Roger Diez: New winners and a big wreck

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

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Last weekend saw two first-time winners in Formula 1 and NASCAR Cup, a multi-car wreck in NASCAR’s Xfinity series, and the second two-time IndyCar winner.
NASCAR Cup driver Tyler Reddick notched his first win in the series for Richard Childress Racing and became the 13th driver to qualify for one of 16 playoff spots. Only three drivers are currently in the playoffs on points. They are second-place point scorer Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. (seventh) and Christopher Bell (eighth).
Drivers who must win to earn a playoff berth include Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Eric Jones, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Chase Briscoe, and Cole Custer. Sunday’s Atlanta race may be the best chance for former champions Harvick and Keselowski, who have both won there twice in recent years. Ryan Blaney had a win there last year, so this could be where he locks into a playoff berth. 2022 winners the Busch brothers have two Atlanta wins each, and William Byron took the checker there in March.
The Cup series qualifies at 9 a.m. Saturday on USA. The Camping World Trucks and Xfinity series are at Mid-Ohio and the trucks race 10:30 a.m. Saturday on FS1. The Xfinity race airs at 3 p.m. on USA, which will also broadcast Sunday’s Atlanta Cup race at noon.
Xfinity driver Noah Gragson triggered a multi-car accident last Saturday at Road America when he appeared to deliberately drive into Sage Karam. NASCAR has penalized Gragson with a $35,000 fine and loss of 30 driver points. Car owner Junior Motorsports also lost 30 owner points.
Junior Motorsports owner and broadcaster Dale Earnhardt Jr. weighed in, calling Gragson’s action a “bad decision” and said that he could not support it. Junior further said that if he were NASCAR, he would have parked his driver for a few laps at least. Gragson is scheduled to drive in Sunday’s Atlanta Cup race.
There was much rejoicing in the Ferrari garage on Sunday as Carlos Sainz took his first win in 150 Formula 1 starts. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez chased him to the checker with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton a distant third, his second podium in a row.
Points leader Max Verstappen had a difficult race, finishing seventh but maintaining a healthy point lead of 181 to teammate Perez, second with 147 points. Red Bull maintained its constructors’ championship margin of 328 points to Ferrari’s 265 and Mercedes’ 204.
This weekend’s outing in Austria features a qualifying sprint race that airs at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with Sunday’s race at 6 a.m., both on ESPN2.
The NTT IndyCar series was at Mid-Ohio last weekend, and team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin scored his second season win, leading an impressive 45 of the 80 laps. But the drive of the day went to his teammate, Will Power, who sliced through the field after a first-lap spin put him at the back of the pack. Power charged up to third place by the checkered flag.
Pole sitter and early leader Pato O’Ward had mechanical issues with his Arrow McLaren SP Dallara/Chevy and finally had to retire when the car quit on him after a pit stop. Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson is still atop the points with 321, followed by Power’s 301, Josef Newgarden’s 287, Alex Palou with 286 and O’Ward’s 256.
The series returns to action July 17, racing in Toronto after a two-year absence due to Canadian Covid restrictions. Meyer-Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud was the 2019 winners, driving for Team Penske at the time. Other recent winners include Power, Newgarden, and Scott Dixon.


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