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Sunday, September 20, 2015

POWER PLAYERS (AND, NO, A CHASE DRIVER ISN'T No. 1)

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  September 20: 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.  Sebastian Vettel -- Singapore was much more than his third victory in his first season with Ferrari. It's more than it was a win in a Ferrari, the world's most famous race car marque. It's more than it was from the pole. It was Vettel's 42d career Grand Prix victory, third on the all-time list, moving him ahead of Ayrton Senna. Let me repeat that: Vettel now has won more GPs than Senna. Senna. It's a story being heralded around the world, if not so much in America.

  2. Mike Helton -- On the NASCAR vice chairman's to-do list at New Hampshire: A meeting with what the sanction likes to impress everyone with its sophistication by calling  teams, sponsors, manufacturers, etc. "stakeholders" about 2016 rules -- likely to be the low downforce package -- and dealing with more controversy on what is and isn't a legal restart. And how to officiate it.

  3. Joe Gibbs -- His Toyota's finish 1-2 in both the Chicagoland Sprint Cup and Xfinity series races. 

  4. Denny Hamlin -- A poor starting position, early spin and ACL injury made his win in the first Chase race unlikely. Which makes it a better story for the national media. 

  5. Scott Pruett -- America's greatest endurance sports car driver gets his 60th career victory in IMSA's headline event at Circuit of the Americas. 

  6. Erica Enders -- Her victory in Pro Stock -- she's essentially the only story of note in that troubled class -- was the most significant of NHRA's four classes as the Countdown playoffs got underway next to Charlotte Motor Speedway. She passed Shirley Muldowney on the NHRA career-wins list.

  7. Rick Hendrick -- Completes two-year contract renewals with Jimmie Johnson and Lowe's. Chad Knaus was already signed.

  8. Lesa France Kennedy -- International Speedway Corp., which she chairs, decides not to submit a proposal to manage Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. That sent a chill through the sports car community, which, of course, is led by the IMSA series controlled by Jim France and family.

 9. Brandon Igdalsky -- While the Pocono Raceway boss vacationed outside the U.S., IndyCar continued to wait for his decision about bringing the series back in 2016. In this case, silence isn't golden.

 10. Robert Ballou -- Wins Tony Hulman/Jim Hurtubise Classic USAC sprint car race, his first victory at Terre Haute. It was his 10th USAC win of the season. 

more next week . . . ]