Roger Diez: NASCAR moves from shortest track to longest track

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

The Bristol dirt race last Sunday closed to mixed reviews after two rain delays and a last-lap surprise win.

Kyle Busch, who characterized Las Vegas winner Alex Bowman as a “no-talent driver” who “backed into wins,” backed into one of his own when Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe took each other out coming to the flag.

Although Busch might have changed his mind on lucky victories, he is still not a fan of NASCAR on dirt. It was also only the 12th time the Cup series has run on Easter Sunday, another move not popular with many drivers and fans. The last Easter race was in 1989 and was a weather-related re-schedule. To further annoy participants, normally sacrosanct Mother’s Day is also on the schedule May 8th at Darlington, with Father’s Day in June the only break in the rest of the Cup schedule.


This weekend NASCAR goes from its shortest track to its longest, the 2.66-mile Talladega superspeedway. Bubba Wallace is the defending winner of last fall’s rain-shortened event there, his first and only Cup win. Winners over the last 10 years include Brad Keselowski with four victories, Joey Logano with three, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney with two each, and one-time winners Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Oddsmakers are being very cautious handicapping this one with four drivers at 11-1 odds (Wallace, Hamlin, Logan, and Blaney), four at 14-1 (Austin Cindric, Briscoe, Elliott, and Keselowski), and five at 18-1 (Almirola, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, and William Byron).

Saturday is busy with Cup qualifying at 8 a.m. on FS1, the ARCA race at 10 a.m. on FS1, and the Xfinity race on FOX at 1 p.m. Sunday GEICO 500 Cup race airs on FOX at noon.


Formula 1 is back in action this weekend at the Imola track in Italy. The weekend will feature the first sprint qualifying race of the season.

The teams have had two weeks since Australia to work on various problems, the most serious of which are Mercedes’ porpoising and Red Bull’s fuel system problems. Ferrari has run trouble-free so far, barring Carlos Sainz’s spin into the gravel trap and retirement in Australia.

Ferrari leads the constructor’s points by a considerable margin, 104 to Mercedes’ 65 and Red Bull’s 55. Similarly, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc leads the driver point standings with 71 ahead of Mercedes’ George Russel’s 37, Ferrari’s Sainz’s 33, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez’s 30. Last year’s title contenders are fifth and sixth, Lewis Hamilton with 28 points and Max Verstappen with 25.

The qualifying sprint race airs on ESPN Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with the race also on ESPN at 6 a.m. Sunday. And there is good news concerning the upcoming May 8 Miami Grand Prix. A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at halting the race due to noise issues. Track construction is nearly complete.


The NTT IndyCar series held an open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past week, with 31 of the 32 cars entered for the Indy 500 participating.

Twenty-five cars turned in times on Wednesday, with five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon fastest with a lap at 227.187 mph. Connor Daly was second quick, just 0.2 mph behind Dixon.

Three Indy 500 winners spun in the warmup lane, prompting officials to cut the session short to inspect the lane. Alexander Rossi and Will Power avoided contact when they spun, but four-time winner Helio Castroneves was not so lucky. He hit the outside wall resulting in significant damage to his 2021 500-winning car.

Thursday results were not available by deadline.


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