Brad Keselowski has fuel to the finish at Kentucky | NevadaAppeal.com

Brad Keselowski has fuel to the finish at Kentucky

Roger Diez

Head out to Fernley 95A Speedway tonight for some fast and furious dirt track racing action. In addition to the track’s regular racing divisions, the always wild and entertaining chain races are on the card tonight. Gates open at 3 p.m. and racing starts at 6.

Brad Keselowski’s amazing fuel economy run at Kentucky last Saturday night has made him top seed for the Chase for the Championship. It was his fourth win of the season, breaking the tie with Kyle Busch, who’s the only driver with three victories. Keselowski seemingly ran dry two laps from the end but switched fuel pickups and miraculously kept the engine running to the checker. There was also controversy as Martin Truex Jr. received a seldom-called penalty for passing while entering the pits. It cost him the lead and a possible win, but NASCAR official Steve O’Donnell said illegally passing on the left entering the pits has become a trend. So apparently NASCAR decided to make an example. Drivers have asked for a clarification of the rule this weekend at Loudon.

New Hampshire Speedway is a flat, one-mile oval, one of only a few tracks where Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not won. And that statistic will remain, because Junior has been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. JR Motorsports Xfinity driver Alex Bowman will sub for Junior this weekend, but the big bombshell is Junior’s named replacement for Indianapolis. Jeff Gordon has some time on his hands with FOX Sports’ NASCAR programming on hiatus, and is going to drive the No. 88 at the Brickyard if Junior is not cleared by then.

A lot of active drivers have won at New Hampshire. Among drivers already in the Chase, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Kurt Busch have each won three times at New Hampshire; Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano have two wins each; and Kevin Harvick has been to victory circle once. Among non-winners in 2016 who have won at New Hampshire are Ryan Newman with three, Clint Bowyer with two, and Kasey Kahne with a single victory. Kenseth, Logano, Keselowski, and Kyle Busch are the most recent Loudon winners. For Sunday’s race, I think all of the Gibbs Racing Toyotas are serious threats for the win, but I wouldn’t count out the Penske Fords either. If a Chevy makes it to victory circle, it would almost certainly be a Hendrick Racing or Stewart-Haas Racing entry. And on a historical note, Sunday will be the first NASCAR Cup race since the series’ first New Hampshire race in 1993 that will not have Jeff Gordon in the field.

Across the pond, the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone started out in extremely wet conditions behind the safety car. Things cleared up and drivers changed from wet tires to intermediates and eventually dry rubber. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton drove a masterful race from the pole to become the first man to win three consecutive British Grand Prix at Silverstone. (Jimmy Clark won four British GPs in a row in the 60s, but only two were at Silverstone). The victory moved Hamilton to within four points of teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship standings. The gap was later reduced to one point after Rosberg was assessed a 10-second penalty for illegal communications from his pit. The penalty dropped him to third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

I’m in full agreement with commentators David Hobbs and Steve Matchett this season’s ban on communication in F1 has gone entirely too far. It was instituted to eliminate excessive coaching of the drivers from the pit. However, it has gone beyond reason, prohibiting teams from even telling their drivers about potential safety issues (Sergio Perez crashed in Azerbaijan because the team couldn’t tell him his brakes were gone). Rosberg had a gearbox issue, and the team told him how to deal with it. I find that to be perfectly reasonable, particularly in light of what NASCAR spotters and crew chiefs are allowed to tell their drivers. OK, end of rant. Carry on.

Formula 1 and the NHRA Mello Yello series are dark this weekend, but the IndyCar series races Sunday at Toronto.