Underdog takes Daytona 500, Honda’s wild CR-V track monster, AMG Hammer heads to auction

NASCAR Media/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Stenhouse beats 30:1 odds to take 65th Daytona 500

Intake: Journeyman driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Chevrolet beat 30:1 odds to win the 65th annual Daytona 500 in overtime on Sunday, edging out 2015 winner Joey Logano in second, Christopher Bell in third, Chris Buescher in fourth, and polesitter Alex Bowman in fifth. Per usual, several major crashes took out some of the top names, leaving a fight for the finish that ended under the yellow flag. The single-car Stenhouse team is owned by JTG-Daugherty Racing, with the Daugherty being former NBA player Brad Daugherty. NASCAR returns to racing next weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Exhaust: Stenhouse’s first NASCAR Cup race was in 2011, with 365 races run in total. This is the third win for the Olive Branch, Mississippi former sprint car driver. He won the summer race at Daytona in 2017. The 500 victory ended a 199-race winless streak for the 35-year-old driver whose most notable achievement outside auto racing was being driver Danica Patrick’s longtime boyfriend. — Steven Cole Smith

Honda building 800-hp CR-V

Intake: For reasons unknown, Honda has announced that it is building an 800-horsepower CR-V hybrid “track monster” that will be revealed on February 28. No, we don’t think you’ll be able to buy one. To wit: “The engineers at Honda Performance Development and Auto Development Center, and designers from North America Auto Design Division of American Honda have conceived and constructed the ultimate high-performance beast—the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer project vehicle—a track monster with some 800 electrified horsepower.” While details are sparse, a careful look at some of the photos above hints that this thing might be a mid-engine car, and that close-up engine shot doesn’t look like an upright four-cylinder engine like you’d get in a regular CR-V. Is that maybe an old IndyCar V-6?

Exhaust: Honda hasn’t said what the CR-V will be doing, but our best guess is the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in June. Seriously, what else would you use an 800-horse SUV “track monster” for? Delivering (very hot) pizza? — SCS  

Ford’s Louisville assembly plant extends shutdown over Escape software issue

2023 Ford Escape Platinum PHEV
Grace Houghton

Intake: Ford’s Louisville Assembly plant, home of the refreshed Ford Escape and the Lincoln Corsair, will remain shut down through at least February 24 due to a software issue, according to Automotive News. The plant is currently in the pre-production phase for the new Escape and Corsair. In a letter to plant employees which was shown to AN, building chairman Brandon Reisinger said that the software issue was related to the vehicle’s instrument cluster. “We’re on a day-by-day basis right now and I know that’s frustrating,” said Reisinger’s letter. “The issue we’ve got, the cluster, is a software issue. It’s not a hardware issue. If it were to get out, it would not be something that would endanger anybody … But it would have the vehicles coming back to the dealership.”

Exhaust: Vehicles coming back to the dealership are exactly what Ford can’t have more of. Recalls and warranty work obliterated Ford’s bottom line last year, and CEO Jim Farley has been outspoken about his frustration with the quality issues and resulting costs. While we’re sure he’s not thrilled to hear about an idled plant, we’d bet it’s better than a future recall. — Nathan Petroelje

Rare AMG Hammer goes under the, er, hammer

1987 AMG Hammer
Broad Arrow Auctions

Intake: One of just 30 AMG Hammers built is headed to auction and could fetch over $600,000. The 1987 AMG became the ultimate sleeper sedan of its day when AMG removed the standard three-liter six-cylinder engine from a 300E and replaced it with a hand-built 6.0-liter V-8. Based on the 5.5-liter motor from the S-Class, AMG increased its capacity and fitted it with a twin-cam cylinder head with four valves per cylinder for a net power output of 355 hp and 388 lb-ft of torque. Drive was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission and rear differential lifted from the S-Class, and the Hammer’s 181-mph top speed made it faster than Ferrari Testarossa. Wisely, AMG also fitted sports suspension, upgraded brakes, and 17-inch rims. The car will be offered at Broad Arrow Auctions’ The Amelia sale on March 4 and is one of 13 examples believed to have been made for the U.S. market, actually assembled in Illinois at AMG’s American facility, rather than Afalterbach, Germany. With 32,600 miles now on the clock, the car has recently had a full overhaul by RENNtech.

Exhaust: When new, this car began life as a $39,5000 300E and turning it into a Hammer added a further $97,988.29. In today’s money that’s the equivalent of almost $370,000. An even rarer 1988 coupe version sold in August 2022 for $761,800, so Broad Arrow’s estimate of $575,000–$625,000 seems pretty plausible. We’ll find out just how big a hit it makes when the car goes under the hammer. — Nik Berg

VinFast to begin construction on N.C. factory

VinFast VF9 US factory model rendering

Intake: VinFast, the Vietnamese car builder, has received permits to allow construction to begin on its North Carolina factory to build electric SUVs for the U.S. market, Reuters said via Automotive News. The first phase of construction includes a $2 billion investment in a factory capable of producing 150,000 vehicles a year. Phase two will focus on battery production. The plant will employ 7000 workers, and construction should begin “soon.”

Exhaust: VinFast, which has been concentrating on the West Coast as the location of its rollout, is supposed to begin delivering its first batch of SUVs to U.S. customers later this month once the shipment arrives from Vietnam. — SCS

Inventory lower, prices higher in January

2023 Honda CR-V Sport off-road hybrid

Intake: A study reports that new-vehicle inventory was lower in January from December but remained significantly higher than a year ago, according to Cox Automotive’s analysis of “vAuto Available Inventory” data. Asking prices for new vehicles set another record high in January. The total supply of new vehicles dipped to 1.73 million at the end of January, while the average listing price rose to $47,743 for a new vehicle during the same period.

Exhaust: Of the 30 best-sellers for the 30-day sales period, Cox said that Toyota, Kia, and Honda had the most models at the low end of supply. Starting at the very bottom were Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, and Kia Telluride. Of the 30 best-sellers, the Ford Escape had the most inventory, followed by domestic pickup trucks and SUVs. —SCS

Read next Up next: Why I gave up my career as an F1 mechanic to sculpt carbon-fiber sharks


    Coming off a 40 month lease, these new car inventories and associated high average listing prices are killing me! Used car time.

    The leases were so awful with my most recent purchase this month it was worth purchasing and locking the rate through a credit union.

    That CRV makes me wonder if the IndyCar powered, mid-engined Honda Ridgeline the Hoonigan team built for SEMA will be making a Pikes Peak run as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *