Monday Finish Line - August 29, 2011: F1 SPA - FORMULA D LAS VEGAS - INDYCAR SONOMA
by: URC Staff
8/29/2011
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Formula One
Shell Belgian Grand Prix, August 26-28
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium

Red Bull Racing was back in fighting form after Formula One's three-week summer break, scoring a one-two Sunday in the Belgian Grand Prix with reigning champion and current driver points leader Sebastian Vettel picking up his seventh win of the year and teammate Mark Webber finishing in second by 3.7 seconds, himself earning a seventh podium for 2011. McLaren driver and 2009 World Champion Jenson Button came home in third, starting the race in 13th (after a miscommunication during qualifying) and making up several positions in the closing stages of the GP with a torrid pace.

Round 12 of 19 was set on the iconic 20-turn, 4.3-mile Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the rolling countryside of the Forest of Arden, one of F1's original four courses. The track boasts the fastest turns and longest lap in the series - with a single Drag Reduction System (DRS) actuation zone for this race, in the long straight up into Turns 7, 8 and 9, into the so-called "Les Combes" - and Sunday 44 laps were on tap for racers and fans.

A day earlier Vettel secured his ninth pole position of the season. He sat next to 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren and ahead of Webber and Ferrari's Felipe Massa in row 2. Mercedes GP hot shoe Nico Rosberg was fifth fastest and started alongside the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, who was in the highest starting position of his F1 career.

Bruno Senna also qualified better than he ever had previously, seventh, and in his Lotus Renault debut, too; he was one half of row 4, the other driver Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari. The final two spots of the top 10 on the grid went to Sauber's Sergio Perez, a rookie with the highest starting position of his F1 life, and Lotus Renault's Vitaly Petrov.

All 10 lead cars on the grid began on the softer Pirelli option tire for the dry conditions, and when the lights went out signaling the start of the race the order was Vettel, Rosberg and Massa into Turn 1. As cars streamed up the hill to Les Combes, Rosberg was able to make a move on Vettel and take point; behind, Hamitlon had passed Massa for third place, while Alonso had worked up to fifth.

Getting off on the bad foot, Webber appeared to bog the start and wound up early on in eighth. After his great starting position, Alguersuari was taken out of the race by a broken suspension after contact with Senna, for which the famous racing nephew was slapped with a drive-through penalty.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher - who was observing the 20th anniversary of his F1 debut at Spa - began the race in last place after a wheel came off in the first qualifier. By Lap 2, though, he had already made up 10 positions, sitting 14th.

With the DRS zone open, Alonso made a pass stick on Hamilton for fourth place, and a lap later Vettel was able to do the same to recapture first from Rosberg. On Lap 4 Alonso leapfrogged Massa, with Hamilton getting through as well before the door closed.

Curiously, the Red Bulls were some of the first cars to pit, Webber coming in for the harder prime rubber on Lap 4 and Vettel sticking with softs on his Lap 6 service. After the leaders finally finished cycling through around Lap 12, Vettel was out front by over six seconds, chased by Alonso, Rosberg and Webber.

The fever pitch broke on Lap 13 when Hamilton and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi went side by side into Les Combes and their cars touched, sending Hamilton off course and into the barriers. The Safety Car was deployed to remove the wreckage, but Hamilton seemed to emerge none the worse for the wear.

As the Safety Car was pacing the field, several racers ducked into pit lane, including Vettel. The race restarted on Lap 16 and Alonso jumped out to the early lead, trailed by the reigning champ and then Webber. Vettel was clocking better laps than Alonso, who had chosen not to pit for tires during the Safety Car, and on Lap 18 the young German got by the two-time champion from Spain - at Les Combes - for the lead.

On Lap 22, Button began a heroic charge through the field, at first pushing aside the elder statesman Schumacher for P7. He then charged past Force India's Adrian Sutil for sixth a lap later and got around Massa in the chicane (Turns 19 and 20) for fifth on Lap 25. On Lap 26, Rosberg in fourth went down.

Vettel was slowly edging away from the pack when another pit window opened. After everyone took on new stickiness, Vettel maintained point while Webber out-drag raced Alonso for P2 in the DRS zone on Lap 37. Button had his sights on clawing out as many spots as he could, and with two orbits to go he got by Alonso's Ferrari at Les Combes for third, but that's as high as he would go.

On the same lap Schumacher got by his teammate Rosberg for fifth place. In the race's last gasp of heroics, Massa made the pass on Petrov on the final lap to seal eighth place. Finally, Williams' Pastor Maldonado finished tenth, earning the first point of his young Formula 1 career.

In the drivers' championship, Vettel looks increasingly untouchable with 259 points, ahead of Webber on 167, Alonso on 157, Button on 149 and Hamilton on 146. Massa remains sixth with 74, but Schumacher's fifth hoists him clear of the ninth-place scrap with 42 points to Rosberg's 56. In the constructors', Red Bull had a very profitable day, garnering 43 points to bring their leading score to 426 ahead of McLaren on 295 and Ferrari on 231.

F1 returns to action in two weeks time for the Santander Italian Grand Prix, September 9-11 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza (MFL photography provided by Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Force India, Lotus Renault GP and Williams F1 teams).

Shell Belgium Grand Prix
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 44 1:26:44.893 1 25
2 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 44 +3.7 secs 3 18
3 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 44 +9.6 secs 13 15
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 44 +13.0 secs 8 12
5 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 44 +47.4 secs 24 10
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 44 +48.6 secs 5 8
7 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 44 +59.7 secs 15 6
8 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 44 +66.0 secs 4 4
9 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 44 +71.9 secs 10 2
10 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 44 +77.6 secs 21 1
11 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 44 +83.9 secs 17
12 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 44 +91.9 secs 12
13 9 Bruno Senna Renault 44 +92.9 secs 7
14 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 43 +1 Lap 18
15 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 43 +1 Lap 16
16 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 43 +1 Lap 14
17 25 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 43 +1 Lap 20
18 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 43 +1 Lap 19
19 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 43 +1 Lap 22
Ret 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 27 Rear axle 9
Ret 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 13 Mechanical 23
Ret 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 12 Accident 2
Ret 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 6 Accident damage 11
Ret 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 0 Accident damage 6

www.formula1.com

Formula DRIFT
Round 6: After Dark, August 26-27
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada

2005 Formula DRIFT champion Rhys Millen in the Red Bull Hankook Tire Hyundai Genesis Coupe found himself atop the Las Vegas Motor Speedway podium Saturday night - his first win in some three years - after eliminating a tough Darren McNamara and the Falken Tire Saturn Sky in the finale, ending one of the most plot twist-filled events in recent series history. Matt Powers came to Round 6 looking to redeem his lackluster midseason performances and landed third place in the Need for Speed Nitto Nissan S14, taking down on-fire rookie (and current leading Rookie of the Year candidate) and fellow V8 runner Odi Bakchis in his Bakchis Motorsports Forged Racing Nissan 240SX.

With just the final at Irwindale remaining on the 2011 calendar, Dai Yoshihara in the Discount Tire Falken 240SX - who led in points entering Vegas and fell in the Top 16 after a One More Time (OMT) against Toshiki Yoshioka and the Retaks Racing Cooper Tire 240 LS - retains the standings lead, now at 470, with just five other competitors mathematically eligible to usurp the top spot.

FD veteran Millen was thrilled with the victory, his first in the Korean-bred coupe, saying afterward, "This is kind of a milestone for us. This was the first venue that we debuted the Hyundai Genesis and we failed to qualify. Now two years later we are standing on top of the podium and it feels fantastic!"

Millen's trip to the Final began against original series nemesis and twice series champ Sam Hubinette in the SHR Dodge Challenger, both drivers this summer taking time away from FD to pursue other motorsports (Millen rallycross and Hubinette off-road racing). Their match went to OMT before Millen advanced to face, and beat, Pat Mordaunt in the PM Racing Nu Movementz Nissan 350Z in the round of 16. After getting past Mike Essa's GSR Autosport Nitto BMW Z4 in Great 8, Millen had to stop the seemingly unstoppable Bakchis to stamp his ticket to the money round.

D-Mac's bracket progressed through Kyle Pollard's Driftspeed DOC Race Nissan Silvia K's in their opener to square off with reigning title holder Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and the Monster Energy Falken Ford Racing Mustang in Top 16. After trailering JR, McNamara then had to deal with a strong Ryan Tuerck in the Gardella Racing Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro, a new platform that just seems to get better with each round; the titans battled for two OMT before the Irishman was awarded the win. In the close semifinal, it was ultimately Powers' error that gave McNamara entry into the closer.

D-Mac - now at third with 435.5 - scored biggest points haul among the six still in the hunt by the numbers; chasing Yoshihara are Pawlak (451.25), McNamara, Forsberg (429), Powers (418.5), and Tuerck (370), with 112 points available at the House of Drift final. Gittin, Jr.'s early Vegas exit unfortunately makes it mathematically impossible for him to repeat as champ.

In what was possibly the biggest story to emerge immediately ahead of the event, Justin Pawlak lost the services of his Falken Ford Racing Mustang in Thursday practice after an engine failure, jeopardizing his bid for the 2011 championship. Team Falken effectively removed Tyler McQuarrie from the Falken 350Z and gave the car to Pawlak for the remainder of the event, offering McQuarrie the right hand-drive Falken Silvia formerly piloted by Calvin Wan and James Deane. Last year's Vegas winner did not get past the first round, though, losing to the Team RS-R Scion Racing Hankook tC of Ken Gushi; sitting sixth in points before Round 6, McQuarrie's own 2011 title hopes came to an end with the outcome.

After Dark also witnessed some incredibly spectacular wrecks, none seemingly harder than Kyle Mohan's unchecked slide into the second rear clipping point wall in the Nexen Tire MazdaTrix Mazda RX-8 against Essa. Though he originally seemed to emerge from the high-speed collision unharmed, he was later transported to a local hospital for observation; he has since been released after checking out OK.

It all comes down to the final event of the season. The Formula DRIFT Championship continues for Round 7: Title Fight at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on October 7-8. Tickets are currently on-sale online and are expected to sell out quickly. For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com

Formula Drift 2011 Round 6: After Dark
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV

www.formulad.com

IZOD IndyCar Series
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, August 28
Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California

Will Power was throwing up fingers again, but this time in victory on Sunday when he became the first two-time winner in seven years of the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the 2.303-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway road course. He pulled away early, didn't have any issues on pit lane, withstood the lone restart challenge and went on to win by more than three seconds over Helio Castroneves. Ryan Briscoe rounded out the podium for a Team Penske sweep.

Power trailed IndyCar Series championship front-runner Dario Franchitti by 47 points entering Sonoma. He moves on to the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Sept. 4 considerably closer.

With the bonus points for the pole start and leading the most laps (71 of 75), Power pulled to 26 points of Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished fourth.

"It was just a perfect race," said Power, who earned his series-leading fifth victory of the season. "This one is pretty important. I have been unbelievably motivated after a few bad races this season. I knew that Verizon Team Penske was better than this as a team and we came here with a good set-up, finished strong and we are on the right track now."

Briscoe tied his season high in third place. The last Penske Racing sweep was in 1994 at Nazareth (Paul Tracy, Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi). The last team to finish 1-2-3 was then-Andretti Green Racing in 2005 at St. Petersburg.

Scott Dixon, who's third in the standings, finished fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.

Up next is the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, September 4 on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland (MFL photography by Shawn Gritzmacher/Chris Jones/LAT Photo/IndyCar Series Media).

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA

No C/E/T Start Laps Total Time Led Status Points
1 Will Power
Team Penske
12 D/H/F 1 75 01:47:29.7619 71 Running 53
2 Helio Castroneves
Team Penske
3 D/H/F 2 75 01:47:33.0039 0 Running 40
3 Ryan Briscoe
Team Penske
6 D/H/F 3 75 01:47:36.2113 4 Running 35
4 Dario Franchitti
Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 D/H/F 4 75 01:47:37.4159 0 Running 32
5 Scott Dixon
Target Chip Ganassi Racing
9 D/H/F 5 75 01:47:44.2374 0 Running 30
6 Sebastien Bourdais
Dale Coyne Racing
19 D/H/F 8 75 01:47:46.8876 0 Running 28
7 James Hinchcliffe
Newman/Haas Racing
06 D/H/F 6 75 01:47:47.0332 0 Running 26
8 Graham Rahal
Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing
38 D/H/F 13 75 01:47:47.5519 0 Running 24
9 E.J. Viso
KV Racing Technology-Lotus
59 D/H/F 9 75 01:47:51.3895 0 Running 22
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay
Andretti Autosport
28 D/H/F 19 75 01:47:51.9350 0 Running 20
11 Oriol Servia
Newman/Haas Racing
2 D/H/F 18 75 01:47:52.7131 0 Running 19
12 Martin Plowman
AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports
17 D/H/F 15 75 01:47:54.0221 0 Running 18
13 Ana Beatriz
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 D/H/F 10 75 01:47:59.4826 0 Running 17
14 Sebastian Saavedra
Conquest Racing
34 D/H/F 23 75 01:48:10.8765 0 Running 16
15 Simon Pagenaud
HVM Racing
78 D/H/F 22 75 01:48:11.5145 0 Running 15
16 Mike Conway
Andretti Autosport
27 D/H/F 7 75 01:48:44.0531 0 Running 14
17 Giorgio Pantano
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
22 D/H/F 11 75 01:48:44.0541 0 Running 13
18 Takuma Sato
KV Racing Technology-Lotus
5 D/H/F 16 74 01:47:44.6351 0 Running 12
19 James Jakes
Dale Coyne Racing
18 D/H/F 17 74 01:47:45.5584 0 Running 12
20 Alex Tagliani
Sam Schmidt Motorsports
77 D/H/F 12 74 01:47:49.6846 0 Running 12
21 Danica Patrick
Andretti Autosport
7 D/H/F 25 74 01:47:50.4687 0 Running 12
22 Vitor Meira
A.J. Foyt Enterprises
14 D/H/F 28 74 01:47:54.6484 0 Running 12
23 JR Hildebrand
Panther Racing
4 D/H/F 20 74 01:47:59.1708 0 Running 12
24 Marco Andretti
Andretti Autosport
26 D/H/F 14 74 01:48:00.5408 0 Running 12
25 Ed Carpenter
Sarah Fisher Racing
67 D/H/F 27 74 01:48:04.7109 0 Running 10
26 Charlie Kimball
Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing
83 D/H/F 26 66 01:48:00.8480 0 Running 10
27 Ho-Pin Tung
Dragon Racing
88 D/H/F 24 63 01:29:21.8260 0 Contact 10
28 Tony Kanaan
KV Racing Technology-Lotus
82 D/H/F 21 38 00:59:16.1178 0 Mechanical 10

www.indycar.com

Coming up:

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series
Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, August 31-September 5
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
www.nhra.com

FIA GT1 World Championship
Round 8: Ordos, September 2-4
Ordos International Circuit, Inner Mongolia, China
www.gt1world.com

IZOD IndyCar Series
Baltimore Grand Prix, September 4
Streets of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
www.indycar.com

Xtreme Drift Circuit Championship
Round 7: Quebec, September 4-5   
Autodrome Saint-Eustache, Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada
www.xtremedriftcircuit.com

World Rally Championship
Rally Australia, September 8-11
Coffs Harbour, Australia
www.wrc.com

American Drag Racing League
ADRL Dragstock VIII, September 9-10
Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, NC
www.adrl.us

Formula One
Santander Italian Grand Prix, September 9-11
Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy
www.formula1.com

AUTOBACS Super GT 2011 Series
Fuji GT 250, September 10-11
Fuji Speedway, Oyama, Japan
supergt.net/en 

American Le Mans Series
ModSpace ALMS Monterey presented by Patron, September 15-17
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA
www.americanlemans.com

GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
Emco Gears Classic, September 16-17
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, OH
www.grand-am.com

GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Emco Gears Classic, September 16-17
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, OH
www.grand-am.com

Global Time Attack
Round 3: Autobahn, September 17-18
Autobahn Country Club, Joliet, IL
www.globaltimeattack.com

Formula Drift
Round 7: Title Fight, October 7-8
Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Irwindale, CA
www.formulad.com

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