Roger Diez: The year in racing — typically wild | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: The year in racing — typically wild

Roger Diez

Looking back on the year of racing, there were highs and lows, times to celebrate and times to mourn – in short, a typical racing season.

•••

Things started well for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Chevrolet teams, with a Daytona 500 win for Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon. Unfortunately, that was to be just about the only highlight for the bowtie brigade until Chase Elliott's breakthrough victory at Watkins Glen. Elliott would go on to win at Dover and New Hampshire in October, but no other Camaros would visit victory circle. However the Fords, particularly the Stewart-Haas teams, would run roughshod over the season with Kevin Harvick leading the way. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the Toyota standard bearers, aided by a single Erik Jones victory. The "Big Three" of Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Truex Jr. were joined by Penske Ford pilot Joey Logano for the championship round. Logano caught a break on a late caution, and his car, which was excellent on short runs, romped to the championship.

•••

Mercedes dominated the second half of the Formula One season, garnering the team its fifth consecutive constructors' championship and Lewis Hamilton his fifth world champion driver's trophy. The Ferraris were much more competitive, especially in the first half of the season, and Red Bull showed flashes of brilliance. The 2019 season will see an intensification of the Hamilton/Vettel, Mercedes/Ferrari conflict, and lots of new drivers and old drivers in new seats. Will the Silver Arrows and the Prancing Horses continue their domination of the sport? All indications are thus.

•••

Recommended Stories For You

Another five-time champion was crowned in 2018, this time in the IndyCar series. Scott Dixon, who was almost written off by pundits early in the season, came steadily back through the points rankings to take the title. The turning point was the penultimate race, the series' return to Portland, where Dixon emerged from a multi-car pileup and somehow managed a decent finish to put himself in position for a title run at Sonoma.

•••

And on the downside of 2018, we say farewell to one of racing's legends, David Pearson, who passed away in November. We also remember the horrific Pocono IndyCar crash that left Robert Wickens partially paralyzed. We recognized and fully support his determination to return to racing. He has an example in Alex Zanardi, who despite the loss of both legs in another Indy Car crash years ago, will be competing in this year's Rolex 24.

•••

And now we wait. The Rolex 24 at Daytona is just four weeks away on Jan. 26-27, with the Advance Auto Parts Clash on Feb. 10 and the Daytona 500 a week later. In the meantime, we can re-live some of 2018's racing on TV. If you have cable or satellite, you can get MavTV, which has a variety of racing shows including the SuperCup Stock Car series and several Lucas Oil sponsored series including drag boats, offroad racing, and late model dirt cars. The same channel also features a variety of motorcycle events including Amateur and Pro Motocross and FIM SideCarcross. And for sprint car fans, Tony Stewart's All Star Circuit of Champions will also air on MavTV.

•••

NBC Sports will be airing a Mecum Auto Auction marathon. It's not racing, but if you appreciate hot rods, exotics, and well-restored old cars, it's fun to watch. And my personal favorite, the Sports Car Club of America National Runoffs from Sonoma will air on Sunday. SCCA racing is where I cut my racing teeth, and it's airing from one of my favorite tracks, to boot! And since the 49ers are out of the playoffs, it'll be a nice alternative to football for me on Sunday.