In this edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsports Report, Dave comments on the blockbuster news that Ford is getting back into F1, supplying powerplants for the Red Bull Racing team. He also dissects and reports on NASCAR’s second trip to the L.A. Coliseum.
NEWS FLASH: Ford is returning to Formula One by partnering with Red Bull Racing as their engine supplier / partner starting with the 2026 season when the engine rules change to the battery / hybrids.
Now, if F1 accepts Andretti with Cadillac power, we will have a full-blown domestic rivalry that should fill a bunch more seats at the three (for now) American F1 circuits as well as Canada and Mexico.
AND both IndyCar and IMSA (and most likely NASCAR) will benefit, as well. We saw some of that at the Rolex where a bunch more fans showed up. All of this, the snowball effect, bodes well for the future of motorsports in the entire world.
And the most interesting part of the Red Bull Ford announcement is that the jungle tom-toms had it that Porsche was the one replacing Honda at Red Bull. Hmm.
Perhaps Volkswagen Group figures that they were spending a lot already on Audi becoming the engine supplier for Sauber? Or was it that Porsche wanted a stake in the team while Ford did not. We will probably never know.
I would suggest that having two car guys steering the ship at Ford – Bill Ford and Jim Farley (the man who not only talks the talk but walks the walk as a true racer) – may have helped in making the decision at World Headquarters. And I’m sure that Ford Motorsports boss Mark Rushbrook was a big factor, as well.
I still have stowed away somewhere the Cosworth/Ford V8 plastic model from almost 60 years ago. That motor ran both F1 and IndyCar with a lot of success. This new alliance will be similar to that deal, as Ford will be providing ‘technical assistance’ to Red Bull Powertrains.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: Ah, the Busch Light Clash took place at the (Los Angeles) Coliseum on Sunday. What an ‘interesting’ way to start the 2023 racing season.
The late, great Dick Trickle – speaking about ASA racing in the Silverdome – stated that it was like ‘jet fighters in a gymnasium.’ Well, guess what, we have found that gymnasium!! But at least they don’t get gassed by all the fumes like we did at Pontiac.
The practice sessions were setup to run three groups of 12 cars each. In one of the group sessions, the Toyota of rookie Ty Gibbs caught fire. It was a little scary to watch. But my question is, ‘What happened with the in-car fire extinguisher system?’
Apparently, the fire was in the rocker panel section and spread up into the foam in the door. That was a change for this year due to some of the fires from last year, inside the doors. Back to the drawing board perhaps?
I wonder how Austin Dillon’s lawsuit against his barber is going? Wow. They say the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is two weeks. His looks like it will take MUCH longer!! LOL
In the subsequent qualifying, I’m guessing that very few people had Justin Haley (Chev) for the pole, but he got it by over a tenth. Stout.
Kyle Busch (Chev) was second, Christopher Bell (Toyota) third and William Byron (Chev) fourth. Translation – Haley started on the pole for Qualifying Heat Number 1. Busch was on the pole in Heat 2, while Bell heat 3 and Byron heat 4.
Five cars advanced to the 27-car main. Three each out of the two non-qualifier races plus the last spot for the highest 2022 points car not already qualified. So that makes four heat races of nine cars each.
Tony Stewart had the best line of the day – “Tomorrow, these drivers will take off their driving gloves and put on their boxing gloves!” And if any announcer is qualified to say that, it is definitely Tony.
Well, the heats were a little frustrating. NASCAR.com has buried the Live Timing feature WAY down on the homepage, instead of where it always has been, at the top.
And upon accessing it, the Live Timing did NOT match, at that time, what was on the TV screen, thus negating its usefulness. It did catch up.
I also saw something on the Live Timing that I have never seen in over 60 years of racing. In the status box (normally green, yellow or checker) it showed ‘WARM’? Huh?
In the first heat, it was business as usual until Harrison Burton got spun, early on. At the flag, it was Eric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson and Joey Logano advancing to the main. Going to the Last Chance were McDowell, Burton, Ty Dillon and Buescher.
The second heat would be a test to see how the Kyle Busch switch to RCR would work out. Truex came up to the front and got around Busch for the lead.
Then they swapped back and forth with Truex in the lead when Harvick paid back Cindric for an earlier ‘indiscretion’!!
On the restart, Busch started third with Larson outside front row. He made the right call as at the checker it was Truex, Busch, Austin Dillon, Larson and Harvick who just nipped Chase Elliott at the flag. Stenhouse, Cindric and McLeod thus join Elliott in the Last Chance Race.
The third heat actually had a red flag. Blaney rear-ended Gilliland who then took out Bell with three to go.
Blaney had come from the back to get up into the top five and he finished 4th behind Hamlin, Briscoe and Reddick while Gilliland ended up fifth. Going to the LCQ were Suarez, Bell, Keselowski and Yeley.
The fourth qualifier had Byron on pole, and he checked out. It was kind of funny to see that Bubba Wallace’s sponsor was DoorDash as he was getting his ‘DoorsBashed’!! LOL
At the flag, it was Byron over Wallace, Chastain, Preece and Jones. Gibbs, Allmendinger, Corey LaJoie and Rick Ware to the LCQ.
This put Almirola on the pole with Truex on the outside front row for the feature.
There were two Last Chance Qualifiers races, 50 laps each. Not sure why they were twice as long as the heats. Maybe to create twice as much excitement?
The first one was pretty much drama free, a real accomplishment on this little bullring. With ten to go, Gilliland was beating on Bell for third when Burton got all crossed up running second and dropped back to fourth. At the flag, it was McDowell over Bell and Gilliland going to the main. Burton, Keselowski, T. Dillon, Buescher and Yeley got put on the trailer.
Chase Elliott started the second LCQ on the pole with Stenhouse beside him. Chase got a big jump and the action appeared to be for second.
Ty Gibbs made a banzai attempt to get the lead from Elliott on the last lap but came up just short. ‘Dinger (A.J. Allmendinger) would join those two in the main. Stenhouse, LaJoie, Ware and McLeod did not advance. Cindric got the 27th spot based on last year’s points.
A very, very, very special thank you to NASCAR for having a band play the National Anthem as opposed to the ‘singers’ who like to butcher the anthem with their own unique and disrespectful ‘interpretations’ at so many other races. Well done.
The 150-lap main event was highly anticipated to be a wreck ‘em race. But it started smoothly enough.
It only took about 14 laps before the leader, Almirola, caught the back of the pack. The yellow (red? – the cars didn’t stop) came out on lap 17 when Erik Jones went into the ‘spin cycle.’
But apparently, only green flag laps counted. Yellow again on lap 24 when Blaney got spun. Almirola lost the lead when he missed the call to ‘choose’ and he got caught in the outside lane instead of on the inside. On lap 43 Dinger get turned bringing out the third yellow/red.
Bubba Wallace moved his car owner Denny Hamlin out of the lead on lap 44. On lap 66 Wallace put a lap on polesitter Almirola.
With one to go before the half-way mark (let’s stop and have an ice cream!!) Ross Chastain dive bombed under Denny Hamlin spinning Denny. And those two have a ‘history’!! This will be an ‘interesting’ season for Chastain – just wait for it. And then they had the half-time break for some ‘entertainment.’ Wouldn’t the Beach Boys have been more appropriate? LOL
The second half didn’t get one lap in before Gibbs got turned, reportedly by a teammate, bringing out another yellow/red. Three laps late Harvick spun.
Bell drilled McDowell in the corner bringing out the 8th yellow on lap 81. On the restart Gilliland got spun by Harvick causing stoppage number 9. Preece got around Wallace into the lead on the restart after starting 16th. He had been using the high groove to move up. Dinger and Cindric brought out the 10th caution/red on lap 86.
Joey Logano spun Busch to bring out yet another yellow on the restart. On lap 106, Justin Haley got spun by Briscoe while running eighth. Three laps later Briscoe spun. Hmmm. Lap 113 Blaney hit the wall after having been hit by the freight train behind him for yet another interruption.
On lap 125 Truex did a little body bumping on Preece and took the lead. With ten to go McDowell looped it and had to be pushed off the track. A ten-lap shootout? Who woulda thought!!
Austin Dillon drop-kicked Wallace out of second going into the corner with seven to go. At the checkers it was Truex, A Dillon, Busch, Bowman and Larson. And only 16 cautions!!
RCR seems to have made the correct call in hiring Busch, as the team finished second and third. And even more impressive was that Busch had gone all the way to the back, early on in the race, and worked his way all the way back up to the front.
NASCAR, it may be time to reconsider the green flag laps only format for this race. It took nearly two hours to drive 37.5 miles!! That is an average of about 15 MPH. LOL
Or rename the event to a much more appropriate ‘The Busch Lite CRASH at the Coliseum’!! We all know that traffic is brutal in L.A. but this race took it to an all new level.
Having said all that, it was definitely an interesting race that will create LOTS of water cooler discussions!! Mission complete.
Their next races are the Daytona 500 qualifying, Wednesday Feb.15 on Fox Sports Racing at 6 P.M., the Duels, Thursday, Feb. 16 on TSN 1 & 5 at 7 P.M. and the Daytona 500 Sunday, Feb. 19 on TSN and Fox at 2.30 P.M.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Their next race is Saturday, February 18 at Daytona on TSN 5 at 5 P.M.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Their next race is Friday, February 17 at Daytona on Fox Sports Racing at 7.30 P.M.
FORMULA ONE: Their season starts Sunday, March 5 in Bahrain.
INDYCAR: Their season starts Sunday, March 5 in St. Petersburg.
IMSA: Their next race is the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 11 & 12.
NHRA: Their season starts Sunday, March 12 in Gainesville, Florida (not Pomona!!).
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 13 at Sunset Speedway.
APC SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 20 at Sunset Speedway.
ONTARIO SPORTSMAN SERIES: Their season starts Friday, May 19 at Delaware.
SUPERSTAR RACING EXPERIENCE (SRX): Their season starts Thursday, July 13 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
DELAWARE SPEEDWAY – their season starts Friday, May 12.
FLAMBORO SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, April 29.
OHSWEKEN SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Friday, May 19.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO MOTOR SPEEDWAY (BUXTON): Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
GRAND BEND SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 20.
GRAND BEND DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
ST. THOMAS DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
TORONTO MOTORSPORT PARK: Their season starts April 22.
SHANNONVILLE DRAGS: First race is June 17 & 18, Nostalgia Weekend.
MOTORAMA CUSTOM CAR & MOTORSPORTS EXPO: March 10, 11 & 12 at Toronto’s International Center, across from Pearson Airport.
DRAGSTRIP MEMORIES: April 16 at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum on the grounds of Hamilton’s Airport.
CAN-AM STOCK/SUPER STOCK SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, June 3, Grand Bend.
MY ‘VIEW’: NASCAR teams had to bring an extra team member with them for the L.A. race. Their corporate lawyer was needed just to interpret the entry forms and the race ‘rules’!! Talk about a convoluted and complex race format. Was that the way to attract new fans to the sport?
And which executive thought it would be a great idea to have a ‘half time show’ just like the Super Bowl? Oh, that guy. LOL
Until next week!!
- Dave Mathers