April Fool's day weekend played host to some wild racing action around the world. Autoblog highlights:
Fence-climbing legend Helio Castroneves (right) won the St. Petersburg street race for Marlboro Team Penske. After starting on the front row and leading much of the race, Scott Dixon finished second, ahead of Tony Kanaan. This was Castroneves' first road course win in the IRL. Details here.
A wild and eventful Australian Grand Prix saw a number of drivers have unsuccessful altercations with the Albert Park barriers, including Michael Schumacher, who lost it in spectacular fashion exiting the last turn onto the pit straight. With multiple safety car periods to clean up debris and broken racecars and the subsequent restarts on cold tires, tire management was the key to success this weekend... with no-one managing their tires more cleverly than race winner Fernando Alonso. (McLaren pilot Juan Pablo Montoya never did come to terms with his shoes, managing to spin twice under yellow - the first time on the formation lap!)
[More after the jump]Fernando Alonso passed pole-sitter Jenson Button on the restart after the first safety car period and was never really challenged for the rest of the race. Second-place finisher Kimi Raikkonen was unable to mount a serious attack on Alonso, after vibration from a flat-spotted front tire started to disassemble his front wing. Ralf Schumacher's Toyota came in a distant third after gaining considerable ground in a confusing yellow flag/safety car scenario late in the race. Complete coverage here.
The Czech Republic's Tomas Enge gave the country its first victory in the inaugural A1GP championship at the season-ending race in Shanghai. Malaysia's Alex Yoong was strong in both races and nearly won, ultimately finishing on the middle step of the podium. Australia's Ryan Briscoe finished in third place, giving the team its third podium finish of the year.
The series wrapped up its first-ever championship this weekend with a big bash at the Shanghai Grand Hyatt hotelWinners of the first World Cup of Motorsport were Team France. Rounding out the top five (in order): Switzerland, Great Britain, New Zealand and Malaysia. The second season for the international open wheel series begins October 1, at the historic Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands. More info here.
Tony Stewart muscled his way past Jimmie Johnson in true short track fashion to win Sunday's running of the DirecTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson eventually faded to third, behind teammate Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, for a Chevrolet sweep. Full details at nascar.com.
The next race will be a study in contrasts, as the series leaves the short tracks for the very fast Texas Motor Speedway.
Top Fuel legend Kenny Bernstein watched his son Brandon win the headline class at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Texas - besting Melanie Troxel in the final round for his first win of the year. In Funny Car, points-leading Ron Capps scored the win, while Mike Edwards gained his first Pro Stock win in four years, and Angelle Sampey won the Pro Stock bike event. Troxel's weekend marked her fifth straight trip to the final round - a record for any female NHRA competitor. In another remarkable accomplishment, Angelle Sampey's victory was her 39th in only 137 starts, and puts her in 9th place on the NHRA's all-time wins list. Full race results here.
The shy and retiring John Force provides our quote of the week. Interviewed after setting a Funny Car track record of 4.695 at 328.06 mph, Force opined, "Our new Mustangs are working great now, and they should, as much as I spent on them."