Roger Diez: Chase Elliott continues dominance on road courses

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

Current road-racing ace, Chase Elliott, scored his sixth win of the last eight road course events and his second of the season last weekend at Road America.
It had been 65 years since NASCAR’s top series raced at Road America.

It was also the 10th win for Hendrick Motorsports, with every one of their four drivers winning at least once. Kyle Larson leads with four wins but lost a point in the regular season standings to Denny Hamlin when a collision with a brakeless Alex Bowman dropped Larson to 15th at the checker. Despite the poor finish at Road America and the fact that he’s winless at Atlanta, the oddsmakers still like Larson, who is the favorite for Sunday’s race at Atlanta at 9-4 odds.

Kyle Busch, with two Atlanta wins, is second at 15-2, Elliott is on the pole at 8-1, 2020 winner Kevin Harvick is 9-1, and lumped together at 10-1 are Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney, who won here in March. Harvick and Kurt Busch have three Atlanta wins apiece, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski two each, and Hamlin joins Blaney with one Atlanta victory.

The Cup race airs on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with the Xfinity series at the same time today. Camping World Trucks raced last night but you can catch reruns at 7 a.m. today on FS2 or 8 a.m. Sunday on FS1.

It’s not quite 65 years, but it was 50 years ago last weekend when Mark Donohue scored the first win for Roger Penske in an Indy Car. Josef Newgarden, denied a win in the two previous races after leading the most laps, took the checker at Mid-Ohio last Sunday to bookend Donohue’s first Penske victory. The final laps were not without drama however, as Marcus Ericsson cut the lead from seven seconds to .87 second at the checker. Had the race been 81 laps instead of 80 it might have been another heartbreaker for Josef. Alex Palou’s third place extended his championship lead to 39 points over second-place Pato O’Ward. Newgarden’s win vaulted him to fourth place in the title race, 69 points behind the leader. The series is taking the rest of July off, returning to action in Nashville on Aug. 8.

Max Verstappen took his Red Bull to victory for the third race in a row at last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull has won the last five races, four for Verstappen and one for teammate Sergio Perez. To say the momentum in Formula 1 has shifted would be a vast understatement. Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes hobbled by body damage from a collision with a curb, was a distant fourth. Teammate Valtteri Bottas was second and McLaren’s Lando Norris made his third podium appearance of the season. The race was riddled with penalties, the stewards levying a very questionable on Norris who was held for five seconds on his first pit stop. Hamilton’s penalty was inflicted by a curb. The seven-time champion now trails rival Verstappen by 32 points in the drivers’ championship and Mercedes is 44 points in arrears for the constructors’ title. After seven straight winning seasons for Mercedes, the current situation is a bitter pill to swallow. Next up for the series is the July 18 British Grand Prix, which Hamilton has won six times out of the last seven. It’s his and Mercedes’ best chance to regain lost momentum before the August holiday. But the task got harder with last week’s announcement of the cancellation of the Australian GP in November. The series is trying to replace the event and adhere to a 23-race season, but if they don’t it’s one less opportunity for Mercedes to play catch-up.


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