Roger Diez: It’s a ‘Truex’ story at Pocono
It’s another big racing weekend coming up, with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup at Michigan International, the Verizon IndyCar series at Texas Motor Speedway, Formula One in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, and Virginia Nationals for the NHRA. I may have to do a rebuild on my TV remote after Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. added his second victory to the 2018 win column last Sunday at Pocono. The anticipated head-to-head duel between point leaders Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick didn’t end with either one in victory lane or in the wall. Truex joined the lead pair as the third multiple-race winner of the season. The series now moves to the two-mile D-shaped oval at Michigan, where Kyle Larson will be looking for his first win of the season and his fourth in a row at the track. Larson will have his work cut out for him this season, as the Chevy teams are still trying to come to grips with the aero on the new Camaro body style. Larson has consistently shown the best speed of all the Chevy drivers, and he definitely seems to have Michigan figured out. Goodyear will have a new tire for the Cup cars this weekend, which will further complicate things for the teams.
Only two other active drivers have three Michigan victories on their racing resume. They are Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. Both won in 2015, with their previous wins in the distant past. Two-time Michigan winners are Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman, while Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick have one Michigan victory apiece. Larson will have a tough time on Sunday. Not only is he starting from 26th, but the Fords are bad fast, taking eight of the top 10 starting spots. Kurt Busch is on the pole with Brad Keselowski alongside. Kyle Busch starts third in the fastest Toyota in the field.
Formula 1 Mercedes pilot Lewis Hamilton has a similar record to Larson’s, but at Montreal’s Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve where he won the series’ last three outings. Unlike Larson, Hamilton also has three previous wins at this weekend’s venue, so he’ll be going for his seventh Montreal victory on Sunday. However, he may be hampered by the fact Mercedes’ planned rollout of its updated power unit has been delayed by “quality” issues. Prior to Hamilton’s recent three-race run at Montreal, both Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and 2018 Monaco winner Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull had posted victories at the track.
Tonight will mark the fourth race in three weekends for the Verizon IndyCar series, as drivers take on the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway. Last weekend was the Dual at Detroit, a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader with Scott Dixon taking the Saturday race and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the winner’s circle on Sunday. Yesterday was qualifying for Texas, and speeds were not too far off Indianapolis qualifying results, even though Indy is a full mile longer. Josef Newgarden’s pole speed was 220.6 mph, just 7 mph off of the Indy pole speed. His Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power will start second and third respectively.