Roger Diez: The wrath of Kahne at Indy | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: The wrath of Kahne at Indy

Last Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Brickyard 400 was certainly the most interesting at the 2.5 mile Indianapolis oval in recent years. It was also the longest, perhaps the most expensive, and the certainly highest in the use of fire suppression chemicals. Only 21 of the original 40 starters were classified as "running," with one of those 32 laps down. The race ended with an overtime caution flag as dusk settled on the racetrack.

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Kasey Kahne held off Brad Keselowski to break a 102-race losing streak, and joined Jimmie Johnson as the second Hendrick driver to lock into the playoffs. Kahne's win came at the misfortune of others, as a series of crashes sidelined the strongest contenders. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the class of the field until taking each other out on a restart. Truex's Toyota burst into flames, the first of two of fiery crashes. The second was Kyle Larson, whose Chevrolet erupted into an inferno after an altercation with Austin Dillon put him into the wall. Other drivers who showed speed but crashed out were Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, and Trevor Bayne.

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Joey Logano finished fourth, but Kahne's victory did him no favors. Logano now sits 13th in points, but with five race winners behind him in the point standings, he would be two places out of the 16 runoff berths if the season ended today. He desperately needs an unencumbered win to lock into the playoffs, and there are only six regular season races left including Sunday's Pocono outing to get that win.

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When the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series visited Pocono in June, Ryan Blaney became the latest addition to the winner's list at the track. Including Blaney, there are now 12 active Cup drivers who are Pocono winners. Jimmie Johnson is the most prolific of the group, with three wins to his credit. Two-time winners are Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Indy winner Kahne, and Denny Hamlin. One-time visitors to the tricky triangle's victory lane are Matt Kenseth, Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, and Chris Buescher. In June Blaney was one of my picks for a first-time Cup winner at Pocono, as was Erik Jones. I think Jones is at the top of the list this time around. Just a modest prediction.

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NASCAR's silly season is well underway. Paul Menard is out at Childress, moving to the Wood Brothers replacing Blaney, who has been tapped to drive a third Penske car, the No. 12 Ford.

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Alex Bowman's advancement to the No. 88, replacing the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr., is old news, as is Erik Jones's move to replace Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota. But will Furniture Row continue to run the No. 77 team? If so, who will drive? Kyle Larson suggested Christopher Bell would be a good choice for the seat.

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The Verizon IndyCar series is at the Mid-Ohio road course this weekend, and it's an excellent chance for Scott Dixon to extend his points lead. The Ganassi Racing driver has won at the venue five times, outpacing all active drivers by a wide margin. The only other multiple winner in the field is Helio Castroneves, and his wins were way back in 2000 and 2001. Charlie Kimball won in 2013, Graham Rahal in 2015, and Simon Pagenaud in 2016 on the way to his first championship. Look for Will Power and Josef Newgarden, teammates to Castroneves and Pagenaud, to be strong as well.

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The Formula One circus is winding down the first half of its season in Hungary this weekend, then taking a four-week break before returning at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium the last week in August. The drivers' championship and the rivalry between Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari pilot Sebastian Vettel couldn't be more intense. Likewise the manufacturers' championship race between the same two teams. No quarter will be asked or given in Hungary on Sunday. It should be great fun to watch.

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