Another tough race for Bell
If you missed the story in Thursday’s Nevada Appeal Appeal, Carson racer Mackena Bell had a mishap at the K&N Pro Series East/West shootout at Iowa Speedway last Sunday.
With 20 laps to go in the 200-lap race, the right front tire on Bell’s No. 8 Chevy let go, putting her into the wall and breaking an oil line. The oil caught fire and Bell steered the car into the infield and quickly exited. She suffered only bumps and bruises, but if the rest of the season goes like the first three races she’ll want to buy the extra-large bottle of Tylenol. I’m hoping she won’t need it.
• Helio Castroneves made a liar out of me during pole qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Saturday, not only topping 227 mph for his four-lap qualifying run, but almost hitting 228. I participated in a conference call on Tuesday with the ABC booth announcing team of Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear, and Eddie Cheever. The consensus was that Helio is the hands-down pick to win his fourth Indy on Sunday because he is driving for Penske, the team with the most Indy wins ever, and seems to have an almost unnatural feel for the track.
Producer Rich Feinberg told us that ABC will have 51 cameras covering the race, including a front-straight cable cam and nine high-definition 360 degree in-car cameras.
Other topics included crowd reaction (boos) to Danica Patrick’s public address interview, when she basically threw her team under the bus, complaining that the car was the worst she’d ever had. Reid noted that it was fans, not the media, who seem to have soured a bit on Danicamania. Several fans resented her dabbling in NASCAR and were unhappy about her lackluster performance so far this year. Reid, on the other hand, is of the opinion that she has increased interest in Indycar racing among NASCAR fans, which is a good thing.
And speaking of NASCAR, everyone agreed that if the $20 million prize for winning the Indy 500 and Coke 600 the same day becomes a reality, Tony Stewart has the best chance to win it . . . provided he can still shoehorn himself into an Indycar. The new qualifying procedure also came up. With only 37 drivers originally entered to vie for the 33 starting spots, the two-day qualifying with a nine-car shootout for the pole and bumping both days provided lots of drama and excitement. Paul Tracy and Jay Howard both outqualified themselves at the 11th hour, failing to better their times and bumping 19-year-olf rookie Sebastian Saavedra back into the field as he was being checked out in the hospital after a morning practice crash. It was a wild ending to qualifying and a satisfying one for what team principal Bryan Herta dubbed “Two Men and a Truck Racing.”
• NASCAR Sprint Cup has a new intra-team rivalry that eclipses the Jimmie Johnson/Jeff Gordon spats of earlier in the season. When Denny Hamlin moved up to block teammate Kyle Busch on a late restart in last Saturday’s All-Star race at Charlotte, Busch hit the wall and subsequently retired from the race, issuing threats against Hamlin on the radio and driving directly to Hamlin’s hauler to wait for him. Coach Joe Gibbs intervened, and there was no bloodshed . . . at least for the moment.
My personal take on it, echoed by most Cup drivers, was that Denny didn’t do anything wrong. The first driver into the corner has the choice of line, and Denny took it. Kyle wasn’t alongside, and had he backed off a bit he could have stayed out of the wall. Apparently Kyle feels that a race should consist of him and 42 start-and-park cars. In any case, both drivers will be in today’s Nationwide race and Busch will start behind Hamlin in tomorrow’s 600-miler. It could get interesting.
• I’m planning to head out to Reno-Fernley Raceway today to check out the first test-and-tune day under the new track management. I’ll give you an update next week on possible events coming up at the track this season.