Lewis Hamilton announced a split from his performance coach Angela Cullen with both posting on their social media channels
Angela has been by Lewis side for much of his time at Mercedes.
The 48 year old has become a familiar face to millions of fans. Angelas role was as much personal assistant and personal trainer, the two clearly became close friends
“For the last seven years, Angela Cullen has been by my side, pushing me to be the best version of myself,” the Lewis said on Instagram ahead of the Saudi Grand Prix in Jeddah.
“I am a stronger athlete and a better person because of her. So today I hope you’ll join me in wishing her the very best as she takes her next steps to pursue her dreams”
“Thank you for everything Ang, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.”
Angela said on her Instagram page “that it was seven years to the day since she stood in the F1 paddock in Australia for the first time.
“I am so grateful and blessed to have had this incredible journey in F1 and I know my story will continue,” she said.
Thanks to the MB team who have been my family for the last seven years.
“And @lewishamilton you GOAT!! It’s been such an honour and pleasure to stand along side you. I’m so proud of you and everything you have achieved.”
Will Lewis find someone else to fill the giant void left by Angela or continue alone?
Where will Angela go next? It has to be tough on family life to travel round the world with the Grand Prix circus.
The Formula 3 Season Kicked off in Bahrain this week for the first of 10 rounds.
Qualifying started the first competitive session for the Formula 3 season of 2023. In a tough battle against each other, a shock result saw Mini take his first pole in his first ever Formula 3 qualifying session in the Hitech Pule-Eight car. Bortoleto qualified P2 in the Trident with Saucey qualifying P3.
The first race of the Formula 3 season kicked off with Colapinto on the front row and the pole sitter Mini stall on the grid and go from P12 to P26. Colapinto managed to maintain P1 but then by lap 2, Villagmonez crashed into the wall which caused a safety car to be deployed. Collapinto managed to maintain the lead after the restart. Lap 7 saw the HiTech car of Luke Browning stop and cause a Virtual Safety Car to be released. O’Sullivan then went over the kerbs on the outside of 8. Lap 14 saw Pepe Marti close in on the leader Colapinto and he makes the lead on lap 14, turn 4. Marti took his first race win in Formula 3 with Colapinto finishing P2 and Collet finishing the podium positions.
The Feature Race saw Mini start on pole after he qualified there on Friday. Saucey and Mini were fighting on lap 3 and 4 before Mini finally gets the move done by lap 4. The car of Hugh Barter picked up a puncture on lap 5 caused after a slight piece of contact with an MP Motorsport and he had to go to the pits. Tommy Smith had a spin on lap 7 which saw the safety car deployed. By the time the safety car was brought back to the pits, O’Sullivan and Aron got into a bit of a scrap further on and Montoya was able to pick up the pieces in order to get up to p10. Within laps 15 and 16 saw Goether make his way up to P3 and Browning up to P6. Montoya began to close in on Aron by lap 18 and eventually get the Prema driver by lap 19. Smith collided with another driver on lap 21 which brought out a safety car and brought the race to an end.
While Mini did cross the line first, he got a 5 second time penalty and dropped to P8. That meant that Bortoleto took his first Formula 3 race victory in his first ever Formula 3 Feature Race. Goethe took P2 and Beganovic concluded the podium places.
Formula 3 returns to our screens in 4 weeks time for the first ever weekend behind held in Australia.
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake have revealed their 2023 car. Unveiling it in a live stream, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu pulled back the cover off of the C43 and it has undergone some serious livery changes in comparison to 2022.
The most notable difference is the main white from the C42 has gone and changed for the new black design. This is more than likely due to the weight limit changes for 2023. As Stake is the new title sponsor of Alfa Romeo, they are featured heavily in the design. As a result, Orlen has parted ways from the design and is absent from this year’s design.
Speaking about the new car, the Managing Director of Sauber Group and Twam Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said “Bringing a car to life is a long process which touches every department of a racing team, therefore it’s a moment of great pride to see it unveiled today.” Continuing on, Alessandro said, “Everyone in the team is committed to this target and we are confident we will reap the rewards of our work.”
Technical Director of Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Jan Monchaux said “This car is an evolution of last year’s, reflecting the new regulations and introducing major changes in the areas where we found improvements to be needed. I hope it’s going to be quicker than the successful car we had last year, that’s what matters most, and more reliable as well: we have put a lot of effort in this direction”
Speaking about the upcoming season, Valtteri Bottas said “. It’s been an interesting first season with the team, we made some pretty solid progress together, and now there’s only one direction to follow: up, higher, and better. There is obviously still work to do and things to improve, but I am confident we have it in ourselves to aim for even higher results this year. ”
Following on from words from his teammate, Zhou Guanyu said “The expectation for this year is definitely higher, and I will carry all the experience from my rookie season into 2023. I’m excited for what’s coming, and I’m fully ready to attack.”
Formula 2 driver and reserve driver for Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Theo Pourchair said “First of all, I am thankful and honoured to be taking part in my first Formula One launch as a reserve driver for the team. It is great to see the efforts paying off, and I cannot wait to get started! I have seen the great amount of work that has been put into bringing the car from paper to reality, and I am happy for everyone back at the factory, I think they have done an amazing job.”
The C43 will be hitting the track in a shakedown test in Barcelona this week followed by winter testing in Bahrain towards the end of the month.
Martin Truex Jr. led the final 25 laps holding off the chasing Richard Childress Racing duo of Austin Dillon and former teammate Kyle Busch to win the 150-lap Clash at the LA Coliseum under the lights.
Truex Jr. spent most of the race up front alongside Toyota teammate Bubba Wallace who led 40 laps including leading going into the halftime break after a two-lap shootout holding off Dillon. With seven laps to go Dillon dumped Wallace in turn one fighting over second place as Truex pulled away. Wallace ended up finishing 22nd.
Truex stated that there was a “lot of fire in my belly to change what we did last year” in reference to going winless in the 2022 season and just missing making the playoffs.
It’s a complete reversal of last year’s inaugural clash at the LA Coliseum where the 2017 Cup champion barely made the main event, was unable to pass and spun on his own on the final lap. Truex said Sunday’s race day from winning heat two before the main race onwards has been “a huge confidence booster” now going into Daytona.
A new and unexpected addition for NASCAR fans to this year’s Clash at the LA Coliseum was the top three drivers receiving honorary “Clash” medals post-race, in what was a nod to the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games previously held at the Coliseum, as opposed to just the race winner receiving a trophy. Truex additionally was awarded with a separate Clash trophy.
Dillon’s new teammate and two-time champion Kyle Busch experienced getting moved himself when with 65 laps to go, reigning champion Joey Logano drove deep into turn three and tagging Busch, spinning him around. Not at all pleased with the Team Penske driver’s actions Busch said post-race “Logano didn’t get hit by nobody. He just flat-out drove through me, so he’s got another one coming. I owe him a few.” Busch then impressively drove back up through the field from 25th to second before relinquishing the position to Dillon with four laps to go.
Busch’s climb back through the field was all the more impressive given that this year’s race at the Coliseum dealt out 16 cautions, over three times as many compared with last year’s five, including being bombarded with yellows during the middle third of the race with many cars spinning out including AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs, and Kevin Harvick after being tagged, attempting to race around the extremely tight quarters arena.
Busch post-race said “we were spoiled” by last year’s race with Dillon adding there was “much more parody” this time around with the teams and drivers being more familiar with the track. Most of the race was also ran under the lights increasing the overall grip for the drivers compared to last year’s daytime running of the event.
Busch went on to say that if they had used the old generation car in Sunday’s race, half of the radiators would have been knocked out with Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson adding that the current generation car is much stiffer and stronger in comparison.
It was actually New England’s Ryan Preece “Lightning” who led the most laps with 43 but shortly after getting bumped out of the way for the lead by Truex Jr. with 25 to go, his car experienced a temporary electrical problem and quickly fell back to fifth; Preece finished seventh. Preece had been Stewart-Haas Racing’s reserve driver in 2022 after competing full-time for three seasons for JTG Daugherty Racing.
Preece climbed through the stock car ranks by dominating on the short tracks in the New England region so Truex was “not shocked at all” to see him leading at the quarter-mile mile track despite being out of a full-time Cup ride last year.
Pole-sitter Aric Almirola led the opening 16 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. By lap 67 however he found himself being lapped by then leader Bubba Wallace.
It was a short lived race for Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones, previously known as Petty GMS Racing in 2022, after he made contact with Kevin Harvick, damaging the toe link, forcing him to retire.
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney had a rough ride of a race after being spun out twice, the first time in turn one in the opening stage of the race, with the second incident seeing him end up backwards in the turn two wall while running ninth.
Ty Gibbs and Todd Gilliland crossed swords for several laps knocking into each other’s fenders before on lap 43 AJ Allmendinger, an innocent bystander, would get wiped out by Gilliland after Gibbs ran into the back of him. Gilliland would then spin out Harvick on lap 72 before having the favour returned with 69 laps to go. Gibbs would retire with suspension damage.
Another draw for fans attending the Clash was the pre-race entertainment as well as the Clash’s halftime show. Cypress Hill performed ahead of pre-race ceremonies that had many bobbing their heads to the multi-platinum hip hop group.
As NASCAR celebrates its 75th anniversary, the biggest race of the season, the 65th running of the Daytona 500 is less than two weeks away, with the Daytona Duels taking place on February 16th starting at 7pm ET and the green flag for the Daytona 500 flying on February 19th at 2:30pm ET. You don’t wanna miss it!
Full race results
Martin Truex Jr.
Heat 1 winner – Aric Almirola
Heat 2 winner – Martin Truex Jr.
Heat 3 winner – Denny Hamlin
Heat 4 winner – William Byron
First last chance qualifying race – Michael McDowell
Second last chance qualifying race – Chase Elliott
Featured Image: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Williams Racing have revealed their brand new livery for their Formula One contender, the FW45. The design is based on their previous car the FW44 with the most notable changes being towards the rear of the car with a different design and an outline of the numbers. The design also features a matte colour finish.
Speaking about the FW45, returning Williams Racing driver Alex Albon said “The car looks great and will hit the track at Silverstone. The team has worked really hard last year and over the winter to address some key areas in our car, putting in the work to try and maximise what we get out of the car for 2023, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the FW45 can do.”
One of the few changes coming to Williams in 2023 is rookie Logan Sargeant. Regarding the car, Logan said “I’m super motivated and we’ve put a lot of hard work in. The car is looking amazing and it shows the huge effort the team has put in the off-season, so I’m looking forward to getting started at Silverstone before heading out to Bahrain.”
Many new sponsors also join the team in 2023. Gulf Oil International, Stephens and Michelob ULTRA are just to name a few. These feature across the livery and racing suits.
Speaking about the upcoming year, the chairman of the board Matthew Savage said “We are excited about this year’s car, and I cannot thank the entire team at Grove enough for their hard work to get ready for the season.
“I am delighted to welcome both new and existing partners to our journey. With our new Team Principal James Vowles joining us later this month, as well as our exciting driver lineup of Alex and Logan, Williams Racing will be giving its all in 2023.”
Both Albon and Sargeant will take the FW45 to the Silverstone Track on 13th February as it undertakes its first laps of the season.
Rennsport has been on the minds of several high-profile esports teams of late, with the company introducing itself to the sim racing world with a publicity event late last year for their upcoming title. The Porsche-backed company made all the right noises and impressions with those that attended, the consensus is that the sim is “on the right track”. The sim is still in production, so that gives some wiggle room in the expectation level.
The Munich-based outfit isn’t done with grabbing the headlines with a positive event, they are organising a championship alongside the very experienced hands at ESL, with some very heavy hitters in the sim racing world taking part, such as Williams esports, R8G and Apex Racing Team. There have been drivers even changing teams in readiness for when Rennsport gets underway.
Manufacturer support, excellent skills of ESL and big names from esports taking part, sounds great. Rennsport’s Twitter account has been alive in the last couple of months with regular tweets about technical and graphic updates, and words from the CEO Morris Hebecker all showing strong signals for the title.
Listen to our CEO Morris. He has some news for you🙂🎧👇
(1/6) We have already accomplished a lot together this year. Unfortunately, one key thing we planned for this year didn't work out in time. We have to postpone the start of the Closed Beta until the beginning of next year. pic.twitter.com/gtHEuyGePv
The more sceptical in the community have voiced concerns about the readiness of the product for what Rennsport has in mind, and the scale for which they are aiming. Rennsport makes no secret that they have very lofty aspirations for their title, but the sim hasn’t even reached a Closed Beta stage yet, and they are already generating a lot of interest for a sim racing series. With the issues that the sim racing world has faced in recent times, in particular with the backlash following Max Verstappens / Team Redline’s disconnection from the lead of Virtual LeMans this year, the last thing people want is a rushed project.
These concerns carry merit, as Rennsport is taking a huge risk in attracting so much attention to an unfinished product. Whilst the publicity event last year no doubt served as a valuable test session, with some highly experienced sim racers giving unique insight and guidance for areas to improve on, the Munich crew have sold the idea very well to the sim racing world to have attracted the teams to be taking part in the ESL run series.
The question has to be asked though, why do this on a sim that hasn’t even got to the beta stage of development yet? It’s understandable to be excited about a new sim entering the scene with huge potential, however, if the game isn’t ready then the backlash is going to be magnified by the amount of attention that Rennsport has gathered so far.
These concerns were further stirred by a tweet released by Rennsport on the 31st of January explaining that the closed beta has been delayed to resolve concerns regarding multiplayer servers, however, the ESL series seems to be going ahead, with the tweet going on to say that the series will provide “valuable insight that we will use to improve the current state of development”.
If the expectation level of the ESL series is set at “it’s not finished yet” and it still holds up well, Rennsport will have pulled a master stroke in providing a product at just the right time to gain more interest in sim racing and ignite new passion (and reignite old passion) for the genre, but if Rennsport hits big issues in this event, Rennsport could face a mountainous uphill battle to regain the trust of the sim racing world.
F1 esports has seen a changing of the guard this year. Brendon Leigh, driving for Mercedes AMG Petronas, took the title in 2017 and successfully defended the crown in 2018 in dominant fashion, before Scuderia Ferraris David Tonizza took the title to Italy for the prancing horse in 2019, narrowly fending off the advances of Denmarks Frederik Rasmussen. Since then, the wonder-Dutchman Jarno Opmeer has held dominion in the F1 esports arena, taking the crown in 2020 and 2021, both times seeing off fierce competition, and both times Rasmussen taking the second spot in the championship.
Mercedes and Redbull have been the teams to beat throughout F1 esports history (that sounds familiar), with two titles each (there was no constructors championship awarded in 2017). The constructors this year has already been sealed, McLaren Shadow will be crowned 2022 F1 esports constructors champions following the great work from Scotlands Lucas Blakeley, and the Man from Iranhaveari Boroumand.
So who are the main contenders for Opmeers title this year?
Hailing from the highlands, Blakely was signed by BWT Racing Point in 2019. This would prove to be a somewhat difficult start to Blakeleys esports career, despite proving himself a very capable driver in the league racing scene. Whilst the speedy Scotsman did score a podium in 2019, he only raced anoBlakeley’sces that year, with results that did not reflect his talent. He was retained by Racing Point for 2020, in which he raced almost every race, but again the results didn’t go as expected. When Aston Martin took over Racing Point for 2021, Blakeley was now really getting into his stride, finishing third in the season, and this year, he has been a major component in McLaren Shadows championship winning season, and leads the drivers championship.
Thomas Ronhaar The new rising star from The Netherlands is Ronhaar. He absolutely stormed the league racing scene and currently drives in Haas colours. Ronhaar sits just five points behind Blakeley, and has been doing everything to win his debut championship and keep the title in Dutch hands.
You can never keep a good man down, or a good diver back. Rasmussen has finished in the top three in the drivers championship in every year F1 esports has existed, and was a force in league racing before 2017 as well. The great Dane has been in the Redbull family since being signed by Toro Rosso in 2018 and moved over to the main squad in 2019, where he has been ever since. Only 14 points separates him to Blakeley, and the competition is as fierce as ever.
The man from Iran has been in the league racing scene a long time, and is no stranger to competing at the front, but didn’t enter the F1 esports world until 2020, where he was the third driver for Mercedes behind Leigh and Bono Huis. Boroumand only raced once that year, and after moving to McLaren in 2021, he has gone from strength to strength. A regular points scorer and occasional podium saw Bari finish fifth in 2021, and this year he has scored a far bigger haul of podiums, and a win at Spa, all of which sees him fourth in the standings, just 16 points behind teammate Blakeley.
Jarno Opmeer A man that is known throughout the F1 esports and league racing world, he hit the ground running, being signed by Renault in 2019 and coming home in fourth in the championship, before commencing his dominance in 2020 with Alfa Romeo and continuing with Mercedes in 2021. The champion is still mathematically able to retain the crown, but with a 34-point deficit to Blakeley, it will need a big helping of luck to swing the momentum his way
With two races still left, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to a season that has seen a huge shake-up in the establishment.
Will Power ran an intelligent race allowing title rival and teammate Josef Newgarden past on lap 46, settling for third place in the race to ensure locking up the championship by 16 points while Álex Palou stormed out to a 30 second lead over Newgarden by the end to win the Firestone Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.
Will Power led the opening 14 laps before a roulette of strategies began playing out on pit road. Palou took the lead away from Power on lap 27 while Newgarden squeezed past Power for second heading into the corkscrew on lap 46.
In the closing stages a train of cars threatened to undo Power’s championship hopes with Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist leading it but Power held on and created enough distance to ward off any threat and take the last spot on the podium and earn his second IndyCar championship.
Power post-race said: “I just knew I had to absolutely get the most out of those stints and not lose any more positions.”
The 41-year-old Australian won just one race this season, that being the final Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle compared with championship runner up Josef Newgarden’s five wins but his 12 top-five finishes, being three more than any other driver, bolstered him to his second NTT IndyCar Series championship, giving Team Penske their 17th IndyCar championship.
Power speaking to NBC said: “I had to drive the thing today. It was on the edge, very loose. Man, what a relief. What a relief to get that done.”
Will Power won his first championship in 2014 also with Team Penske.
Newgarden did nearly all he could to steal the championship away from Power on the final weekend but a crash in qualifying saw him start 25th compared to Power taking his 68th pole position, gaining a bonus championship point, and surpassing Mario Andretti’s record for all-time poles.
Newgarden started off aggressive gaining five positions on the opening lap before going long and switching to the softer red tyre that saw him move all the way up to seventh by lap 34. On pit strategy, Newgarden briefly took the lead for a few laps on lap 69 when Palou pitted but could not match Palou’s overall pace.
Post-race Newgarden said: “Even yesterday, with the heartache there, we came back, we fought, and we nearly got there. I’m proud of the effort. We’re going to come back stronger next year.”
Palou had blistering pace all race long but narrowly escaped trouble when leaving his pit box on his second stop as he scraped the rear of Rosenqvist’s car as he left his pit box.
IndyCar, despite it appearing to be an unsafe release, declared no action would be taken. This otherwise would have led to a penalty that could have unraveled Palou’s race. He had already overcome a six-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change that saw him start the race 11th.
Apart from making contact with Rosenqvist on pit road, Palou seem unfazed that he was still being sued by his own team owner, unsure where he will be racing next year.
Palou had a 20 second lead over Newgarden with 20 laps to go and led 67 of the 95 laps in total to earn his fourth career win and first win of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Palou said: “Today was awesome. Strategy was on point. It’s good to finish a season with a win. We had some power there and good fuel mileage.”
Palou’s and Power’s teammates and remaining championship contenders did not appear to have anything for them and Newgarden.
Dixon and Ericsson struggled to keep from dropping out of the top 15 and attempted to work their way up the order by going off strategy but Dixon found himself down in 23rd after pitting while Ericsson came out 15th just past the 30 lap mark.
The same can be said for Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin as he found himself in 20th after pitting on lap 53 while Dixon was 24th.
Their strategy and pace did come to some fruition as McLaughlin, Ericsson, and Dixon found themselves nose to tail by lap 63 with McLaughlin playing defence for his Penske teammates up front.
By the end, McLaughlin impressively worked all his way up to finish sixth but not before having multiple scraps with Ericsson that saw the Swede take to the sand on multiple occasions. Ericsson also made an incredible save in the corkscrew after contact with Colton Herta. Ericsson finished ninth while Dixon finished 13th.
Dixon, McLaughlin, and Ericsson would finish third, fourth, and sixth respectively in the championship.
Dixon will have to wait to another year to attempt to become a seven-time IndyCar champion tying A.J. Foyt for the most championships, while McLaughlin has excelled in just his second season with three wins this year while Marcus Ericsson won this year’s Indianapolis 500, an outstanding achievement that has changed his life forever.
Away from the championship battle, it was a bittersweet day for British rookie Callum Ilott who had qualified second for the race and for the opening laps held his position. He was still running inside the top 10 after the first stint but as he was leaving the pit exit he a mechanical failure and stopped just past the Andretti hairpin, ending his day and brought out the only full course yellow of the race on lap 39.
It would be Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard who would be the highest finishing rookie in fifth. Lundgaard also wins the Rookie Of The Year competition finishing on 323 points, beating David Malukas by 18 points who finished 13th in the race.
Jimmie Johnson had a breakout day for his IndyCar road course programme being competitive all race-long, including making aggressive passes in the corkscrew and would finish 16th.
Full race results: 1st Álex Palou, 2nd Josef Newgarden, 3rd Will Power, 4th Felix Rosenqvist, 5th Christian Lundgaard, 6th Scott McLaughlin, 7th Romain Grosjean, 8th Pato O’Ward, 9th Marcus Ericsson, 10th Alexander Rossi, 11th Colton Herta, 12th Scott Dixon, 13th David Malukas, 14th Rinus VeeKay, 15th Devlin DeFrancesco, 16th Jimmie Johnson, 17th Simon Pagenaud, 18th Graham Rahal, 19th Helio Castroneves, 20th Jack Harvey, 21st Kyle Kirkwood, 22nd Simona de Silvestro, 23rd Takuma Sato, 24th Conor Daly, 25th Dalton Kellett, 26th Callum Ilott.
Top 10 in championship standings: 1st Will Power (560), 2nd Josef Newgarden (544), 3rd Scott Dixon (521), 4th Scott McLaughlin (510), 5th Álex Palou (510), 6th Marcus Ericsson (506), 7th Pato O’Ward (480), 8th Felix Rosenqvist (393), 9th Alexander Rossi (381), 10th Colton Herta (381).
Featured Image: Will Power and his No. 12 Team Penske celebrating the championship title with the Astor Cup trophy (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment
Erik Jones inherited the lead with just over 20 laps to go after Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch both dropped out of the race due to engine issues. Jones then defiantly held off three-time Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin to win his second Southern 500.
This is Jones’ third career win, last winning the 2019 Southern 500 when he himself raced for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is the first win for the Maury Gallagher group who partnered with Richard Petty in the 2021 offseason to form Petty GMS Racing.
It wasexactly 55 years to the day for when the last time the 43 car won the Southern 500 which was with Richard Petty himself on September 4th 1967.
Ironically, it was the two JGR cars and former teammates of Truex Jr. and Busch that handed the lead to Jones in what Jones described as a “gift from above” and had to hold off JGR’s Denny Hamlin to win the race in what felt like a flashback to the 2019 race for Jones.
With 18 laps to go as Denny Hamlin came up on Jones, Jones changed his line to take away Hamlin’s clean air and then laid down a set of blistering laps that kept Hamlin from mounting a charge.
Hamlin came close on the final lap when he attempted to send it in turn three but was unable to get side by side with Jones or reach his rear and had to settle for the runner up spot. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick finished third.
Jones said he was “very happy to have won the race, but was more proud of the group around him who are apart of this win.”
Jones had ran inside the top five for part of the night on raw pace, and earned eighth and ninth place finishes in stages one and two respectively. It was near disaster though when he came close to wrecking on lap 80 as he got sent up the race track after losing grip on the apron, nearly collecting Ryan Blaney in the process.
The Michigan driver had come close to winning with the 43 car for the first time since joining Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021 at Fontana at the beginning of the season but failed to seal the deal.
The last time Richard Petty had won a Cup race as an owner was with now Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola in the 2014 summer Daytona race. It was also the 200th win for the 43 car.
Jones’ win also means it’s the first time a non-playoff driver has won the opening race of the playoffs since the playoffs began in 2004. Jones was two places short of making the 2022 NASCAR playoffs after the conclusion of the regular season last week at Daytona.
Jones taking the chequered flag was not just an upset win in that it seemed almost certain it would be a JGR car in victory lane. Kyle Busch finished third in stage one and had pressured stage one winner William Byron for the lead in the closing laps before going on to lead nearly all of stage two including taking the stage two win.
Stage three saw JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr, who had briefly taken the lead away from Busch in stage two, reclaim the top spot on lap 293, but following his final green flag pit stop Truex Jr, lost power steering due to the engine suddenly overheating with Kyle Busch taking the lead back with 32 laps to go. Truex Jr, who was two points short of making place of making this year’s playoffs, then was forced to retire the car.
After a caution came out for a stopped Cody Ware, Kyle Busch’s car, after pitting under yellow, began puffing out smoke while following the pace car before the engine blew up taking him out of the race. Erik Jones who had just gained two spots on pit road, inherited the lead and led the final 20 green flag laps. Busch led the most laps with 155 whilst Truex led 48.
Kyle Busch responded to the tragic late race retirement saying: “the sun will come up tomorrow.”
Playoff contender Kevin Harvick had a scary moment when his car began to fill with fire from his dash for two laps before being forced to stop the car on the apron and quickly evacuated himself before the car violently burst into flames. Harvick put it down to “crappy-ass parts.”
It was a rollercoaster Southern 500 for the Hendrick Motorsports camp. Regular season champ Chase Elliott crashed out in stage one after he “greedily” dived into turn one and made contact with the wall before spinning down the race track and getting collected by fellow playoff contender Chase Briscoe. Elliott was unable to continue after the 10-minute Damage Vehicle Repair clock expired for the No. 9 team on pit road.
Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson began losing engine power 78 laps into stage one in what was a near repeat of last week and went three laps down. Miraculously despite the engine issues not being fully resolved, Larson worked his way back onto the lead lap upon completion of stage two and came home to finish 12th. This wasn’t before Larson brought out the caution on lap 190 in stage two after spinning out in turn four when he was still two laps down.
Hendrick teammate William Byron took the lead away from polesitter Joey Logano in stage 1 who led the first 66 laps, and went on to win stage one. Byron then fell to fourth in stage two after reporting that his engine was “flat and loud.” Byron came home eighth.
It was also a rough day for playoff contenders Trackhouse Racing with Daniel Suárez serving a drive-through penalty at the start of the race for failing pre-race inspection three times and immediately went a lap down. Then with five laps to go in stage two Bell squeezed Suárez into the turn one wall nearly wrecking both of them as Logano and Byron slipped past.
Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain had worked his way up third in stage two but was then forced to come down pit road after having suspension issues in the left rear. Suárez found himself in fifth at the start of stage three and came home 18th while Chastain finished 20th.
The second race of round one of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway this Sunday at 3pm ET.
Full Race Results
1st Erik Jones, 2nd Denny Hamlin, 3rd Tyler Reddick, 4th Joey Logano, 5th Christopher Bell, 6th Michael McDowell, 7th Brad Keselowski, 8th William Byron, 9th Bubba Wallace, 10th Alex Bowman, 11th Aric Almirola, 12th Kyle Larson, 13th Ryan Blaney, 14th Cole Custer, 15th Ty Gibbs, 16th Austin Cindric, 17th Austin Dillon, 18th Daniel Suárez, 19th Justin Haley, 20th Ross Chastain, 21st Harrison Burton, 22nd Ty Dillon, 23rd Daniel Hemric, 24th Corey LaJoie, 25th Landon Cassill, 26th Christopher Buescher, 27th Chase Briscoe, 28th Todd Gilliland, 29th BJ McLeod, 30th Kyle Busch, 31st Martin Truex Jr., 32nd Cody Ware, 33rd Kevin Harvick, 34th JJ Yeley, 35th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 36th Chase Elliott.
Stage 1 results
1st William Byron, 2nd Denny Hamlin, 3rd Kyle Busch, 4th Christopher Bell, 5th Martin Truex Jr., 6th Ross Chastain, 7th Tyler Reddick, 8th Erik Jones, 9th Ryan Blaney, 10th Bubba Wallace.
Stage 2 results
1st Kyle Busch, 2nd Martin Truex Jr., 3rd Ryan Blaney, 4th Joey Logano, 5th William Byron, 6th Christopher Bell, 7th Alex Bowman, 8th Daniel Suárez, 9th Erik Jones, 10th Michael McDowell.
1st Joey Logano (+38), 2nd William Byron (+32), 3rd Denny Hamlin (+30), 4th Christopher Bell (+28), 5th Tyler Reddick (+23), 6th Ryan Blaney (+20), 7th Kyle Larson (+17), 8th Ross Chastain (+15), 9th Chase Elliott (+14), 10th Alex Bowman (+10), 11th Kyle Busch (+8), 12th Daniel Suárez (+2), 13th Austin Cindric (-2), 14th Austin Dillon (-4), 15th Chase Briscoe (-10), 16th Kevin Harvick (-13).
Featured Image: Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Will Power put his Team Penske Verizon Chevrolet on pole in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, tying Mario Andretti for most all-time IndyCar poles with 67.
With a two-lap average of 182.727 he cleared his championship rivals and Team Penske teammates for the top spot for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway and secured his fourth pole of the season.
Power received the complementary bonus point for securing pole, giving him a now seven point championship lead over Scott Dixon with just three race remaining.
Speaking to NBC Power said: “This is a big victory for me, to reach the 67 number and equal such a legend of the sport in Mario Andretti. I just can’t believe that I’m right there with Mario because there’s been no one like him.”
It could very well have been Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden who would have taken his second pole of the season but a mistake in turns three and four on lap one causing him to downshift, meant he had to settle for only third with a two-lap average of 181.629.
On the radio Newgarden said, “I goofed the first one” and later said to NBC “I wish I could have a redo.”
Joining Power on the front row is 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson who also broke the 182mph mark with a 182.070 two-lap average after using all of the race track to do it.
Power’s other teammate Scott McLaughlin qualified fourth. Ericsson’s teammates Palou and Dixon qualified fifth and sixth respectively.
It proved to be a frustrating qualifying for Arrow McLaren SP with Felix Rosenqvist spinning out on his qualifying attempt while Pato O’Ward felt he was too conservate on his.
Rosenqvist spun coming out of turn two on lap one in an effort to keep his car off the wall, and ended up tagging the inside tyre barrier before coming to a stop.
O’Ward qualified seventh with is first lap holding him back to a two-lap average of 180.303.
Takuma Sato impressively qualified eighth after the 2019 winner of the race, used up all of the race track saying he “had to pedal it” due to experiencing oversteer.
Romain Grosjean was the best of the Andretti Autosport cars qualifying ninth, continuing his good record at the track after a strong IndyCar oval debut at WWT Raceway last year.
Grosjean however has to take a nine-place grid penalty for Saturday’s race due to an unapproved engine change and will consequently start 18th.
Andretti teammate Devlin DeFrancesco left off from where he did in practice and qualified 10th. Alexander Rossi qualified 11th. The last of the Andretti crew Colton Herta, had to contend with a wiggle in turns three and four on his qualifying run, resulting in a 12th starting spot.
The Ed Carpenter Racing cars were uncharacteristically slow, with Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay and Ed Carpenter qualifying 16th, 23rd and 25th respectively with Carpenter saying he was not happy with the setup of the car.
Jimmie Johnson only managed 21st after putting it down to needing more track time since he had not raced at the track since 2002 in the NASCAR Xfinity series, whereas at Texas and Iowa he had more experience and time to adjust to the track.
Full qualifying results: 1st Will Power, 2nd Marcus Ericsson, 3rd Josef Newgarden, 4th Scott McLaughlin, 5th Álex Palou, 6th Scott Dixon, 7th Pato O’Ward, 8th Takuma Sato, 9th Romain Grosjean, 10th Devlin DeFrancesco, 11th Alexander Rossi, 12th Colton Herta, 13th David Malukas, 14th Simon Pagenaud, 15th Jack Harvey, 16th Conor Daly, 17th Graham Rahal, 18th Hélio Castroneves, 19th Christian Lundgaard, 20th Kyle Kirkwood, 21st Jimmie Johnson, 22nd Callum Ilott, 23rd Rinus VeeKay, 24th Dalton Kellett, 25th Ed Carpenter, 26th Felix Rosenqvist.
Will Power and Marcus Ericsson will lead the field to green for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at WWT Raceway flies Saturday at 6pm ET.
Featured Image: Will Power celebrates earning the P1 Pole Award with his crew (Photo by Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)