Hooniverse Motorsport News For February 29th, 2016

26-28 February 2016, Hampton, Georgia USA Kurt Busch ©2016, Russell LaBounty LAT Photo USA
There was a bit of racing this week, but a lot more testing in preparation for what is going to be a mega 2016 season. We’ve got IMSA, F1, IndyCar, and NASCAR news, as well as some stuff about upcoming races and some new contracts/contract extensions. You know, the exciting stuff… There’s a good mix of stuff in this week’s post, so go check it out. There’s some vintage stuff, some in-depth investigation stuff, and some weekly press-release stuff. Just for funsies. Enjoy your extra February today, real life is for March!
Leap Day Special!
NASCAR Heads To Warm-Lanta
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3 – Indycar, IMSA, and Formula 1 Testing Reports
Rossi Official at Andretti/BHA
Formula E Makes Moves On Marrakech?
Stewart-Haas Racing Moving To Ford Power In 2017
WRT Audi Launches HUGE Program For Blancpain
Kremer Racing Launches New Aerokit For VLN GT3 Cup Cars
SVG And McLaren, Sitting In A Tree
Mardenborough Figures Out Where He Stands With Nissan
100+ Car Entry List For Pirelli World Challenge At COTA
Factory Backed Ginetta Entered For 15-Year-Old Parker Chase

NASCAR Race In Atlanta Sees Johnson Stick It In For The Win, Overtaking Earnhardt’s Victory Record

On Sunday, the roundy-rounders at NASCAR sent their best and worst to do battle on the oval in the sweltering 65 degree early spring heat of “Hotlanta”.
Kyle Busch outqualified Kurt by 13 thousandths of a second, but a tech infraction on Kyle’s car sent him to the back and promoted Kurt to the point.
The final restart sent the race into overtime (no surprise there), and Jimmie Johnson’s crew had worked some pit-stop magic to have him at the sharp end of the field going to that final green flag. Johnson got a great restart and pulled ahead of Kevin Harvick who was on the high side, and brought Kyle Busch with him in the tow. Coming around the back stretch, a wreck ensued (also no surprise) involving Aric Almirola (pictured below), Landon Cassill, David Ragan, and Ryan Blaney. Johnson maintained his lead through the finish, and took his 76th all time victory, tying Dale Earnhardt on the all-time win list. Interestingly, it was Dale Jr. who followed him to the checkers, taking second place.

NASCAR CrashF1 Testing

In a Formula 1 pre-season test at Barcelona last week, Ferrari’s Vettel took the quickest time of the test on Pirelli’s new Ultra Soft compound, putting in a time 3 tenths clear of anyone else. That said, Nico Hulkenberg was the driver he was 3 tenths clear of, and Hulk was using a harder compound ‘Super Soft’ set of tires (That’s his secret, Cap!). Mercedes seemed to be down the time sheets, but looking at the data, it would seem they were running race simulations, and not aiming for fastest laps. Hamilton put in an astonishing 992 miles of testing, and Nico Rosberg did 960 miles. In total, the Mercedes team completed almost 700 more miles of testing than any other team. Ferrari was fastest, yes, but will that mean anything come race time?

Haryanto Spins Multiple Times In Testing

Haryanto, who replaced Alex Rossi within the Manor team saw a lot of trouble with multiple spins in each of the three days of testing. The team say this wasn’t a surprise, as the driver is just ‘trying to find the limits of the car’, but Haryanto could only manage a time that was more than 5 seconds off of the lead, and even more than 2 seconds slower than his teammate, Pascal Wehrlein. Good Luck Rio! You’re gonna need it.

IMSA Testing

2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sebring Testing
Olivier Pla, apparently relieved temporarily of his Ford GT driving duties, was able to test for the Michael Shank Honda LMP2 at Sebring last week, and good thing, because he set the fastest time of the session in preparation for the 12 hour race coming up on March 19th.
Dirk Werner took the fastest time of the test on Friday for Team RLL BMW’s M6 in the GTLM class, Alessandro Balzan also found his pace on Friday and set the GTD field fastest time with his Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. In GTD, all 17 participating cars ran better times than the year-old GTD track record set by Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Viper GT3-R.

IndyCar Testing

Penske-Chevrolet still looks like the combination to have if you want to excel in IndyCar this year. Well, maybe. Castroneves set the top times for the test, but Will Power suffered an engine failure. An IndyCar engine failure is pretty rare, and surprising, especially when Power had only gone 16 laps of Phoenix when the engine bit the dust. Castroneves’ time unofficially broke the Phoenix track record, though, so there is that.
Helio’s car was the only Chevy in the top 6, however, with Andretti HPD filling out the rest of the top 3 times. Could make for a good season with lots of dicing.

Rossi Ready For IndyCar Debut, Excited By Ovals

Andretti-Herta officially signed Rossi to their joint-run fourth car this week. Alex did not drive in the IndyCar Phoenix test, but he did attend, and his excitement for the coming season was apparent. Honestly, in his shoes, I’d rather have the Andretti-Herta seat near the front of the grid in IndyCar over the back-of-the-pack Manor F1 seat ‘taken’ from him by Haryanto and all of the money in Malaysia.

Morocco Wants Formula E, But Does Formula E Want Morocco?

Stephane Roux, Organizer of Marrakech WTCC race, to Motorsport.com –
“We are discussing with Formula E. The series’ organisers are interested in a venue like Marrakech. An African place, the only continent where the series is not established yet, which really appeals to them.
The constructors are for it, too, because the Moroccan automotive market is growing fast – it is among the few markets in the world with a double-digit yearly growth, after India and China. Hosting Formula E would make a lot of sense for Morocco. Marrakech will host the COP22 in November, which is a big deal here.
Moreover, His Majesty Mohammed VI is very devoted to clean, new technologies, with many large-scale plans for the country, including the photovoltaic infrastructures in Ouarzazate, which are among the largest in the world.”

SHR Shocks The World With Ford Switch In 2017

Stewart-Haas Raccing announced a move from Chevy to Roush-Yates Ford power in 2017, which was a ‘shock’ to the whole world. Well, the whole world except anyone who understands how money works…
Ford is really aiming their sights at motorsport this year and next, so hiring one of the better teams on the NASCAR grid to run your engines is pretty much a no brainer. Besides, that team is known for making headlines, so all the better. You can’t have a Le Mans car effort if you don’t have other high-level motorsport teams to back it up. Or, you can’t at least if you’re Ford.
Here’s the next question… Does Ford want to put Danica or Tony Stewart in a Ford GT? Talk about headlines!

WRT Readying Nine-Car Assault On Blancpain Endurance And Sprint Series

Nine Cars across two series for 14 drivers. Wow. That sounds like a huge program! Oh, and another car will be run for the 24 Hours of Spa.

Blancpain Sprint Cup –

1. Laurens Vanthoor & Frédéric Vervisch
2. Michael Meadows & Stuart Leonard
3. Sérgio Jimenez & Rodrigo Baptista
4. Dries Vanthoor & Robin Frijns
5. Enzo Ide & Christopher Mies

Blancpain Endurance Cup –

6. Laurens Vanthoor, Dries Vanthoor, and Frédéric Vervisch
7. Michael Meadows, Stuart Leonard, and Robin Frijns
8. Rodrigo Baptista, Sérgio Jimenez, and Filipe Albuquerque
9. Adrien de Leener, Peter Kox, and Pierre Kaffer

24 Hours of Spa Only –

10. René Rast, Nico Müller, and Laurens Vanthoor

Kremer Racing Launches New Aerokit For VLN GT3 Cup Cars

Okay, if you don’t think this is awesome, then get the heck out of here! Kremer has taken a brand new 991 GT3 Cup car and fitted it with an aerokit making it look similar to their 1979 Porsche 935 Kremer K3. Talk about the ultimate throwback!
And if that wasn’t awesome enough, here’s a pic of it testing in the snow, because who cares about physics?

SVG and McLaren Have Renewed Their Partnership For The 2016 Season

Not really news, I suppose. Shane Van Gisbergen was given another year extension on his contract with McLaren. After the showing that he made at the 12 hours of Bathurst earlier this year, that should come as no surprise.
The only surprise, I suppose, is that SVG didn’t get snapped up by a manufacturer with more money. Like Ford’s GT program, perhaps… A Kiwi at Le Mans in a Ford GT, now that would be something!

Nissan’s Star Driver, Jann Mardenborough, Shuffled To A Mixed Bag Of F3 & Super GT

With the death of the LMP1 program, NISMO has a bunch of excellent drivers floating around without much of a place to go. Jann Mardenborough is one of Nissan’s highest profile graduates of the GT Academy, so they certainly couldn’t just shove him off or end his contract. So they’re sending him to the relative obscurity of Japanese racing.
Prior to the LMP1 announcement, Mardenborough was running F3 pretty much full time in Europe. Mardenborough will team with another Nissan ace, Katsumasa Chiyo, in All-Japan F3 series with B-Max Racing. He will also run a second program in Super GT with the NDDP Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in GT300 class teaming with Kazuki Hoshino.

Ginetta Putting Their Eggs In 15-Year-Old’s Basket In PWC

Parker Chase will make his debut this weekend at COTA in the Ginetta G55 GT4 racing in the Pirelli World Challenge “GTS” Class.

Adolpho Rossi, Ginetta USA President –
“We have worked hard to prepare the G55 for competition in the Pirelli World Challenge and we are pleased to join the program for 2016. At the crisp age of only 15, we were excited yet admittedly a bit apprehensive about placing our program in the hands of such a young driver.”
Mike Simpson, Ginetta Factory Driver –
“It’s great for Ginetta to be able to expand the brand even further into the USA. We have worked closely with Adolpho for a number of years, and this progression represents another positive step. We believe the G55 is a perfect fit for the Pirelli World Challenge, and in the hands of young Parker, it’s bound to be competitive. His lap times were competitive with mine – and I helped develop the car!”

COTA PWC Entry List Features Over 100 Cars, Because EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS!

I mean, that’s all you really need to know. The story is completely wrapped up in the headline. That’s it. Nothing more to see here. Move along.

A Closer Look At Early Moveable Aero With A Porsche 908LH

I wrote this late last year for FLATSIXES.com, but it’s worth checking out if you are a motorsport nerd like I am (which you likely are if you’ve read this far…).

Jason Plato Bombs A mini Around GoodWood At The Revival Last Year, Video Is Awesome


Weekly Press Releases

Valvoline™ Announces 2016 Sponsorship Alignment with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Paul Menard
They want you to watch this video because reasons.
BF Goodrich Ambassador Andrew Comrie-Picard will be racing the Alcan Winter Rally (An 11 Day Journey!) this week, and we have an opportunity to interview him post-race.
What do you want to know? Do you have any questions for Andrew and what it takes to run a grueling event like this one? Seriously, anything. I need interview questions…
ACP is actually writing a blog about the event on FourWheeler.com, so go check that out, too!

In other news, Combos are still the official ‘Cheese Filled Snack of NASCAR’.

[Photos Sourced From Racer.com, TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, and Motorsport.com]

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  1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    Well the world is better place now that NASCAR has Combos as a sponsor. Now if you will excuse me there is a bag of cheesy pretzels in my future.
    But I am not influenced by NASCAR!

    1. Bradley Brownell Avatar
      Bradley Brownell

      The combos bit at the end is probably my new “In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead”. I’m going to add it at the bottom of each of these posts from now on, just because.
      It’s the most absurd thing I could think of when it comes to sponsorship or title ownership.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        I usually keep a box of cheese crackers in my desk in case I end up working through lunch.

      2. ninjacoco Avatar

        Why wouldn’t you fill snacks with cheese? Do you hate love? Happiness? America?!

        1. Bradley Brownell Avatar
          Bradley Brownell

          I understand the Cheese-filled snacks thing, I just don’t understand the “OFFICIAL CHEESE FILLED SNACK OF NASCAR” thing.
          I prefer my cheese filled snacks to be unofficial, thank you…

          1. ninjacoco Avatar

            Queso: An Official Cheese Filling Of My Belly.

          2. Wayne Moyer Avatar
            Wayne Moyer

            Let me help that out a bit. When I was at the Pocono race in 2008 there was something a bit odd that caught my attention.
            The trash cans were covered in Sprint logos. Yes they trash cans were sponsored. This should help you understand why Combos are the official cracker of NASCAR.
            Now if you will excuse me, i have to go fill my car up with Sunoco fuel. The official fuel of NASCAR.

          3. Vairship Avatar

            I always found the Chase for the Cup to be pretty cheesy. Maybe that’s the connection?

  2. Tomsk Avatar

    That 991/935 kit is DaBomb.com. Here’s hoping it inspires the creation of more Group 5 influenced modern cars.

  3. ninjacoco Avatar

    The video I just watched because reasons reminds me how much I need to wrap the Porschelump in purple sparklevinyl (but really, I have no idea what I’m doing and they make it look too easy).

  4. mve Avatar

    The Indycar race at Phoenix is going to be epic. Sub-20 second laps!

    1. The Rusty Hub Avatar
      The Rusty Hub

      Between that and the race at Road America where they’re going to be well north of 200 mph in a couple places, there’s a lot to be excited about for IndyCar this year.
      And there’s some kind of big deal in May or something.

      1. mve Avatar

        Yes, Elkhart Lake is going to be a race to remember. I would love to be there in person.

  5. engineerd Avatar

    I still find it ever so ironic that NASCAR, the most American of auto racing series, has a Holden Commodore in it.

    1. Bradley Brownell Avatar
      Bradley Brownell

      No it doesn’t. It has a tube frame with some spec sheet metal over the top and some stickers that look like they might be a Holden Commodore.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      Clearly it’s a Holden Menaro, dude!