Another winner locked himself into the NASCAR Cup playoffs last Sunday in Richmond as Chris Buescher scored his first 2023 win. There are now 12 winners guaranteed a playoff berth with four regular season races remaining and four playoff spots still up for grabs.
Martin Truex Jr. is looking good to take the regular season championship, which awards a bonus of 15 playoff points. He finished seventh at Richmond while his two closest rivals in the points chase, Christopher Bell and William Byron, came in 20th and 21st respectively. And the potential dustup between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin never materialized as Hamlin ran at the front all day while Larson was mired deep in the pack with an ill-handling car.
Meanwhile, Sam Mayer held off Parker Kligerman at the Road America road course to take his first career Xfinity victory.
This weekend the NASCAR circus makes a stop at Michigan International Speedway.
Only six of the 37 NASCAR Cup entrants have won at the two-mile oval. Kevin Harvick leads the pack with five Michigan victories, most recently last August. Larson and Joey Logano have three wins each, Hamlin has two, and Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch have one apiece.
The oddsmakers have Larson and Hamlin tied as favorites at 7-1 odds with Busch at 15/2. Harvick Truex, and Byron are tied at 8-1, Bell is 10-1, Blaney 11-1, and Tyler Reddick at 12-1. Bubba Wallace comes in at 14-1, Logano and Chase Elliott are tied at 15-1, and Ross Chastain is 18-1. Richmond winner Buescher is my dark horse pick at 50-1 odds.
Saturday’s action includes Cup qualifying on USA at 10:20 a.m. and the Cabo Wabo 250 for Xfinity cars on NBC at 12:30 p.m. Sunday’s Cup race will air on USA at 11:30 a.m.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won yet another Formula 1 race last Sunday in Belgium, finishing 22 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Perez. It was Verstappen’s 10th season win and eighth in a row. It was also Red Bull’s third 1-2 finish of the season and the first since Miami in May. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc scored a podium finish for the third time this season.
Red Bull extended its constructors’ championship lead to 503 points, more than double second place Mercedes’ 247. And Verstappen is now 125 points clear of teammate Perez in the drivers’ championship, 314 points to 189. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso is locked in a fierce points battle with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton for third with 149 and 148 points respectively. And Leclerc is tied with Hamilton’s teammate George Russell for fifth with 99 points each.
Last Sunday’s race marked the halfway point in the F1 season, and the beginning of the summer break. Action will resume Aug. 25-27 with the Heineken Dutch Grand Prix in The Netherlands.
This weekend the NTT IndyCar series is back in action for the third season on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Previous winners were Marcus Ericsson in 2021 and Scott Dixon in 2022, both driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
The city is the home of Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, who is desperately chasing points leader Alex Palou for the championship. It has been a banner year for Newgarden, winner of the Indy 500, the PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway, and both races of the Iowa doubleheader. Palou, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, also has four wins, but better finishes in other races have given him an 80-point lead in the title chase.
You can catch qualifying on Peacock at 11:45 a.m. Saturday with the race at 9 a.m. Sunday on NBC.