Car show, high performance driving on tap this weekend
June 30, 2012
There’s local action this weekend for both car show fans and high performance driving enthusiasts. Today is the Legends of the West event in downtown Carson City, with both cars and motorcycles on display. You can enter your car or motorcycle for $25, and kids can enter a bicycle, pedal car, or wagon free. An added attraction this year is the ninth annual Carson City Sheriff’s Office Extreme Motor Officer Training Challenge. The event will take place on Carson Street, which will be closed from Robinson to Musser.
For those who prefer a bit more speed in their automotive enjoyment, the Reno Region of the Sports Car Club of America is holding a two-day high performance driving and track trials event at the Reno-Fernley Raceway road course. If you want to check it out and sign up to learn how drive fast on a racing circuit, the club has similar events scheduled for September 8 and October 13/14.
Speaking of road courses, NASCAR put on two good shows last weekend, with Clint Bowyer taking his first road course victory in Sonoma and former Formula 1 pilot Nelson Piquet Jr. winning the Nationwide race at Road America. Piquet’s F1 compadre, Jacques Villeneuve, once again made a fool of himself in the late going, knocking Danica Patrick into the sand trap. Patrick had run in the top five all day, even leading briefly, and recovered to finish 12th. . Look for a little payback from Danica when the series visits Montreal. Villeneuve made a similar bonehead move at Road America last year, wrecking Max Papis
The Sonoma race was the cleanest I’ve seen in a long time at the twisty, 2 mile circuit. Only two cautions marred the race, although there were a few incidents on the last lap that didn’t bring out the yellow flag. One of those incidents dropped Martin Truex Jr. from a top-10 position to 22nd, but it was still a banner day for Michael Waltrip Racing. In addition to Bowyer’s win, Brian Vickers came home fourth in the number 55 car.
Both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series are at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, and hopefully the track has its traffic problems sorted out. Nationwide ran last night, after my deadline, and the Sprint Cup race is scheduled for tonight. But the biggest news in NASCAR is the announced departure of Matt Kenseth from the Roush/Fenway organization after 14 seasons. Kenseth, currently the Sprint Cup points leader, will finish out this season with Roush, and speculation has him taking over the number 20 Home Depot Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. But there are also those who think that Dodge, which is losing Penske Racing next season, may be building a new team around Kenseth. Matt was unwilling to disclose his 2013 plans, so rumors abound.
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The Izod IndyCar series is on hiatus after a grueling 5-week run. At least one team and driver are probably wishing they could continue while they have momentum. That’s Andretti Autosport and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who scored back-to-back wins at Milwaukee and Iowa. After several seasons of domination by the Penske and Target-Ganassi organizations, it’s good to see other teams challenging. The two victories have vaulted Hunter-Reay to second in the point standings, just three counters behind leader Will Power of Team Penske. Target-Ganassi driver Scott Dixon is third in points, but his teammate Dario Franchitti is unlikely to achieve his fourth championship this year. Except for his Indy 500 win, this has been a dismal season for the defending champ, with the blown motor prior to the green flag at Iowa just the latest setback.
Finally, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso broke the string of different winners in the Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia last Sunday. Given Ferrari’s dismal winter testing performance and ill-handling cars early in the season, it is amazing that Alonso became the first two-time winner this season. Alonso now leads the point standings with 111, 10 ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber. Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Sebastian Vettel scored points in Valencia, dropping them to third and fourth respectively. The next race is the British Grand Prix on July 8.