Roger Diez: Thorson featured in Winged Sprints at Fernley
Race fans, if you like fast, loud, and dirty, then head out to Fernley 95A Speedway this afternoon for the only Northern Nevada Winged Sprint Car show of 2018. The Sprint Car Challenge Tour is making its one and only visit to our area, with the first green flag scheduled for 6 p.m. A host of California drivers includes last year’s Fernley winner Shane Golobic, currently fourth in the 2018 standings, just six points behind leader Willie Croft. In second is third generation sprint car pilot Tim Kaeding. They will be joined by a pair of local hot shoes— Adam Walters of Reno and Minden native Tanner Thorson, who’s a two-time USAC National Midget champion. Thorson also made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck debut at Dover last weekend, finishing 18th. Gates open at 2 p.m. and you’ll want to get there early, as last year’s race featured the largest crowd ever at the track. Tickets are $15 for the lower bleachers, $20 for the upper bleachers, and $30 for skybox seating. Kids under 5 and military with ID are free.
If you were going to make a movie about the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season, you might want to name it after the Alfred Hitchcock classic, “Rear Window.” For the third and fourth times, Cup teams have been levied L1 penalties for the rear glass on their cars not sufficiently anchored, giving them a possible aero advantage. Post-race inspection at Dover was a busy place, as both Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford and Daniel Suarez’s No. 19 Toyota were both found to have flexible rear windows. The No. 3 Chevy of Austin Dillon also drew an L1 penalty, this one for front splitter irregularities. The window violations resulting in $50,000 fines for the crew chiefs, two-race suspensions for the car chiefs, and loss of 25 driver and owner points. For the splitter violation it was a $25,000 crew chief fine, one-race suspension for the car chief, and no points penalty. Oh, by the way, Kevin Harvick won the race, his fourth of the season, and took over the points lead from Kyle Busch.
This weekend the Cup teams travel to Kansas, and it will be an emotional return for two of the drivers. For Matt Kenseth, it will be a vindication of sorts. Let go by Joe Gibbs racing at the end of last season in favor of young Eric Bell, he will run a part-time schedule in 2018 starting at Kansas. He will share the car with Trevor Bayne, whose season this far has been unremarkable. Jack Roush is gnawing at the bit to get his Fords back into contention for a championship, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has had a much better season so far than his teammate. Kenseth will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the No. 6 team, and is still capable of winning races. The other driver with Kansas hopes it Aric Almirola, who was sidelined after being injured in a three-car pileup there last season. Ironically, the situation led to Darrell Wallace Jr. proving a worthy stand-in, leading to a full-time ride in the iconic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Camaro. Almirola also benefited, ending up in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Ford vacated by Danica Patrick, and came one turn short of winning the Daytona 500 in February.
The former entire “Month of May” at Indianapolis finally gets under way this weekend with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, run on infield road course that was built for Formula 1 back in 2000. Next week is qualifying for the Indy 500, one of the more protracted and convoluted qualifying procedures in racing, along with the Daytona 500’s. And Sunday of Memorial Day weekend will be the day most real race fans will be glued to the TV for the day, with Formula 1 in Monaco at zero dark thirty, the Indy 500 a 8 a.m., and NASCAR’s longest race, the Coke 600, in the afternoon. I love May!