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Sunday, June 21, 2015

JONES & SCHATZ TIED ATOP NEW 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST

POWER PLAYERS for the week of June 21: This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1.  Erik Jones and Donny Schatz -- NASCAR's Next Big Thing sweeps the non-Cup weekend, taking Friday night's Truck race at Iowa Speedway and Sunday's rain-delayed Xfinity series event at Chicagoland Speedway. With Joe Gibbs' Cup roster full for 2016 (it is, isn't it?) what will Gibbs and Toyota do to keep Jones? Meanwhile, Schatz sweeps the World of Outlaws weekend, including inaugural series race at Dakota State Fair Speedway, to bring his season victory total to 16. If you're talking about the Outlaws -- or trying to sell tickets to those winged sprint car races -- you're talking about Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies Chevy fielded by the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian team.

  3Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR's racing development boss announces a less-downforce rules package for Kentucky Speedway as the sanction tries to deal with fewer green-flag passes and a down trend in its TV numbers. O'Donnell says NASCAR is "confident" in this package but adds "all options are on the table."

  4Bernie Ecclestone -- The cash crunch that has imperiled all but the major Formula One teams has spread to the tracks, with the unthinkable now possible: No Italian Grand Prix at Monza. "In order to have a Grand Prix, you need money," says F1's commercial czar. "If the money is there, the race takes place." Which also provides an explanation for the disappearance act of the U.S. Grand Prix near New York City.

  5Dave Allen -- Can the new Auto Club Speedway president make any kind of attendance success out of a late June Saturday afternoon date for his IndyCar 500?

  6. Paul Tracy -- No surprise, he's telling it like it is on NBCSN's IndyCar cablecasts and has a 500-mile race to work with this Saturday. 

  7. Robin Miller -- His Racer.com column becomes the voice of the beaten-down IndyCar series mechanics. And he breaks news of a possible IndyCar return to Road America.

  8Justin Wilson -- IndyCar veteran to drive Honda's HPD ARX-04b LMP2 in this Sunday's Pikes Peak Hill Climb. 

  9. Kevin Miller  -- USAC CEO cuts loose Davey Hamilton as executive director after only three months. Hamilton says it happened because of a "difference of opinion."

 10. Rico Abreu -- Champion of USAC Indiana Midget Week with one win and three top-five finishes. He was one point ahead of Bryan Clauson. Abreu  highlights what short-track drivers can do for those owners in other series who are paying attention. 

 more next week . . . ]