Roger Diez: A rare season – 14 NASCAR winners

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

And then there were 14. Yes, Christopher Bell’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday made it 14 winners in a season for only the fifth time in the NASCAR’s 74-year history.
The only non-winners currently in the playoff field are Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney, currently fifth and seventh in points, respectively.
Those two are the most likely to win one of the final six races before the regular season ends, and both have won at Pocono. Truex scored there in 2018, Blaney in 2015. But with six races remaining in the regular season, there is a distinct possibility that even a win will not guarantee a playoff spot this season.
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This weekend it’s Pocono Raceway’s tricky triangle. Denny Hamlin is the winningest driver at Pocono with six trips to victory circle. Teammate Kyle Busch has four wins there while Kurt Busch has three and Truex two. One-time winners are Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Blaney, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.
Harvick, Buescher, and Keselowski are still seeking their first 2022 win along with Blaney and Truex.
Saturday, the Camping World Trucks race at 9 a.m. on FOX, the NASCAR Cup cars practice and qualify on USA at 11:30, and the Xfinity series races at 2 p.m. also on USA. And USA will broadcast the M&M Fan Appreciation 400 for the Cup series at noon Sunday.
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The NTT IndyCar series returned to Toronto, the shortest street course on the schedule, last weekend. Using a combination of pit strategy and savvy driving, six-time champion Scott Dixon out-dueled young gun Colton Herta to take his 52nd win in the series. That ties him for second-most Indy car victories with the legendary Mario Andretti. Only A.J. Foyt has more wins with 67.
Dixon’s win moved him into a tie for fourth in points with Josef Newgarden. Felix Rosenqvist, driving for his job, finished on the podium in third place. Despite the track’s tight confines, only five of the 25 entries failed to finish the race.
This weekend the series is at the shortest oval on the schedule, the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway for a Saturday race. With sub-18 second lap times, average speeds will approach 180 mph, keeping the drivers remarkably busy. Saturday’s broadcast schedule features qualifying at 7:30 a.m. on Peacock with the race at 2 p.m. on NBC.
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Formula 1 is back in action this weekend for the Lenovo Grand Prix de France. Coming off a win in Austria, the Ferrari team is bullish on this race. But they will have to deal with the same reliability issues that sidelined Carlos Sainz at the last race.
While Red Bull did not have the Ferraris’ pace in Austria, they seem to have overcome their early season reliability issues. Mercedes has made some great strides in recent races, but still has a way to go to be able to compete with the two top teams.
The French Grand Prix returned to the schedule in 2018 after a 10-year absence and was not held in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. Max Verstappen won last year’s race in his Red Bull Racing RB16B while Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes took the 2018 and 2019 events. Prior to the 10-year break, Ferrari had won three years in a row from 2006 to 2008.
The only active drivers to have won in France are Verstappen, Hamilton, and Alpine driver Fernando Alonso. Qualifying will air on ESPN2 at 7 a.m. Saturday with the race at 6 a.m. Sunday on ESPN.

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