Roger Diez: Celebrate independence with road courses

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

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With rain and lightning delays, the NASCAR Cup Ally 400 at Nashville last Sunday lasted nearly seven hours, an hour longer than the IMSA Weathertech Series Six Hours at the Glen. Chase Elliott won, becoming NASCAR’s fifth two-time winner this season. The victory extends Elliott’s regular season point lead to 586, 30 points clear of Ross Chastain in second.
Last weekend also saw the second of the SRX short-track series for former and current stars. This one went to Tony Stewart and featured bent bodywork and frayed tempers. Michael Waltrip and Paul Tracy were waiting in the pits to have a “chat” with Ryan Hunter-Reay after he took them both out. Expect some payback in Saturday’s contest airing on CBS at 5 p.m.
The Independence Day weekend is an all-road-course festival. NASCAR is at Road America, IndyCar at Mid-Ohio, Formula 1 at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, and IMSA at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Montreal.
Also, Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon will have a two-day Sunday/Monday show featuring the Airborne Ranger Monster Truck.
Chase Elliott is a good bet to become NASCAR’s first 2022 three-time winner this weekend. The only modern-era driver to win at Road America, Elliott is NASCAR’s top road course ace. Oddsmakers agree, putting him at 9-2 opening odds. Kyle Larson is 7-1 and Chastain 8-1. A.J. Allmendinger and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. are all 12-1. My dark horse pick for Sunday is Michael McDowell at 50-1.
The USA Network will broadcast Cup Qualifying on Saturday at 9 a.m. and the race at noon Sunday with the Xfinity series race Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Lewis Hamilton won last year’s British Grand Prix even after a penalty incurred when he and Max Verstappen collided at the very high speed Stowe corner, putting the Red Bull driver into the barrier.
Hamilton has won his home race seven times including the last three, but he will be hard-pressed to stand atop the podium Sunday. His Mercedes team has been on the back foot from the first race although they have shown recent signs of competitiveness. And Verstappen has a score to settle after last year’s disaster.
Ferrari is trying to come back from recent disappointing results, and a couple of other teams have shown flashes of pace. On balance, it looks like another Red Bull romp, but the racing gods giveth and taketh away. In any case it will be interesting.
Qualifying airs Saturday at 7 a.m. with the race at 6:55 a.m. Sunday, both on ESPN2.
The NTT IndyCar series is at Mid-Ohio where Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden has won twice including last year. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing has six Mid-Ohio wins, the most recent in 2019. Penske’s Will Power and Andretti Autosport drive Colton Herta split the 2020 doubleheader. Will the old guard or the young guns prevail Sunday? Tune in to NBC at 9:30 to find out. Qualifying airs at 2:45 on Saturday on Peacock.
Finally, an interesting development from the SRX series. The CEO of the series, Don Hawk, promised Helio Castroneves a ride in the Daytona 500 if he won any of his three scheduled SRX races. Helio won the first outing (although he wasn’t originally scheduled for it), so Hawk is negotiating with NASCAR teams to field a car for Castroneves in February, and “the ball is rolling” according to Hawk.
Helio won’t be the first Indy car driver to race in the stock car classic. Mario Andretti ran (and won) in 1967 and A.J. Foyt repeated the feat in 1972. And if Castroneves gets a competitive car, don’t count him out!


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