Roger Diez: Reno Tahoe Fernley’s new configurations are fast
April 13, 2013
Last Saturday’s Play Day at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway’s 3⁄8 mile clay oval was well attended as drivers tried out the high banks of the new track configuration. There were a number of sprint cars on hand as well as modifieds, pro stocks, hobby stocks, dwarfs and pure stocks. Managing Director Dan Simpson told me that he had deliberately designed the track so the turns at either end are different. This should prevent the KWS Sprint Car drivers from finding a perfect setup, which should tighten the fields. “I want three cars coming off turn four on the last lap side by side for the win,” said Simpson.
I spoke with modified drivers Jake Holland, Russ Cazier, Russell Rosario, all of whom liked the banking and said the track was fast. Shawn Natenstedt was repairing body damage on wife Missy’s modified and grumbling about how some drivers might be going faster than they can handle. Some hobby stock drivers were less enthused, as they tried to come to grips with the new set-up. Last year’s champion Carl Barlow said he was bogging coming off corners, 2011 champion Royce Goetz said he would have to change gears again. The sprint cars were impressive on the high banking, particularly one very young driver, 11-year-old Troy White. At an age when most youngsters are still cutting their racing teeth in karts, this kid is already a pretty good wheelman in a 360 sprint car.
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Tonight the green flag flies at RTF Speedway on the season opener for the 95A Series, featuring IMCA Modifieds, Sport Mods, Pro Stock, Hobby Stock, Dwarf, Mod Mini, and KWS Lite divisions as well as Outlaw Karts. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m. and racing starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults 13 and older, $8 for kids 6-12 and seniors over 65, and free for kids younger than 6 and military in uniform.
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Shawn Natenstedt took the IMCA Modified win at Fallon’s Rattlesnake Raceway last Saturday night, and Barlow won in Hobby Stock. Al Bishop was the Gen-X winner, Will Ritchey captured the Mod Mini main, and Jimmy Ford was the victor in Sport Mod.
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Carson City’s Mackena Bell qualified seventh for the K&N Pro Series East race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway last Saturday, the highest of the four Revolution Racing team drivers. She improved her 29th-place Bristol finish to 18th at the checkered flag. The series races at the half-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., today. The Bristol race was aired on SPEED at noon last Thursday. As soon as I find out the air dates and times for Greenville-Pickens and Five Flags, I will put it in this space.
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Jimmie Johnson showed why he’s a five-time champion at Martinsville last Sunday, dominating the race and notching his second win of the season and eighth at Martinsville. Only Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip have won more races at the .526 mile “paperclip.” Johnson is back atop the point standings, with Hendrick teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne in third and fifth. Senior team member Jeff Gordon’s third-place finish at Martinsville raised him to 13th in the standings, so he has some catching up to do. Tonight the Cup drivers take to the very fast Texas Motor Speedway after a successful test there last week. The Gen 6 Sprint Cup car seems to be performing well now. Even if it isn’t, no driver is going to say anything negative after Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine for doing so.
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Mechanical gremlins bit a number of drivers in last Sunday’s IndyCar race, most notably St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe. Anticipating a yellow flag so the car could be towed in, the team left Hinchcliffe sitting in the car for most of the race, which of course ran green to the checker. Defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay scored his first season win, followed home by Ganassi driver Scott Dixon in his fourth consecutive runner-up finish at the track.