If there is such thing as an Easter Bunny naughty list, I'm pretty sure that David Reutimann will find his Easter basket full of rotten eggs Sunday morning. He is definitely on Hendrick Motorsports' bad list after ruining an almost certain 200th win and a probable 1-2-3 finish for the organization. Reutimann was limping around to try and stay in the top 35 in points when his car died at the end of the front straightaway, bringing out the caution. A wreck on the restart took out leaders Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon and damaged Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car. Combined with Kasey Kahne's blown engine earlier, a potential banner day turned into a bummer for Hendrick. Ryan Newman seized the opportunity to snatch away the win, with A.J. Allmendinger hot on his heels in his best NASCAR finish ever. Reutimann's situation brings into question NASCAR's policy of locking in the top 35 cars in owner points. A number of pundits and lots of fans once again are lobbying for starting the fastest 43 qualifiers every weekend. NASCAR has recently shown more sensitivity to fan input than in years past, so maybe we'll see a change next season.
I spoke with Matt Ramthun earlier this week about progress on Fernley 95A Speedway, the 3/8 mile clay oval that he and Vuki Wilson are operating this season. Matt told me that the track's slogan is "A Racers' Track Run by Racers", and that he expects "a lot" of cars for opening day next Saturday. IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, Hobby Stock, Mod Minis, Pure Stock Minis, and Dwarf cars will be joined by Outlaw Kart Box Stock racers (5-10 years old), who will race on their own infield oval. Matt told me that Vuki will be working on the track surface all week and they expect it to be in excellent shape for Saturday. Gates will open at noon for the racers, and grandstand admission is only $8. Seniors and kids 9-12 get in for $5, while military in uniform and disabled persons are free, as are kids under nine. If you want to watch from the tailgate area behind turn one, admission is $30 per carload, with a $15 ticket for a car and driver only and $8 for one additional passenger.
Matt is working on finalizing sponsorship, so if you have a business that would like to get involved in local racing, contact him through the track's website at http://www.fernley95aspeedway.com.
While national series racers are taking a break this weekend, they were anything but idle during the week. NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Juan Montoya tested tires at the recently resurfaced Michigan International Speedway. Michigan has always been fast, but the new surface has added six to eight miles per hour to straightaway speeds. Cars were hitting around 215mph on the straights, leading to speculation about restrictor plates in some circles. However, Michigan has only 18 degree banking in the corners, reducing corner speeds to around 175. The high banks at Daytona and Talladega allow the cars to run pretty much flat out all the way around, hence the restrictor plate rule at those tracks.
IndyCar drivers were also in test mode at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, trying out the new Indy-specific bodywork on the new DW12 Indy car. The Speedway aero kit includes taller and re-shaped rear wheel guards. Teams also experimented with wing angles, wickers on front and rear wings, underwing strakes and sidewall extensions, and radiator inlet shutters. Tony Kanaan, who had participated in the initial Speedway tests last fall, pronounced the car much improved, with better balance and a "slick" feel. Nine drivers (five with Chevrolet power, four with Honda engines) logged a total of 495 laps during the test. Lotus, plagued by an engine shortage, did not participate.
In other IndyCar news, Andretti Autosport will field a fourth car for Ana Beatriz in the upcoming race in Brazil. Beatriz will also be the fourth Andretti Autosport driver attempting to qualify for the Indy 500, and Sebastian Saavedra will also join the team for the Memorial Day classic.