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Will-hatNewly-crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power will be a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Sept. 4. Check local listings for time and channel.

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, wrapped up his first series title Aug. 30 in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. It was the first entrant championship – and the 13th overall – for Team Penske since 2006.

The stop at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York is among the media appearances for Power in New York. Steve Buscemi of the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" also is a scheduled guest on the show hosted by the co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Fernando Alonso, F1 2014

Fernando Alonso insists he remains committed to Ferrari for now, despite a fresh push by McLaren to lure the Spaniard for its new Honda era.

McLaren is delaying out its 2015 driver lineup until it knows what the plans of Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are. The team wants an answer from both men imminently, as it is eager to sort out its driver plans before the Singapore Grand Prix later this month. But despite the fresh interest from McLaren, Alonso has made it clear ahead of the Italian Grand Prix that he is still determined to win the world title for Ferrari.

"It's not my intention at the moment to move," he told Britain's Sky Sports News when asked about his feelings on the fresh McLaren interest, which reportedly included a $32m salary offer. "I want to win for Ferrari, I want to win here and finish the job that we started some years ago and we will see what the future comes."

Although Alonso has a contract with Ferrari until the end of 2016, that has not stopped ongoing speculation about his future. Last year, he was linked with Red Bull after his manager approached the team, while this season McLaren has been open about its intent to bring the Spaniard back to the team despite the acrimonious split they had at the end of 2007.

Alonso insists, however, that he has never said he wants to leave Ferrari, and he says that although overtures from other teams do pose problems it does show his value.

"Obviously, there has been a lot of talk from the summer of last year, the start more or less, but from my mouth never came any interest to leave to Ferrari or any words saying that I will join another team," he said. "There are a lot of speculations which is not disturbing but it creates a bit of tension around and stress. But also you feel proud, you feel happy that the best teams have interest in you and they say it in public. "

OPINION: Leaving the door open
Jonathan Noble

Fernando Alonso is as precise with his words off the track as he is with his driving on it. That is why it is important to look at the specifics of everything he says, rather than just the headline grabbing sound bites, to fully understand what the Spaniard is really thinking.

While his latest commitment to Ferrari would appear to dash all of McLaren's hopes of luring him to that team in the future, Alonso has actually left the door slightly open.

Fernando Alonso, F1 2014

Right in the middle of his comment about staying at Ferrari, his use of "at the moment" is interesting, for it appears to put a timeframe on his devotion to Maranello.

Few people – even those inside McLaren – expected Alonso to turn his back on a revamped Ferrari just now and take the gamble of switching to unproved Honda engines next year. It could well be a jump from the frying pan in to the fire.

The most sensible option for Alonso was always going to be to stay put for at least one more year, as the options he has now will still be there in 12 months' time. By the summer of 2015, Alonso will not only have a much better idea of the scope of progress being made at Ferrari under Marco Mattiacci, but he will also know just how good the new Honda engine is.

Furthermore, with Sebastian Vettel perhaps unsettled at Red Bull, and relations between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at breaking point at Mercedes, there could well be possibilities elsewhere on the grid too.

Alonso's message in what he said today is clear: I want to win at Ferrari and right now that is my intention.

But do not think that what he says today will stand true this time next year if Ferrari is not pushing at the front of the grid. Then it will be game on for 2016.

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

leadThe measure of a race driver is usually wins and championships. At least that’s how most of the great ones are remembered or rated. Unless you are Parnelli Jones, who retired from Indy cars in his prime at the age of 33 with only six victories. Or Dan Gurney, who was too busy chasing Formula 1 glory to seriously contest for the USAC national championship. And Stirling Moss is revered as the greatest F1 driver to never be No. 1.

WP-Indy-2009That trio is legendary because of their diversity and monstrous talent in the deadliest era of motorsports. The fact they never won a championship in their respective areas of expertise had no bearing on their reputations.

However, despite his prowess in American open wheel racing the past six seasons, Will Power likely wasn’t ever going to command that kind of respect. Even though he’s won 21 of his 92 starts for Roger Penske since joining as a sub and then a part-time third car in 2009 (RIGHT), led 2,381 laps and earned 30 pole positions, Power had never delivered under the gun. From “can’t miss” to “can’t close,” his brilliance had been overshadowed by his bumbling at season’s end. Three times he led the point standings with two races remaining and three times he came up empty for The Captain.

with-Liz-RobinNow, Penske cherishes Indianapolis 500 wins a lot more than championships (Tom Sneva got fired after back-to-back titles in 1977-’78) but a bad pattern was developing with Power.

After a magnificent sweep at Milwaukee (winning the pole with a ballsy run and dominating the race), the 33-year-old Aussie was about to dot the “i” on Champion at Sonoma when he stumbled again. Leading comfortably from the pole, he fell back to seventh in a pit stop exchange and then spun out all by himself.

Instead of clinching the crown, he was clenching his teeth because he’d left the door open for teammate Helio Castroneves. Make no mistake, with a 51-point advantage heading for the Fontana finale, Power would need to really screw up to lose this time. And, of course, he went halfway to doing that by qualifying next to last while Castroneves captured the pole and the momentum with the MAVTV 500 paying double points.

So last Saturday night was literally the fork in the road for the young man who’s dazzled us with his speed but disappointed us with his finishing kick. He looked a little frazzled following qualifying and the pre-race talk from just about everyone centered around Power. How would he handle the pressure this time? A spin? Speeding in the pits? Incurring a penalty for blocking? Or like a champion?

“Will did exactly what he needed to do and I was very proud of how he responded,” said Penske after Power secured RP’s first title since 2006 with a smart start, a burst to the front and a sensible ninth place at the end. “I think we all knew he had the ability to be a champion and now he is.”

 


Vegas2007A deserving champion is how I’d describe the one-time skate-boarding hooligan from Toowoomba. When he flashed on the scene in 2005 at Champ Car for Derrick Walker’s team, Power was blindingly fast and maddeningly inconsistent. He also seemed to lack confidence.

But when he scored his first win in Las Vegas in 2007 (ABOVE), something clicked. OK, after clinching the last ever Champ Car race at Long Beach in 2008, he struggled at KV Racing during that merger year, but when with-Dario-Texas2011Walker convinced Penske to hire him for 2009, it was the break that all 20-somethings pray for in Indy car racing. He had the pedigree and now he had the wheels to show it off.

Power did exactly what is expected at Team Penske: he won races but there was an imbalance – domination on road and street circuits and not quite good enough on ovals. And he didn’t mask his less-than-thrilled attitude toward left-turn-only tracks but finally made a breakthrough win at Texas in 2011 (LEFT, with Dario Franchitti after each won a leg of the double-header).

Making marked improvement the past two seasons, he became a contender on ovals and a villain in many circles for his aggressive driving everywhere. That’s why we loved or hated Paul Tracy, and Power was polarizing as well – exactly what IndyCar needs but not Mke-2014high on The Captain’s list. He favors the good guys like Rick Mears and Al Unser Jr., not the bad boys like Sneva and Tracy.

When Power dived to the inside on a restart the other night, passed three cars and charged into the lead, I’m sure RP was screaming to himself.

Yet that’s why Power is the winningest driver of this decade…and also why he’s only got one championship so far. He goes for it, damn the torpedoes and taking it easy. After Castroneves got a penalty, Will finally backed off and eased back into the pack with an ill-handling car, he did it reluctantly because he got to where he is by gassing it.

Without double points for the 500-mile races, Power would have had the title sewn up at Sonoma. Without some unforced errors, he’d probably have clinched it at Milwaukee (RIGHT).

But a series that hasn’t needed gimmicks to make things exciting at the end of the season used one to create some drama.

Fortunately it didn’t change the outcome.  

Sure, there were times this year when it didn’t seem like anybody wanted the 2014 championship, but the right guy will be wearing No. 1 next year. And he may not let go of it for a while.


The replay of Saturday night's MAVTV 500 at Fontana will air on NBCSN Tuesday night at 8 p.m., followed by the championship banquet show.

scary-eyes

256-RichieCrampton-Monday-Indy253-AlexisDeJoria-Indy-MondayAlexis DeJoria raced past 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force Monday to win the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race.

Richie Crampton (Top Fuel, ABOVE), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were first time winners at the tradition-rich NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the last race of the regular season.

DeJoria (ABOVE LEFT) crossed the finish line in 4.038 seconds at 310.34 mph in the Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry to defeat the current Funny Car points leader, who won the Traxxas Nitro Shootout Sunday. It was the third win of DeJoria's season and her first at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. With the victory, DeJoria became the fourth female winner of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the first female driver to win three Funny Car races in a single season.

DeJoria, who also outran Cruz Pedregon, Blake Alexander and Courtney Force en route to the victory, earned a record 10th season victory for female racers in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.

"It's huge [to win the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals]," said DeJoria, wife of noted TV personality Jesse James and daughter of famed entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria. "I was just happy to make it to another semifinal; that was four in a row. To make it past the semifinals, that was huge, but to win this race just builds our confidence even more and in me especially."

DeJoria will be the fourth seed in Funny Car when the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs begins at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in two weeks.

Force was appearing in his sixth consecutive final and ran a 4.039 at 319.67 in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Following his Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory on Sunday, Force was strong on Monday, defeating Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Ron Capps in the first three rounds. Force was appearing in his eighth Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals final and was seeking his fifth victory. He finished the regular season as the points leader and will open the Countdown playoffs with a 30 point advantage over teammate Hight.

Rookie Top Fuel driver Crampton, appearing in his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, powered past Steve Torrence with a 3.766 at 327.98 in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to claim his second Wally trophy of the season. He was close to sweeping the weekend, as he posted a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus event on Saturday.

"Steve-O (Torrence) is one of my great friends out here and he beat me at the Brainerd race," said Crampton, who will be seeded eighth in the Countdown. "We said to each other before the run that we were going to go out there and have some fun. It's pretty awesome that he and I got to share a final round here at the 60th Indy. If I would have been runner-up, I probably would have been almost as happy, because it's been a fantastic weekend for our team."

Torrence was appearing in his second consecutive Indianapolis final in his Capco Contractors dragster, posting a 3.799 at 327.82 during the final. The result broke a one year drought from final round appearances for the Kilgore, Texas native. Torrence will be seeded fifth in the Countdown.

Doug Kalitta claimed the Top Fuel Countdown No. 1 seed and will open the playoffs with a 30 point advantage over Antron Brown.

258-ShaneGray-Celebration-Indy-MondayIn Pro Stock, Gray (LEFT) drove his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro to his first U.S. Nationals victory, defeating teammate Dave Connolly in the final with a 6.641 at 208.42. It was the fourth career victory for Gray, who finished the regular season sixth in points, and his first win since the Las Vegas race last October.

"I really can't describe this in words," said Gray, who beat Shane Tucker, Allen Johnson and brother Jonathan Gray before the final. "If I've learned anything this year, I've learned that it's a lot different to go out and qualify [well] than it is to race on Sunday."

Connolly was appearing in his fifth final round at the Big Go, having collected victories three times. He was also runner-up at the event in 2006. Connolly defeated V Gaines, Erica Enders-Stevens and ended Jason Line's three-race winning streak on his way to the final round matchup with his Gray Motorsports teammate.

Line's late season performance earned him the top seed for the Pro Stock Countdown playoffs.

Krawiec took home his first Indy win and third victory of the season with a 6.941 at 192.63 on the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, beating Jerry Savoie. The win was the 25th career victory for Krawiec, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ.

"I've been fortunate to win three championships and 25 races now and I've finally got an Indy win," said Krawiec, who finished second in regular season points behind teammate Andrew Hines. "I was joking that I could just step off the bike now, announce my retirement, and not run the Countdown [to the Championship]. I think I'll stick around, though."

Savoie was appearing in his second consecutive final on his Savoie's Alligator Farm Suzuki. He beat Chaz Kennedy, John Hall and reigning world champ Matt Smith before posting a 6.987 at 192.58 in the final.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will head to North Carolina for the seventh annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12- 14, at zMAX Dragway. The race will be the opening event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, a six-race championship playoff.

nurb

Lapping the Nurburgring Nordschliefe is always an epic adventure, but you need to watch out for faster traffic. This couple aboard a Lotus Seven-clone Megabusa was lucky to get only an eyeful...

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tk

IndyCar ace Tony Kanaan says his car is like his second wife ... and nobody gets to put their hands on it but him ... which is why he refuses to let valets park it at restaurants...

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Less than 24 hours after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, Will Power got his chance to celebrate.

Power, along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers, were recognized during the IndyCar Championship Celebration at Club Nokia at the LA Live entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., presented Power and team owner Roger Penske with a $1 million championship bonus check and replicas of the Astor Challenge Cup, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship trophy.

"It's still sinking in, really," said Power, a first-time series champion. "When you want something so bad for so long, it's such a relief when you finally get it. It's exactly that – a culmination of 15 years of hard work to get to this point."

In addition to the championship bonus, Power accepted the Jostens Champions Award, a ring valued at $10,000. He also won the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and its $75,000 prize for winning the most races and the Verizon P1 Award for scoring the most points among pole winners.

Matt Jonnson, chief mechanic for Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, accepted the Verizon IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award. Jon Bouslog of Team Penske accepted the Team Manager of the Year Award.

Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport - HVM accepted the $50,000 Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, while Jack Hawksworth won the Tony Renna Rising Star Award.

Charlie Kimball claimed the $25,000 TAG Heuer "Don't Crack Under Pressure" Award for advancing the most cumulative places during the season. Juan Pablo Montoya was voted favorite driver by Verizon IndyCar Series fans.

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports, accepted the manufacturer's award on behalf of Chevrolet.

Helio Castroneves of Team Penske was honored as the second-place finisher in the championship while Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was honored for finishing third.

Highlights of the IndyCar Championship celebration will air on NBCSN on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at at 10:30 p.m. Eastern, immediately following the re-air of the MAVTV 500.

Verizon IndyCar Series award winners:

Championship driver (Astor Challenge Cup): Will Power
Jostens Championship Driver Award (ring): Will Power
Championship team (Astor Challenge Cup): Verizon Team Penske
Championship team sponsors: Verizon
Championship team manager: Jon Bouslog
Chief Mechanic of the Year Award: Matt Jonnson
Sunoco Diamond Performance Award ($75,000): Will Power
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award ($50,000): Carlos Munoz
TAG Heuer "Don't Crack Under Pressure" Award ($25,000): Charlie Kimball
Second place championship driver: Helio Castroneves
Second place championship team: Team Penske
Third place championship driver: Scott Dixon
Third place championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Tony Renna Rising Star Award: Jack Hawksworth
Verizon P1 Award: Will Power
Manufacturers Championship: Chevrolet
Dan and Susie Wheldon "Make a Difference" Award ($1,000 charitable donation): Susie Wheldon
Verizon IndyCar Series Fan Favorite Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya

Honda logo

Honda open to customer teams in 2016

Honda is open to supplying customer teams in Formula 1 from 2016, after confirming it will be exclusive McLaren partners for just one season.

The Japanese manufacturer is returning to F1 for the first time since 2008, having been attracted back thanks to the introduction of the new turbo V6 engines.

Honda's deal with McLaren has guaranteed the team exclusivity of the power units for the first season, and its motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai (LEFT) has clarified plans for 2016 and beyond.

"In 2015 we don't have the plan to supply any team other than McLaren," he said in an interview with the official F1 website. "In 2016 or after, if some teams or partners ask us to supply them too, we will take a look at that situation.

"But even in 2016, McLaren will be our main partner in F1. And even if we supply other teams from 2016 onward our main focus will always be to win – to make the engine better through more data – and not necessarily to look at a return on investment. If you win, that comes automatically."

Arai is adamant that Honda's development plans for next year are on course, and that he fully expects it to be winning races from the off.

"Formula 1 is a very important part of our strategy and winning is very important for Honda," he said. We want to raise the awareness of our brand and I trust – I am a firm believer – that we will win races next year."

NO PLANS FOR ABU DHABI TEST

McLaren had been looking at the possibility of giving the new Honda engine a first run in its car at the post-season Abu Dhabi test this year. However, Arai says that there are no plans for it to hit the track until the first tests of next year.

"In the next couple of weeks we will run simulations and at the beginning of next year we will start to run on the track, very likely at Jerez," he said. "That will very likely be the first time to show the whole car, the Honda engine and the McLaren chassis – the Honda McLaren. Right now, there are no plans to collect data during the rest of 2014. Jerez will be the first time."

Video: The Great Cars III Issue

The Great Cars III Issue is on sale now. Click here for more information.

FROM THE RACER CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE

The Eagle Soars. Episode 2 of "Dan Gurney: All American Racer," presented by Bell.

 

The First 200mph Lap. Episode 5 of "Dan Gurney: All American Racer," presented by Bell.

 

Verizon IndyCar Series: News and views from Robin Miller and Marshall Pruett.

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