Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Wednesday February 13, 2013
For 22-year old Dion von Moltke, 2013 is a crossroads year. He spent last season developing the new Audi R8 Grand-Am with APR Motorsport. The car was a work in progress for much of the season before coming into its own late in the year. Now, the Audi is ready for primetime, but von Möltke is without a full-time ride.
For the Rolex 24 at Daytona, von Möltke signed on as the fourth driver for Alex Job Racing’s Audi R8 Grand-Am, joining DTM racers Filipe Albuquerque and Edoardo Mortara, along with Oliver Jarvis. After final practice, von Möltke took some time out of his day to sit down with our own Phil Allaway.
Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com: This is the first time that Alex Job Racing has raced an Audi. Is this an absolutely new chassis, or a leased car?
Dion von Moltke: Yes, it’s a brand new car. It was really kind of a last-minute effort. It’s been an amazing job by Audi Sport Customer Racing as well as WeatherTech Racing and Alex Job just to get everything organized in time.
[The team] got the car just before Christmas. The guys worked Christmas Day; they had no days off to get the car ready to show up for the Roar Before the 24 test. I’ve gotta say, for getting [the car] completely built, shipped over from Germany and built again, it was ready to go for the Roar as if it were a year old. It was a brand new car, and everyone’s done just a mega job to get it set, ready, drivable and comfortable for the driver.
Allaway: Got to drive this home for our readers. There were only ten days, not even that, between Christmas and having to leave for the Roar test.
Von Moltke: To ask somebody to come in and work all day Christmas Day is normally a difficult task. But, these guys jumped at the effort. They really want to be successful and I think their past history shows that. With Audi as well as with Alex Job Racing, they both have done very, very well.
Building a race car in ten days for the Roar Before the 24 — we had to be here January 3rd. You have to pack the trailers, get the cars in the trailers and start driving the day before that. You have to make sure everything’s good, and it’s not just the cars, but pit equipment, alignment tools, it’s getting everything in line. It’s a mega undertaking for sure.
Allaway: This is your second season driving Audis. Last year, you were full-time in the No. 51 Audi for APR Motorsport. It was a trying season at times, but ended very well with a second at Lime Rock. How would you describe your 2012?
Von Moltke: I think it was a good development and learning year, not only for the car, but for me as well. In my young career so far, I’ve been able to help develop a few different cars. The first [car I helped develop] was a Volkswagen GTI and this next time was an Audi R8. It was really, really nice for me to be able to work closely with Audi as a manufacturer. You learn things as a driver as to why they’re successful.
Last year was a trying year. It didn’t live up to the expectations of myself, to APR Motorsport and to Audi. We all came in there expecting to do more, and I think you can tell that this year in Daytona, there’s a big push to do better, get better results and have a better process to get to those results. As a driver, I really enjoy the opportunity to work closely with the manufacturer like that and see what makes them successful and be able to translate that to my own career. It’s a good learning experience and hopefully, we can get results for all the hard work this year.
Allaway: How is the R8 to drive?
Von Moltke: It is a beautiful car to drive. It is very responsive and it does everything that you would want it to do. As a driver, when you want to tweak it, you know maybe it’s doing a little of this or that, it’s very responsive to the changes that the Audi engineers and the team throw at it. It’s very comfortable, really fast, and a really great endurance race car.
You can go out there and drive it for 24 hours and you know that it’s going to last and it’s going to be quick. It’s also good for the sprint races as well. It’s ultimately quick. The car does what you need it to do, which is perfect for a driver. I’m not going into the race worried about what my car is going to be doing. It’s reliable, it’s quick and it’s comfortable to drive.
Allaway: In the official press release that the team put out, it identified you as an Audi factory driver. Is that new for this year?
Von Moltke: That’s a bit false. I’m not an Audi factory driver. My teammates (Albuquerque, Jarvis and Mortara) are, but I’m not. Hopefully, that’s the goal, eventually.
Allaway: Is this ultimately going to be a one-off with Alex Job Racing here?
Von Moltke: We don’t really know, and we won’t know until after the race. Ultimately, results are very important to decide that. As of right now, I don’t know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year, and I don’t know what Alex Job will be doing for the rest of the year. So, hopefully, we’ll get that figured out. Alex [Job] runs a really great team and I love driving for him. It’s been a pleasure to be able to work for him and hopefully, we can continue with the Audi banner as well, but, we’ll see.
Allaway: You did a little ALMS with Alex Job last year and won your class at Sebring, the biggest race in the series. Can you describe the experience of winning at Sebring?
Von Moltke: It was such a special experience. Everyone knows the Sebring 12 Hour. It was only my second Sebring 12 Hour and to be my first race with Alex Job Racing, I had some really great teammates in Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler. We were all very dedicated and very focused, but we were having a good time as well. I always think that chemistry is more important than anything. It’s very organized, which is how Alex likes to run his race team. I think that was a key in getting us into position to have a winning car there. Then, to bring home the win was an incredible experience. The Sebring 12 Hour is one of the biggest races in the United States, and internationally in sports cars. Looking forward to getting back there, hopefully, and continuing; working hard and hopefully getting back to a similar result.
Allaway: You’re a Florida-based driver. Do you get any opportunities to race in Europe?
Von Moltke: It’s definitely something that I’m chasing right now. I have driven some in South Africa, which was one of my favorite races that I’ve ever done. It was at Kyalami, which has got such a history in motorsports.
Allaway: What kind of race was this?
Von Moltke: This was a sprint race. I had a South African teammate a few years ago, a five-time national champion named Hennie Groenewald. I came over and raced in their team in what was pretty much an old Trans-Am car. Those are, I believe, two sprint races over the weekend there. That was really good fun.
For sure, I’d love the opportunity to go to Europe and try the Spa 24 Hours, the [24 Hours of the Nurburgring]. Obviously, Audi is hugely successful in international racing. I’d love to go try a GT3 car over there. But, in all honesty, I’m really happy here. I love racing Grand-Am. The competition is really tight, it’s really close. The Audi guys over here are dedicated and very, very concentrated and focused on being successful here. To help them along in that program and be a part of it has been special.
Allaway: Are you excited about the merger between Grand-Am and ALMS, currently dubbed “The Future?”
Von Moltke: Yeah. I think that it’s going to be very difficult initially for a lot of teams and a lot of drivers. But, the people that are the ones that make it through and continue are going to prosper. Ultimately, it is great for sports car racing. I hope the fans are as excited as I am because I can see a great future with it. I see a lot of great racing.
What it did for IndyCar, I think they did a good job [bringing Champ Car and the IRL together]. Grand-Am can take what they did and improve upon it and make it even better. Really, we’re all here to put on a show for the fans. That has to be the key — to make sure that the show is competitive, exciting and fan friendly. Both sides (Grand-Am and ALMS) have done a good job at making it fan friendly, and I think it will be key for them to continue that for the future.
Allaway: Do you have any other suggestions for the merged series?
Von Moltke: Ultimately, I think that a lot of drivers would like to see the GT3-spec cars come over and be a part of our series so that the teams could go and race Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours, the [24 Hours of the Nurburgring], Spa, Bathurst, all with one car. I think that it would be a great progression if it were to happen.
The talks with Daytona Prototypes possibly being at Le Mans are really exciting. I have not been to Le Mans, personally. It’s a big goal of mine. It would be great to see those cars over there racing. I think the fans would learn to love it.
Allaway: There are substantial differences between the R8 Grand-Am that you’re running this weekend and the GT3-spec Audi R8. Can you talk about them?
Von Moltke: To make [the R8] into Grand-Am spec, it’s got no ABS, no traction control, it’s got quite a bit less downforce, runs different tires, and a restrictor in the engine. This is because the V10 engine in the street car is such a great engine that they have to pull it back to [create] an even playing field.
That was probably the initial part of how much we had to change the car and why we struggled a little bit at the beginning of last season. At the end of the year, we finally figured it out. We learned how to make it work and use more mechanical grip in the car. I think that it’s a great step for everyone to learn together on what the U.S. side of racing is about, because it is really different here as compared to Europe.
A lot of cars, like when Porsche came here, they struggled. A lot of the European manufacturers have to go through the first year learning. Luckily, we have a great group of guys that figured it out.
Allaway: Have you actually driven the Euro-spec R8?
Von Moltke: I have not. I definitely want to and I hope to be driving it at some point this year or next year, but I have not driven the GT3-spec car.
Allaway: Away from racing, what do you do in your spare time?
Von Moltke: I’m really big into training. In the off-season, I went with my friend, Ricky Taylor, to Formula Medicine in Italy, which was a very intensive full week of training. [Editor’s Note: this four minute video can give you an idea of what Formula Medicine is like].
A lot of Formula One drivers, DTM drivers, the best drivers in the world go there to train mentally, physically. You learn about nutrition as well. Everything you do there, every little thing, you’re compared against the best drivers in the world. They’ll say, “Bruno Spengler did this. See if you can beat him.” [Writer’s Note: Spengler, a Canadian racer, is the reigning DTM Champion.]
That competition aspect is really fun. I enjoy playing tennis, any type of sports, physical activity, anything adventurous. I’m always out there trying to do something different.
Allaway: With the training, is it like circuit training (Ex: CrossFit, Insanity, etc.)?
Von Moltke: They do a lot of different things. Usually, we’ll have three anaerobic threshold tests, we’ll have a VO2 max test, and probably the toughest workout was a European-style CrossFit. This was a number of things back-to-back, as fast as you could do them. It included a 7.8 kilometer cycle, 3.9 kilometer run, 150 body weight squats, 100 push-ups and 50 horizontal pull-ups, as fast as you can. I think I averaged 180 beats per minute as a heart rate for 43 minutes. So, they like to torture you a little bit and laugh at you while you’re hurting, but you really come out stronger physically and mentally.
Allaway: 43 minutes? Wow.
Ricky and I are very competitive with each other, but we’re also friends, so we push each other to do it. It’s a good time. Formula Medicine is a great program. It’s really great stuff and I think you get an advantage for sure.
Allaway: Just gotta ask, who won that? You or Ricky?
Von Moltke: I believe Ricky won that one, but, in all honesty, I had a lot more workouts the days before he did it. He was a little bit fresher. Next year, we’re going to have to have a new competition.
Allaway: I interviewed Ricky at Lime Rock and he mentioned training, but nothing along the lines of Formula Medicine.
Von Moltke: If you go to Ricky and tell him that Dion told you about Formula Medicine, he might laugh. We have some clips on YouTube that he posted where we talk about what we did with workouts and some of the mental training that we do. I think that the mental training is the key. Reaction time, as well as hand-eye coordination. The biggest things in sports are the mental side.
Once the 24 Hours of Daytona race got underway, the No. 24 Audi was one of the strongest teams in the GT class, overcoming a three-minute penalty due to an improper wave around to challenge for the class win. A fuel conversation strategy put the team in the lead with minutes to go and only ounces of fuel remaining. However, von Möltke’s teammate Albuquerque was able to make his fuel last while holding off APR Motorsport’s No. 52 Audi to take the class victory.
Afterwards, von Moltke had trouble simply composing himself — overcome with joy.
“I can’t even put it into words right now,” von Moltke said in Victory Lane. “There have been so many great drivers and teams that have come here and tried to win this race and weren’t able to do it, and I have… it’s great. We had a great team with Alex Job Racing and the drivers. It came down to everyone doing their jobs. And we did. Two hours ago, we thought we were out. Felipe got in the car and put in one of the most amazing drives I have ever witnessed. To pull it off is amazing!”
Plans for the remainder of 2013 are still up in the air. However, von Möltke does plan to return to Sebring to defend his GTC-class win from 2012.
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