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April 18, 2018
 

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Monday
Apr212008

Horizon #442

April 23, 2008

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifDanica Patrick, Andretti Green Racing. After much promise and more than a little hype, Danica Patrick (No. 7 AGR Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone) became the first female in history to win an Indy car race when she captured the rain-delayed Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Patrick, who turned 26 three weeks ago, won in her 50th IndyCar Series start. "Finally," Patrick said in victory lane. "This is a long time coming. It was a fuel strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me. I know I was on the same strategy at Helio (Castroneves) and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn't believe it. This is fabulous." Patrick's path to victory was the direct result of a call by team manager Kyle Moyer to bring her in at the end of a caution to top-off her fuel with 50 laps to go. Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske D/H/F), making his 100th IndyCar Series start, finished 5.8594 seconds behind, and Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing D/H/F) was third. Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing D/H/F), finished fourth, and Tony Kanaan (No. 11 AGR Team 7-Eleven D/H/F) came home fifth. Dixon had a 3.6-second lead over Wheldon with six laps to go, but he had to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 195. Wheldon and Kanaan had to follow suit on Lap 196. That left the door open for Patrick and Castroneves, whose last pit stop came on Lap 148. "I think Danica is such a fantastic person and I’m thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back," said team owner Michael Andretti afterwards. We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many."

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(Shawn Payne/IRL)
Tears of joy for Danica Patrick after her first IndyCar victory.

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(Shawn Payne/IRL)
Danica poses for photographers with her mom and dad after her momentous win.

arrowup.gifMarco Werner, Lucas Luhr, Audi AG, Michelin. Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr (No. 2 Audi AG R10 TDI) scored a surprise victory in the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach Saturday. Werner crossed the finish line 1.964 seconds ahead of Emanuele Pirro in the other team Audi as the German manufacturer finished 1-2 overall in an American Le Mans Series race for the first time since St. Petersburg in 2007, also a street circuit. "From the beginning the car was good so we didn't make many changes," Werner said. "I was never fastest, and free practice and qualifying are never the same thing. So you can guess we are quite happy with Michelin at the moment. The car setup is really helping us a lot this year, especially in the street circuits. We are in max lock trying to make the turns, especially in the hairpins. But the Michelins are keeping the car where it should be and helping us deal with all the corners." Werner got around Penske Racing's Romain Dumas in the Porsche RS Spyder with 11 minutes remaining for the overall lead and used the torque and power of the R10 TDI to pull away after a late caution period. Pirro did the same as he teamed with Frank Biela in the runner-up car. Werner and Luhr have now won consecutive races after scoring a victory two weeks ago at St. Petersburg.

Publisher's Note: Once again we're proud to feature John Thawley's outstanding photography as part of our ALMS race coverage. Click on the photo below to see John's image gallery from Long Beach. - PMD

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(Copyright © 2008, John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group All rights reserved.)

arrowup.gifDavid Brabham, Scott Sharp, Patron Highcroft Racing, Acura, Michelin. David Brabham and Scott Sharp scored the first victory for Patron Highcroft Racing in LMP2 as Brabham made a diving pass on Romain Dumas (Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder) on the next-to-last lap to score the first win for the new Acura ARX-01b. Brabham crossed the finish line 1.036 seconds ahead of the Porsche as Acura won in LMP2 for the first time since its Series debut last year at Sebring. Brabham and Sharp also finished third overall for the second consecutive race. Brabham also became the first driver in Series history to score victories in four classes.

arrowup.gifJohnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen, Corvette, Pratt & Miller, Michelin. Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen (No. 3 Corvette Racing Compuware C6R) captured their second GT1 victory of the season with a 1.374-second victory over the No. 4 team car of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. "The start was interesting. It was a lot cooler than qualifying," said Magnussen, who was the fastest GT1 qualifier Friday. "The setup was working perfectly. There were a few moments I got close to the wall. I got some moments with Oliver where I could attack but others where the wall was too close." The duo also assumed the lead in the class championship, breaking a tie with their Corvette Racing teammates. Gavin and Beretta won nine times in class last year and have won the last three GT1 championships. At least for the first three events, the playing field between the two Corvettes seems to have leveled. "Things are really gelling well with Jan and myself," said O'Connell, who teamed with Magnussen in a factory Panoz prototype in 1999. "We weren't dominated last year, they were always close wins and we were always right there and just caught some bad luck. It was just the way racing goes; sometimes you have up years and sometimes they are down. Racing is a team sport, anytime we can beat the 4, it is a great thing."

arrowup.gifDirk Mueller, Dominik Farnbacher, Tafel Racing, Ferrari, Michelin. Dirk Mueller (Tafel Ferrari F430 GT) held off Flying Lizard Motorsports' Wolf Henzler (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR co-driven by Jorg Bergmeister) by 0.102 seconds. It wasn't decided until the final corner as the two cars started on their final lap just before Werner took the checkered flag. The two cars were nose-to-tail the entire final lap and were joined by the No. 46 Flying Lizard Porsche of Patrick Pilet, who finished third with Johannes van Overbeek. The finish was the second-closest finish in the history of the American Le Mans Series and tightest in GT2. "The car was fantastic," Mueller said (his co-driver is Dominik Farnbacher). "It was a gamble you know not taking tires. The safety car helped make it a close end. Then the five years of really hard driving in touring car racing really helped me. The racing line was quite wide. It was possible to do off line racing and give room for overtaking." The difference at the end came down to pit strategy. Both Lizard cars took tires during its lone pit stop, while the Tafel car elected to run the full race on one set of Michelins. Tafel saved 7.362 seconds on the pit stop. "I drove easy to try and save the tires for Dirk," Farnbacher said. "I tried to simply stay with the pack until my drive was over." The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little Hotels on Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at .

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(Photo©SCCA/Mark Weber)
In a caution-fest, Brandon Davis (No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang), from Huntington Beach, CA, captured his first SCCA SPEED GT win at his home race, the SCCA Pro Racing Long Beach SPEED GT Presented by Applied Computer Solutions. Point leader Randy Pobst (No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3), of Gainesville, Ga., finished second, and Andy Pilgrim (No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V), of Boca Raton, Fla., came home third. “It really feels amazing to win here," Davis said. "Before my dad even got into racing, when he was just a guy who liked cars, we would come out and watch Long Beach every year. Then, he started to run Trans-Am and started working with Boris [Said], we actually got the first win for the team here in Trans-Am. I was there for all of that and to be able to be the guy that gives the team a win at Long Beach is very special.” Davis reset the Long Beach SPEED GT lap record en route to the win, lapping the 1.968-mile street circuit in 1:26.205 (82.185 mph). Pobst leaves Long Beach the point leader with 220 points, Davis is next with 208 points, and Pilgrim is third with 198 points. Porsche leads the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER with 16 points over Cadillac’s 12. The Long Beach SPEED GT race will air on the Speed Channel, Wednesday, April 30, at noon (EDT), 9 a.m. (PDT).

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(Grand-Am)
Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens (No. 91 Riley Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley) won last Saturday's Mexico City 250 Grand-Am race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Goossens holding off the Scott Pruett (with Memo Rojas) No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola driven by Ricardo Zonta (with Nic Jonsson) over the final 28 laps for the win. "It was tough," said Goossens. "Once I got by Scott, he kept putting pressure on me all the way. It was pretty tough keeping the lead." The top three finishers battled nose-to-tail throughout the final 20 laps. Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell (Stephenson Motorsports No. 57 Pontiac GXP.R) stretched their fuel mileage at the end to hold off the division's point leaders, Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards (No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R), to win the GT class. 

arrowdown.gifHumpy Wheeler. We consider Humpy to be one of the smartest people in racing, but his latest thought balloon is a real downer. He plans on introducing a new feature before NASCAR's All-Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 17 - a “burnout” competition. Five drivers will showcase their victory burnouts by doing two 360-degree spins and then drive into a "victory lane" set up in front of the main grandstand for a $10,000 prize that goes to charity. We loved the impromptu burnouts when Alex Zanardi did them, but that was years ago. It's now tired and stale, and race drivers need to get a new idea. Humpy isn't helping.