Roger Diez: First-time Cup winner for the second time

Well, last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup outing on the Daytona road course was certainly entertaining. The entertainment started even before the race, as FOX aired a segment of analysts Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer trashing a couple of rental cars while racing to the booth. It reminded me of rental car hijinks among drivers back in the 1970s and ’80s, including one parked in the swimming pool at a hotel.
Like the previous week’s Daytona 500, a first-time Cup winner stood in victory circle as Christopher Bell took his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the checkered flags after 70 laps of hard-fought racing. Overwhelming favorite Chase Elliott led 44 laps but contact and a spin in the late going relegated him to 21st place.
There was a lot of agricultural racing going on, plowing up mud and grass, lots of contact, lots of spins, and lots of wrecked cars. Kurt Busch spent enough time in the dirt that he’ll be very comfortable at the Bristol dirt race, while Chase Briscoe drove at least a lap with his hood over the windshield and Tyler Reddick’s car went up in a ball of fire.
Bell’s crew chief was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut as was fifth-place Brad Keselowski’s crew chief. And Chip Ganassi was fined $30,000 and suspended for one race for bringing a “non-essential” guest into the competition area.
This weekend NASCAR stays in Florida, racing on the mile and a half oval at Homestead-Miami. With no practice or qualifying, the lineup is set according to NASCAR’s magic formula. Denny Hamlin, who finished third last Sunday, will start on the pole with second-place finisher Joey Logano alongside. Last week’s winner Bell starts third.
Hamlin is the defending winner at Homestead, with two additional wins there on his resume. Besides Hamlin there are only five former Homestead winners in the field. Kyle Busch has two wins and one-time winners are Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Kurt Busch. Three-time winner Hamlin is the oddsmakers’ choice to win tomorrow at 5-1 odds. Elliott is next at 11-2, Harvick is 6-1, and Truex Jr. 7-1. Kyle Larson at 17-1 starts 17th, Kyle Busch at 10-1 starts 24th, and Logano is also 10-1. Last week’s winner Bell is at 25-1 and Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell gets no respect at 300-1.
At least those two are locked into the playoffs and will be in the All-Star race. If we’re going to continue the first-time winner trend, Tyler Reddick at 25-1 is the most likely to accomplish it.
The Xfinity series also saw a first-time winner last weekend at Daytona, as Joe Gibbs’ grandson 18-year-old Tyler Gibbs won his first race in the series. Today the Contender Boats 250 airs on FS1 at 1:30 p.m. And the Dixie Vodka 400 Cup race is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. airtime tomorrow on FOX.
Looking at our local tracks, they are all gearing up for the 2021 season. Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon has released their provisional schedule with a tentative start on April 18 with the Northern Nevada Modified Tour. The regular racing season kicks off with a Friday/Saturday two-day event on April 23/24. You can find the rest of the schedule online at The Top Gun drag strip has a test and tune scheduled for April 10 with the first race set for Saturday and Sunday April 24/25. And Fernley 95A Speedway recently posted on their Facebook page that news and schedules for both the 3/8 mile dirt oval and the motocross track will be announced soon.


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