Have a go hero: An ex-F1 racer’s ‘three-hour bar struggle’ in NASCAR - Motor Informed
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Have a go hero: An ex-F1 racer’s ‘three-hour bar struggle’ in NASCAR

Having contested 24 Method 1 grand prix for McLaren and Stewart in the course of the 1990s, Jan Magnussen isn’t any stranger to the motorsport limelight. However the Dane admits that he tried to go below the radar for a one-off NASCAR Cup Collection look at Sonoma in 2010, which he describes as a “incredible expertise”.

Regardless of a powerful junior single-seater profession which included prestigious wins on the 1992 Method Ford Pageant and a record-breaking British Method three title success in 1994, his time in grand prix racing was short-lived and yielded however a single level on his last outing on the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix.

However a transfer into sportcars reignited his profession, first proving his class alongside David Brabham at Panoz earlier than a swap to Corvette Racing allowed him to flourish with 4 Le Mans 24 Hours class wins between 2004 and 2009.

Archive: How F1-exile Magnussen made the switch to sportscars 

It additionally paved the way in which for additional alternatives in America and in the end his memorable NASCAR cameo, the place he completed 12th.

Alongside his commitments within the American Le Mans Collection, Magnussen had been working with NASCAR’s prime Basic Motors outfit Hendrick Motorsports to develop highway course set-ups and “as a bonus” was given the possibility to compete in a race aboard a fifth Chevrolet fielded by sister squad Phoenix Racing.

“The automobiles are heavy with huge, tender tyres, and a stiff rear axle,” remembers Magnussen of the automobile’s traits. “It simply takes a distinct driving model, you’ve acquired to be tremendous affected person with all the things you do.

“However there’s a lot energy, 850-900 horsepower or one thing. Unbelievable! [It had] 4 gears, but it surely felt like with that quantity of energy you simply decide a gear you want.”

Magnussen enjoyed the enormous power of the under-gripped stock cars

Magnussen loved the big energy of the under-gripped inventory automobiles

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Regardless of having to adapt to the automobile, Magnussen had excessive expectations of himself heading to the 16th spherical of that 12 months’s championship on the 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway. It was a monitor he knew effectively from ALMS exploits – having memorably received there with the Panoz in 2002, he and Brabham beating the vastly superior Audi R8 of Tom Kristensen and Johnny Herbert by lower than half a second.

“The testing had gone rather well and I had actually excessive hopes, I assumed I can do effectively right here,” he says. “However the way in which you get ready for a race weekend is sort of totally different from the rest I’ve skilled earlier than. The quantity of operating may be very restricted.”

The now 48-year-old may solely qualify 32nd on the 43-car grid. However with 110 laps of racing to return, he knew there could be alternative aplenty to stand up the order by merely staying out of hassle as these round him turned embroiled in NASCAR’s inevitable push-and-shove.

“I made a plan instantly from tales that I’d heard, I would like to remain under the radar for so long as attainable,” he says. “The opposite guys that had been there only for the highway course race had been being super-aggressive to start with they usually did get forward of me – however they quickly acquired worn out by the locals!

“I knew it was solely going to be the highway programs, so I did extra testing after that – however clearly my calendar at the moment was fairly booked so sadly no extra got here out of it” Jan Magnussen

“There’s a lot happening the entire time, it was like a bar room struggle for 3 hours.”

One other driver making his NASCAR debut that weekend was two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom, who Magnussen admitted he was measuring himself towards – and in the end beat, after the Swede was spun out by Brad Keselowski.

Magnussen’s race additionally wasn’t with out incident, as he made contact with Carl Edwards 4 laps from house which despatched the incensed 2008 sequence runner-up right into a spin.

“He had me in a stranglehold after the race,” laughs Magnussen. “I acquired pushed into him, but it surely was nonetheless me that hit him. I acquired pushed into him proper after his spotter had informed my spotter that they had been racing for factors. However my spotter informed his spotter that we weren’t…”

Ekstrom got ahead of Magnussen but the Dane finished ahead after the DTM champion ruffled a few feathers

Ekstrom acquired forward of Magnussen however the Dane completed forward after the DTM champion ruffled a number of feathers

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Whereas Magnussen could possibly be happy together with his day’s work, his efforts in creating highway course set-ups with Hendrick had additionally confirmed its value as Jimmie Johnson took victory, whereas Jeff Gordon completed fifth. With all 5 Hendrick-affiliated automobiles inside the highest 15 finishers, Magnussen says his one-off outing was mutually helpful to all.

“My team-mates had been Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson, like 10-11 championships proper there [at the time],” he says.

“They had been all nice, however Dale Earnhardt Jr was incredible to work with. So thoughtful and actually appreciated no matter assist I may carry. Hendrick Motorsports was nice, an unbelievable workforce.”

Magnussen continued working with the workforce via the remainder of the season with the intention to do extra highway programs, however his clashing sportscar schedule prevented any additional NASCAR outings.

“I hoped to do extra,” he says. “I knew it was solely going to be the highway programs, so I did extra testing after that – however clearly my calendar at the moment was fairly booked so sadly no extra got here out of it.

“However NASCAR is among the coolest experiences I’ve had.”

Strong finish for Hendrick team vindicated Magnussen's set-up work, but he didn't get another race opportunity

Robust end for Hendrick workforce vindicated Magnussen’s set-up work, however he did not get one other race alternative

Picture by: Motorsport Images

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