NASCAR champs will be crowned this weekend
November 16, 2013
Champions in all three of NASCAR's touring divisions will be crowned this weekend at Homestead. In fact, the Camping World Truck championship has already been decided. At press time I don't have the results of last night's race, but since Matt Crafton only had to take the green flag to take the title, there's not much question about the 2013 champ in that series.
Today's Nationwide race is a different story.
Austin Dillon holds a slim eight-point advantage over Sam Hornish Jr. If Dillon finishes third or better, or takes fourth with a lap lead or fifth with the most champs led, but a finish of third or better or fourth with a lap lead, or fifth with the most laps led will give him the championship even if Hornish wins the race. So Sam has to go for the win and hope that Austin has trouble. Dillon will make history if he wins the championship without winning today's race, because he has not yet visited victory lane this season. Kyle Busch can't score points in the series, but he can bring home the car owner's title for Joe Gibbs. Penske Racing's No. 22 Ford has the lead by four points going into Homestead.
Jimmie Johnson got a big boost last Sunday and leads Matt Kenseth by 28 points going into Sunday's race. It's the biggest lead either driver has had in the Chase. Johnson only has to finish 23rd or better to clinch his sixth championship. As Kenseth quipped in a press conference earlier in the week, "I think Jimmie could finish 23rd through the grass with three wheels on." Kevin Harvick also kept himself alive in the title fight with last week's victory, and now sits 34 points back. Although he's a long shot for the championship, he could easily bump Kenseth back to third if Johnson does in fact win the crown. But wouldn't it be sweet irony if Harvick came through to become champion in his final race with Richard Childress Racing?
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Formula One is racing on U.S. soil this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Last year's inaugural event was a great show, and we will see if Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton can repeat his victory and break Sebastian Vettel's string of consecutive wins. I'm not holding my breath.
And in some sad news, IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti has announced his retirement from racing. Franchitti suffered head and spinal injuries at Houston in the next-to-last race of the season. Franchitti, who is 40, is a four-time Indycar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Since his debut in CART in 1997, he has amassed 31 career Indy Car victories in 265 starts. He also scored a win in the 2008 Daytona 24 Hour Endurance race. Franchitti said that he hopes to continue to be involved with the Target-Ganassi team in some capacity next season. Personally, I would love to see him in the broadcast booth. His knowledge of the sport, intelligence, keen sense of humor, and charming Scottish accent would be a great asset.
Finally, congratulations to the champions in the NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Shawn Langdon is the 2013 Top Fuel champion, while John Force proved yet again that age and treachery will beat youth and enthusiasm, taking the Funny Car title. Pro Stock had the closest finish, with Jeg Coughlin nosing out Allen Johnson by just 58 points. Matt Smith topped the points in Pro Stock Motorcycle.