|Harvick qualifies on pole for Cup race at Kansas|
|Saturday, October 05, 2013 1:07 AM|
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Harvick turned the fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway and will sit on the pole for the first time since the 2006 season.
Harvick, who is tied for fourth in points, negotiated brutal crosswinds entering Turn 3 that ruined several good qualifying runs to post a lap of 187.526 mph on Friday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second-fastest at 187.480 mph, followed by Jimmie Johnson with a lap of 187.162 mph.
Harvick was fastest in practice earlier in the day and his first pole since Sept. 17, 2006, gives him the first pit stall for Sunday’s race. That could prove especially important at a place where track position is of the utmost importance.
Points leader Matt Kenseth qualified seventh.
Bowyer finding some peace as he returns to Kansas: To some, Clint Bowyer has become a pariah. To those in Kansas, he’s still one of their own.
The native of Emporia, Kan., insists his spin at Richmond that set off a chain of events that rattled NASCAR to its core was unintentional. NASCAR failed to prove that Bowyer was attempting to manipulate the finish to get teammate Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Championship.
But the fallout from Richmond still resulted in harsh sanctions against his Michael Waltrip Racing organization that included knocking Truex out of the Chase.
In the eyes of some, the whole situation turned Bowyer from one of the most popular drivers in the series to one worthy of contempt. Not at Kansas, though, where he’s still as popular as ever.
Patrick, Stenhouse join up for country music video
NASCAR power couple Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tested out their acting chops in a country music video for Colt Ford’s new single “Drivin’ Around Song.”
In the video, Patrick and Ford are waiting for Stenhouse, playing an auto repair man, to fix their broken-down vehicle. Patrick flirts with Stenhouse and then steals a set of keys to an all-terrain vehicle parked outside, then takes Ford on a spin through Mooresville, N.C.
Patrick said she was not acting when she flirted with Stenhouse, whom she’s been dating for a while.
“When I look at him I smile,” she explained, “so that was not hard.”
Patrick is certainly accustomed to mainstream spotlight. She’s graced numerous magazine covers and been involved in countless photo shoots, not to mention prominently displayed in the sometimes racy Super Bowl commercials for her sponsor, GoDaddy.
The attention is a little more new to Stenhouse, a Sprint Cup rookie, which makes it a bit odd that he’s the one who has to deliver some lines in the video. Patrick never speaks.
“It’s cool to see it out. It was a lot of fun to do. It was a beautiful day in Mooresville that day,” Patrick said. “Those are the fun things that you get to do outside of the car. I enjoyed that, that was good fun and obviously I had a pretty hot mechanic working on the car.”
Ford, whose real name is Jason Brown, released his first album in 2008. He also co-wrote and originally recorded the song “Dirt Road Anthem” that Brantley Gilbert turned into a hit. His style’s a fusion of country and rap, and it seems to suit Patrick just fine.
“I grew up listening to rap,” she added. “I like rap, especially the kind of rap you can understand.”
79-year-old Hylton says good bye to racing
James Hylton gingerly climbed out of his No. 48 car after an ARCA test at Kansas Speedway on Friday and nobody could blame him for moving a little bit slower than his competitors.
He’s 79 years old, after all.
The oldest driver to race in each of NASCAR’s three highest divisions, Hylton was calling it a career after Friday night’s race. The Cup rookie of the year in 1966, Hylton has spent the last several years of his career racing in the ARCA series.
“I know it’s going to be very painful, especially the way this car drives. To be out there running with some of the top guys — before I’d see them disappear, now I can keep them in sight,” Hylton told The Associated Press. “It’s a tremendous feeling. To know at the end of the day it’ll all be kind of like a dream. It’ll be gone but I’m going to make the best of it.”
Hylton’s friends put together a car they believe can compete at Kansas and it even sports a gold paint scheme that honors the early years of his racing career.
“I’m retiring at the end of the day,but my heart is wanting to keep going,” he said. “But it’s a done deal. I won’t be back as a driver.”
Born on his family’s farm in Virginia in 1934, Hylton’s family had to work hard to make ends meet during the Depression. Hylton remembers toiling in the fields all day to help out.
He started driving in his father’s Ford Model T — his brother taught him how to work the pedals. And from that humble beginning, Hylton embarked on a winding career in motorsports. He served as a mechanic for Rex White and then a crew chief for Ned Jarrett in the early days of NASCAR, then got back behind the wheel and placed second in the Cup standings in 1966.
Hylton also finished second in points to Richard Petty in 1967 and ’71 and won twice in more than 600 Cup starts: at Richmond in 1970 and Talladega in 1972. In all, the good-natured Hylton racked up 140 top-five finishes and 321 top-10s in the Cup series.
“Every time I see him out there in that 48, it brings a smile to my face,” Jimmie Johnson said. “He got that number off to a good start. He’s truly passionate and loves our sport and it’s nice to see him out there one last time.”
When asked what he hoped to be doing at age 79, Johnson replied: “Breathing.”
“I admire anybody that’s out on the track,” Jeff Gordon added with a smile, “whether they’re at full speed or whatever minimal speed. I think it says a lot about someone who wants to go out there and has a passion to do that — especially now working with AARP.”
Hylton announced at Daytona in February that he would be retiring at the end of the season and NASCAR president Mike Helton joined ARCA president Ron Drager in presenting him a framed photo commemorating his six decades in racing on Friday morning.
“He’s accomplished a tremendous amount,” Drager said. “We couldn’t be prouder that he chose to finish his career with ARCA.”
Hylton is hanging up his helmet but he intends to stick around the sport. He owns his own team and wants to turn it over to a younger driver, and he has friends who own a local track in South Carolina who have promised to let him get his racing fix.
“I’m not going to retire complete to where I don’t want to try a racecar out,” Hylton added. “I’ll go down there in the middle of the week and do me some laps so I just totally don’t forget about it. As far as competition is concerned, I’m done.”
Kimmel wraps up 10th ARCA title before Kansas race
Frank Kimmel wrapped up his record 10th ARCA championship before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway simply by turning practice laps earlier in the day.
That gave Kimmel enough points to secure the points title before the season finale.
Kimmel won his first championship in 1998 and at one point won eight straight. But he hadn’t won the title since 2007 and went a couple of years without even winning a race.
Kimmel added there were times he wondered whether he would ever get to Victory Lane again but last year he bounced back to finish second to Chris Buescher in the championship. He has 79 career wins, tied with Iggy Katona for the most in ARCA, and has won twice at Kansas.
Smith wins ALMS pole at Virginia International
ALTON, Va. — Guy Smith took his first American Le Mans Series pole position of the season Friday at Virginia International Raceway.
Smith had a lap at 122.670 mph on the 3.27-mile road circuit in the No. 16 Lola-Mazda for Dyson Racing. It was the British driver’s first pole since Lime Rock Park last year and snapped a 5-race streak of ALMS poles for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and co-drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr.
Ryan Briscoe took the P2 class pole position in the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports Honda prototype with a lap of 117.961 mph and Dane Cameron topped the Prototype Challenge field at 115.577 mph in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA prototype. The GT class pole position went to Maxime Martin in the No. 55 BMW Z4 co-owned by former IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. Damien Faulkner took the GT Challenge pole for the all-Porsche class.
Ganassi signs Kanaan and switches to Chevrolet
HOUSTON — Chip Ganassi Racing added another Indianapolis 500 winner to its team Friday and dropped Honda for Chevrolet in an engine manufacturer switch that seemed to be in the works since the start of the season.
Both moves could have a ripple effect throughout the IndyCar paddock.
KV Racing must now replace reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who turned down an offer to return to the team that rescued him just before the start of the 2011 season when Kanaan didn’t have a ride. The KV extension didn’t require the Brazilian to bring any sponsorship money to the team,but Kanaan chose instead to join Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball at Ganassi, which next year will field cars for five of the last seven Indy 500 winners.
“I wanted to be in the best teams with the best guys who have been beating me forever. I thought about it every single day,” Kanaan said. “The first question that I asked Chip was, ‘What do I have to bring?’ And he said, ‘Your helmet.’ That was a big weight out of my shoulders.”
KV has its sights set on a handful of other drivers but topping the wish list is James Hinchcliffe, who is tied with Dixon with a series-best three wins this season. KV is offering the same deal to Hinchcliffe, who wouldn’t have to bring sponsorship money to a team for the first time in his career.
Hinchcliffe, in his second season at Andretti Autosport, is still waiting to see what his current team can offer. Andretti failed to come up with an offer during its exclusive negotiating period as the team waited for sponsor GoDaddy to decide if it will continue its involvement in IndyCar and GoDaddy representatives insist no decision has been made.
Now team owner Michael Andretti has to make a choice: With Ganassi’s switch to Chevrolet on Friday, his team could conceivably be third on the priority list next season behind Penske Racing and Ganassi. Andretti acknowledged he has “an interesting decision to make” regarding sticking with Chevrolet or moving to Honda.
“We are weighing both options in regard to an engine manufacturer for 2014 and working to determine what is best for the team,” he explained.
For his part, Roger Penske welcomed longtime rival Ganassi into the mix: “He will be a strong team for Chevy; tell him welcome to the club” — but immediately asked where Andretti will be in 2014.
Ganassi and Chevrolet both said the deal was put together quickly but it wasn’t much of a surprise. Ganassi runs Chevrolets in NASCAR and was very critical of Honda at the start of the season.
Houston, we have a problem: Bump slows IndyCar
HOUSTON — IndyCar’s return to Houston got off to a bumpy start Friday, literally.
A bump in the concrete in Turn 1 at Reliant Park delayed practice Friday while IndyCar officials erected a chicane of tires that drivers had to navigate their way around when they finally got on the course.
The race promoter was bringing in equipment Friday night to grind down the bump for a more permanent fix. The area typically stores the grass from the Houston Texans field between games.
Qualifying was postponed until Saturday morning for the first face of the doubleheader. IndyCar will hold qualifying for Sunday’s race that morning.
Reliant Park is hosting the Houston Grand Prix for the first time since 2007.