The Memorial Day weekend is behind us, but what a weekend it was. Juan Pablo Montoya winning his second Indy 500, Carl Edwards scoring his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Nico Rosberg winning the Monaco Grand Prix and closing to within 10 points of teammate Lewis Hamilton were the big stories of the week.
There was also local racing on Saturday night at Fernley 95A Speedway. The IMCA Modified division got off to a slow start with a series of caution flags, but finally went green for a long run. Jeff Olschowka of Marysville led every lap from the pole, but there was lots of spirited racing behind him, with much swapping of positions. At the checker it was Olschowka, Reno’s Jake Holland, Cory Sample of Winnemucca, Gardnerville driver Robert Miller and Californian Ryan McDaniel. The Pro Stock division held its second race with $1,000 to the winner. Malen Gonzalez of Fallon was up to the challenge, pocketing a wad of cash at the post-race victory ceremony. Gonzalez was never challenged, coming home ahead of Elko’s Gordon Russell, Fallon’s Rob Grace, Gary Nevers of Carson City, and David Rauscher of Reno. Sun Valley’s Rick Miller brought home his first win of the season in the Street Stock division, taking the checker ahead of Gardnerville’s Dwight Bolton, Jesse Vankol and Jake Baker of Reno, and Silver Springs’ Jimmy Berhorst. Defending Super Stock 4 champion Kenny Martin of Sparks charged out of the pack and into the lead at the green flag, leading every lap of the main. Carson City’s Danielle Paine drove her best race of the season to take second ahead of Reno’s Dennis Crook and Kenny Schmidt, with Steven Crook Sr. of Fernley rounding out the top five. Fernley 95A Speedway is dark tonight, returning to action on June 6.
The Indy 500 saw lots of crashes, with a third of the field sidelined at the checker. Fortunately, pre-race fears proved unfounded as none of the cars involved got airborne. The Penske and Ganassi teams were the class of the field, as expected, and the race-ending duel between Penske drivers Montoya and Will Power was breathtaking. Montoya’s second win came 15 years after his first, but in all fairness the intervening years were taken up with his Formula One and NASCAR careers. IndyCar is back in action this weekend with a doubleheader in Detroit.
Carl Edwards broke a 31-race winless streak and scored his first victory for his new team in the Coke 600 at Charlotte. Former teammate Greg Biffle followed Edwards to the checker, the best finish for a Roush-Fenway Ford so far this season. Martin Truex Jr. looked to have his best shot at getting his first win for Furniture Row with the fastest car on the track, but had to settle for fifth. Truex is second in points, but with the new Chase format he may still need a win to make the cut.
Starting on the front row Sunday may give him that win. There are already nine drivers who have scored victories, and there are still 14 races for seven additional drivers to get a win and shut out non-winners no matter how many points they have. Sunday’s race at Dover’s Monster Mile could very well see Jimmie Johnson take his fourth checker of the year, as he does extremely well there, tallying nine Cup wins at the Monster Mile in his career.
A rare error on the part of the Mercedes team at Monaco snatched an almost certain victory from points leader Lewis Hamilton. Even his teammate and arch-rival Nico Rosberg admitted as much after the race. The team called Hamilton to the pits when the “virtual” safety car was deployed, thinking he had a large enough gap to return to the track ahead of his teammate. But then the actual safety car was deployed and drivers were allowed to close up behind it, erasing Hamilton’s advantage. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, it appears to have been a timing issue, not a sinister plot to win Rosberg the championship. Formula One is off this week, returning to action in Montreal June 5-7.