'Wily' Tagliani to race again
There's been no grand announcement. In fact, there's been no announcement at all.
salon of expensive car new luxury
There’s been no grand announcement. In fact, there’s been no announcement at all.
But those two races that Alex Tagliani drove for Eric Bachelart’s Conquest Racing team at the end of the 2008 Indy Car season – Detroit and Chicago – have quietly turned into full-time employment for 2009.
On page 9 of Conquest’s new marketing brochure – of the kind sent out to prospective sponsors – it states:
The team “will field two cars in the 2009 IndyCar Series. With Alex Tagliani, the team will have a wily veteran with the experience and commitment to continue moving the team forward. Joining Tagliani will be a driver of equal gift and grit to round out a balanced driver package.”
So it might also be news to Conquest’s two current drivers – Enrique Bernoldi and Jaime Camara – that they’ll soon be drawing unemployment insurance.
Anyway, good for Alex.
It was well known that team owner Bachelart had not been impressed with Bernoldi’s performance this season and it was expected that Tagliani would replace him as early as the Edmonton race in late July. In fact, I did an interview with “Tags” the week before the Edmonton race and he was pretty confident he’d be in the car.
But it was a full month later before Bachelart pulled the plug – and it was only after Bernoldi injured his thumb in a spin during the IRL race at California’s Infineon Raceway in late August. “Tags” got the nod for Detroit as a fill-in and then was kept on for Chicago when Bernoldi’s injury didn’t heal as quickly as anticipated.
(Talk about a sore thumb!)
In any event, it worked out for Quebec’s Tagliani, whose career is now officially back on track. (He’d been driving a stock car this year in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, which is not really his style. I suspect he’s much happier now.)
Ironically, much of the talk post-Edmonton centred on Paul Tracy’s chances of driving again in an Indy car race in 2008 and his chances of landing a full-time ride for 2009.
Wire service stories and Internet chat rooms buzzed all August and some of early September about whether or not Tracy would make a comeback. After all, his one-off at Edmonton had been spectacular, in that it was his first time in the car and he hadn’t crashed and he’d finished fourth, to boot.
Well, the news today is that Tracy is still rideless and Alex Tagliani is not. Which is something of a surprise.
Two other ex-open wheels stars will also soon be “at large:”
1) I reported in last Monday morning’s roundup that Quebecker Patrick Carpentier was on the bubble in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and it was officially announced on Wednesday that he will not return to the Gillett Evernham Motorsports organization in ’09.
2) A.J. Allmendinger also got the word Wednesday that he will not be back at Red Bull Racing’s NASCAR team next year. He’ll be replaced, no doubt, by Scott Speed who is, for all the hype, an under-achiever to date.
So, with Tracy, Carpentier, Allmendinger, J.J. Yeley and – possibly – Sebastien Bourdais on the market, IRL team owners looking to improve their lot will sure have loads of talent to choose from.
Or, will they opt for – in the words of Eric Bachelart (see above) – “a driver of equal gift and grit.” Translation: a guy who can handle the car but also bring truckoads of money with him.
NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE SERIES DOWN TO THE WIRE
Next Saturday night at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will crown a new champion. Will it be a new kid on the block – Scott Steckly of Milverton – or an old campaigner – Don Thomson Jr. of Ayr?
Thomson won the Atlantic Dodge Dealers 300 at Riverside International Speedway in Nova Scotia on Saturday night to keep his championship hopes alive. He now trails Steckly by a scant 67 points heading into the Kawartha round.
It was a wild finish at that beautiful Maritime speedway – a clone of Bristol, by the way, that’s on the east side of the Trans-Canada Highway about mid-way between New Glasgow and Antigonish.
Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., was leading with just two laps to go when he was punted out of the way by Peter Gibbons of Stouffville, Ont. Gibbons was penalized, thus handing the race lead to Thomson, a five-time CASCAR champion, who held on to beat J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge by .202 seconds. (Looks like an IRL finish!)
Ron Beauchamp Jr. of Windsor was third followed by Mark Dilley of Barrie and Dave Whitlock of Petrolia, Ont.
D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas escaped injury in a horrendous crash when his car hit the wall mid-race. Without warning, a suspension part failure on the right front of the car let go and pitched Kennington hard into the concrete.
Said Kennington, now sitting fourth in the standings: “I would say it’s the hardest hit I’ve ever had. I’ve crashed at Talladega, crashed at Charlotte and crashed at Phoenix, but man, oh man, that was big.”
NASCAR TO TEST FOR DRUGS
The big story to come out of this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover – no, even bigger than Greg Biffle winning his second Chase race, and we’ll get to that in a minute – is that starting next February at Daytona, every official, every driver, every crew member and everybody associated with a team in any of NASCAR’s three major divisions will have to undergo random drug testing.
Between a dozen and 14 people from the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series will be tested every race weekend. It will be entirely random, NASCAR said, in that a driver or official could be tested as often as every weekend or as little as once a season.
Everybody will be tested at Daytona; random testing will take place thereafter. And all drugs and stimulants – from hard drugs like heroin to soft drugs like pot and cocaine to performance-enhancing drugs like steroids or stimulants found in cold medications – will come under the microscope.
Meantime, Biffle passed teammate Matt Kenseth with eight laps to go yesterday and went on to win the Camping World RV 400 at Dover International Speedway. Carl Edwards finished third, Mark Martin was fourth and Jimmie Johnson was fifth.
Eight of the top 10 finishers were Chase contenders.
Edwards still leads the playoff run after two races, with Johnson and Biffle tied for second and a mere 10 points behind.
Kyle Busch, who started the Chase in first place, is now dead last in 12th after suffering engine problems yesterday. He says he’s finished. The other 11 drivers say that don’t believe that.