It was a good night at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway last Saturday, with warmer temperatures and milder winds than the season opener. The Pure Stock division made its first appearance of the season, and last year’s champion Travis Barr of Reno won the main over Silver Springs drivers Justin Schilling and Bracee Langevin, each of whom won a heat race. There were lots of repeat winners on the night. David Paine took his second checkered flag of the season in the Mod Mini division, holding off David Ausano and Justin Busch for the win. Frank Hinds was another two-time winner in the Dwarf Car division with Calvin Ryle and Cody Gibson taking second and third respectively. Carl Barlow, the defending Hobby Stock champ, also became a two-time winner on the season, handily holding off Rocky Goetz and John Schilling in the main. Fallon’s Malen Gonzalez ran off and hid in the Pro Stock main followed home by Carson City’s Gary Nevers and David Rauscher of Reno. It was one of the few divisions to have two different winners so far. Sport Mods are a new division this year, and fields are small but expected to grow. Rick Rogers took the win ahead of David Partelow and Jeff Tuttle, and then joined the Modified main at the tail of the pack. Shawn Natenstedt stayed with the two-time theme as last year’s track Modified champ took the checkered flag ahead of Riley Simmons and Josh Ogg. Points race No. 3 for the 95A series is coming up next Saturday, with a two-day King of the West sprint car show the following Friday and Saturday.
After last week’s short track race at Richmond, the NASCAR circus moves to the biggest track of all, Talladega, this weekend. Both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series will be in action, with a few personnel missing on the Nationwide side after last Friday’s dust-up after the race between the teams of Ryan Scott and Nelson Piquet Jr. Two of Scott’s crew were fined $15,000 and suspended for four races, while both drivers and the crew chiefs of both cars were placed on probation until June 26. However, on the Cup side there will be a driver back in the seat, as Denny Hamlin has been cleared to race. The thinking is that he will probably exit the car on the first caution and Brian Vickers will take over. But that was supposed to happen when Hamlin had knee surgery a couple of years ago, and his relief driver never got to drive. Hamlin’s a pretty tough customer, but I hope he lets Vickers take over. Getting caught up on one of Talladega’s “big ones” could re-injure his back and end his career. Be careful out there.
NASCAR’s three-member appeals panel on Wednesday upheld all elements of the penalties levied on the Penske Racing teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano — fines, suspensions, and points penalties were left intact.
Roger Penske has elected to take his case to the final step and will plead his case before NASCAR’s chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook, next Tuesday. So all of Penske’s personnel will be at Talladega pending the outcome of the appeal. The good news for the Penske teams is that Middlebrook did overturn the ruling against an alleged C pillar violation on the part Hendrick Racing a year ago. I think that Penske might have drawn an unsympathetic panel last week. Although the list of 48 possible appeals panel members consists of former car owners, crew chiefs, and drivers, it also has current track promoters and industry officials. It was Penske’s bad luck that there were a former NASCAR vice president, a track president, and a promoter on the panel, and no crew chiefs, owners, or drivers, who might have had a different perspective on the violation and the penalties.
The IndyCar series holds their first race out of the U.S. this weekend. The series will be in Brazil for the last race before the Indy 500. I remember the “old days” when the series spent the entire month of May at Indianapolis, but those days are gone forever.