Motor Sports

Roger Diez: SRX returns as NASCAR takes week off

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. The dads in the NASCAR and IndyCar garages have the weekend off, but it’s business as usual for Formula 1 and the return of the popular made-for-television SRX series.
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Max Verstappen and Red Bull extended their respective leads in the drivers’ and constructors’ points last Sunday in Azerbaijan as Verstappen led teammate Sergio Perez to the checker for another 1-2 finish. Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished third and fourth, primarily due to both Ferraris retiring with mechanical woes.
But the big story continues to be “porpoising,” especially for Mercedes. It was reported that Hamilton was experiencing a six-G vertical impact and suffering severe back pain. Most drivers suffered varying degrees of discomfort in Baku except the Red Bull duo, due in part to an upgraded floor on their cars.
Hopefully, other teams are working on similar solutions in preparation for this weekend’s race in Canada at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. Hamilton was questionable for the race, but the latest word is that he will run. The race airs Sunday on ESPN at 11 a.m. with a replay at 4 p.m. on ESPNEWS. ESPN2 will broadcast qualifying today at 12:55 p.m.
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Another new winner locked into the NASCAR Cup playoffs last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway as Daniel Suarez turned in a dominating performance in his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. Suarez led 47 of the 110 laps and pulled away from Chris Buescher’s Ford on the final restart to win by 3.849 seconds. It was his first Cup victory, making him the 40th driver in history to win in all three top NASCAR divisions.
There are now 12 playoff spots filled with race winners and we’re less than halfway into the season. So there’s a real possibility that there may be more than 16 winners, which would mean that a race win is not necessarily a ticket to the postseason. That has never happened since NASCAR initiated the format in 2004. There are currently at least half a dozen non-winners capable of posting a win in the next 20 regular season races.
This weekend is the final bye weekend for the rest of the season, which resumes next weekend at Nashville Superspeedway with a broadcasting switch from FOX to NBC.
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Josef Newgarden scored his third IndyCar win of the season last Sunday at Road America. He also won the PeopleReady-sponsored $1 million bonus as the first driver this season to win the trifecta of oval, street course, and natural road course. Half of the million will go to the winner’s team and half to charity.
Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished second and regained the points lead as Newgarden’s Team Penske teammate Will Power finished 18th due to contact. Pole sitter Alexander Rossi finished third, keeping alive a string of top-five finishes. The next race for the series will be on July 3 at Mid-Ohio.
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Finally, the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) is back. The brainchild of Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham, the six-race short-track series proved to be a hit in its inaugural season last year.
Racing in identical cars, the series features former and current drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, and other disciplines. Full-time competitors include NASCAR retirees Stewart, Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, and Greg Biffle. From IndyCar are Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Paul Tracy. Part-timers include Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan as well as father-son duos of Bill Elliot/Chase Elliott, and Dave Blaney/Ryan Blaney.
All races will air live on CBS with the first one Saturday at 5 p.m. from Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

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