Roger Diez: Fernley 95A Speedway readies for 2012

Fernley 95A Speedway has released its tentative 2013 schedule and racing division lineup. Racing will begin on April 13, and the track will host two races per month through September. Racing divisions will be: IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, B-Mod, Dwarf, Hobby Stock, Mod Mini and Pure Stock Mini. The B-Mods are a new division, with cars that are similar to the IMCA Modifieds but more affordable due to stricter rules. The first of three scheduled appearances by the King of the West sprint car series will be a three-day event during the Fourth of July weekend. One track division will run each day with the sprint cars. Promoter Matt Ramthun says that the track will also be getting a facelift during the off-season, and the track is actively seeking sponsors.

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It's still too early to call, but with only three races left it looks like a two-horse race in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship. Hendrick Racing's Jimmie Johnson, who may well be on his way to a sixth championship, took over the points lead from Brad Keselowski of Penske Racing last weekend at Martinsville, winning from the pole. Johnson again has the pole for Sunday's race at Texas, tying Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne with four poles each.

If Johnson wins Sunday, he will be tied with Keselowski and Denny Hamlin at five victories each. Johnson only leads Keselowski by two points, with Clint Boyer, of Michael Waltrip Racing, third (26 points back) and teammate Kahne fourth, 29 points behind. Either of those two drivers can take over the lead if both Johnson and Keselowski have a bad race. Denny Hamlin dropped to fifth, 49 points behind, with a horrible 33rd place finish at Martinsville. It would take a miracle for him to win the championship, and the same applies to Jeff Gordon who is 54 points behind Johnson.

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The Formula One championship is beginning to jell, and it is starting to look like a third consecutive title for Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel. I would not be a bit surprised to see the young German duplicate Johnson's feat of five championships in a row. The only driver with a chance of unseating Vettel as the season winds down is Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Vettel has 240 points to Alonso's 227, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen a distant third at 173. Coming off three consecutive race wins, Vettel was fastest in practice on Friday at the Abu Dhabi, edging McLaren's Lewis Hamilton for the top spot. Counting this weekend's race, there are only three events left in the season, with the debut of the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in two weeks.

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In off-track news, the IndyCar series announced that CEO Randy Bernard is stepping down and will take on a "consulting" role. Jeff Belskus, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, will take over as interim CEO. I think it's a shame, because Bernard has definitely improved the series over what it was under the reign of Tony George.

He brought the new car online, replaced the much-despised Brian Barnhart as Competition Director, and has come up with a robust schedule and some exciting new ideas for the upcoming season. I hope that whoever is selected as the new CEO has a Kevlar vest with a knife-proof back panel.


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