Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing. Today we cover the Italian Grand Prix, Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, Federated Auto Parts 500 and much more for the weekend of September 8-9, 2012. Do your best to keep your wheels on the ground.
Formula One – Italian Grand Prix: Feud? What feud? Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team are all buddy-buddy after his wire-to-wire victory at Monza, and while it’s clear that things are far from rosy, the relationship seems to be repaired for now. Hamilton creeped a little closer to points leader Fernando Alonso, who finished third on Ferrari’s home turf in a fantastic drive from tenth place. Sauber young gun Sergio Perez stormed through the field to capture a thrilling second place finish, and solidify his standing as a top candidate for Felipe Massa’s seat next season. Meanwhile, both Red Bull drivers failed to finish as both Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber suffered alternator issues that nearly destroyed their engines. Vettel and Alonso were involved in a controversial incident midway through the race while battling for position, and the stewards rules that Vettel made an illegal maneuver and sentenced him to a drive-thru penalty. Red Bull supporters are up in arms, but videos like this show that Alonso left more room for Vettel on the same turn in 2011 than Vettel did for Alonso last weekend. Rules is rules, Seb. Only three points separate Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel for second, third and fourth position in the championship standings – we can expect more awesome action when Formula One returns with the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks.
GRAND-AM – Continental Tire Sports Car Festival: Hot off the news that GRAND-AM will merge with the American Le Mans Series in 2014, the field put together a great show for the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey. The No. 90 Corvette DP car for Spirit of Daytona held off a hard charging No. 99 Corvette of GAINSCO/Bob Stallings and No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Riley-Ford to take the overall victory in the prototype class. Team Sahlen wrapped up the GT class victory in their Mazda RX-8, but a second place finish wrapped up the class championship for the Ferrari of AIM Autosport. GRAND-AM will return for the final race of the season at Lime Rock Park on September 30.
NASCAR Sprint Cup – Federated Auto Parts 500 at Richmond International Raceway: Clint Bowyer battled the track, the hungry field and a rain delay to bring his Toyota to its second win of the season in the Sprint Cup regular season finale. But the real story is the twelve-driver field that has qualified for the Chase – Jeff Gordon stormed to a second place finish to barely beat out Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, among others. Bowyer will be there, alongside heavyweights like Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The 2012 NASCAR champion will be crowned after this ten-race playoff series, beginning with the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend.
NASCAR Nationwide Series – Virginia 529 College Savings 250: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second to win the race (we don’t recognize Sprint Cup drivers like outright winner Kevin Harvick) and pull within one point of the Chevrolet of championship leader Elliot Sadler. Michael Annett had a strong showing in second (ok, fifth) with Austin Dillon right behind him to hold onto third in the standings. With eight races remaining in the season, Nationwide continues to the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend.
International GT Open: With just two events to go, the field is tightening up in this European road racing series and races 11 and 12 on the Hungaroring were no exception. The Corvette of Miguel Ramos and Raffaelle Giammaria took a close victory in the first event, while the Aston Martin Vantage of Matteo Malucelli and Alvaro Barba had an even closer victory in the second – extending their championship points lead in the process. Matching Ferraris came in second place by less than one second in each race, first by the duo of Gianmaria Bruni and Federico Leo and then the team of Juan Manuel Lopez and Andrea Montermini. The Porsche squad of Marco Holzer and Nick Tandy finished third in Race 11 and fifth in Race 12, which was enough to move them into second place overall. The exciting series heads to Monza, a race fan’s dream mix of cars and track, on September 28-30.
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