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Roger Diez: NASCAR goes from flat tires to flat track

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

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The NASCAR Cup’s first race at Iowa Speedway had two major story lines – tires and Kyle Larson. Friday’s practice was disastrous, with multiple tire failures on the repaved track, the second such surface in a row. By Sunday things were better tire-wise, but still an issue. And Kyle Larson was the class of the field, coming back from an unscheduled pit stop to race through the field. But it all came to an end when he went three-wide on a restart and ended up in the wall. He ended up in 34th place, 36 laps down but still second in points behind new leader Chase Elliott.

Ryan Blaney went on to become the winner, finally punching his ticket to the 2024 playoffs after losing to a fuel issue at Gateway.


This weekend the Cup and Xfinity teams are at the flat one-mile oval at New Hampshire Speedway. Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers there with three wins while Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Logano have two each. The most recent New Hampshire winners are Christopher Bell in 2022 and Martin Truex Jr. a year ago.

Truex, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the 2024 season, shares top opening odds of 9-2 with Hamlin and Bell. Blaney and Larson are both 13-2, Joey Logano 17-2, and William Byron 12-1. Elliott is 14-1, Keselowski 16-1, with Brian Reddick and Ty Gibbs sharing 18-1 odds.

All action this weekend will air on USA with Cup qualifying at 10:20 a.m. and the SciAps 250 for the Xfinity series at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. USA will also broadcast Sunday’s USA Today 301 at 11:30 a.m.


The NTT IndyCar series visits Weathertech Raceway at Laguna Seca this weekend. After a 15-year absence Indy cars returned to the track for the series’ season finale in 2019. A revamped schedule has moved Laguna to June, the middle of the 2024 season.

Veteran Scott Dixon is the defending race winner with Ganassi teammate Alex Palou taking the 2022 checkered flag. Dixon and Palou will be looking to overtake Will Power for the championship points lead this weekend.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta won in 2019 and 2021. There was no 2020 race due to COVID. Interestingly, Colton’s father Brian Herta lost the CART Indy car round at Laguna in 1996 when Alex Zanardi made “The Pass” in the legendary Corkscrew to snatch the victory. Qualifying airs Saturday on Peacock at 2:15 p.m. with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at 3 p.m. Sunday on USA and Peacock.


Formula 1 is back in action for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. It is the first of three back-to-back European races, followed by Austria and Great Britain.

Only three current drivers have won in Spain. Lewis Hamilton leads with six victories, Max Verstappen three, and Spaniard Fernando Alonso has won his home race twice. Mercedes and Red Bull have won the last 10 races in Barcelona – Mercedes seven and Red Bull three including the last two. Verstappen will be going for the hat trick Sunday, but he has not been as dominant this season as the last two. We could very well see a serious challenge from McLaren, Ferrari, or even Mercedes. Could Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz become the first Spaniard to win his home race since Alonso’s 2013 victory? Alonso was also driving for Ferrari for that win. Qualifying airs Saturday at 7 a.m. on ESPN2 with the race on ESPN on Sunday at 6 a.m.


Finally, congratulations are in order for NASCAR Cup driver Daniel Suarez, who officially became a U.S. citizen when he was sworn in last Tuesday. Welcome to America!


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