Last Sunday’s racing marathon was shortened a bit when the Coca-Cola 600 was postponed until Monday, but there was still a lot to watch. Josef Newgarden finally checked the Indy 500 off his to-do list with a last-lap pass on defending winner Marcus Ericsson. It happened after three red flags and a controversial decision to throw the green flag with one lap to go. IndyCar made the unprecedented move to give fans a race to the finish, and Ericsson voiced his displeasure with the call after the race. The win was the 19th Indy 500 victory for team owner Roger Penske. IndyCar’s technical people are investigating why a wheel tether failed on Kyle Kirkwood’s car, sending the wheel over the catch fence. Fortunately, it landed on a fan’s car in a parking lot, not in the middle of a crowded grandstand. The Detroit Grand Prix is on tap for this weekend, returning to downtown Detroit from Belle Isle, where the event has been held since 1992. Qualifying airs today at 10:20 a.m. on Peacock, and NBC will broadcast the race Sunday at noon.
For the first time this season, Red Bull failed to finish a Formula One race 1-2 as Sergio Perez crashed during qualifying at Monaco. He started 20th, finishing 16th. Max Verstappen put his Red Bull on the pole by .084-second and beat Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin into the first turn at the start. Verstappen continued to drive away until he hit traffic. Passing, even passing lapped cars, is difficult at Monaco. Alonso began to close the gap, but then the rain began to fall. The Aston Martin team put on a new set of dry tires only to pit a lap later for rains. That miscalculation handed the race to Verstappen, who put on a daring demonstration of knife-edge wet weather driving. The margin at the checker was just shy of 28 seconds, pretty much on a par with Red Bull’s advantage over their rivals all season. The teams don’t have to travel far for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. Qualifying airs at 7 a.m. today with the race at 6 a.m. Sunday, both on ESPN.
Monday was a busy day for NASCAR, with both the postponed Xfinity series’ Alsco Uniforms 300 and the delayed Coca-Cola 600 on the schedule. The Xfinity race was halted due to rain and resumed after the 600, a real test for the drivers entered in both. The 600 ran cleanly for the first half, but the end of the race was much like that of the Indy 500, although with yellow rather than red flags. Ryan Blaney took the win, his first in 59 starts, and led 163 laps. Blaney is the 10th driver to win so far this season, one short of last year’s 11 winners at this point. This weekend, the Craftsman Truck and NASCAR Cup series are at Gateway while the Xfinity series races at Portland’s Delta Park. The Cup cars will qualify at 7:45 a.m. today, Xfinity qualifying is at 9 a.m., the Craftsman Trucks race at 11:30 a.m. and the Xfinity race airs at 1:30 p.m. Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with FS1 broadcasting all the weekend NASCAR action.
Kyle Larson must have read my column last week encouraging him to do the Memorial Day double, because he will do just that next year. Larson will drive a Chevy-powered Arrow McLaren car in the 500. And Chase Elliott will be out of action at Gateway due to a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin in the Coke 600. Looks like the days of “Have at it, boys” are over.