On tap this week:
- Defrancesco gets noticed by top owner
- Psst, got $7,500 to spare?
- Rossi falls five points short
- Logano up against a wall
- Quote of the Week: Johnson in stud territory
- Fifth possible for Hayley
Canadian driver Devlin Defrancesco feels like he just won the lottery.
The 15-year-old Toronto teen learned last week he is the first racer to benefit from the newly announced Generation Ganassi Driver Identification Program, which offers mentoring and other help to young drivers.
"A program like this will definitely help you hone your skills, your speed, and your racecraft because you are learning from the best," he said.
"It will open a lot of doors because Chip Ganassi is a huge deal in motorsports."
Defrancesco had a connection to the Ganassi outfit before the Generation G nomination. He met its driver Tony Kanaan at an event seven years ago and the IndyCar driver has offered informal coaching ever since.
The brainchild of open wheel, stock car and sports car team owner Chip Ganassi, the goal of the Generation G program is to to identify and assist up to 10 young North American racing talents between the ages of 13 and 18.
"I have always had a real interest in finding and trying to develop young racing talent and over the years have even experienced success in doing it," said Ganassi, whose various teams in series like NASCAR, IndyCar and the United Sportscar Championship have amassed 17 championships and 170 victories. "This is simply an effort to give young drivers a 'leg up' as they navigate the turbulent waters of auto racing."
Being named as a driver to watch by Ganassi also puts Defrancesco in select company. Over the years, Ganassi has spotted many budding talents, including NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, and IndyCar drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Alex Zanardi, who both also raced in Formula One.
While it appears there's no financial commitment that goes with the Gen Ganassi, establishing any program that will help get young drivers noticed can only be a positive for the racing community as a whole.
"I think this is a great opportunity not only for me but everybody," said Defrancesco, the 2013 Canadian National Junior Champion who will race for Carlin Motorsports in Formula 4 in the U.K. next year. "It's a huge help."
If you're a racing fan who'd like to learn the craft by not one but two IndyCar regulars and you have a bit of cash to spare, a Dec. 7-9 Racing for Cancer event hosted by 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Canadian James Hinchcliffe might be for you. In addition to two days of lapping at the challenging Laguna Seca Raceway, the event includes private dinners and an option to play a round of golf at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course with the drivers. Tickets for the racing school only can be purchased for US$7,500, while the school plus golf can be had for US$10,000.
By the numbers
Valentino Rossi passed 21 bikes on his way from 25th on the grid to fourth at the flag in Sunday's MotoGP season finale in Valencia, Spain, but it still wasn't enough. He missed capturing his 10th world championship by five points. The Italian needed two Hondas of second-place finisher Marc Marquez and third-place rider Danny Pedrosa to cross the line ahead of Rossi's teammate and newly crowned 2015 champ Jorge Lorenzo, but neither did. Despite seeming to have a quicker bike, especially later in the race, Marquez seemed more intent on keeping his teammate behind than attacking the leader, a fellow Spaniard. "It was unbelievable," Rossi said after the race. "The behaviour of Marquez is something very bad for everything, especially for the sport."
Joey Logano isn't out of it yet, but he needs to win next weekend in Phoenix to have a shot at the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup title. His predicament shows the problem with the new knockout round format of the Chase for the Cup playoff that decides the season champion. Logano had three wins, a third, a sixth and a 10th before he was wrecked intentionally by Matt Kenseth a week ago in Martinsville. On Sunday, a blown tire on Lap 3 of 334 ruined his day and now it's desperate times for arguably the best driver in the 2015 Chase. "We needed to win," he said. "We will go to Phoenix and try to win that one. It is unfortunate."
Quote of the week
" Wow. That is all there is to it. I forgot about that. So happy to be where we are at, so honoured — been so fortunate with great cars, great teammates and look forward to that day to tie such a stud."
— Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson after being told that his win in Sunday's AAA TEXAS 500 at Texas Motor Speedway pushed his victories to 75, which is one behind the late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
The last word
With two races to go in the Camping World Truck Series season, it looks like Calgary's Cameron Hayley will finish in the top 6 in points after another solid finish on Friday. The ThorSport Racing rookie is 24 points up on seventh place and with drivers getting 47 for a win, only a complete meltdown would prevent him from finishing the season sixth overall. The big question for Hayley is whether he can close a 20-point gap to veteran Timothy Peters in the final pair of starts to grab fifth overall.
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