Baguette shines at Race of Champions: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Bertrand Baguette wasn’t the biggest name in the galaxy of racing stars competing at the Race of Champion but the Belgian driver showed he was deserving of being voted Belgium’s official driver.
Baguette and Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen earned the top seed in their pool with four wins in the preliminary phase –including Baguette’s win over Team Germany’s Michael Schumacher. However Baguette couldn’t repeat his success in the semifinals, losing to Schumacher as Germany won the nation’s cup.
”I had a lot of fun and for me racing against Michael Schumacher, Sébastien Loeb and Alain Prost is a dream,” said Baguette, who was eliminated by Andy Priaux in the quarterfinals after advancing from his group in the individual competition. “It went quite well but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the final. I have to say I am happy for the people who voted for me to be here as part of Team Benelux. I am really proud to be here and very happy I could be here thanks to them.”
Fisher turns wheel over to Carpenter: When the IZOD IndyCar Series raced at Kansas Speedway earlier this year, someone asked Sarah Fisher about her car.
Fisher, whose Sarah Fisher Racing team was fielding two cars for the first time, responded with a detailed report on the No. 66 car, which had been damaged in a practice crash and not her own No. 67 car.
And as the year went on, Fisher found it more and more difficult to separate her jobs as owner and driver for Sarah Fisher Racing.
So she made the decision to step out of the seat of the No. 67 Dollar General car and focus on her role as team owner. On Nov. 29, she announced her retirement and that she’d hired Ed Carpenter to drive the car for at least nine events in 2011.
“Being both an owner and a driver is both time consuming on both sides,” said Fisher, who recently turned 30. “I really want to see this team move forward and to have one driver who does all the races – ovals and road courses. It’s just very hard to do both. “
Fisher’s 25-year driving career includes 11 years as a competitor in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Walker Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Kelley Racing and Sarah Fisher Racing, which she started Sarah Fisher Racing in 2008. Fisher, who was voted the IZOD IndyCar Series’ most popular driver three times, has driven a part-time schedule the past three seasons. She had seven starts this year, increasing her career total to 74 since her debut in 1999 at Texas Motor Speedway.
A former competitor in USAC and World of Outlaws sprint cars, she won one pole, in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway, and was runner-up in the 2001 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In hiring Carpenter, she found a driver who fits the image she built her team around.
“I really like Ed,” she said. ”He’s all-American and we have the same background. We’re very much similar on all fronts, so it seemed like a natural fit to move forward with him as the driver. I think in the big picture for the team, we didn’t want to introduce a new driver with a new team right before the new car came out. It gives us a year to figure things out and when the new car comes out, we’ll be even more prepared.”
Carpenter will compete in the domestic oval events except for Milwaukee and the road/street events at St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio and Baltimore. Fisher hopes to find additional sponsorship for the car which will allow it to compete in the full season.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we nail that down,” Fisher said. “We’re not there yet. We have nine events and I think we can go after the oval championship and we need to lock down the international races. I think we’re headed in the right direction to make that happen. (Finding a sponsor to run the full season) is a huge focus for us. It’s really hard to accomplish that and drive the car. I didn’t get a lot of time to spend with our partners this year and I think that’s a lot of the reason why we are where we are.”
Carpenter, 29, was limited to part-time duty in 2010, running four races through a joint venture between Vision Racing and Panther Racing. The Indianapolis native won his first career pole in September at Kentucky Speedway, where he finished second for the second-straight season.
“It really came together quickly over the last three weeks,” Carpenter said. “I’d been working on some things with Panther and trying to carry over some of the momentum from what we did in 2010 but wasn’t sure where that was going, so I called Sarah about her plans.
“In a lot of ways, I feel like we had a deal done after that first phone call. I was blessed that I called at the right time. Working with Sarah and Andy (O’Gara) up to this point has been great. I’m excited to work with Dollar General. Seeing the work they’ve done with Sarah, I’m excited to be a part of it.”
|2||Bob Glidden *||85|
|3||Don Prudhomme *||35|
|4||Kenny Bernstein *||30|
|3||Joe Amato *||52|
|4||Kenny Bernstein *||39|
|5||Don Garlits *||35|
Drivers nominated for Auto Racing All-America team: The top six drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings and Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay are among the nominees for the 2010 Auto Racing All-America team.
Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Tony Kanaan are all nominated in the open-wheel category, while Vernay is nominated in the at-large category.
More than 250 members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters vote to determine the top two drivers from each of eight categories the will be named to the first team. They will be honored at the 41st annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 9 in Indianapolis.
The winner of the Jerry Titus Award will also be announced at the banquet. The Titus Award honors the driver earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category.
15X CHAMPION FORCE ENJOYS CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD
HOMESTEAD, FL (November 21, 2010) —- Newly crowned NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car champion John Force enjoyed two days of NASCAR racing and great hospitality from Ford Motor Company during the Ford 400 weekend in Homestead, Florida. Force spent time with NASCAR fans, talked with motorsport media members from all over North America and also was presented with one of Ford Motor Company’s highest honors.
On Saturday Force was presented with the Spirit of Ford Award by Edsel Ford II in a surprise announcement. The loquacious Force was rendered speechless and he took a few minutes to compose himself before he thanked Ford and all its engineers and motorsports representatives for the honor.
“To be presented with this honor by Edsel Ford and to see the list of previous winners; this is a tremendous honor. Ford Motor Company has been a great partner and I will cherish this award. I want to thank Ford for giving me this honor and I am not going to say much more because I am getting emotional. Thank you very much,” said an obviously overwhelmed Force.
Force had just wrapped up a media session along with fellow Ford champions from a variety of racing disciplines. He was joined on stage by X Games champion Tanner Foust; Rally champion Ken Block and drifting champion Vaughn Gitten Jr. All four drivers talked about the support of Ford Racing in their respective racing series and how being part of the Ford Racing family was a special feeling.
“When I am up here with these young guns it makes me feel pretty good. We have a lot in common and there is a lot of variety up here. You have guys racing everything from a Fiesta to a Mustang. I am proud to be associated with Ford Racing and with these other champions. That is what Ford Championship Weekend is all about. I’m going to try and get some tips from these young guys and see if I can help them too,” said Force.
Force spent time at the Ford Racing display answering questions from fans and signing autographs on Saturday and Sunday. Before Sunday’s Ford 400 Force received the loudest round of applause during the NASCAR drivers meeting. Afterwards he walked the starting grid and chatted up drivers including eventual race winner Carl Edwards and soon to be crowned five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. When he asked what he said to Johnson as the driver was strapping into his Lowe’s sponsored race car Force replied, “I just told him he has been here before. He knows the game and to just relax and go after it.”
Force was thrilled to see Carl Edwards collect the win on Sunday ending the season on a high note for Ford Racing
“At the end of the day seeing Carl dominate that race, that gets you excited to go into the off season. I won the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona and last year Mike Neff won the last race. You get that good feeling all off season. That really motivates you and I know it will motivate all of Ford Racing. We won the last two big races of the season this year one in NHRA and one in NASCAR. That is pretty good,” said Force.
FORCE ADDRESSES COIL’S DEPARTURE; FIRED UP BY GARLITS LETTER
15-Time NHRA Funny Car Champ Excited to Be at Ford 400
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Drag racing icon John Force will deal with mixed emotions this weekend when he attends the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, final event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a guest of Ford Motor Company.
Coming off a scintillating victory last week in the Auto Cub NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., that delivered his 15th Funny Car championship and his team’s 17th in the last 21 seasons, Force is having to deal with the unexpected departure of friend and crew chief Austin Coil, who submitted his resignation on Tuesday.
“There are highs and lows in life,” said the driver of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. “Winning my 15th Funny Car championship was a high and I received a letter from Austin Coil two days later that was a low in my life. It hurt me. I tried to call him, but he didn’t want to talk. I told him I would respect that. We had 26 great seasons together and that is what I will remember.”
“I also got a letter of congratulations this week from Don Garlits that I am carrying with me,” Force said. “It means a lot because it recognizes what my team, my sponsors and I accomplished this season. Life goes on. All I can do is thank Austin Coil for his contributions to JFR and get my team ready to chase another championship in 2011.”
John Force, 61, and rookie LE Tonglet, 20, the oldest and youngest world champions, respectively, in NHRA’s 59-year history, headlined the four world-championship-winning drivers crowned Monday evening during the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in West Los Angeles.
Two other NHRA Full Throttle Series world champions – Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson – also were presented checks and trophies for their achievements during the 2010 Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
Among the evening’s highlights was a very special award presentation from NHRA President Tom Compton to Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner Bruton Smith for his “extraordinary contribution and positive impact on NHRA Drag Racing.” Smith’s son Marcus accepted the award.
Those in attendance also took time to remember two very important members of the NHRA family who passed away during the year: dedicated NHRA board member Dick Wells and Jeff Byrd, a longtime friend of NHRA who was a former R.J. Reynolds executive and president of Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway for the last 14 years.
Force won a record 15th world championship in Funny Car in dramatic fashion, erasing a 38-point deficit held by Matt Hagan on the final day of the season to win the championship at his home track in Pomona. It was an emotional comeback effort for Force, who suffered near-career-ending injuries three years ago in a horrific crash at Texas Motorplex near Dallas. Force received the $500,000 champion’s check from NHRA and Full Throttle but more importantly proved to his family and friends that he still has the championship swagger.
Louisiana native Tonglet mounted a surge in the playoffs that resulted in his first Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship, worth $75,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle. Tonglet became the third rookie driver to win a championship in NHRA history, joining Frank Hawley (Funny Car, 1982) and Gary Scelzi (Top Fuel, 1997). Tonglet rode his Nitro Fish Suzuki to four wins in five finals during the six-race Countdown playoffs to hold off three-time world champ Andrew Hines for the crown.
Dixon, who also won Top Fuel titles in 2002 and 2003, drove his Jason McCulloch-tuned Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a record 12 victories in 12 final rounds and ended Tony Schumacher’s streak of six straight world championships dating back to the 2004 season. The Indianapolis driver received a check for $500,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle.
Anderson claimed an emotional Pro Stock title after enduring a season in which he lost his North Carolina home to fire and nearly lost his Las Vegas-based team owner Ken Black to a stroke. Anderson overcame the setbacks and gained confidence after winning his home race in Charlotte during the playoffs. He added playoff wins in Dallas and Las Vegas to hold off defending world champ and season-long leader Mike Edwards and eventual second-place finisher Greg Stanfield for the title. Anderson was presented a check for $250,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for his fourth world-championship trophy.
Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Tonglet also was named the winner of the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year. Many of the nation’s most prominent motorsports journalists selected Tonglet, who was nearly flawless during the Countdown playoffs. Each of the nominees for the prestigious award received multiple votes this year. The other candidates in the all-star rookie class were Auto Club NHRA Finals Pro Stock winner and fourth-place points finisher Shane Gray and Funny Car showman Jeff Diehl.
Winners of the Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award, which recognizes the hardest-working crews in each of the four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series categories, were Dominick Lagana’s Big O Tires dragster crew in Top Fuel ($25,000) for advancing to the final round at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals; Ashley Force Hood’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang crew in Funny Car ($25,000) for winning the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals for a second consecutive year; the entire Summit Racing crew in Pro Stock ($15,000) for putting both cars in the final at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals; and rookie Tonglet’s Nitro Fish Suzuki crew in Pro Stock Motorcycle ($5,000) for racing to victory at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Drivers in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also were recognized as 2010 world champions: Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster), Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Al Ackerman (Comp), Ryan McClanahan (Super Stock), Brad Burton (Stock), Gary Stinnett (Super Comp), and David Tatum III (Super Gas).
The 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony will be available in its entirety to fans worldwide on the Internet on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 3 p.m. ET on NHRA.com and the NHRA channel on YouTube.