Time is running out to catch live local racing. Fernley 95A Speedway’s next-to-last points race of the season will take place at the 3/8-mile oval tonight, with action beginning at 6 p.m.
Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon ends its season next weekend, and Fernley’s final points race is on Oct. 3. Post season events are Fernley’s Two-Day Shootout October 10-11 and Fallon’s Kris Kringle event Oct. 17.
The field for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship was finalized last Saturday night at Richmond, as Matt Kenseth joined Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch as a four-time winner. The first 11 of the 16 Chase berths will go to race winners, and the last five filled in by the non-winning drivers with the highest points accumulation of the season. Joining the three four-time winners are Joey Logano (3 wins), Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, and Carl Edwards, (2 wins each), Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin (1 win apiece), and Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer on points.
The first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday will see the points for the Chase drivers reset to 2,000 each, with three bonus points for each race win during the regular season.
Chicagoland will be the first of the three-race Challenger round, after which the four drivers lowest in points will be eliminated. A win in any of the three races guarantees advancement to the Contender round. Points for the 12 surviving drivers will be reset to 3,000. The same rules apply, and the top eight will advance to the Eliminator round, with points reset again to 4,000. That round will determine the four drivers who will go on to battle for the championship at the final race of the season at Homestead. The highest-finishing of those four will be the 2015 Sprint Cup Champion.
NASCAR’s version of the playoffs has a twist not found in other sports in the sense a driver not in contention for the championship can win a race. And, there are a number of drivers in the field who are motivated to salvage the season with a race win. Only seven of the 16 Chase competitors have won at Chicagoland, and only two (Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski) have won more than once. They drive a Chevy and a Ford respectively, but the Toyotas, particular those of Joe Gibbs Racing, have shown amazing strength this season. Matt Kenseth is on a tear, winning three of the last six races. JGR is the only team with four cars in the Chase. Hendrick has three, Penske has two, Stewart-Haas has two, Childress has two, and Furniture Row, Ganassi, and Michael Waltrip Racing have one apiece. In fairness, Penske only has two cars and Furniture Row has one, so it could be said they both have a perfect record. The age spread among drivers is also interesting, ranging from Logano at 25 to Gordon at 44. Logano is the only driver in his 20s, with Kyle Busch at 30 the second youngest. Kenseth is 43, and Johnson just joined the senior set, turning 40 last Thursday. All the rest are in their mid-to-late 30s.
Formula One takes to the track in Singapore this weekend, for the series’ only night race. It will be the first of a two-race Far East swing that will see the F1 cars also competing in Japan next weekend. Singapore is perhaps the most challenging race on the calendar for a variety of reasons. First, even though it’s a night race, the heat and humidity so close to the equator saps the energy of the drivers. Second, it’s a busy track with 23 corners, many of which look similar. This makes for slow lap times and a long race. Third, the course is laid out on city streets, which are bumpy and uneven. And finally, the jet lag experienced by the drivers and teams is further complicated by the late practice, qualifying, and race times. And with Japan coming up the following weekend, there won’t be much time to rest and recuperate.