Eight is the score to beat – so how will Haas F1’s Frenchman fare under our Grill The Grid spotlight?
John Hunter Nemechek made the media rounds Wednesday to promote NASCAR’s upcoming Camping World Truck Series race in Chicago and to talk about the series’ inaugural Chase, which starts later this month in New Hampshire.
But there was this one “other thing” everyone was more eager to discuss with last weekend’s winner: Nemechek’s bump of Cole Custer in the final corner and the ensuing pass-in-the-grass to edge Custer for the win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday.
It was a dramatic finish, and Nemechek acknowledges, it was also controversial. So much so that a frustrated Custer, 18, ran across the track and tackled Nemechek, 19, as the second-generation driver waited near the officials’ stand to receive the checkered flag.
“There’s been a lot of attention toward the finish and towards me on social media but like we said, we’re happy that we got the win and we won’t take that away from anything,” Nemechek said. “But if the circumstances of us going in the grass hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t be talking about the finish. That’s the only thing you’d like to go back and change, is not ending up in the grass.”
As he did on Sunday, Nemechek did not back down from his elation at winning even under contentious conditions.
“I’m definitely proud to get the win, to get our second win of the year checked off our list and have some momentum going into the Chase,” Nemechek said. “It was a great day for our whole team. I hate the circumstances it ended under with us in the grass, and that definitely wasn’t what we were trying to do in making the pass.
“If we could go back and change the circumstances we would, but a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
It was actually the second win this season for the No. 8 Chevrolet truck, owned by Nemechek’s father, Joe, a former NASCAR Busch Grand National (now called the XFINITY Series) champion. And John Hunter said his father — along with many others — offered support following the race.
Nemechek did note, however, that his father had not seen the race ending live and did not see a replay until after the Victory Lane celebration.
“He said congrats on the win and that I did everything right all day and we executed our strategy well, having to save fuel there at the end,” Nemechek said. “I actually ran out of gas on the cool-down lap so we stretched it as far as we could. But he (Joe Nemechek) said, ‘You were smart all day, and you were there at the end. That’s what made the victory.’ ”
Custer is not high enough in points to earn a Chase berth and will now have one more shot to score a victory at Chicagoland on Sept. 16 and earn his position in the Chase.
In addition to the tackle at the race track, Custer has candidly shared his displeasure about the ending with the national media this week.
There have even been suggestions that Custer may try to even the score by wrecking Nemechek during the championship Chase although Custer never directly said such.
Nemechek did acknowledge the possibility himself.
“You can’t be paranoid, you can’t worry,” Nemechek said. “If it happens, it happens.
“I definitely think it would be a whole different story and you’d expect payback if it ended like the Ty Dillon incident a couple years ago where he ended up in the tire barriers and didn’t finish the race.
“We raced back to the line and finished first and second. So who knows what’s going to happen. You can’t worry about it.”
As for Custer and Nemechek racing together at Chicago in the final race before the Camping World Truck Series Chase grid is set, Nemechek is hopeful that time and maybe some effort on his part will ease the tension.
The arrival of the new Ferrari GTC4Lusso has changed the sporty four-seater four-wheel drive Grand Tourer concept forever. The GTC4Lusso’s name references illustrious predecessors, such as the 330 GTC or its 2+2 sister model, the 330 GT – one of Enzo Ferrari’s favourites – and the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso, which represented a sublime combination of elegance and high performance. The number 4 alludes to the car’s four comfortable seats.
The Ferrari FF is a monster, a four-wheel-drive bread van with a 6.3-liter V12 that people like us have adored since it arrived in 2011. It’s great to drive and better to look at, a shooting brake with more power, less practicality, and a higher price tag than pretty much anything else in this shape. Ferrari has sold almost 6,000 of them, handily beating its target of 800 per year. It was a success by any measure.
Its replacement, the GTC4Lusso, might sound like something out of Ferrari’s mad, bad Sixties brochures, but under the skin is pretty much the same aluminum-alloy space frame of the FF. Ferrari has carefully listened to its critics on practicality, price, and power, and duly made the GTC more powerful, pricier, and not much more practical.
There have been some slight stylistic adjustments. A scallop was cut into the front fender and door skins to reduce the visual weight, and the roofline has been extended, terminating in a slight spoiler at the waist, which is said to improve aerodynamic efficiency by up to six percent. It looks sharp and mean on its 20-inch five-spoke alloys, although some of the detail, such as the wing vents and the absurdly long hood, verge on the cartoonish.
The engine drives a rear-mounted, seven-speed, twin-clutch transaxle and then there is that extraordinary four-wheel-drive system, which consists of a simple, helical-cut, hydraulically controlled gearbox running off the front of the crankshaft. It weighs 100 pounds and has two speeds plus reverse and a couple of Haldex-type clutches to activate each wheel when required in first to fourth gears and at speeds below 124 mph. New for the GTC is a ZF rear-steering system, a ram powered by an electric motor that pushes the rear suspension against its bushings to give a couple of degrees steering in either direction. Driving these systems, together with the F1 electronic rear differential, electronic stability system, magnetorheological adjustable dampers, and the torque vectoring, is handled by Ferrari’s fourth-generation side-slip-control system. It’s a mighty task of calibration and we’ll come back to this, but the system is designed to improve the car’s stability and agility from fast to slow speeds on bone dry or icy road surfaces. Ferrari claims a five percent improvement in responsiveness (the reduction in steering delay) and an eight percent improvement in agility (the reduction in steering response).
The new ForTwo ED also brings along other features from its predecessors. Once again, it will be available with exclusive Electric Green safety cell and mirror cap accents. Take note, however, that the Brabus appearance parts on the cabriolet pictured here are only available in Europe.
As for the all-important matter of range, Smart gave a rating of 99 miles on the European test cycle. Compared with the previous version’s approximately 90 mile range, it has a 10-percent improvement. On the US test cycle, the old ForTwo ED has a range of 76 miles. So we can expect a range of about 83 miles assuming the 10-percent increase carries over to our test cycle.
The biggest improvement the new ForTwo ED has over its predecessor, besides the better looks and chassis, is a much faster charging time. The car now uses a system that allows for a full charge from a 240 volt household charger in just two and a half hours. The previous model took roughly six hours to do the same thing. The car itself is a smidge faster as well. The rear-mounted motor now produces 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque compared with the 74 horsepower and 96 lb-ft of the outgoing car. On paper, it is ever so slightly quicker with a claimed 0-60 time of 11.4 seconds for the coupe, which is one tenth quicker than the old coupe. The top speed is also up by 3 mph.
One thing we don’t know about the ForTwo ED is price, which Smart did not reveal. However, the current coupe starts at $25,750, so expect pricing to be similar and probably slightly more expensive. The coupe will start arriving on dealer lots this coming spring, and the convertible will show up in the following summer.