Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Bryan Herta, Sam Schmidt and Charlie Kimball helped Dan Wheldon win the Indy 500

Dan Wheldon won his second Indianapolis 500, but if not for a trio of Southern Californians, he might have never made it to the finish line at the Brickyard on Sunday.
The owner of the Wheldon’s car is Valencia’s Bryan Herta.
The team that provided the car for Wheldon to drive is owned by Sam Schmidt, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, graduated from Pepperdine and went to Village Christian in Sun Valley.
The driver of the car who played a role in the last-lap crash that took out leader JR Hildebrand was Camarillo’s Charlie Kimball.
Without those three people, Wheldon probably doesn’t have a car to drive nor is he in position to win the Indy 500.
Wheldon, driving for Bryan Herta Autosport, took the lead for the first time in the race on the last lap when the rookie Hildebrand crashed into turn 4 wall.
Hildebrand was leading the race, but tried to pass Kimball on the outside. Hildebrand slid into the turn 4 wall allowing Wheldon a chance to take the lead and win the race. Hildebrand skidded across the finish line in second place.
It led to a surprising finish, with Wheldon leading only the last few hundred yards of the race. He became the first driver in the history of the Indy 500, which was celebrating its centennial anniversary, to win the race leading only the last lap of the race.
“When I saw him crash, I mean, I knew it wasn’t serious. As soon as I knew it was not serious, there was a little smile on my face, I will say,” Wheldon said. “From that point, it was just making sure that I didn’t do anything silly. Then I think I got on the radio and started crying.”
Bryan Herta Autosport is a part-time player in the Izod IndyCar Series. Herta has a team that runs the entire Firestone Indy Lights series, but only one IndyCar Series race. He entered the Indy 500 last year with Sebastian Saavedra as his driver and had the last car to qualify in the 33-car field.
In the second start for Bryan Herta Autosport at the Indy 500, Wheldon put Herta’s car on the second row, qualifying sixth, and in a much better position to contend for a win. Herta knew his chances of winning were slim, but with Wheldon as his driver, he had confidence.
“Dan has done such a great job. One of the things he did for us is bring an attitude and a belief we could win this race,” said Herta, who graduated from Hart High School in Newhall. “On paper, based on our previous effort, anything, on paper we really had no business believing we could win it. But Dan believed in us so strongly he made us believe it, too. I really think over the course of this last two weeks, he made the crew guys believe it, he made a lot of people on the outside believe it, because so many people were coming up to us the week of the race saying, ‘We think you’re going to win.’ It was so uplifting.”
Schmidt had his own two-car effort in the Indy 500. One of his drivers, Alex Tagliani, won the pole. Schmidt had good cars, but they were still considered inferior to the ones put together by Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti. Wheldon said he didn’t see a Penske car in front of him the entire race. Ganassi’s drivers, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, led the Indy 500 at various points, but fell out of contention when their fuel strategies failed. Danica Patrick, driving for Andretti Autosport, led late in the race, but had to pit for fuel.
Schmidt’s cars meanwhile were strong and fast.
“They dug all month. The 77 (Tagliani) and 99 (Townsend Bell) worked really well together and had fast cars,” Schmidt said. “Unfortunately, they both got a little out of sequence. We probably should’ve finished at least second or third when all was said and done. You can’t second-guess what happens in the race, and that is what this place is all about. At least we got a little piece of that car rolling up on victory circle right there. It was Bryan’s, and that's cool.”
Kimball turned out to be the unfortunate X factor in Wheldon’s win. Hildebrand came up on Kimble, the last car on the lead lap, on the final turn of the race. Instead of letting up on the throttle and coasting to the finish line, Hildebrand tried to pass Kimball. Kimball did nothing wrong, but Hildebrand made the mistake of trying to pass Kimball on the outside. Hildebrand crashed and Wheldon was the surprise and teary-eyed winner of the Indy 500.
“I’m not normally that emotional,” Wheldon said. “But having been through what we’ve been through, being able to deliver this for everybody is certainly very gratifying. Proud of everybody. In terms of what it will do for the future, it will make me a happier person on the beach. In terms of more races, you'll have to ask these guys.”

Photo: Dan Wheldon won his second career Indianapolis 500 driving for Bryan Hertra Autosport. (Photo by LAT)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dan Wheldon wins Indy 500 for Bryan Herta Autosport

Dan Wheldon took the lead in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 on the last turn of the last lap and won the race for the second time in his career.
It was an unlikely finish to the 100th anniversary of the first Indy 500. Wheldon, driving for Valencia's Bryan Herta, was making his first and probably only start of the Izod IndyCar Series season.
Herta, the owner of Bryan Herta Autosport, was entered in his only IndyCar Series race of the season and making only his second career start as a team owner.
The two teamed up to win the Indy 500 taking advantage of a last-lap crash by JR Hildebrand, who slid in to the turn 4 wall trying to pass a lapped car.
Go to Hometown for more on Bryan Herta Autosport winning the Indy 500.

Photo: Valencia's Bryan Herta, left, driver Dan Wheldon, and Steve Newey talk to the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after winning the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. (Dana Garrett)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Third time's a charm for Brett Moffitt at Iowa Speedway

Brett Moffitt won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night leading a pack of three drivers from the East Series on the podium in the Pork "Be Inspired" 175.
Moffitt, who grew up in nearby Grimes, Iowa, won his first K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway in three tries at the track.
It was the sixth win of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series career and his second win of the season.
Drivers and teams from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West raced against each other in the fifth annual event at Iowa Speedway.
Max Gresham was second, followed by Eddie MacDonald in third.
Greg Pursley was fourth overall and the highest finishing driver from the West Series. He was credited with a win in the West Series standings and extended his lead to 114 points over Moses Smith.
Go to the K&N website for more on the race at Iowa Speedway.

Photo: Brett Moffitt, driving the 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway, his second of the season. (Credit: Meg Bestell-Eide)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ten-year-old Teddy Hodgdon seeks two titles

Teddy Hodgdon, a 10-year-old sprint car driver from Danbury, Conn., was so enamored with Travis Kvapil's K&N sponsored NASCAR truck that he wore it as a Halloween costume a few years ago.
Hodgdon has his own K&N backed car and a Hoosier Tire Challenge Series championship at Twin State Speedway in New Hampshire.
The fourth-grader wants another track championship at Twin State. He is also racing at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut and pursuing a track championship there.
Go to the K&N website for more on Hodgdon and his start to the racing season in New England.

Photo: Teddy Hodgdon won the Hoosier Tire Challenge Series championship at Twin State Speedway in New Hampshire in 2010.

Micro sprint driver Ethan Myatt heading in right direction

Ethan Myatt, a 16-year-old micro sprint car driver from Clovis, Calif.,started off the season at Lemoore Raceway with a runner-up finish in the season opener.
His results have steadily declined since opening night, but Myatt said he feels his team is making strides and improving.
He has been consistently in the top five at Lemoore Raceway, but has yet to win a race at the track.
Myatt is in his second year of racing in the micro sprint stock car class at Lemoore and looking for the first win of his short career.
Go to the K&N website for more on Myatt and Lemoore Raceway.

Photo: Ethan Myatt finished second in the micro sprint stock car season opener at Lemoore Raceway.

Friday, May 6, 2011

17-year-old Jessica Clark takes two paths

Some 17-year-old girls are lucky to have one car at their disposal.
Jessica Clark has two race cars.
The junior at Westlake High School is racing in the S2 stock car division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in addition to driving her Ford Focus Midget at race tracks from Madera to Las Vegas.
She finished ninth in her first S2 stock car race at Irwindale last month. A week later, she won a Ford Focus Midget race at the Bullring in Las Vegas.
Clark returns to Irwindale for the second race of the S2 stock car season on Saturday night.
Go to for more on Clark and her busy racing schedule.

Photo: Jessica Clark, a 17-year-old from Westlake Village, finished ninth in the S2 stock car season opener at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on April 9.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ted Christopher tops NASCAR Hunter Index for May

Ted Christopher won two races in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and one in the Whelen Modified Tour to capture the top spot in the Hunter Index for May.
The driver from Plainville, Conn., also won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race at Thompson International Speedway in Connecticut giving him four wins and five top-fives in seven starts in April.
Greg Pursley, a Canyon High graduate who used to live in Newhall has won two of the first three races in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season, came in at No. 3 in the Hunter Index. His most recent win was on Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. He also won the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway.
Brandon Davis, a driver from Henderon, Nev., has won five NASCAR Late Model races at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale and is the No. 4 driver in the Hunter Index, which ranks the top drivers in the NASCAR developmental series in the nation.
Go to NASCAR Hometracks to see the rest of the top 10.
Here is how I voted:

Hunter Index for May
1. Greg Pursley
2. Sergio Pena
3. Darrell Wallace Jr.
4. Jason Fensler
5. Ted Christopher
6. Brandon Davis
7. Max Gresham
8. Moses Smith
9. Brett Moffitt
10. Bobby Santos
11. Rogelio Lopez
12. Dylan Kwasniewski
13. Zachary Hausler
14. BJ Mackey
15. Jesse Lefevres

Photo: Ted Christopher (00) won the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified race at Caraway Speedway, one of four races he won in April. He was ranked No. 1 in the NASCAR Hunter Index for May. (Credit: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Greg Pursley makes it two in a row at Miller Motorsports Park

Greg Pursley is on quite a roll. He won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah on Saturday. It was his second win in three races this season and his fourth win in the past six West Series race going back to 2010.
Pursley won the race at Miller Motorsports Park in September to start his recent run.
With the win, Pursley, a Canyon High graduate, leads the West Series standings by 58 points over Moses Smith.
Go to the K&N website for more on the West Series race from Miller Motorsports Park.

Photo: Greg Pursley won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. It was his second win in three West Series races this season. (Credit: George Frey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Darrell Wallace Jr. records first East Series win of the season

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond International Raceway and took over the lead in the East Series standings.
Wallace won his first East Series race of the season and the third of his career. It was the first time the East Series visited Richmond International Raceway.
"Coming to this track, no one’s run here except for Coleman Pressley," Wallace said. "He ran the Nationwide race here. I was able to get some practice last week in a late model, me and Max Gresham. We had a little leg up on the other drivers. It was definitely cool to be a part of. We’re trying to make a name for ourselves. I think we’re doing it that so far. We just have to stay with it and be there at the end of the season."
It was the second win a row for Revolution Racing. Teammate Sergio Pena won the East Series race at South Boston Speedway in Virginia.
Wallace has a 26-point lead over Pena.
Go to the K&N website for more on the East Series race at Richmond.
Photo: Darrell Wallace Jr. won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond International Raceway and took over the lead in the East Series standings after three races. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)