Elements wreak havoc at starting line

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:08 AM ET

Mother Nature threw a wrench into racing on Sunday as Formula 1 teams found themselves marooned in Shanghai and NASCAR was washed out at Texas Motor Speedway.

Only the IZOD IndyCar Series went off without a hitch in Southern California at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

First off, F-1 teams were left scrambling on Sunday when the Icelandic volcanic cloud that currently envelopes most of Europe shut down air travel from Shanghai to their homes bases in England, Germany and Austria.

Of prime concern was getting the cars back for some R&R (repair and refurbish) in time of the next F-1 event the Spanish Grand Prix on May 9.

As of late Sunday, there were no freight flights scheduled from Shanghai and there was speculation it could be the end of the week before regular flights resumed.

McLaren racing boss Martin Whitmarsh said that a slight delay is tolerable but anything more could cause real problems for most teams.

These cars have been away and weve been rotating chassis in fact, but the cars and equipment have been away for some time, he said. We are looking forward to getting that equipment back in the factory as quickly as we can, and make sure we service all the cars properly.

I think if we lose three or four days, we can live with it. If we lose it for a week or beyond, then it becomes challenging.

In Texas, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 was postponed to Monday along with the Nationwide OReilly Auto Parts 300.

Ryan Newman, the winner last week at Phoenix, wasnt happy about the deal.

We just have to get ready for tomorrow, he said. Its too bad. We have a really good car.

Pit stops

It has been two years coming but Oakvilles James Hinchcliffe won his first Indy Lights race on Sunday in the No. 2 Team Moore Racing Honda when he held off Charlie Kimball at the Indy Lights Streets of Long Beach event ... Until Kasey Kahne signs a deal for the 2011 Sprint Cup season, prior to his taking over from Mark Martin at Hendrick Motorsports, Tony Stewart had better find a stock answer to the question: Is Kahne going to drive a third Stewart Haas Chevrolet next season? Because Stewart, who only very reluctantly puts up with the media at the best of times, is going to be pestered until the drama is over ... The last time Martin was a lame-duck driver in the No. 6 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing he was a very unhappy man.

Finish lines

Canadian Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, Ont., got the break of his young career on Friday when, moments after he won the ARCA Rattlesnake 150 at Texas, he got a tap on the shoulder from Dale Earnhardt Jr., to drive the NASCAR Nationwide series No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. The two-race deal will have Arpin in the JRM Chevy again the following week at Richmond International Raceway .... Was there any more evidence that Michael Schumacher should have stayed in retirement than the way McLarens Lewis Hamilton twice passed the seven-time champion at the Chinese Grand Prix? And those passes were in the rain, something that no one would dare try while Schumacher was in his prime ... Torontos Paul Tracy took some time out at Long Beach to give some words of encouragement to a struggling Danica Patrick. Had a short talk with Danica. She is frustrated, he wrote on his Twitter account. I told her to relax and let the race come to her.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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