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Fernley and Fallon holding sessions

Roger Diez

Although we are still two weeks out from the start of the local racing season, Fernley 95A Speedway is going to host a test and tune session today on the 3/8 mile clay oval. There will also be a swap meet at the track. If you want a space at the swap meet, the cost is $25, but it’s free to come browse. While you’re there, check out the cars testing on the track. Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon is hosting a playday next Saturday, so if you have a new race car and want to get some laps on it, you’ll be able to do so two weekends in a row. That’s a better testing program than NASCAR!

Speaking of NASCAR, after three races we have three different winners in the Sprint Cup series, virtually locking Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick into the 2015 Chase for the Championship. Only three races into the season it looks like the Hendrick (Chevy) and Penske (Ford) teams have an edge in coming to grips with the new technical specs, which include reduced power and downforce. Among the Toyota contingent, Joe Gibbs Racing has shown some strength, and either Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, or Matt Kenseth should show up in victory circle before too long. I would have to add the Stewart-Haas organization to that, except Harvick’s crew seems to be head and shoulders above the other three teams.

Of course, Stewart-Hass’ fortunes could change with the return of Kurt Busch to the No. 41 car. NASCAR announced it has lifted Busch’s indefinite suspension after criminal charges were not filed against him. NASCAR stated he has completed all the requirements of the sanctioning body’s reinstatement program. Busch will return to competition this weekend at Phoenix, under indefinite probation. NASCAR has also waived the Chase eligibility requirement that he compete in all Sprint Cup races. So even though Busch now has zero points, a race win would put him in the Chase.

This weekend’s Phoenix outing is going to be the first test of the 2015 car configuration on a short track, the one-mile oval Harvick has pretty much owned of late. However, Johnson is no slouch there either, so we could see our first double winner of the season this weekend.

The Formula One season kicks off this weekend at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia. It will be difficult to predict what will happen in the race based on pre-season testing, because the teams rarely show all their cards before racing starts. I expect defending Champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg to be strong again this season, with a resumption of their 2014 feud. And another feud just waiting to happen is at Ferrari, where four-time champion Sebastian Vettel joins Kimi Raikkonen, who wants to be considered the No. 1 driver. The Mercedes drivers topped practice on Friday with the Ferrari duo right behind them. McLaren, with Honda power this year, had teething problems in testing and also in practice in Australia. They have a tough road ahead. Fernando Alonso will not race for the team this weekend, sidelined by a concussion sustained in testing. Kevin Magnussen will replace him for the season opener. Other potential challengers will be Red Bull, Williams, and possibly Lotus, now with Mercedes power.

It’s still a couple of weeks away, but the IndyCar Series season starts at St. Petersburg the last weekend in March, and the cars are looking different than last season. Although the basic chassis remains the same, both Chevy and Honda teams now have aero kits for road courses, short ovals, and superspeedways that are unique to the engine manufacturers. Chevy introduced its road course bodywork a couple of weeks ago, but Honda just released photos of its road course aero kit. The Honda configuration is much more radical than the Chevrolets. It’s reminiscent of the Formula One bodywork of several seasons ago, with winglets and tabs and spoilers sprouting from every surface. Will it work? Tune in to NBC Sports Network on March 29 to find out.