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Roger Diez: Hendrick drivers favored at Monster Mile

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

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Did you ever have one of those days when your timing was out of whack? It happened to me last week when I previewed the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix a week early. The race is actually this weekend along with NASCAR at Dover and IndyCar at Barber Motorsports Park. Another busy race weekend!


Last Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity series race at Talladega was a wreck-fest. Sunday’s NASCAR Cup event was quite mild for a Talladega race until the end, when it took two overtimes and the Big One on the white flag lap to uphold the track’s reputation.

With many cars running low on fuel, leader Bubba Wallace took the white flag and weaved his Toyota up and down the track to block Ryan Blaney’s Ford. They made contact and Bubba crashed heavily with several other cars wrecking behind him while Kyle Busch slipped underneath a spinning Wallace to steal his second win of the season. Blaney recovered to hold onto second place. The Fords of RFK Racing, Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski, finished third and fifth with Chase Briscoe fourth after overcoming a two-lap deficit.


This week it’s the Monster Mile at Dover. Eight of the 36 starters have posted wins there. Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. have each won three times, last year’s winner Chase Elliott twice. One-time winners are Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, and Keselowski.

Oddsmakers heavily favor Hendrick drivers for Sunday’s race with Kyle Larson the favorite at 5-1, William Byron at 11-2, and Elliott 13-2. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Hamlin and Christopher Bell are 9-1 and Ross Chastain shares 14-1 odds with Truex. Bowman is 16-1, Tyler Reddick 17-1, Busch 18-1, and Penske drivers Blaney and Joey Logano share 22-1 odds.

NASCAR Cup Qualifying airs Saturday at 8:20 a.m. and the A-Game 200 Xfinity series race is at 10:30 a.m., both on FS1. Sunday’s Wurth 400 is also on FS1 beginning at 11 a.m.


The NTT IndyCar series is back in action for its fourth race of the season with no repeat winners thus far. After two street courses and one oval, this weekend’s race is the first of the season on a natural road course. The race will be 90 laps around Barber Motorsports Park, a 2.3 mile, 17-turn course with 80 feet of elevation change. It is the 13th race at the venue, and the first titled the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix.

Josef Newgarden is the most successful active driver at the venue with three wins. His teammate Will Power has won twice, and one-time winners are Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato, and Pato O’Ward, last year’s victor.

Qualifying airs on Peacock at noon Saturday with the race broadcast on both Peacock and NBC at noon Sunday.


Finally, to expand on last week’s premature report on Formula One, Saturday will see the first sprint qualifying race of the 2023 season with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

There is a new format for sprint qualifying this season as well as an expansion of the sprint weekends from three to six. The grid for Sunday’s race was set by the normal Friday qualifying session. On Saturday the new format includes a separate, shorter qualifying session called the Sprint Shootout to set the grid for the sprint race. The Shootout is at 1:30 a.m. Saturday with the sprint race airing at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday’s Grand Prix at 4 a.m., both on ESPN.

Red Bull is going for its fourth win of the season, having won the first three 1-2 with a significant margin of victory. Aston Martin, Mercedes, and Ferrari are all fighting for the third and last podium spot.


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