Roger Diez: Racing today at Fernley … weather permitting
March 29, 2014
Fernley 95A Speedway kicks off the 2014 season today, weather permitting. The track will have an early start for the first two races to avoid cold late-night temperatures. Racing will begin at 2:30 pm today and again in two weeks on April 12. After the first two races, the start time will be moved back to 5 pm. The tailgate section behind turn one has been re-opened, and is now graveled and nicely terraced to permit better sight lines. Admission prices are as follows:
Adults 13 and up $12; kids 6-12 and seniors 63 and up $8; kids 5 and under and military with ID free. Pit passes $35.
Mackena Bell had a disappointing finish at Greenville-Pickens Speedway last Saturday, finishing 21st in the K&N Pro Series East. Starting 17th, Bell had a trouble-plagued race, with an early pit stop under caution and a spin mid-race, finally finishing a lap down.
The IndyCar series 2014 season opens this weekend on the street course at St. Petersburg, Florida. Penske driver Will Power was fastest in the most recent testing session, and is joined by teammates Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya. Montoya is back in open wheel after seven seasons driving for Chip Ganassi in NASCAR Sprint Cup.
This weekend the Cup drivers visit the Martinsville short track "paperclip," a far cry from the wide-open seven lane California track. Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are the top performers at the half-mile track with eight wins apiece. Johnson won the spring race last year with Gordon victorious in the fall. Both drivers have been strong this season, although neither has posted the necessary win to be in the Chase. Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick have also won at Martinsville in the last three seasons. Hamlin has been medically cleared to race after missing the Fontana race with vision problems caused by a sinus infection. The odds are very good that we could see the sixth winner of the 2014 season this weekend. That hasn't happened since the Chase format began, although the 2000 season started with 10 different winners in the first 10 races. No doubt the fact that a win is a near-guarantee of a Chase berth under the new format is a strong incentive for drivers to take the checkered flag as early in the season as possible.
Auto Club Speedway in California certainly provided some exciting racing last Saturday and Sunday. Congratulations to Kyle Larson, who held off Kyle Busch the closing laps to take the Nationwide series win. Larson came back to finish second to Busch on Sunday after a late caution flag robbed Jeff Gordon of what looked like a sure win. Tires were the issue on Sunday, as an unusual number of drivers experienced tire problems, including Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, who brought out the final caution.
Darrel Wallace Jr. returns to the site of his first Camping World Truck series victory this weekend. Wallace only the second African-American driver to win in one of NASCAR's top series. In addition to the regular competitors, Wallace will also have to contend with four members of the NASCAR Next contingent: Ben Rhodes, Jeb Burton, Gray Gaulding, and Ben Kennedy. The race will air on Fox Sports 1 at 11:30am Pacific time today.
Formula one is in Malaysia this weekend, and teams and drivers are commemorating those lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. With over 100 degree temperatures anticipated, coupled with high humidity. It's still too early to tell which cars will be competitive and more importantly reliable. Reliability is expected to be an issue at the Sepang circuit, given the high temperatures and straightaway speeds approaching 210 miles per hour. Brakes will also be a problem, slowing the cars from those high speeds to negotiate tight corners. On another note, the Red Bull team has appealed the exclusion of Daniel Ricciardo from the Australia race. The hearing will take place on April 14 in Paris.
Finally, condolences to the Petty family on the loss of Lynda Petty, wife of King Richard. Rest in peace.