando Alonso.
The sight of large chunks of debris showering cars and, in one case, a huge strip of rubber flying across the track, almost led to the race being called off earlier this month and prompted concerns F1 was sacrificing safety for excitement.
The tire trouble at Silverstone was the latest controversy to hit F1’s sole tire provider, which has come under fire over fears that its products are wearing down too quickly and leading to races being decided by pit stops rather than action on the track.
Get out of the way: Helio Castroneves knew he didn’t have the car to catch Scott Dixon in Sunday’s race at Toronto. He figured his only shot was on restarts and he got two in the final 15 laps.
But IndyCar allows lapped cars to line up with the leaders on restarts before the final 10 laps of the race and dealing with that traffic cost Castroneves his chance on the second-to-last restart.
It’s a rule the 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner wants changed.
“What are you going to do, 15 laps to go? You’re not going to lap the field, you’re not going to get your lap back,” he said. “It’s very unusual for you to be very lucky, get your lap back, have a very good finish. I think we should review that kind of scenario because even if I would be in that situation, which I’ve been, it’s not fun because what are you doing there? You’re in the middle of the leaders and you can cause a big mess.
“I wasn’t happy. I wish they would change that rule.”
Race-winner Dixon thinks the rule should be applied based on the race track.
“I think it’s more track-dependent. Indy, they say 10 laps to go, people need to get out of the way. That’s a lot different to Iowa. It’s a third of the size, the 10 laps go by very quickly,” Dixon said. “I think for the drivers that are in those situations, they probably want to get out of the way. But they’re probably also fighting for somebody that’s on the same lap right around that same position.”
ARCA mark: Frank Kimmel will try and set the ARCA mark for career wins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway
Kimmel matched Iggy Katona’s record of 79 wins when he took the checkered flag June 30 at Winchester Speedway. Kimmel has won nine series championships since his 1990 debut.
“It crossed my mind but then I told myself not to think about it too early,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel’s 79 wins have come at 28 different tracks, including Chicagoland Speedway in 2003
Katona drove in the ARCA series from 1953 to 1977, winning at 40 different tracks in more than 600 career starts.