Last Saturday’s Nevada Prostock Racing Association’s main event featured a surprise ending.
Reno’s Jay Sears had led every lap from the green flag, but on the last restart he faltered and Carson City’s David Paine accelerated into him, driving Sears into the infield and out of the race. James Gonzales of Fallon took the lead, the checker, and the $1,000 cash prize. Fallon driver Rob Grace was second, 2.3 seconds behind. Winnemucca’s Cory Sample, 2014 track champion and current points leader, easily won the IMCA Modified main. Fernley’s Shawn Natenstedt finished second in a successful maiden outing for his new chassis. The Street Stock win went to points leader Rick Miller, who chased Michael Burns for half the race before finding a way by him. And, two Fernley drivers staged a match race in the Super Stock 4 division, with Justin Busch coming out on top and Jesse James finishing second. The next race is the season finale on Sept. 17.
It was a weekend of surprises, first-time winners, and fantastic finishes in all of the major national and international racing series. All three NASCAR touring divisions crowned first-time winners — Brett Moffitt scored his first victory in the Camping World Truck Series at Michigan, Michael McDowell took the checker for the first time in the Xfinity race at Road America, and Kyle Larson fulfilled his potential by winning his first-ever Sprint Cup contest at Michigan. Larson, who had been on the Chase bubble, is now locked in with the win. There are just two races remaining for drivers to lock into the Chase by winning, and Darlington is Sunday. Jeff Gordon will be back in the No. 88 Chevy, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has announced he will not return this season. Gordon will be in the car for this race and three more, with Alex Bowman taking over the driving duties for the other eight races remaining in the season.
Handicapping Sunday’s Bojangles Southern 500, Gordon has won seven times at the “Track Too Tough to Tame,” but not since 2002. Jimmie Johnson has posted three Darlington wins, most recently in 2012, and Greg Biffle has two victories there, 2005 and 2006. No one else among active drivers has won at Darlington more than once. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, and defending winner Carl Edwards have each visited victory circle one time. Based on Chase Elliot’s performance and strong second-place finish at Michigan, he could well become the next first-time winner and Chase seed on Sunday night. The Xfinity series races at Darlington this afternoon, Hurricane Hermine permitting. Camping World Trucks will be on the road course at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Sunday afternoon, and the Sprint Cup series will race Sunday night at Darlington.
The IndyCar drivers finished their longest race of the season last weekend, almost two months from start to finish. The event, halted for rain in June, finished last Saturday night. The ending was a real nail-biter, with four cars in contention after the final restart and flying in close formation. At the checker, Graham Rahal nipped James Hinchcliffe by .008 seconds, the fifth-closest finish in IndyCar history. On Sunday, the series races at the newly-paved Watkins Glen road course and the season finishes at Sonoma two weeks later. Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power are separated by only 28 points for the championship.
Lewis Hamilton put on the drive of the season at Spa Francorchamps in last Sunday’s Formula One race there. Starting dead last due to several grid position penalties, Hamilton kept his championship lead alive by driving through the field to finish third. Teammate Nico Rosberg won the race, but remains in second place in the standings. Hamilton might have finished second save for a poor tire selection mid-race by the team. The grid spot penalties were for engine component replacements, but Hamilton will now have fresh engines for the remainder of the season. This weekend, the F1 circus is at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, where the battle for the driver’s championship between the Mercedes teammates will resume.