DIEZ: Barlow wins fifth straight title
September 7, 2012
Congratulations to Carl Barlow of Silver Springs, who won his fifth consecutive Hobby Stock main at Fernley 95A Speedway last weekend. It was also his fourth win in a row starting at the back of the field. Barlow treated the crowd by climbing the catch fence on the front straight ala Helio Castroneves or Tony Stewart. The last points race of the season at Fernley 95A will be September 15.
It’s desperation time for the eight drivers with a chance of securing a wild card berth in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship. Denny Hamlin’s win last Sunday night in Atlanta denied Jeff Gordon his second win, ratcheting up the suspense for tonight’s race at Richmond. I won’t get into all the combinations and permutations involved, because there isn’t enough space. Kasey Kahne, the only driver with two wins outside the top 10, is the most likely to be in the Chase. Behind him, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon are the top picks to be the second wild card Chase qualifier. If either of them wins the race, that driver will get the spot. Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, and Paul Menard all have a mathematical chance, but are extreme long shots.
NASCAR’s silly season is already underway. It was revealed last week, to no one’s surprise, that Matt Kenseth will be taking over the Joe Gibbs Racing number 20 Toyota for 2013. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will move into the number 17 Ford at Roush-Fenway Racing. Joey Logano has been tapped to take over the number 22 Ford for Penske Racing. Personally, I was pulling for Sam Hornish Jr. to get the nod, but the Captain didn’t agree with me. However, the Penske organization is trying to put together sponsorship for a third car for Sam. Ryan Newman has re-upped with Stewart-Haas Racing for another year. That will make Stewart-Haas a three-car team for 2013, with the addition of Danica Patrick as a full-time Cup driver. And Elliot Sadler will be leaving Richard Childress Racing for a full-time Nationwide and part-time Cup ride with Gibbs for next season.
Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar series win at Baltimore last Sunday tightened up the championship fight with one race to go. The Andretti Autosport driver put on brilliant run in wet/dry conditions that had most crews scrambling to change from slicks to rain tires. Hunter-Reay stayed out on slicks and won the race with a perfectly-timed restart that took the lead from Sonoma winner Ryan Briscoe. The season finale on the oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana is a 500-miler under the lights next Saturday night. Penske driver Will Power is now only 17 points up on Hunter-Reay, and can see yet another championship in danger of slipping away from him. He has finished second to Dario Franchitti for the title twice in the final race of the season. If Hunter-Reay wins the championship, he will be the first American to do so since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.
The Formula 1 circus visits the renowned Monza track in Italy this weekend. McLaren’s Jensen Button won at Spa Francorchamps last Sunday in a race that saw a wild multi-car crash in the first corner that took out points leader Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari as well as Button’s teammate Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez’s Sauber, and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Grosjean, who caused the crash, has been banned from competing this weekend and fined 50,000 Euros. Jerome D’Ambrosio will replace him at Monza.
The NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals eliminations were rained out on Labor Day, so the event has been rescheduled for tomorrow and will air on ESPN2.
Finally, it was announced last week that the American Lemans Series (ALMS) and the Rolex Grand Am series will merge in 2014. The first race for the combined series will be the 2014 Daytona Rolex 24-hour enduro. The move mirrors the merger of Champ Car and IndyCar three years ago, giving race fans a less confusing picture of sports car racing in the U.S.