Welcome to week 9 – three races this weekend. F1 opens their season in Australia, the United Sports Car Championship (USCC) visits Sebring in Florida, and NASCAR goes to the short track in Bristol, Tennessee.
F1 may be unpredictable for all but you die-hard F1 fans who study every move by every team. With new and smaller hybrid engines there will surely be teams that struggle and teams that have got it right during the off season, but who will be in which camp? And of course, there was the usual shuffling of some drivers among teams in the off season. But undoubtedly any pick will be more reliable than NASCAR. However the USCC teams have already shown their colors with the earlier Dayton 500, so this series may be a good place to make picks.
Sebastian has the summary at http://themotorracinggame.wordpress.com/2014-week-nine-guide-and-links/. Please make your picks at: http://localhost/RoadRaceTracks/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 8:
All but two of the top WRC competitors faced problems in Mexico. This led to a run-away win by Sebastian Ogier, who won by a margin of more than a minute and 12s over his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. Thierry Neuville struggled with the setup of his Hyundai all day Friday, consistently losing more than 15s on most stages, and over a minute on the long Chocolate stage. More technical problems plagued him on Saturday morning, but the team seemed to sort things out a bit by the afternoon stages, and with the demise of everyone else, he took the third podium position – a podium first for Hyundai.
Among our other picks, Chris Atkinson had technical issues with the Hyundai early on, losing lots of time on SS2, then went off on SS4; he finished 7th. Mikko Hirvonen had a puncture on SS2 which put him behind from the start, then his Friday ended with a technical problem on SS8; he rejoined on Saturday under rally 2 rules and finished 8th. Mads Ostberg started well – even had the lead for a while on Friday, but on the first stage on Saturday he crashed and was not able to continue; also rejoined under rally 2 on Sunday, and finished 9th. Andreas Mikkelsen was in second after SS2, but was clearly pushing too hard – breaking the suspension in an off on SS3, then he rolled out in a crash on SS13 on Saturday; he too rejoined on Sunday, finishing 19th. Kris Meeke went off on SS8, ending his Friday, rejoined Saturday, but crashed out again on the last stage of the rally; no points for those who picked him. No points either if you picked Robert Kubica; he is going to start getting a reputation for rolling – he’s done it a couple of time this year, and twice more in this rally, with the first one on Friday’s Super-Special stage in front of a large audience, and the second time on SS13, the 2nd stage of Saturday, which damaged the car beyond repair for the rest of the event.
The NASCAR race in Las Vegas resulted in a tactical win for Brad Keselowski. The race ran mostly green, and after the last pit stop it was clear that several drivers were stretching their fuel mileage, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. who dominated the last stint. Keselowski’s crew chief was heard on the radio asking Brad to push Earnhardt hard and stop him from conserving fuel. It worked. With two corners to go Earnhardt ran out of fuel, and Keselowski passed him for the win. Earnhardt coasted across the line in second place. Afterward Earnhardt wasn’t bitter, he said that they expected to run out of gas, so it was no surprise that they did; had he stopped for fuel under green, they wouldn’t have got second place.
Once again our picks were pretty solid, with 8 of 10 picks in the top 11 (Kyle Busch was 11th). Kevin Harvick finished a lowly 41st, but was actually dominating the race until his brakes failed. Only Tony Stewart struggled from start to finish, ending up in 33rd place.
Congratulations to me and my third win of the year. I usually do well in the rally weeks because I know the sport and usually have the latest news in my head in regard to the teams and drivers, but it seems that my win was down to NASCAR this time, and picking both Keselowski and Earnhardt. No changes in the standings …