How NASCAR stars taught F1 veterans a giant lesson in racecraft - Motor Informed

How NASCAR stars taught F1 veterans a giant lesson in racecraft

A minimum of Kimi Raikkonen had confronted the NASCAR Cup expertise as soon as earlier than, arriving on the Circuit of the Americas having been booted out of final yr’s race at Watkins Glen and into the tyrewall, so at the very least he knew what he might count on.

Fellow F1 world champion Jenson Button joined him at COTA, and so they have been shortly lapping at an honest tempo in follow and qualifying – the place the pair have been separated by simply zero.033s – however would begin exterior of the highest 20.

However when it got here to the racing they have been just about blown away.

The starkest instance was Raikkonen’s perfectly-timed closing pitstop that rocketed him to fourth with 9 laps remaining. Having stored his nostril clear all day, with barely a scratch on his Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro, the Finn selected to restart on the surface lane in fourth, slightly than lose a place however acquire the all-important inside line for the lengthy, uphill run to Flip 1.

Jenson Button leads Kimi Raikkonen at Austin

Jenson Button leads Kimi Raikkonen at Austin

Photograph by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

There, he braked with the frontrunners, however when he turned in, Denny Hamlin had dived to his inside to make it three-wide, and Daniel Suarez – his team-mate – briefly acquired into the rear of him earlier than backing out.

And who took the fifth spot at that restart? Tyler Reddick, who timed it to perfection and lunged down the within to assert the lead. He went on to win the race…

That despatched Raikkonen again to eighth, however he’d learnt a beneficial lesson – dropping a spot to restart ninth however on the within lane subsequent time. The primary nook labored out significantly better for him, however then he then discovered himself four-wide at Flip 2 and acquired pushed again to 11th. After rubbing doorways with Joey Logano via the Esses, Raikkonen was shuffled out once more, ending the following lap in 17th

After one other yellow, the 2007 F1 world champion had clearly had sufficient of going backwards and piled into the again of Ryan Blaney on the subsequent restart at Flip 1, spinning him out. Raikkonen acquired again to 12th by selecting the surface lane for the following restart, however the punter quickly turned the punted; he acquired spun additional across the lap and would finish his day approach in 29th.

“They stored coming, getting extra restarts and extra restarts, so I believe after the spin I had, the tyres have been simply completed,” he mirrored afterwards. “It’s a disgrace, as a result of we have been there [inside the top 5], however then we restarted, and simply flawed place, flawed time.

Kimi Raikkonen, Trackhouse Racing, and #91 crew chief Darian Grubb

Kimi Raikkonen, Trackhouse Racing, and #91 crew chief Darian Grubb

Photograph by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

“We acquired unfortunate with the incidents that occurred. It was a type of issues, sadly. It appeared such as you’d be excellent, then three corners later, anyone’s going the flawed course. There’s a little bit of mess and luck concerned.”

Button solely rose into the highest 20 for the ultimate restart and battled his technique to a really respectable 18th by the chequered flag – exceptional given the actual fact he stopped twice within the pits within the second half of the race to obtain water and ice luggage as a result of he thought he was going to lose consciousness within the automobile.

“The motion is superb, I’ve to provide it to those guys,” mentioned Button. “The primary 10 laps, they only destroyed me. Left me standing. Each time I used to be in a nook, I had somebody overtaking me.

“The primary stint was actually dangerous – it was embarrassing for me. It felt flawed, I used to be driving in a race the place nothing’s pure. I took some time to study the racecraft. And I hadn’t raced for 3 years, and I’ve by no means hit a automobile… deliberately.

“I used to be like [on the radio] ‘All proper guys, we have to pit, freshen the tyres and I would like some air – I would like some recent air.’ I acquired that. The tempo was good, consistency was good. I used to be actually comfortable and handed a number of automobiles, which was good.

“Within the [next] stint I’d had a whack from Kimi, and it simply felt so oversteery, I simply went backwards. I would like to enhance some issues within the automobile, however I loved the top. I acquired it flawed on the final restart, however I made up 5 – 6 locations on the final two laps.”

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing and Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing, Mobil 1 Ford Mustang

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing and Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing, Mobil 1 Ford Mustang

Photograph by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Button’s subsequent occasion would be the Chicago Avenue Race in July, so he has a while to work along with his Rick Ware Racing workforce to get him extra comfy in his Ford Mustang.

“It was so scorching,” he added. “I don’t have a fan in my seat, which actually didn’t assist me an excessive amount of. I used to be so near getting out of the automobile, as a result of I believed I used to be going to faint.

“I need to’ve drank eight [or] 9 bottles of water through the race. The workforce stored me calm, and it’s the rationale why we acquired a superb outcome ultimately. So, I used to be comfortable.”

It wasn’t simply the F1 guys who discovered the going powerful: Corvette’s IMSA ace Jordan Taylor, in for the injured Chase Elliott at Hendrick Motorsport, starred by qualifying in fourth, however this highway course ringer tumbled within the early going after flatspotting a tyre.

He rallied to the perimeter of the highest 10 on the closing restart however acquired concerned in a conflict with Aric Almirola that dropped him to 24th on the end.

“We had nice velocity all weekend,” mentioned Taylor. “It’s simply too dangerous our finish outcome didn’t mirror that. I used to be a bit too cautious to start with and had a few errors that set us again early on.

“I believed defending the automobile was the best factor to do, however I came upon fairly shortly that you must brace for impression on restarts and hope you one way or the other come out in a single piece, driving in the best course. You nearly needed to be the aggressor to not get smashed within the again.

Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, MoneyLion Toyota Camry

Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, MoneyLion Toyota Camry

Photograph by: Jared East / NKP / Motorsport Images

“I don’t know who it was [at the final restart], however they have been by no means going to make the nook and used us as their brake. We undoubtedly had the potential for a high 10.”

With regards to the sturdy racing, he added: “Guys don’t actually plan on making clear strikes. I kinda anticipated it to be a bit extra respectful but when they see a gap they use you to get their automobile stopped. It’s simply an expertise factor.

“Too dangerous it didn’t go our approach – upset with our outcome however pleased with our effort.”

Even seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson discovered it powerful: He didn’t make it so far as lap two, after being worn out by Ty Dillon spinning into him on the strategy to the ultimate nook of the opening tour. His Camaro was too broken to proceed.

“It’s actually disappointing but it surely comes with racing, it’s a part of it,” mentioned Johnson. “Sadly, we didn’t have a superb day in qualifying [he began down in 31st] so we have been across the wrecks, so these issues can occur. It’s unhappy that we didn’t take one lap beneath inexperienced.”

Whether or not it’s in your first Cup begin like Button, or your 688th like Johnson, holding out of hurt’s technique to get a robust end is what makes NASCAR highway racing one among motorsport’s best challenges – whoever you might be or no matter you’ve achieved.

Jimmie Johnson, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Club Wyndham Chevrolet Camaro

Jimmie Johnson, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Membership Wyndham Chevrolet Camaro

Photograph by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

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