Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a weekly recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing, Today we cover the Indianapolis 500, the Nurburgring 24 Hours, NASCAR and DTM for the weekend of May 19-20, 2012. Please take your seats, everyone, we have a lot to cover today.
Indianapolis 500: Grab the Vegemite and crack open a Fosters, mate, because Aussie Ryan Briscoe will start the Indianapolis 500 from pole position on Sunday after qualifying in first place with a 226.484 mph speed. Can Briscoe turn pole into podium? Well, he’s powered by the best engine in Chevrolet, and is part of the dominant Team Penske. But while Briscoe has fifth, tenth and fifteenth place finishes to his name, he’s also finished worse than 23rd four different times. Pressure will come on the front row from runners-up James “The Mayor” Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The highest qualifying former winner is Helio Castroneves in sixth. The top qualifier with a Honda engine was Josef Newgarden in sixth as Chevy teams have the clear advantage, and Lotus drivers Simona De Silvestro and Jean Alesi puttered into the final two spots. Hopefully their slow pace won’t pose a hazard on the treacherous course, especially with the new DW12 chassis providing an immense draft force that will slingshot cars around the oval. Teams for Bryan Clauson, Ed Carpenter and Oriol Servia have just a few days to repair their cars after qualifying wrecks. The green flag will drop on the 96th Indianapolis 500 at 12:00pm ET this Sunday.
Nürburgring 24 Hours: Audi, not content with simply winning 9 of the last 11 runnings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, fought off fierce competition from countrymen BMW and Mercedes-Benz to capture a 1-2 finish in their hometown endurance race over the weekend. The No. 19 BMW Z4 GT3 actually took pole and led into the night, but a driveshaft failure cost it six laps and couldn’t recover. Audi took the lead but when two of their entries collided with each other, the No. 22 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 took over. A suspension failure cost Mercedes the lead, and twin Audi R8 LMS ultra cars slid into the top positions and never let go.
The private entry P 4/5 Competizione, based on the iconic Ferrari 330 P3/4 and built on a Ferrari F430 GT, took twelfth place overall to become the first hybrid to ever finish the N24, and looked awesome doing it.
The win is the first ever overall victory at the N24 for Audi, who have been racing the R8 LMS there for the past four years. “Over the last 24 hours nothing whatsoever was handed to us on a plate,” said Audi Head of Racing Commitments Dieter Gass. “Our victorious drivers and teams produced a fantastic, consistent and error free performance.” It used to be that endurance races determined which car was the best for the public customer. If that were still considered the case today, after a race of attrition, there’s little question which car would be flying off lots this morning.
NASCAR - Sprint Cup: Jimmie Johnson edged out Brad Keselowski in the annual Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte which, like the NFL All Star Game, has no bearing on the season at all, but unlike the NFL All Star Game, manages to keep things competitive by offering a $1 million prize. Are you listening, Roger Goodell?
NASCAR - Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame an early rush from Sam Hornish Jr. to pull away from the field and dominate the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 on Sunday, his third straight victory at Iowa Speedway. His Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang led 209 of 250 laps and Stenhouse Jr. increases his series lead to 28 points over Elliot Sadler.
DTM: Mercedes saw victory slip through their fingers at the Nurburgring, but not at Brands Hatch. In the third race of the DTM season, Gary Paffet won for the second time in his Mercedes-Benz AMG C-Coupe, leading from pole. The diverse podium featured Bruno Spengler of BMW M3 DTM in second and Mike Rockenfeller of Audi A5 DTM in third. DTM will resume at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on June 3.
Click here to visit our Performance section, and be sure to check back next Monday as we recap the greatest weekend in racing following the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix of Monaco and Coca-Cola 600. Which are you most looking forward to? more