The rain-delayed final season points races at Fernley 95A Speedway last Friday night provided a couple of surprises, but most of the usual suspects took the checkered flags.
Robert Miller capped off a terrific season in the IMCA modified division with yet another victory, his 20th of 2015. Travis White, Rocky Goetz, Mike White and Malen Gonzales finished second through fifth. Joe Frock as usual dominated the Dwarf Car division, taking the win ahead of Roy Peterson, Glen Sciarrani, Dan Pieretti, and Dan Geil, while Dwight Bolton finished out the season with a Street Stock victory, followed by Adam Gilmore, David Ausano, Shayna Nieman, and Rick Miller. Dennis Crook bested Justin Busch, Danielle Paine, Bob Davis, and Steve Crook Sr. to take the Super Stock 4 win. The two unusual results were Mike Learn from Petaluma, Calif., who took the Pro Stock main by storm, and Josay Robertson, who won the Pure Stock main in only her second outing. James Gonzalez, Rob Grace, and Gary Nevers followed Learn home, while Jim Paulk, Rich Innis, and Dave Raber chased Robertson to the checker.
The season finale Two-Day Shootout ran on Saturday and Sunday. Jesse James won the Pure Stock main and Steve Crook Jr. took the Super Stock 4 main, both on Saturday. Sunday saw the other divisions run, with veteran Frock besting 17-year-old phenom Camden Robustelli in the Dwarf Car division. Rick Miller ended the season with bragging rights, taking the Street Stock division win over season-long rivals Jake Baker and Dwight Bolton. Robert Miller won the Pro Stock main driving B.J. Pearson’s fast No. 84, which is for sale. Miller then qualified for the IMCA Modified main with a second place in one of the two B mains, but was unable to work his way to the front. Paul Stone took the $4,000 Modified winner’s check home to California with him, while Miller finished fourth behind Cory Sample and Brian Poppa.
Two of NASCAR’s finest also experienced disappointment last weekend, as both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth had trouble in the rain-delayed Charlotte Sprint Cup race, dropping to 32 and 45 points respectively behind race winner Joey Logano. A win will be pretty much the only thing that will keep them in the Chase for the next round. Kyle Busch also had problems and sits 23 points back. Ryan Newman is the fourth driver on the bubble 19 points in arrears. The Cup teams are at Kansas this weekend, and after Talladega the following week the number of championship contenders drops to eight. Logano’s Charlotte win locks him into the Eliminator round. Kevin Harvick sits second in points, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Carl Edwards, all less than 10 points out of first place. Barring disaster in the next two races, all five should make the next round.
Mechanical woes in Nico Rosberg’s normally bullet-proof Mercedes in Russia last Sunday sidelined him, virtually handing the 2015 drivers’ championship to teammate Lewis Hamilton, who went on to win his ninth race of the season. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second in Russia, passing Rosberg in the standings by seven points into the runner-up position. Hamilton is 66 points ahead of Vettel with four races to go, which means he only has to average a sixth-place finish or better to become champion. even if Vettel wins the rest of the races. The next race will be October 25 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. If Hamilton wins there and Vettel finishes worse than second, Hamilton clinches the title. Mercedes has already clinched the Manufacturers’ championship, courtesy of a 30-second penalty meted out to Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen for contact in Russia on the last lap with Valtteri Bottas. The collision denied Bottas a sure podium finish. The reduction in points scored by Raikkonen from ten to four due to the penalty was enough to make Mercedes’ points lead unassailable.