DIEZ: Earnhardt ends drought | NevadaAppeal.com

DIEZ: Earnhardt ends drought

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

And verily, it came to pass that there was great rejoicing in Junior Nation, as their hero did outdo the field at Michigan, breaking a 143-race winless streak. This despite a repave, record speeds, blistered tires, and a rain delay. Now the question “When are you going to win?” will change to “Will you win the Chase?” It’s a fair question, given that Junior has finished every lap of the season so far and scored a dozen top-10 finishes.

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This weekend, the Cup teams are at my old home track, Infineon . . . or Sears Point as I prefer to call it. I know a lot of NASCAR fans don’t love road courses, but I do, since that’s where I spent most of my racing career. The double-file restarts have made the road courses even more interesting, because if the leader chooses to start with an advantage into turn 1 and doesn’t make the pass, he’s on the wrong side for turn 2. Look for Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, and last year’s winner, Jimmie Johnson, to be up front at the end. Jeff Gordon, who used to own the road course races, hasn’t had much luck since the new car came in.

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Speaking of road courses, the Nationwide series races at Road America today. Last year’s race there was one of the most interesting Nationwide races I’ve ever seen, with wrecks, dry gas tanks, and other drama right down to the last green-white-checker lap. Ex-Formula One aces Nelson Piquet Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve will be drivers to watch at Road America, as will perennial road course “ringer” Ron Fellows.

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Formula 1 is back in action this weekend in Valencia, Spain. The big question is whether we will see the first two-time winner of the 2012 season, or will it be yet another first-timer on the top step of the podium on Sunday? The roster of drivers capable of winning who have not already done so this season is getting pretty thin. Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen are possibilities, as are the two young drivers with podium finishes in Montreal two weeks ago.