Roger Diez: NASCAR’s All-Star format has almost everything

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

Last weekend saw some of the best Formula 1 racing of the century, a dominating drive in the Sonoma NASCAR Cup race, and a back-to-front charge for the NASCAR Xfinity win at Mid-Ohio.
This weekend is a busy one with NASCAR in Texas with an All-Star format to make the WWE proud, an IndyCar doubleheader in Detroit, and the NHRA in New Hampshire for the New England Nationals.
The Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was going as expected with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull seemingly unbeatable until his left rear Pirelli exploded on the long straight, bringing out a red flag. The stewards made the decision to have a standing, and Lewis Hamilton was making a charge for the lead when he mistakenly hit the “magic” brake bias button and slid into the turn one escape road. This put Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez into the lead with a snarling pack snapping at his heels, or as Pierre Gasly said, “Everybody is a bit like lions out of a cage.”
There was more passing in those two laps than perhaps three normal F1 races, and the final order was Perez, Sebastian Vettel second in his first top podium for Aston Martin, and Gasly’s Alpha Tauri third. Not your usual suspects.
Since neither Hamilton nor Verstappen scored points, the drivers’ title chase remains the same with Max leading by four. But Red Bull is far out front in the constructors’ championship, 174 points to Mercedes’ 148. This season could be a real battle for championships. The series will race in France next weekend.
NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Larson is on a tear. After taking all four stages the prior week at the Coke 600, he won all three stages on the Sonoma road course last Sunday. Only teammate Chase Elliott was able to keep him in sight, and the pair finished 1-2, the fourth such finish in a row for Hendrick Motorsports. This tied a record that has stood since 1956.
Larson now has three wins, tied with Martin Truex Jr. for top honors in Cup. And at Mid-Ohio A.J. Allmendinger overcame a pit violation penalty and charged from 30th in the final stage to take the win, his third of the season.
This weekend all three NASCAR touring divisions are at Texas Motor Speedway. Camping World Trucks will race Saturday at 10 a.m. and the Xfinity series races at 1 p.m. The All-Star Open and All-Star race take place Sunday.
The WWE-style All-Star format features everything but racing in reverse and throwing folding chairs, so I won’t detail it here.
A blind draw gave Larson the pole, and he’s favored to win at 3-1 odds. Truex and Elliott are tied at 7-1 but given the format it’s anybody’s race. Seventeen drivers have qualified for the All-Star, with four more to be added from the Open. All races will be on FS1.
The IndyCar series’ second doubleheader weekend of the season is at the 13-turn, 2.35-mile temporary street circuit on Detroit’s Belle Isle.
There are 25 cars entered for the weekend, with seven drivers in the field who have won there. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing tops the list with three victories, while three Penske drivers have scored wins – Will Power with two and Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud one each. Graham Rahal and Sebastian Bourdais have won two apiece, while Ryan Hunter-Reay has won once for Andretti Autosport.
Qualifying for Race 1 airs Saturday at 8 a.m. on NBCSN with the race on NBC at 11 a.m.
Sunday qualifying for Race 2 is at 6 a.m. on NBCSN and the race at 9 a.m. on NBC.


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