2011. There are so many words to describe this season, from unforgettable, shocking, awesome, emotional and much more. This post will be a timeline of all the major events of 2011.
Grand Am: The racing season kicked off with Grand-Am’s 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Ganassi and TRG win in DP and GT respectively. The #45 car Flying Lizard had fastest lap. Race 2 was at Homestead-Miami’s road course on March 5th. In Daytona Prototype, the Telmex Ganassi team took victory. In Grand Touring, Turner Motorsport tasted victory. Race 3… Barber. In Barber, Ganassi took victory again in DP and in GT Turner Motorsport took the victory again. This was the third straight victory for Ganassi and second straight for Turner Motorsport. Race 4 was a different story in DP the #9 Action Express team took victory at VIR and in GT the 88 Autohaus team smelled the checkered flag in victory lane. In Lime Rock on Memorial Day the Ganassi team had trouble in Daytona Prototype and the Sun Trust Wayne Taylor Racing team took their first checkered flag of the year. In GT, Steven Motorsport also took their first victory of the season. At Watkins Glen 1, Sun Trust Racing won again and Brumos Racing won in GT. Next was America’s fastest road course (Road America) Ganassi Racing finally got back to their winning ways in DP and in a epic race in GT, the Marsh team pulled it out. In Laguna Seca, Bob Stallings Racing got their first victory of 2011 in DP and in GT Brumos Racing won again. After that was New Jersey. In DP Ganassi won and in GT Speed Source picked up their first win of the season. In Watkins Glen 2, it was the Sun Trust Racing team again in DP and in Grand Touring it was TRG taking the victory. Bob Stallings Racing won in DP at Montreal and in GT it was Stevenson Racing winning in Montreal also. The last event was Mid Ohio. Starworks got their first win of the season. In GT, it was Stevenson Motorsport again.
NASCAR: The season kicked off as the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers. Paul Menard, Regan Smith, Marcos Ambrose, and David Ragan were all first time winners. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch both had 4 wins. Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson had a feud so did Kyle and Kevin. The Roush cars were strong again. Dale Jr didn’t win. Jeff Gordon moved into third on the all time wins mark at 3rd with 85 wins. Jimmie Johnson didn’t win a championship this year. Tony Stewart won 5 of the Chase races en route to winning a close championship battle with Carl Edwards. Red Bull Racing closes down. Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer to Michael Waltrip Racing. Kurt Busch fired at Penske, goes to Phoenix Racing. A.J. Allmendinger goes to replace Busch at Penske. Tony Stewart fires Darian Grubb as his crew chief.
ALMS: ALMS was the same story as twenty ten except the TV deal and good racing. No TV this year only tape delays on ESPN and ABC. The LMP car count was down. The biggest battle was in GT. BMW RLLR won the championship. New races included Baltimore with the IndyCar series. Hopefully ALMS will be better for next season.
F1: The 2011 Formula One season started two weeks late this year after the Bahrain controversy and the cancellation of that race. The season finally kicked off in the down under at Albert Park. The FIA brought some new rule packages with the Drag Reduction System used for straightaway speed and try to improve passing. Red Bull Racing dominated the season Sebastian Vettel ran away with the championship after only one DNF and 18 points paying finishes. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton brought wins for McLaren at China, Germany, Canada, Hungary, Japan and Abu Dhabi. Mark Webber had one win this year in the RB7 chassis for Red Bull at the last race in Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. For Ferrari, Alonso had one win at Silverstone, the season was disappointing. Massa struggled again this year and once again Ferrari is sticking with him for another year. Renault had a set back this year with Robert Kubica’s rally accident. It proved in the races. Nick Heidfield is first replacement had a podium then it was downhill from there. Eventually he was released in favour of Bruno Senna. Vitaly Petrov was lackluster at best. Force India was strong this year. Rookie Paul di Resta impressed a lot of people. Adrian Sutil got fired at the end of the season despite a great year. STR and Sauber ran mid pack all year. Toro Rosso fired their drivers at the end of the season in favour of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne who where a part of the team for a while as reserve drivers. Williams was terrible and the three teams finished in basically the same order in every race. The Lotus/Renault issue was resolved. Kimi is back at Renault!
IndyCar: 2011 was good, bad, and ugly. The good was new rules with double file restarts. Returns to Milwaukee and Loudon. An upset win in the Indy 500. Bad was more street courses, going to the Motegi road course. Ugly was the death of Dan Wheldon. The season kicked off in St. Petersburg, it was the Will and Dario show but Marco Andretti got flipped on the first lap. Dario wins. In Barber, Power lead all the laps. Long Beach, Mike Conway wins Power gets spun by Helio going into 1. Sao Paulo was probably one of the most excited races of the year because of the rain out Power wins on Monday May 2nd. In the Indy 500, Alex Tagliani gets pole, Ed Carpenter and Dan Wheldon qualify good. Penske struggles. Wheldon wins after rookie J.R. Hildebrand nails the wall. In Texas, Will Power and Dario Franchitti both won because of the Twin races that didn’t go over well with the fans. In Iowa, Marco Andretti dueled with Tony Kanaan and Andretti wins for the first time since 2006 his rookie year. In Toronto, Power gets spun by Dario. Dario wins. Dario didn’t even get a penalty for aviodable contact from TGBB (The Great Brian Barnhart). California gets confirmed for 2012! In Edmonton, Power dominates after Takuma Sato took pole on the new circuit. Scott Dixon wins in Mid Ohio after him and James Hinchcliffe go at it for a while. In Loudon, we saw Dario get wrecked and Power give TGBB the bird! Ryan Hunter-Reay wins in a controversial race. Sonoma was a snooze fest as predicted. Power wins. At the new Baltimore street circuit, the track wasn’t ready for the IndyCar series or ALMS on opening Friday. Tony Kanaan went flying over Helio in practice. Power wins again. Motegi was a different story Dixon wins, Power second. Dario got a penalty for spinning Briscoe. In Kentucky, Ed Carpenter wins for Sarah Fisher Racing over Dario. Power struggles after a pit collison. Vegas was the worst race by far. The big pack racing caused disaster. After coming up through the field Dan Wheldon gets involved in another crash and his killed. He signed a contract to go replace Danica at Michael Andretti’s team. The race was abandoned after just 13 laps. In offseason news the schedule was announced. Terrible! Randy fires Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt. Newman Haas Racing shuts down. Silly Season is in full swing. Ed Carpenter starts his own team with Tony George and Derrick Walker. Josef Newgarden gets a ride for next year.
Overall, I think this season had everything, good battles, good racing, bad things like deaths of Dan Wheldon and Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli in back to back weeks. I enjoyed this season for the most part. Hopefully next year will be better.