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Formula One Open Wheel

Kvyat, Sainz Remain as Toro Rosso Pairing for 2017

The partnership of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz is continuing for another year at Toro Rosso in 2017.

Sainz had already been secured by the team to carry on, but Kvyat’s position has been under question after stepping down from Red Bull to Toro Rosso in a swap with Max Verstappen before the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Next season is due to be the third season for the drivers at the team, and their first full season of being teammates.

It means Kvyat is set to be the most experienced Russian driver in Formula One history at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, overtaking former Lotus and Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov. Kvyat currently has 53 race starts, four behind Petrov with four races left in the 2016 season.

Sainz is expected to be the 134th F1 driver (out of an all-time total of 836) to reach 50 race starts at the 10th round of the 2017 season, provisionally confirmed as being the British Grand Prix.

Kvyat is ecstatic to finally put speculation behind him and confirm his seat at the team.

“I’m very happy to stay with a team that feels like home to me. I’m really looking forward to continuing the hard work together in 2017 and I’m really aiming high,” Kvyat said.

“I will always be fully dedicated, giving my 200%, and I will be pushing as hard as I usually do, that’s for sure, I’m delighted!”

Team Principal Franz Tost is also pleased to have the same two drivers because it allows the team to focus on changes to their car for the new season.

Aerodynamic regulation changes come in at the start of 2017 alongside new wider Pirelli tires, and the team is also changing power unit supplier, moving back to Renault from Ferrari.

“It makes a change to announce our driver line-up relatively early,” Tost said.

“There are so many new elements coming to Formula One in general and to our team specially, in terms of the change of power unit supplier, that having the same two drivers gives us stability and a benchmark to worth from.”

The move will now put question marks on Pierre Gasly’s future with the Red Bull family. He sits in second place in the GP2 Championship with one round remaining, seven points behind Prema Racing teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, with the possibility to become a champion.

Champions cannot return to the series for the following season, which would force him to have a year out of European open-wheel racing, unless Red Bull arrange a deal with another team to put him in Formula One.

Gasly may have to spend a year as their or Red Bull’s reserve driver or look for a possible seat in another series such as sportscar racing to keep himself fresh.

Current expected 2017 Formula One grid:

Teams and drivers listed in current championship order. TBA = to be announced.

Mercedes – Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen

Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel

Force India – Sergio Perez, TBA

Williams – TBA, TBA

McLaren – Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne

Toro Rosso – Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat

Haas – Romain Grosjean, TBA

Renault – Nico Hulkenberg, TBA

Manor – TBA, TBA

Sauber – TBA, TBA

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Haas F1 Looks to Return to Top-10 in Home Event

When Gene Haas announced he was going Formula One racing, nobody knew what to expect. Now 17 races into the season, the picture has become quite clear.

They’ve proven they can run with the best as Romain Grosjean has posted four top-10s. But they’ve also had their fair share of struggles as Esteban Guiterrez has yet to score a top-10 this season, and Grosjean has complained about the team’s struggles on other weekends.

The organization now heads into their home event of the season in Austin, Texas, hoping to score a good finish in front of their fans.

“As an American team, having an F1 race on American soil is incredibly important,” Gene Haas said. “We come to COTA having scored some points and proving that we can hold our own with the established teams of Formula One. We’re looking forward to our first home race.”

“I think (this weekend)’s going to be great,” Grosjean added. “I’m very much looking forward to it. America is a huge country, and I’m really hoping we can get a lot of fans. Yes, there’ll be an extra pride to be driving for an American team on the circuit, and hopefully getting a good result on Sunday.”

A good performance would mark a substantial turnaround for them as well, as they haven’t posted a top-10 in the last 10 races.

“It’s important to represent America around the world, but now that we get back home and go to Austin for the US Grand Prix, it’s something very special because we are on American soil,” Guiterrez said. “That gives a special touch to our weekend. More motivation and great energy from the people to achieve a fantastic result.”

Team Principal Guenther Steiner is hopeful for success, knowing they can do well if everybody does their job due to having speed in the cars.

“We want to show well and do a good job, and what we mainly want to do is attract more of the public to not only watch Haas F1 Team but to come out and watch F1 in general,” he added. “I hope a lot of people are following us. We will see on Sunday.”

For Grosjean, the finish would be a little more special than others as this weekend’s event marks his 100th start in Formula One.

“When I started in Formula One I thought it’ll just be one race after the other, then here we are at 100 Grands Prix, 10 podium finishes, a few points and lots of good memories, and some a little more difficult,” he said. “The good thing is, I don’t know when I’m going to stop, but I think I’ve still got plenty of room in front of me to keep going and to keep trying to win. Definitely, 100 Grands Prix is quite something in my lifetime.”

Grosjean knows the challenges he faces this weekend, though; he knows it’s not easy to overtake at COTA. However, he notes it’s a great facility to attend to, based on how enjoyable last year’s event was.

“It’s a great venue and one of the best new tracks we’ve had in quite a while,” he said. “The track was great, the city is nice, and it was a very nice experience. There are a lot of bars and concerts going on in the city, and people came from all over the country to see the race. It was amazing.”

Guiterrez also looks forward to the event, knowing how many Mexicans attend the event due to how close Texas is to the Mexico border.

“It’s not far away from my hometown, and that made it a very nice combination because America makes very great events and the atmosphere was very special,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better experience. Now that we have a full United States Grand Prix and then a full Mexican Grand Prix, the experiences are more intense.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

Hulkenberg’s Move: Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t

Nico Hulkenberg has made the bravest move in Formula One for 2017 so far, confirming a switch to Renault from Force India.

Hulkenberg’s move should carve open the driver market for next season. Mercedes-backed driver Pascal Wehrlein could well end up at Force India to further his career, or another driver could go there to move forward, leaving smaller teams such as Manor the possibility to bring up GP2 drivers or drivers who can bring money with them from elsewhere.

It is only once in a season you see these moves being made. Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes from McLaren for 2013 seemed insane at the time, and nobody would have believed that Sergio Perez would have more podiums that McLaren during the last three seasons since leaving the team. Romain Grosjean has claimed more than three times the points total of his former team Lotus (now Renault) since deciding to move to Haas for 2016.

Hulkenberg’s move is in that bracket of switches which could go well, but it is a risk. If he were in a casino, he’s just put his Formula One career on yellow. There are many distinct factors behind making this decision.

This year has been very much a reset for Renault, just getting used to life back in Formula One, and for the staff of the team who continued at Enstone, just having stability after the financial crises that happened at Lotus in 2015.

At Hulkenberg’s current team, they have been enjoying their best year in the Constructors’ Championship, sitting in fourth place. Many would think that he is mad for going for a team at this time who have a worse car.

However, the Renault move is the only real positive that Hulkenberg could find and gives him a plan going forward.

Force India can’t go any further with their position in the sport, and if they were to be somehow in the top three next season, it would either be a miracle or because of other teams having unbelievably, bad starts to the season.

That team cannot afford to race at the levels of the top three teams, Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari and in 2016, have maxxed out their position. They may even come under threat from Williams, McLaren or Renault as teams who have the talent within them to progress their cars in future months and slip down the order.

Renault, however, could always return to that position of cars and could potentially have the facilities to use more budget than Force India.

They are not only a manufacturer, but they are surely allowing him the chance to be the focal point of a team’s attention as lead driver. This is a situation he has not had since being paired with rookie Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber in 2013. His experience should allow him to push the team forward through the season.

Compared to being consistently rated against Perez, he could have the opportunity to beat a younger teammate and again put his name on the lips of fans who are looking for something fresh to emerge as a future driver on the podium or winning a race.

He has been out-qualified 9-8 and outraced 11-6 so far in 2016 by teammate Perez, and his career has rather stalled and left him as a decent top ten driver, but on the long list of drivers who never have fulfilled their real ambition yet.

Perez, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas are all ahead of him as consistent podium finishers and first thoughts over the future of Formula One, being younger than current championship challengers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, both 31 years old.

If he stayed at Force India, he might have forever been the ‘nearly-man’. He may still end up to be unlucky in the sport, but he has given himself a chance to breakthrough, potentially for one last chance as he edges towards being 30 next year and time goes against him.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Magnussen Rejects Andretti IndyCar Rumors, Wants Renault F1 Stay

Formula One racer Kevin Magnussen is rejecting rumors that he will leave the sport to join the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017, saying that he wants a stay with his current team Renault.

Magnussen clarified his position, sending his thoughts to fans on Twitter after Racer.com claimed he could be an option for Andretti Autosport for their next driver signing with the #26 car still vacant for 2017 alongside Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Alexander Rossi.

 

Doubts have emerged of his position as Nico Hulkenberg has signed a multi-year deal for 2017 and Magnussen is potentially fighting amongst other drivers for the second seat at the team.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Renault reserve Esteban Ocon have both been discussed in the media as potential other options, leading some to believe that Magnussen could be again be heading out of the sport.

Magnussen is highly-thought of by some as he famously claimed a maiden podium on his McLaren and F1 debut in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. He finished third for his best result in the sport before inheriting second after Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified.

The 24-year-old completed the 2014 season with the British team before spending a year out as a reserve to Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. He stood in for Alonso at the 2015 race in Australia as Alonso was recovering from a massive crash in pre-season testing.

The Danish driver returned to driving full-time in the sport in 2016 for the French manufacturer, scoring six points at the Russian Grand Prix at the start of May.

Magnussen claimed significantly better results than team-mate Jolyon Palmer at the beginning of the year.

However, since then, his battle with Palmer has become closer, despite him outracing the Briton by finishing ahead of him on 10 occasions. The Danish driver has also out-qualified him 11-7 in their head-to-head after 18 rounds.

Formula One drivers have made IndyCar moves an intriguing career option in recent years, with Andretti’s Rossi and Chip Ganassi’s Max Chilton joining other ex-drivers in the US.

However, he has not raced outside of European-based series in his career so far, which has consisted of racing in junior formulae before making his F1 debut.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

Pirelli and F1 Release Tire Selections for Mexico

Formula One and Pirelli have released the tire choices made by teams for the Grand Prix of Mexico.

At the start of the season, Pirelli announced they would have three compounds available for each event this season, an increase from just two in 2015. The change also requires each team to use two of the three compounds during the event, with a total allotment of 13 sets over the weekend.

Furthermore, Pirelli announced that choices must be submitted 14 weeks in advance for long-haul events, and eight weeks in advance of European races. The deadline for decisions was implemented to reduce transport costs. If a team does not give their choices to the FIA before the deadline, the FIA will choose which tires the team can use.

Unike the majority of the season, most of the teams (12 out of 22) elected to have three sets versus just one set of the hardest compound available, including current points runner-up Lewis Hamilton. Points leader Nico Rosberg took a slightly different strategy, electing for only four sets.

When it comes to the softest compounds, the majority, 10 of the 22 teams, elected to have six sets of the softest compound available, while manufacture leading Mercedes teammates Rosberg and Hamilton elected for only five sets.

A complete breakdown of the choices can be viewed below.

f1mexicotires

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

United States Grand Prix 2016 Preview

Momentum? The season thus far certainly favors Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to take the Driver’s Championship. But, if any driver could be said to “own” a track, Lewis Hamilton has dominated COTA’s 4 F1 races, winning all but 1. So, Hamilton seems to have history on his side.

Needs A Good Run? Just about everyone, but we have to consider that Honda is banking on better runs because so many millions have been spent on their McLaren team.

Sentimental Favorite?  We are told Lewis Hamilton is the most popular of the F1 drivers who visit Austin each year.

Challenges? Texas hospitality is warm and generous. The food in Austin is delicious. These present a significant problem to the drivers and those of the crews who must watch what they eat to fit their clothing. Look for major eating after Sunday’s race and for some of the circus members to stay behind and eat up.

Quotes:

“First up, we’re back in the States – which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt. It’s almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I’ll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend.” Lewis Hamilton on his strategy to maximize his points for the remainder of the season.

“Looking ahead to Austin, we’ll be hoping for some drier weather than last year – which won’t be difficult, given the torrential rain which simply didn’t stop until Sunday last time around! The weather conditions in 2015 have also had a knock-on effect in that we actually have very little up-to-date data from which to establish the performance of the car and the tyres at this circuit. Teams will therefore have to work on the basis of records from 2014, which is an unusual challenge heading into a race weekend. We have the medium, soft and supersoft tyre compounds available this weekend, which will likely produce some quicker lap times than those previously seen at this circuit.” Paddy Lowe, Technical Director, Mercedes.

“COTA is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, and has a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners and heavy braking zones, so you need a car with good balance, which tends to be one of the strengths of our car. There’s lots of fast, sweeping corners in the first sector, the long straight in the second sector, and then the infield section in the final sector which is tight and twisty with long apexes and high g-forces. You really need to prepare the car for everything! For a driver it’s great fun and I hope we enjoy a better result there than in Suzuka.” McLaren driver Jensen Button.

“The track in Austin is sick, I love it. It has a lot of unique features like the wide apex at turn one, you could fit about four cars side by side through there. There are loads of opportunities to overtake and have fun throughout the whole track. It has fast flowing sections and hairpins, pretty much everything I like in a track. Austin city is also awesome, I really like its character. It’s raw and authentic which makes it cool without trying to be. The old school bars and music venues which are super cool just makes it work. Pete’s Piano bar and Rainey Street has a lot of local music which is a really nice vibe and I want to check out Hotel Vegas this year.” Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Japanese Grand Prix May Have Defined F1 Champion

A week is a long time in Formula One and has had many twists and turns for the standings of the World Championship.

After a ninth win of the season in Japan, Nico Rosberg has extended his gap to 33 points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes have won the Constructors’ Championship for the third consecutive year.

Daniel Ricciardo lies 101 points behind the top two in the table with four races and a maximum of 100 points remaining, meaning a Mercedes driver is guaranteed to become champion.

The apparent drama between Mercedes drivers couldn’t have been further separated during this weekend.

A lot can be read into what the public have seen on and off track.

HAMILTON’S WEEKEND

On Thursday, Lewis Hamilton started to come under fire for using Snapchat on his phone during the traditional Drivers’ Press Conference with the press.

The British driver was one of the six drivers nominated to be questioned, and he did answer questions in between being on his device despite expressing that he was bored of the current routine.

Some of his shots showed the media sitting in front of him, which did give the fans an image they don’t usually see and a background to the event.

However, his shots with Carlos Sainz and himself with rabbit filters stole the attention, with the caption, “this sh*t is killing me”. Other uses of Snapchat and some quotes from press conferences also hit the headlines.

Many would have to ask what these five words and pictures give to his fans. Humor is subjective; his fans may have loved it, but it is strange to comprehend for an outsider.

It is always great to see a driver connect with their fans, in particular with an increased use of social media. However, this doesn’t give anything new. Maybe it would have been interesting if he had commented on what the drivers say to each other behind the scenes and joke about certain things.

From the outside Hamilton has always had an unique, eccentric behavior, and it is not known for certain whether it helps or hinders him. It seems like something that is just in the background while he goes about the normal highs and lows of sport.

ROSBERG’S WEEKEND

As this went on, Nico Rosberg won the Japanese Grand Prix with another solid performance, which may be the thing the 2016 world championship is remembered by.

The 31-year-old didn’t just lead from pole and run away from other drivers; he led every session of the weekend. Some lap time gaps were small, some were huge, but he remained ahead of Hamilton.

He may have the same number of pole positions than his teammate (eight), and one less podium (12 compared to Hamilton’s 13) but he has controlled the championship in 2016.

A chink in his armor could have been the results in Monaco and Canada (seventh and fifth place finishes), however, in hindsight, these performances, although being steady in the rain around the Monaco track, brought points on the board. A total of 16 points is much better than none, and this now looks like an intelligent move.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE REMAINING RACES

There are just four races left on the calendar, but the hard thing for Hamilton is that his teammate has won at three of the four circuits left on the calendar. He has only failed to win at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX so far in his career.

Hamilton has won at COTA three times, although Rosberg is the most recent winner of the races in Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi, the three races which may have been the set-up for his current run.

Rosberg just needs to continue his consistency. Even if he finishes second behind Hamilton in the last four rounds, he will be the champion for the first time.

It has been over 7300 days and almost 20 years since the last son of a champion became a champion himself.

Is Rosberg now destined to follow in the footsteps of his father Keke (1982 champion) and emulate the achievement of Damon Hill on October 13, 1996 (son of two-time champ Graham)?

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary

CALINOFF: I’m Not Abandoning NASCAR

I know the title doesn’t match the photo. That was actually by design – but stick around and you’ll see where it comes into play.

One of my favorite idioms is “Letting the Tail Wag the Dog.” (There’s the connection to the picture — that’s Leo)

To paraphrase, it means allowing something small to have a significant influence on something much bigger. I’ve been guilty of it for most of my business career. I take a little idea, and I let it consume me until I can gain control and put it back into the correct perspective. That’s when I do the wagging.

If you know me, you’ve figured out that I’m rarely at a loss for things to do. I’m never bored – always on the move. I keep the plates spinning and the balls in the air. Spare me the balls in the air jokes. I wrote most of them anyway.

When we started PopularSpeed.com three years ago, it was quite an undertaking – finding the right name was a project in itself. Then we had to figure out who we wanted to be and what we would stand for. And then there was the design and finding writers and getting photographers. (We have Nigel Kinrade and his group – it doesn’t get better than that. No charge for the plug, Nigel.) And then we had to make sure we deliver engaging content and maintain our momentum.

The wind-up? It’s become bigger and better than I had ever imagined. We didn’t get to this point by accident. We’re here because of the people. Everyone who has his or her fingerprints on this site makes a difference. And I’m grateful to have each and every one of them.

After I launched the site, I made a promise to myself – and everyone around me – that this will be the extent of my website business. I’ll just stick with this.

I lied. It was totally unintentional.

abc123pow
A few months ago I was looking for information about Formula One. I don’t even remember why. But, aside from what you can get from the series page, there weren’t any independent sites, and nothing much to speak of for IndyCar either.

When I say “independent” I mean sites dedicated to those premier worldwide disciplines of motorsports. There are plenty of, what I call, “tab sites” which are all things to all people. Nothing wrong with that – but I’m not inclined to sift through NASCAR  INDYCAR  F1  NHRA  SCCA  RALLY  SPORTS CAR  MOTOGP  POGO STICK and UNICYCLE tabs to find the information I’m looking for.

So today, I’m pleased to introduce PopularOpenWheel.com.

We’re only covering IndyCar and Formula One – as well as their support series, IndyLights and GP2, respectively. There’s also something called “The Road to Indy” which serves as a feeder system. I know, I’m a little confused myself.

Aside from the lack of information, I figured two things:

  1. a) IndyCar has made some changes in the off-season to management and the rules package. The racing is supposedly going to be as good as it used to be. I know this because someone told me. I’m confident there will be a heightened interest. So, that was appealing.
  1. b) Gene Haas is fielding a U.S.-owned Formula One team for the first time. I figured that not only will there be more interest by Americans, but from NASCAR fans as well. Stewart-Haas has four marquee drivers with lots of fans, and you know how that goes — we all support each other. So I thought that was attractive. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong – but I love risks. I love starting new things. It motivates me to have a kick-ass day. I do it for sport.

Many of you may ask, “Calinoff, what do you know about IndyCar or Formula One?” It’s a valid question. I know nothing about this stuff. That’s the truth. But I know Roger Penske. And Chip Ganassi. And Dario Franchitti. And Nelson Piquet, Jr. – and those people know people who also know people.

But really, I found the magic bullet.

Lewis Franck, who has covered motorsports for over 30 years, including 22 years at Reuters news service, is the guy. I don’t need to know anybody – just Lewis. Because he, too, knows Roger Penske. And Chip Ganassi. And Mario Andretti. And everyone else in that world. I know nothing. Lewis knows everything. So, he’s the Executive Editor and will be hands-on. He has assembled a great staff of editors and writers.

Lewis is funny. (Actually, he’s quite comical) But funny, because he calls and sends me emails about all these things he’s doing and relationships he’s leveraging. To that, I respond, “Great job, Lewis,” and “That awesome, Lewis” and “How did you possibly pull that off, Lewis?”

I have absolutely no clue what he’s talking about. But it must be really good because he’s excited. And that makes me excited.

That brings us to the title of this story.

NASCAR is my first love. It always will be. It’s given me a career and a level of success far beyond my wildest dreams. My life is great as a result of NASCAR. I have been blessed with the opportunities that have come my way over the years. And while I’m not spotting regularly, much of my business is in the NASCAR arena. I’m not going anywhere.

That’s the deal. I invite you to check it out. If you like what you see, tell someone. If you don’t like what you see, tell everyone – because people are curious by nature. If you tell them not to do something, they tend to want to know why. Tell a kid not to touch a hot stove or wet paint.

So, this is it. I’m done with the website business. I have one that’s great and another that’s destined to be great. I’m officially satisfied.

Wait. I’m lying again.

I have another site launching on May 26th. There’s nothing like it. Not even on tabs. Get excited. I mean, really excited.

Do you want a hint? Too bad.

The plates are spinning, and the balls are in the air.

I gotta go. I have things to do. Hold my calls.

 

Email Mike at mike@mikecalinoff.com

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Here’s his personal cell number. (Please don’t give it out)