Larson went up the hill, Busch wins at Bristol |

Larson went up the hill, Busch wins at Bristol

Roger Diez

Last Sunday was a bump and run kind of day. Two of those maneuvers occurred, but with different results. In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Bristol, Kyle Busch nailed Kyle Larson hard enough to get him loose with a couple of laps left to go. Larson went up the hill and Busch took the win with Larson second. At the Long Beach Verizon IndyCar race, Graham Rahal punted Penske driver Simon Pagenaud in the first turn of the first lap. Pagenaud was out of the race, and Rahal got a penalty that put him far back in the field. My wife, who’s admittedly no Kyle Busch fan, was upset, saying he should have been penalized. I had to explain the rules in NASCAR, especially in the closing laps and most especially on short tracks, are more lenient about contact than other series. It’s much more dangerous and damaging to hit another fragile open-wheel car than to bump a more robust stock car. Still, I’d rather see clean racing.

Alexander Rossi won the IndyCar Long Beach round for Andretti Autosport, with Penske driver Will Power chasing him to the checker. So far there have been three different winners in three races in the series, with the fourth race this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The next race is May 12 on the road course at Indianapolis, and the Indy 500 two weeks later.

And at Shanghai, Sebastian Vettel fell short of his hat trick, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo taking the win. The victory should strengthen the Australian’s negotiating position in his last contract year with the team, although he’s exploring other options. The once all-conquering Mercedes team finished strong, with Valtteri Bottas second and Lewis Hamilton fourth, but they’re still winless on the season and Hamilton stated the obvious, saying they’re no longer dominant.

NASCAR’s Xfinity series raced Friday night at Richmond and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race is tonight. Kyle Busch will attempt to become the second driver to win three in a row this season, joining Kevin Harvick in that exclusive club. But he may have more of a challenge, as Bristol results indicate that the Chevy teams are getting a handle on the new Camaro. There were three Chevrolets in the top five and four in the top 10, the make’s best performance to date. Larson won last fall at Richmond, so he’ll be tough to beat tonight. Three active drivers, Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick lead the winners’ list at Richmond with three each. Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer have two victories apiece, and one-time winners include Larson, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman. It promises to be a competitive and exciting race.

May 5 will mark a milestone in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, as Herschel McGriff will take to the track in a Bill McAnally Racing Toyota. The event is significant because McGriff is 90 years old and began his racing career in 1945. Herschel last raced in 2012 at Sonoma when he was a youngster of 84. He was a legend in the K&N Pro series, then known as Winston West, running 266 races with 35 wins, 37 poles, 98 top fives, and 144 top 10 finishes. He won the Pan American road race in 1950, where he met Bill France and was invited to race in NASCAR’s first Southern 500. He drove his car east from Portland, finished ninth, and drove it back home. In 1954 He ran 24 of the 37 races on the schedule of NASCAR’s top series, then known as the Grand National. He won four times and finished sixth in the point standings. I was fortunate to be working at a number of his races in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and I was at the Winston West awards banquet in 1996 when he received a lifetime achievement award. Little did they know at the time he was far from done racing! And the day after the Tucson race, McGriff will fly to Pocono to climb aboard a motorcycle for Kyle Petty’s Charity Ride Across America. Go Herschel!