Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Announces Ford GT Driver Line-up for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Hand-USA, Westbrook-UK, Briscoe- Australia and Müller- Germany

Drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand have been selected for full-time rides in the two Ford GTs that will compete in the full IMSA WeatherTech schedule next year.

Hand and Müller will co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT, while Briscoe and Westbrook take the reins of the No. 67 Ford GT. Fans of Ford lore and sports car racing will immediately take note of the historic significance of the car numbers – the original predecessor of the Ford GT, the Ford GT-40, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. Ford marks the 50th anniversary of that first significant win with the return of the Ford GT to Le Mans in 2016.

The IMSA lineup for Daytona represents a true global effort, with drivers from the United States (Hand), United Kingdom (Westbrook), Australia (Briscoe) and Germany (Müller).

“We can’t say enough about how proud we are to present this group of drivers,” said Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “This goes straight to the heart of everything we do at Ford, and selecting the right drivers for the Ford GT racing program is just as important as building the car. We believe we have the best car, and now we have the best drivers to match.”

“What I look for in a driver first of all is heart,” said Chip Ganassi, owner of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “At this level, all drivers are fast. We want drivers that can work well with others. Drivers that have endurance car experience. Drivers that have been to Le Mans. All these things add up. It’s a team of drivers that act like they’ve been together for quite a while already.”

While Ford's history with sports car racing stretches back to the 1960s, today's factory effort plays an important role in developing Ford Motor Company's EcoBoost technology. Ford's twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 raced to three wins with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, including a victory in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring, seven podiums and more than 15,000 endurance racing miles in its first season of IMSA competition in 2014. In 2015, the team and engine won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and added another win at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the Lone Star Le Mans.

The all-new Ford GT supercar is the culmination of years of Ford innovations in lightweighting, aerodynamics and ultra-efficient Ford EcoBoost engines. Ford announced it would return to GT racing with the Ford GT last June at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ganassi’s team has captured seven IMSA championship titles, 46 wins and has six overall victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


Joey Hand Returns to Ford Chip Ganassi Racing: Hand, widely considered one of the best road racers in the world, returns for his second full-time season with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing after helping the team finish fourth in the 2015 IMSA Prototype points standings. Hand co-drove to the win at the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA and recorded five podium finishes, including a second-place in-class finish at the season finale at Road Atlanta. Prior to that, he won the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona in his first of three appearances with the team (2011-13 Rolex 24 At Daytonas). Hand led the most laps in the 2011 event, pacing 116 of the No. 01 car’s race-leading 231 laps. He led the race six times overall en route to the team’s fourth of six wins in the sports car classic. He previously competed in the DTM series from 2012-14 and had been in the American Le Mans Series from 2004-11, where he won two 12 Hours of Sebring titles and the 2011 GT Driver Championship.

Ryan Briscoe Back at Ganassi: Twelve-time IMSA and eight-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner Ryan Briscoe rejoins the Ganassi team after most recently running the No. 8 NTT DATA car in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series for the team. Briscoe began his IndyCar racing career in 2005 driving the No. 33 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) when it was a three-car team with Scott Dixon and Darren Manning, and was also a driver of the team’s 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona entry. Over the past 10 years, Briscoe has driven for multiple IMSA teams, recording 12 wins over 36 races, and most recently won the 2015 Rolex 24 A t Daytona and the 2015 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTLM class.

Dirk Müller Brings Experience to Ford Program: Sports car veteran Dirk Müller began his IMSA career 17 years ago and has competed in 111 races in the series. Müller has recorded 18 wins and 30 poles during his tenure and most recently competed in a full-season IMSA entry for BMW Team RLL in the GTLM class in 2014.

About Richard Westbrook: Following a promising karting and single-seater career, Westbrook switched to GT racing and later moved on to sign a factory contract deal with Porsche. In 2009, Westbrook won the FIA GT2 Championship. In 2011, he signed with Chevrolet as a factory driver and spent the next five years driving for the manufacturer as part of both their GT and prototype programs. Westbrook has recorded eight wins, including the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring, the 2014 and 2015 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, and eight poles over his nine-year sports car career.

Can Martin Truex Jr. Take the Underdog
#NASCAR Championship Win

Martin Truex Jr. Is Homestead’s Hidden Heavyweight

Martin Truex Jr. might be the Holly Holm to Kevin Harvick’s Ronda Rousey in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Considered the Cinderella of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season due to his struggles last year and the fact he’s the only driver for Furniture Row Racing, based far from NASCAR’s North Carolina hotbed in Denver, Colorado, Truex might actually be the driver to beat at Homestead.

In 10 starts at the Miami oval, the No. 78 Chevrolet driver has no wins, three top fives (30%), seven top 10s (70%) and a 10.0 average finish (second among active drivers). What sets him apart from the rest of the Championship 4 at Homestead is his loop data success. He tops the Championship 4 drivers in Homestead average running position (9.0, second among active drivers), driver rating (106.6, third) and average Green Flag speed (162.357 mph, first).

A Truex championship would make him the first title-winner from New Jersey and just the second from the Northeast (Bill Rexford, New York).

Additionally, Truex would be the first driver from a one-car team to win an NSCS championship since Alan Kulwicki achieved the feat in 1992.

Truex would also join Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as the fourth driver to earn a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Can Kyle Busch Celebrate
as #NASCAR Come-Back Kid

Unbreakable: Kyle Busch Aims To Finish Championship
Run Nine Months After Daytona Accident

Kyle Busch’s season has been so improbable, even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t make it up.

A mere nine months after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot in an accident at Daytona, Busch will race for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had cooled off since winning four-of-five races including three in a row earlier in the season, but started to heat up again as the only driver to log a top-five finish in all three Eliminator Round races.

Of the Championship 4 drivers, Busch has had the least success at Homestead. In 10 starts at the South Florida track he has no wins, one top five (10.0%) and three top 10s (30.0%). Busch owns three finishes worse than 30th at Homestead, including a 39th-place finish there last year. In fact, his 23.1 Homestead average finish ranks 25th among active drivers.

If Busch finishes ahead of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr., he’ll become the first driver to ever pilot a Toyota to a NSCS title, giving the manufacturer a driver’s championship in all three national series. Coincidentally, Busch won Toyota its first NSCS race at Atlanta in 2008.

Busch would also join Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as the fourth driver to earn a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jeff Gordon's Drive for #NASCAR 5

Still Alive In The Drive For 5: Gordon Can Walk Away
With Sprint Cup Title On Sunday

Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 just might be the biggest race of Jeff Gordon’s life. And it just so happens that it’ll likely be his last.

If he can finish ahead of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in the final event of his last full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Gordon will walk away with his fifth NSCS championship. Already fourth on the all-time championships list, the No. 24 Chevrolet driver would end his career behind only Jimmie Johnson (six championships), Richard Petty (seven) and Dale Earnhardt (seven) in the NASCAR record books.

Luckily for Gordon, he’s performed well at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the Ford EcoBoost 400 will be held. In 16 starts at the 1.5-mile track, he boasts one win (6.2%), seven top fives (43.8%) and 12 top 10s (75.0%). He finished 10th at Homestead last year after leading a race-high 161 laps.

Gordon gutted his way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as its 13th seed, qualifying on points. He’s upped his performance in NASCAR’s playoffs, leading all drivers in average finish (7.7) and top-10 finishes (8, tied with Joey Logano), highlighted by his win at Martinsville.

A Gordon championship would not only be his first since 2001, but his first in the Chase era (2004-present). If he wins the title on Sunday, Gordon’s 14-year gap between championships would surpass 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Terry Labonte’s record 12-season drought between titles.

Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports team already owns the NSCS record with 11 NSCS titles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is Harvick the #NASCAR Championship Favorite?

Harvick Hopes To Become Second Driver
To Win Consecutive Crowns

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title-winner Kevin Harvick enters Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Championship Round race (3 p.m. ET on NBC) as the favorite to take home his second straight series crown. If he finishes ahead of fellow Championship 4 drivers Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., Harvick will become the 11th person in NASCAR history to win consecutive NSCS titles.

Harvick heads to Homestead as its reigning race winner. He had to finish first to win the championship last year, otherwise runner-up Ryan Newman would have taken home the title. In 14 career starts at Homestead, Harvick has one win (7.1%), six top fives (42.9%) and 12 top 10s (85.7%). His 7.6 average finish at the 1.5-mile track ranks first among active drivers. He also owns the fourth-best driver rating (102.5) and average running position (10.0) among active drivers at Homestead.

At Phoenix on Sunday, Harvick placed second – his 15th top-two finish of the season and the most in the NSCS since Jeff Gordon posted 19 in 1998.

A loop statistician’s dream, Harvick leads the NSCS in average running position (7.3; Next-best driver: Kyle Busch, 9.2), fastest laps (1,370; Next-best driver, Brad Keselowski, 650), laps led (2,248; Next-best driver: Joey Logano, 1,359) and driver rating (118.9; Next-best driver: Kyle Busch, 107.1).

A Harvick championship would be the third for Stewart-Haas Racing, which has won titles with Harvick (2014) and Tony Stewart (2011).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Moses Returns to His Desert Roots

The 48th BudLight Score BAJA 1000 - November 20-21, 2015

Now a days, Moses Smith happily goes to work every day as the manufacturer of the popular open-wheel racecar known as the Formula Mazda. As the owner of Texas Autosports, a full-service Formula Mazda Racecar prep shop, Moses continues to “live the dream.”

Moses talks to his parents
after a Baja Race in the 1980s
What most fans do not realize is that Moses’ dream was born in the early 1980s. He was on a 'pit crew' by the time he was just three years old. He and his father, Paul would work long hours at the race shop of Off-Road Racer Malcolm Vinje*. There he learned all about desert racing by working on the Baja 1000 Class 5 and then Class 7S race machines.

Moses’ family outings in the Southern California deserts further his interest. The thrill of his own three-wheeler and his father’s dune buggy fueled Moses’ love for going fast.

Unbelievably, before the age of ten, Moses had progress in his race crew duties to include driving the chase vehicles from checkpoint to checkpoint solo. The youngster’s feet could barely touch the Baja Bug’s pedals, but that did not discourage him as he focused on pushing that clutch in far enough to shift smoothly.

“Off road racing was my first love, that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up.” Moses recalled. “I have had been very fortunate to have driven a lot of different racecars over the years, but Off Road racing and Baja has always eluded me. It has been on my list for as long as I can remember. I am pumped to finally get my chance in the dirt!”

Moses Smith began his racing career in the extremely competitive Southern California Karting Region. Moses clearly set himself apart from his competition both on and off the track. Winning the California State Championship and the SDKA Junior Sportsman Championship proved his on track abilities, while also holding the prestigious title of the youngest member of the famed San Diego Karting Association Board of Directors.

Star Mazda Podium -- Luis Schiavo (left), Moses Smith (middle),
and Michael McDowell (right) -- at Road Atlanta 2003
With karting accomplishments in hand, Moses worked to further his motorsports goals. Moses moved into full size race cars the hard way. As a mechanic for the Skip Barber Racing School and other prominent professional race teams, the young driver was able to learn the intricacies of the sport while biding his time to get behind the wheel.

The opportunity was not far off. In 2000, Moses got his career break competing in a limited schedule of Formula Mazda (FM) events. Moses parleyed that limited schedule into become one of the top Formula Mazda drivers on the pro circuit.

In 2002, Moses missed winning the North American Star Mazda Pro Series, by just one point. However, he won the Star Mazda West Coast Championship. In 2003, Moses tested in the Toyota Atlantic car and entered an Infiniti Pro Series event.

Never one to stay stagnant, Moses became a Star Mazda team owner in 2004. He opened his own online store in January of 2006.

In September 2009, Moses acquired all support and manufacturing rights for the approximately 300 Formula Mazda rotary-powered race cars currently in use across North America, as well as the MSR sports racer, a full-bodied version of the FM.

From 2007 to 2011, Moses competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He finished third in the championship points standing his last season. Further, he was voted the series Most Popular Driver in four consecutive years!

Moses Smith sits in his #16 Hasa Pool Products K&N Pro Series West car.

Moses’ long history in the sport of racing has not dampened his excitement and eagerness.

“Over my career as a driver I’ve had some pretty amazing teammates, but we were there on business. This race I am paired with a couple of very special team mates. The Entwistle, father and son team, have been racing Formula Mazda with me over the past year.” Moses stated enthusiastically. “We were learning, and chasing a championship, although we had fun, there was still a serious undertone. This race we get to have FUN, and experience something that only an elite few have done before. Don’t get me wrong…we ARE going to win our class…haha or have a blast trying to anyway”

You can follow Moses and the team as their #1409 Sportsman 1400 competes in the 48th Baja 1000 by following it via live streaming at The challenging course will start and finish in Ensenada.

Moses Smith’s Career Highlights

2015 48th BudLight Score BAJA 1000
2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the SRT Viper
2013 Grand-Am Sports Car Series, Class GT Debut
2011 Third Place Finish K&N Pro Series West Championship
2008-2011K&N Pro Series West Most Popular Driver Awards
2007-2011 K&N Pro Series West Series Driver
2009 Formula Mazda Manufacturer
2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Debut
2006 Official Standard Formula Mazda Dealer
2004 Star Mazda Team Owner
2003 Infiniti Pro Series Debut
2003 Toyota Atlantic Debut
2002 Star Mazda Pro Championship Runner-Up
2002 Star Mazda Rising Star Award
2002 Star Mazda West Coast Champion
2001 Star Mazda West Coast "Rookie of the Year"
1992 IKF California State Champion
1991 SCCA Class Champion
1989 Former SDKA Board of Directors Member
1980 Pit Crew / Shop Worker for Malcolm Vinje

*1982 CLASS 5 Champion - Malcolm Vinje/Mark Hansen; 1996 CLASS 7S Champion - Malcolm Vinje/Mark Hansen; 1999 CLASS 7S Champion - Malcolm Vinje.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Battle-Tested, Worthy #NASCAR Champion???

NASCAR announced last year, a new championship format that they stated would put a greater emphasis on winning races all season long. It also expanded the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers, and implemented a new round-by-round advancement format designed to “reward a battle-tested, worthy champion.”

However, the four remaining NASCAR Combatants for the Cup have not won the most races in 2015. If we were to place the prominence on winning races all year, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase finalists would be:

  • Joey Logano with six wins
  • Jimmie Johnson with five wins
  • Matt Kenseth with five wins
  • Kyle Bush with four wins. 

One right out of four is not good. 

“We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO stated in 2014.

However, to NASCAR Race Mom this format fosters luck more than racing skill; be it good luck or bad luck. Whether you happen to peak or faltered during a three-race period can make or break your entire season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate after winning the rain-shortened
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.

Does the Chase make the last ten races of the year more unpredictable and thereby more exciting? Well yes, but at what cost. Whether you cite the Kenseth / Logano clash(s); Kevin Harvick’s restart wreck that helped secure him a spot in the next round, or even Mother Nature shortening the last chance race to get into the finals - - - the opportunity to alter the outcome of the championship becomes more attainable. 

With just one win this season, Martin Truex Jr. is among
the final four Chase drivers.  (Jonathan Moore/Getty Image)

As it is, NASCAR Race Mom will be watching the last 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup next week with uncertainty. Jeff Gordon (1-2015 Win) will battle Martin Truex Jr. (1-2015 Win), Kevin Harvick (3-2015 Wins), and Kyle Busch (4- 2015 Wins) for the Cup championship.  I am sure that Homestead it will be an exciting season finale, hopefully devoid of any further shenanigans. Nevertheless, our 2015 Sprint Cup champion will not epitomize NASCAR’s most winning-est driver of the year and probably not be the “best of the 2015 best.”