Keselowski on pace for Chase spot
August 17, 2013
The sprint cars may have canceled, but four local divisions provided some spirited racing last Saturday at Reno-Tahoe-Fernley Speedway. The Dwarf cars kicked off the action, and track prep guru Vuki Wilson was back in a car for the first time in quite a while. He was as fast as ever, finishing third behind winner (and son) Reece Wilson and Calvin Ryle. Carl Barlow won yet another Hobby Stock main, but Tom Haxall kept him honest, staying right with Barlow and finishing second. Royce Goetz arrived late and missed the heat race, but drove from the back of the pack into third place. Eleven-year-old Buddy Kofoid took another checkered flag in the KWS Lite sprint car division, followed home by Danielle and Dan Simpson. And the caution-marred IMCA Modified main went to Shawn Natenstedt, chased home by Oregon's Monte Bischoff and Russell Rosario in his best finish of the season. Tonight's scheduled USAC sprint car show has been canceled due to a low car count. Next Saturday will be the eighth season points race for the 95A series.
The Lucas Oil Off-Road series will make its second annual visit to the area next weekend. I had the opportunity to ride along in a two-seater Pro Lite truck for a practice session last year, and it was a blast. But those apparently soft landings you see on TV are anything but in the race car. I think I shortened my spine by about two inches in the 15 minute session. Friday admission is free, and adult tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $20 each day, with kids 12 and younger free with a paid adult admission.
Brad Keselowski played nice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen last Sunday. He got to Kyle Busch's bumper on the last lap, but refrained from punting Shrub into the weeds. Marcos Ambrose dominated at the Glen, leading 51 laps early, but a caution flag at just the wrong time dropped him back into traffic. His car didn't work well in dirty air, and he eventually encountered Max Papis on a restart, ending his day.
Keselowski's second place helped a bit in the points, moving him up four spots into eighth, but he needs at least one win to ensure making the Chase. The next four drivers in the standings are less than 12 points behind him, and three of them have wins. Brad won Saturday's Nationwide race convincingly, but that garnered him no points. He'll be motivated at his home track, Michigan, this weekend. Also motivated will be points leader Jimmie Johnson. Michigan is one of the few tracks that have eluded victory for the five-time champion, but will start third on Sunday. Polesitter Joey Logano has a new track record of 203.949 mph, the ninth fastest pole run in NASCAR history.
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Austin Dillon, who shares Chevrolet cars and Bass Pro Shops sponsorship with Tony Stewart, will drive the No. 14 car at Michigan, but it's only a one-race deal at this point. Dillon will be commuting between Michigan and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he is running today's Nationwide race. , A.J. Allmendinger, the most recent Nationwide road course winner, is looking to repeat in his Penske Mustang at Mid-Ohio. He was impressive in the Cup race at the Glen last Sunday, running in the top 10 all day and finishing 10th. I'm really glad to see A.J. get a second chance and make the most of it. He's a talented driver and a genuinely nice guy.
In other NASCAR news, Michael Waltrip Racing has announced that Brian Vickers will have a full-time ride in the number 55 Aaron's-sponsored Toyota for the 2014 season.
This weekend the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals run at Brainerd, Minnesota. And although Formula 1 and IndyCar are dark this weekend, they both return to action next weekend. Formula 1 will be at the very fast Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, while the IndyCar series visits Sonoma Raceway, the series' closest visit to us.