Sadler levitt

Sadler levittElliott Sadler stood in a daze. Head pointed down and quiet, Sadler tried to process what he called the biggest disappointment of his career as the Xfinity Series championship slipped through his fingers late at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The JR Motorsports driver lost the title to teammate William Byron, but his anger was directed solely at Ryan Preece. Pulling down pit road after the checkered flag behind the No. 18 Toyota, Sadler ran into the back of Preece's car and then quickly climbed out to confront him.

"It's very disappointing. To be that close and not win the championship is frustrating," Sadler said. "I don't have many years left and I wanted to try to fulfill a childhood dream and I didn't know it was going to come down to a guy that's not even racing for anything to hold us down like that. Just no respect at all. Within 10 laps to go he's not racing a soul."

Preece was driving a car in contention for the owners' championship, but Sadler wasn't interested in that since Preece's competition for that trophy – Sam Hornish of Team Penske – was over 10 seconds ahead. Sadler and Byron spent the last 100 laps in a heated battle for position and Sadler was pulling away after Byron scrapped the wall.

When Sadler closed in on Preece it allowed Byron to close back in. Sadler scrapped the wall as he got stuck behind Preece as Byron charged to his inside. A few laps later Sadler got into the left rear of Preece, who avoided spinning out, while Sadler hit the wall again.

That would be the end of Sadler's title hunt. Byron finished third while Sadler nursed his battered car to an eighth-place finish.

"If [Preece] would have let us go and let us race, we would have won the championship," Sadler said. "William Byron is seven or eight car lengths behind us and he won't catch us in clean track but then I had to start battling the 18 and ... I don't understand.

"Who is he racing? I still don't understand. Not racing one soul. The 22 [Hornish] who he's racing for the car owners' [title] is half a lap ahead. So, let us race fair and square. Don't become part of the outcome."

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Sadler won the regular-season championship but finished second in the overall points for the second consecutive year and for the fourth time in the last seven years.

"I was going to lay over there," said Preece. "I'm just doing what I'm doing for Joe [Gibbs] and Steve [de Souza], they told me to race for the owner championship. We were trying to race the 9 [Byron] and when the 9 got by me I wanted to let [Sadler] go too and let those two race at it. There's not much to it than that."

Preece acknowledged Sadler was mad although he wasn't sure what had been said to him. As for what he told Sadler, Preece replied, "What more can I tell you, you know what I mean? I'm just racing for Joe. It's what they told me to do. So, I'm just ... team orders."

Asked what that meant and if it was to race hard, Preece replied: "You can't really say it's racing hard. If it was the 7 [Justin Allgaier] and the 1 [Sadler] – I don't know who else was running for that driver championship – it would have been different. But unfortunately, it was probably the worst scenario it could have been for me and that's with the 9 [Byron] and the 1. So, unfortunately, that's just what ended up happening."

While Byron won the drivers' championship, Hornish finished second to win the owners' championship.

"This is probably, by far, the biggest disappointment in my career," said Sadler. "You dream of days of having a championship and winning a championship and just got taken away from us. I don't get it. I don't understand it. I really wish William and I could have fought it fair and square."

image1Brendan Gaughan is not retiring. First, nothing about the word has struck him as accurate. Second, he's convinced he's going to race until he's 80.

But Gaughan is stepping back in 2018.

Speaking with RACER before the '17 Xfinity Series season ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gaughan fondly recalled his extensive career while looking forward with excitement.

Next year, he will again run the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series restrictor-plate races for Beard Motorsports. And perhaps a few road course races along with other "here or there things."

"I am very happy with going back to a part-time NASCAR role," Gaughan said. "This has been 20 years of my life – it's a lot work and it's a lot of effort and it's been a great 20 years. ... It's been a hell of a ride but I'm at the point now where I'm happy. I really wanted to get a win this year and that kind of stinks that we didn't.

"Still, I've won in all levels [of NASCAR]. Every level I've raced a car I've won except for the Cup level. And, hell, I still got four races next year, you never know! I've had a great time, I've had an amazing run. ... That's the plan right now. You'll find me somewhere in the desert [off-road racing], too."

At 42 years of age, there is no one reason why this is happening now. It's simply just time to do other things, even if Gaughan has had a great tenure with Richard Childress Racing.

Gaughan's children are getting older. Son Michael is going to be getting into sports and Gaughan wants to be around for that. He also has non-racing pursuits to devote time to, such as a liquor business, City Lights Shine, among other ventures in Las Vegas.

9D7B4303In 1997, Gaughan made his NASCAR national series debut in the Camping World Truck Series. There, Gaughan rocketed to stardom as a brash young talent. In 2003 (pictured above), when he lost the championship in the season finale at Miami, he gave a memorable television interview that further helped him stand out.

The following year, Gaughan ran his only full-time season in the Cup Series. The No. 77 Dodge was a Penske-Jasper Racing entry.

"I would have loved to have a chance in really good equipment. I never really felt like I had a year in good equipment up there and that would have been a lot of fun," Gaughan said when asked if he would have liked to have run more than one full year.
"Look, Shane [Wilson, crew chief] and I worked hard there, it was great. But there's no mystery the stuff I was in was not what we thought it was on the outside. Another one of my dad's favorite sayings, all that that glitters is not gold."

There were other opportunities for Cup rides, but Gaughan said they were never right for him.

After going back to the Truck Series from 2005 to '08, Gaughan moved into a full Xfinity ride in 2009. Since then, he has been a staple in the series. This season marked Gaughan's fourth consecutive full year.

In 2014, Gaughan picked up his first two career wins. Across all three NASCAR national series, Gaughan has made 487 career starts. And while he is a two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship, a title in one of the top three divisions eluded him.
But Gaughan does not believe in regrets.

"Do I look back at 20 years and go, 'Whoa, man'? Yeah. You can drive yourself crazy if you look at things in life and say I should have turned left instead of right," Gaughan said. "You can't ever do that.

"To me, I look back on it and say, you know what, I had chances to win championships all through the years. I've had chances to win races all through the years. I've been on great teams. I've been on horrible teams. I've driven great. I've driven like s**t. I've made great friends and I've made good enemies.

"I've had a great time. I look back on it and smile."

17PHX2LW 2160Friendships made along the way and the group he's worked with at RCR are what Gaughan is most proud of. However, they are also what makes it the saddest to leave. People are what make a driver good and Gaughan considers himself very lucky because of that.

Hopefully, he said, he's left Ty and Austin Dillon with a few things they'll remember, and being a big brother to Daniel Hemric has also kept him young.

"I love Richard," Gaughan said of his team owner. "He's just an everyday guy. We all wish we could get lucky in our life and Richard's one of those guys – he got lucky and has done great things with it. Really honored to say I got to drive for him.

"I've absolutely loved hanging out with Richard these last bunch of years and getting close to the grandkids [Ty and Austin]. It's been a lot of fun, and I dig the fact in my life I've got to drive for Roger Penske – come on, that was a dream come true. Now I got to end my career with the man that was Dale Earnhardt's owner, the man who has seven NASCAR Cup championships."

As Gaughan now goes into life's next chapter, he is not satisfied. Only because to him, that means you're sitting around doing nothing. And Gaughan has no time, or plans do that.

"I'm happy with the choices I've made, the good and the bad," Gaughan said. "I'm proud of the stuff I've done. Wish I would have a few more wins here or there. Wish I would have maybe a couple more championships here or there. But in the end, I did it my way and my way was definitely a little more out of the norm.

"I was entertaining at times. I was many things at times. My daddy knew Frank Sinatra, so hell, I did it my way."

8eb47ea4 fbdc 4fae bd06 c732f0b8cf67 orginalBMW Motorsport announced that it has completed an intensive three-day test at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France with its 2018 BMW M8 GTE, set to race in the FIA WEC and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

As part of the test, the car completed a 24-hour run, the main focus of the trip to France. Driving the car were BMW works drivers Martin Tomczyk, Antonio Felix da Costa, Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims.

Reacting to the test, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said was positive about the car's performance.

"This 24-hour endurance test marks another important step in the preparation of the new BMW M8 GTE. This test confirmed that our development of the car is on track," he said. "We have seen that we can complete a marathon test without any major issues. Of course, when developing a new racecar there are always areas with a little more room for improvement. Our engineers will now work hard on those in Munich, and during the tests in the USA.

"Overall, we are pleased with what we have achieved so far and we can hardly wait to experience the BMW M8 GTE in its first race at Daytona in January."

b1075440 7558 48a7 877a 281a2f56b5ca orginalTomczyk, who drove the car, added: "The test went positively. An endurance test like this is a real acid test for the car, and the BMW M8 GTE passed it. Of course, there were one or two minor things but they did not affect the 24-hour run as a whole."

The BMW M8 GTE is set to debut at the end of January in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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Alonso JEPAbove: Fernando Alonso is swarmed by media on the grid for the 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Toyota has confirmed that two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso will drive a TS050 HYBRID in tomorrow's FIA World Endurance Championship rookie test at the Bahrain International Circuit.

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This comes after RACER revealed that 36-year-old Spaniard had visited Toyota Motorsport's base in Cologne for a seat fitting earlier this month, and visited the circuit this weekend for the final WEC race of the season. Tomorrow's test will be his first drive in an LMP1 Hybrid.

The team will run two TS050 HYBRIDS in the test; the other will be driven by Jackie Chan DC Racing's French driver Thomas Laurent, who won Le Mans this year in LMP2 with the Chinese-flagged team.

"We are very excited that Fernando will test our car," said Hisatake Murata, Toyota Gazoo Racing team president. "When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer. We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car.

"It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 HYBRID."

Alonso has McLaren's blessing to race for Toyota at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018 if approached, RACER understands. The Spaniard has already been confirmed as racing for United Autosports in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

RE Sat 017Toyota Gazoo Racing's No. 8 TS050 HYBRID of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson cruised to victory in the 6 Hours of Bahrain, their fifth win of the 2017 World Endurance Championship season. The trio finished a lap clear of the other LMP1 class runners.

The winning car was the only car in the LMP1 class to have a clean run to the flag, the other three having various issues throughout, resulting in Toyota's No. 8 crew taking a commanding win to conclude the season.

"It was a great race," Davidson said. "All three drivers, plus the engineers and pit crew, deserve credit for this. Everyone did a perfect job this weekend; we hit the ground running and got the tire choice just right, so a big thanks to the team. Thanks also to Porsche who have helped us to raise our level to new heights; it was a pleasure to race against them."

For Porsche, today's race wasn't the fairy-tale end to its LMP1 program it had hoped for, the German marque having to settle for a second- and third-place finish, the world champions in the No. 2 finishing second after a recovery drive that lasted almost the entire race, ahead of the No. 1 sister car.

Both Porsches were delayed significantly in the race, the No. 2 losing time early due to a lane marker getting wedged in the nose, forcing Timo Bernhard into the pits for a front-end change. The No. 1 meanwhile, was still in the running for the win until the end of the fourth hour, when Nick Tandy collided with the Gulf Racing Porsche at Turn 1, giving the car a puncture:

The No. 7 TS050 – which, like the No. 1 Porsche, will finish the season winless – was also in the wars. Kamui Kobayashi put the car out of contention after it hit the No. 92 Porsche at Turn 2 at the halfway mark, costing the team a lap after the rear end was repaired in the pits. The 911 RSR, on the other hand, didn't return to the circuit, and retired due to the damage.

"It was a pity to have the contact with the Porsche GT," Kobayashi admitted after the race. "I thought I had already got past him but we got the drive through so it was probably my fault. I have been down to see the No. 92 guys to say sorry for finishing their race. We always try to avoid contact so it's disappointing for that to happen when we were in good shape. I wanted to finish the season in a better way."

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In LMP2, Vaillante Rebellion's No. 31 crew were crowned LMP2 teams and drivers champions in dramatic fashion. Frenchman Julien Canal and Brazilian Bruno Senna claimed the drivers title, winning the race by just 10 seconds.

It was a really tough win, as Senna had to complete the final hour in the car without power steering after serving a penalty for a collision with the No. 24 Manor ORECA at Turn 1.

Both issues cost the team lot of time and Senna wrestled with the car all the way to the flag, having to reset the power steering multiple times on the fly. The intermittent failure was so bad that the team almost elected to sub in Nicolas Prost for the final 20 minutes due to the physical strain put on Senna.

But, in the end, the Brazillian prevailed and Rebellion took the championships in its first year racing in LMP2; it's a good consolation prize for coming tantalizingly close to winning Le Mans. Notably, it's also Canal's second LMP2 title; he previously won with G-Drive Racing in 2015.

RE Sat 034"Until the race is over, it's never over," said Prost. "When I heard that Bruno said the power steering was failing, I thought maybe we could still finish. At Paul Ricard at an endurance test in the past I did 20 laps with no power steering, so I remember that you can do it.

"In the end it worked out and the team won the championship by 10 seconds, after so many hours of racing this year."

The No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA came home second, Oliver Jarvis unable to catch and pass Senna at the end to claim the title. Instead, the Briton and teammates Thomas Laurent and Ho Pin Tung had to settle for the runner-up spot in the standings after leading the class championship for most of the season, at one time by as much as 50 points.

Despite not having any penalties or on-track clashes, the No. 38 did lose time, hampered by the car's apparent inability to pick up the final 15 liters (four gallons) in the tank. The car completed successive fuel stints of 20, 19, 18, and 17 laps while their main competitors were managing a steady 21 or 22. It meant they had to make an extra stop at the end, creating the showdown between the two contenders.

Third on the road was the sister Rebellion ORECA, making it a double-podium for the Anglo-Swiss team.

RE Sat 039AF Corse, meanwhile, stormed to victory in GTE Pro, and the GTE Pro drivers and teams world championships – making it a clean sweep for the team, which took the manufacturers crown for Ferrari at Shanghai. 

The No. 51 of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi won the titles, and was due to take the win, but the team switched the two 488s over at the end. They came home second, behind the sister car of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird – who got out of the car and proposed to his girlfriend in pit lane (she said yes) – after the two Ferraris crossed the line in formation:

"We bought the ring last week, so it was coming, either today or in Hong Kong, but I thought, "Why not?" after a win," Bird said. "I'm glad she said yes – it would have been embarrassing after a loss, that would have sucked!"

Third on the road was the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT, which was in the running for the win throughout but lost 30 seconds at its fourth stop due to the mechanics checking over the car. The GT was due to finish fourth until three-time FIA WTCC champion Andy Priaulx muscled past Fred Makowiecki's No. 91 Porsche in the final minutes of the race to nab himself and fellow countryman Harry Tincknell a podium.

Notably off the podium were the pair of Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTEs in their final GTE Pro appearance before the new car takes over in 2018. The British team didn't sign off the car's time in the GTE Pro class with any silverware due to a lack of pace over long runs; the No. 95 of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim ran at the rear of the field for the entire race, and the No. 97 faded late after climbing into the top three in the fifth hour.

RE Thurs3 090While Aston Martin Racing failed to feature in GTE Pro at Bahrain, its No. 98 Vantage took the win in GTE Am, and as a result, claimed the teams and drivers championships, the first for Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy.

"We've had some tough days getting here, but boy, it was worth all of that," Dalla Lana, the first Canadian WEC champion, told RACER. "The season came together, the boys were faster and faster – this is a life ambition. Pedro and Mathias have been amazing, and generous, that has helped me enormously to find more within myself and to enjoy it too."

The No. 61 Clearwater Ferrari came home second, capping off its highly successful debut WEC season with another set of trophies. Spirit of Race's 488 GTE finished third.

While all the races in the FIA WEC season are done, the Bahrain International Circuit is set to host the annual Rookie Test tomorrow. The on-track running will feature Fernando Alonso's debut LMP1 appearance with Toyota, as well as Porsche LMP Team's final public run with the 919, with World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion Pietro Fittipaldi set to drive.

Click here for full results.

Jr Hendrick KinradeDale Earnhardt Jr. will not drive for Hendrick Motorsports after this season, but team owner Rick Hendrick says nothing is going to change between the two.

"We've talked about it a lot. We've made a commitment to each other that we're not going to let this end," Hendrick said ahead of Homestead-Miami weekend. "We're going to do even more things together. We're partners in JR Motorsports. We're partners in car dealerships.

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"We both love to go down to Florida and fish. I want to see him as a dad and watch his family grow. Our relationship is so much more than him just driving the car. He's a special person and friend."

Rick's late son Ricky always told his dad that Earnhardt, a close friend of his, would drive for the company one day. As a teenager, Earnhardt signed a contract with Hendrick on a napkin.

Looking back, Rick Hendrick never thought it would be something that would come to fruition. Signing Earnhardt when he decided to leave his family operation at Dale Earnhardt Inc. was like fulfilling what Ricky had believed in and wanted to see happen.

Earnhardt has raced for Hendrick since 2008.

"After knowing Dale and [sister] Kelley [Earnhardt Miller] for so long, it's kind of felt like a family affair," said Hendrick. "I want to be someone Dale can talk to and confide in. In a way, I think we've filled the void for each other. No one will ever replace my son and no one will ever replace his dad, but we share a special bond.

"I've just loved watching him grow up and mature, from hanging out with his posse [friends] to getting married and now starting a family with Amy."

Being the car owner of the sport's most popular driver isn't easy. Hendrick has never shied away from that. There is a pressure that comes with the expectations from Earnhardt's legion of fans.

In his 10 seasons at Hendrick, Earnhardt has enjoyed the ups and downs of racing. He's won nine races, including his second Daytona 500 in 2014, but only made the playoffs six times. There have been crew chief changes and even swapping of the shops on the Hendrick campus to put the No. 88 team in the same building as champion Jimmie Johnson.

At the start of his final weekend, Earnhardt credited Hendrick and his teammates for turning him into the person he is today. Being at the championship-winning organization has helped him grow and held him accountable for his performance.

Hendrick looks back on their partnership fondly.

2008

"To win the very first race he ran [the 2008 Budweiser Shootout, pictured above] was unbelievable. There was a lot of hype going into that season, so to win right out of the gate was exciting and took some pressure off," Earnhardt said. "The Daytona 500 [in Daytona] was so special. Any time you can be with Dale in victory lane at Daytona, it carries a lot of meaning.

"I think all the way back to his very first test with us at Atlanta [in 2007] when he drove our car with City Chevrolet on the hood and All-Star Racing on the side. That's when we were like, 'Okay, this is really happening.' I kept the car. That's how much it meant it meant to me."

aerEngland's Advanced Engine Research has unveiled its newest LMP1 engine, the twin-turbo V6 P60B model, at the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain. The launch, concurrent with the new Dallara-built BR1 LMP1 chassis that broke cover, will see the car and engine come together with the SMP Racing effort in 2018.

"AER's LMP1 engine has been in a state of constant development since its inception in 2013," said AER technical director Mark Ellis. "But the specific, integrated package of upgrades we've been working on since this past January represents a sufficient step forward that it warrants the change in nomenclature. The P60B incorporates improvements that make it a step up from the P60 in terms of both performance and reliability that's required for continued success in endurance racing."

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According to Ellis, the P60B has provided encouraging results in runs that have lasted 24 hours or more on a dyno cell.

"Following impressive dyno test results, the first P60B was delivered to a customer last month," he said. "AER have since built several P60Bs in support of track testing, as well as the 2018/19 racing superseason."

With AER's offerings extending to other series, including Indy Lights on the Mazda Road to Indy, and IMSA, with its engine program for Mazda's Daytona Prototype international effort, managing director Mike Lancaster says operational upgrades have been made to keep pace with AER's growth.

"This has been done in parallel with heavy investment in AER's facilities in 2017, and in support of AER's planned and future racing activities," he said. "All of our clients are now benefiting from this program and those benefits will only increase with the passage of time."

Hamlin homestead rustyDenny Hamlin knows he's not the first driver to have had championship chances slip through his fingers.

After winning the pole for Sunday's season finale (3 p.m. ET, NBC) at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver lamented being eliminated from the playoffs last weekend. Contact from Chase Elliott eventually cut down a tire on Hamlin's Toyota, sending him hard into the Turn 3 wall and out of the race.

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Hamlin's feelings have not changed on the events that have transpired between him and Elliott over the last few weeks. An "unfortunate circumstance" is what Hamlin called it after qualifying.

Winning the pole for the final race of the year was of little solace.

"It's half-satisfaction. Half of its disappointment because you only run this good for so long," Hamlin said. "I feel like we timed out the playoffs really, really well. We performed great over the last three or four races, better than probably any stretch of my career that we've performed for that consecutive amount of weeks. Qualifying second, second, first the last three [races]. All that's just been really good.

"But we don't have our chance [for the championship]. We're not part of the final four. So, I think there's a little bit of satisfaction proving that you should be here with a chance, but it's also a little disheartening that you're not."

This is a position Hamlin has been in too many times before. Before the elimination format in the playoffs was implemented, Hamlin had a championship wrestled from him in the finale by Jimmie Johnson.

Under the current format, Hamlin has been in title contention only once, finishing third in 2014, the inaugural season of the current elimination-style format.

"I've been doing this for 12 years, and it's always close, close, close, close. Never there," Hamlin said. "2014 was the last time we were here in the final four. We were leading with nine [laps] to go, and some backmarkers crashed. That took us out. Some other guys pitted, we didn't.

"I feel like when we have to really perform well, we really, really do. And sometimes circumstances take you out of the playoffs. I've had roof hatches fly open. I've had running out of gas. Everything you can imagine bad luck-wise. Sometimes, like this year, it was not bad luck. It was driver mistake and things like that.

"So, we all share in it. But I'm comfortable in feeling that eventually, we're going to have our time. Eventually, we'll win our championship, and when we do, it will probably mean that much more."

With the checkered flag Sunday afternoon Hamlin will have completed his 12th full season in the Cup Series. He has 31 career wins.

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