If you were planning to visit Reno-Fernley Raceway's clay oval for the DIRTcar Western All Star Late Model race tonight, you might want to make other plans. Faced with a disappointing car count, the track has elected to cancel the event. However, Casino Fandango has teamed up with the Reno-Fernley drag strip to present quarter-mile drag racing, open to all cars and motorcycles. The cost is $35 to race and $5 to watch. Racing at the oval will resume with a NASCAR double points program for all divisions next Saturday.
Brad Keselowski turned in an amazing performance at Pocono last Sunday, winning the race with a broken left ankle and vaulting himself to the top of the wild-card hopefuls in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship. He's the only driver outside the top 10 in points with two victories, and is now in the top 20 spots, the other requirement for a wild card berth. There's both good and bad news for Keselowski in tomorrow's race at the Watkins Glen road course. The good news is that with today's transmissions, Sprint Cup drivers don't have to use the clutch except for exiting the pits. The bad news is that Brad is a left-foot braker, and there's lots of braking to be done every lap at the Glen. Keselowski will not be running today's Nationwide race in order to rest his ankle, so teammate Kurt Busch will be behind the wheel of the number 22 Penske Dodge this afternoon.
Feuds may be the big story at Watkins Glen this weekend. Roush-Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a bit of an issue at Iowa last Saturday, ending with Carl slamming into Ricky's disabled Ford and shoving him across the finish line for the win. And in the Sprint Cup series, there are fresh hard feelings in a long-standing rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch after a post-race confrontation at Pocono. And of course, the simmering resentment between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick as well as Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman could bubble over at any time.
Handicapping tomorrow's race is interesting. Montoya, who would normally be considered a front-runner at the Glen, is struggling with a new crew chief and the recent suspension of two crew members for violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy. Tony Stewart, all-time winner at the Glen, has yet to score a victory this season, so he's especially hungry. Jeff Gordon is running very well, and is a serious threat to take the checkered flag tomorrow, and road-racing ace Marcos Ambrose is overdue for a road course win. And don't forget this year's Infineon winner Kurt Busch, who will get some extra seat time in the Nationwide race today. Stewart has the best driver rating (129.6) at the Glen, followed by Montoya (113.5), Ambrose (113.2), Kyle Busch (102.1) and Kurt Busch (101.9).
The IZOD IndyCar series is also running tomorrow, moving from last weekend's road course race at Mid-Ohio to the flat one-mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire. Pippa Mann will be back in an Indy car after her debut at the Indy 500, joining Danica Patrick, Simona de Silvestro, and Ana Beatriz to make four women in the field. And Helio Castroneves will be making his 200th Indy car start, his contribution to Team Penske's 1300th open-wheel racing start. The team has raced in USAC, CART, Champ Car, IRL, and now the IIS. Sadly, Justin Wilson will not be racing for the remainder of the season due to a broken back suffered last weekend at Mid-Ohio. Tomas Scheckter will substitute for him this weekend.
The Target-Ganassi team looks to be strong again at New Hampshire, coming off a 1-2 finish at Mid-Ohio. Dario Franchitti was fastest in Friday practice, just ahead of teammate Scott Dixon. Franchitti is looking to break the 16 year old qualifying record set by Andre Ribeiro in August 1995 in the CART series. Franchitti's quick practice lap was 21.566, just a tenth of a second off of Ribeiro's 21.466 second record pace and better than Richie Hearn's IndyCar series record of 21.719 seconds. It has been 13 years since a major open-wheel series has raced at New Hampshire.