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Fernley track closes out season

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

This weekend is your last chance to see some local racing, as Fernley 95A Speedway hosts the annual two-day shootout, with entries from all over the western states. In addition to the regular track classes of Pure Stock, Super Stock 4, Hobby Stock, Pro Stock, Modified, and Dwarf car, Late Models will also be featured. The total purse is approaching $30,000 with the addition of $1,000 to the Modified purse and $200 to the Hobby Stock purse, courtesy of long-time race fan Dale Bertram. And the Pro Stock field also got a $500 bump to $3,000 for the win. Racing will start at 6 p.m. today and at noon on Sunday.

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Congratulations are also in order for the track champions who were crowned last Saturday night at Fernley 95A Speedway. Cory Sample is the new Modified track champ; Rob Grace took the honors in Pro Stock; Carl Barlow is once again the Hobby Stock champion; the Dwarf car champ is Joe Frock; Kenny Martin goes home with the gold in Super Stock 4; and the Pure Stock championship goes to Mark Serchio Jr.

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The NASCAR Chase for the Championship took a distinct downward turn for some of the favorites at Kansas Speedway last Sunday, as Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson all finished well down the order due to crashes. They are 39, 42, and 44 points behind going into tonight’s race at Charlotte, where all three must rebound strongly if they want to stay in the hunt in the Contender round.

As for Joey Logano, he’s breathing much easier with his Kansas win and the guarantee to advance to the Eliminator round no matter what happens in the next two races.

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Of course, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility a non-Chase driver could win at Charlotte tonight or at Talladega next weekend. My money is on Kyle Larson to win a race before the season is over.

He had another second-place finish last Sunday at Kansas, his third of the season. With eight top 5s and 15 top 10s so far in 2014, Larson’s rookie stats indicate great things to come, and probably sooner rather than later.

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This should also be an exciting weekend for Formula 1 drivers, teams, and fans, because it’s the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, at the Sochi Autodrom. It’s the only race track in the world located in an Olympic venue. Fortunately, the organizers have had some time to fix the problems experienced at the Winter Olympics. Drivers have been learning the track on simulators, with Sebastian Vettel the only F1 pilot to have actually driven on the track, albeit in a street car. While the simulators provide a good orientation to the track layout, drivers will have to deal with changing grip levels through the weekend as the green track surface rubbers in. American Alexander Rossi had been scheduled to drive for Marussia, but instead the team elected to withdraw the entry out of respect for regular driver Jules Bianchi, who’s in critical but stable condition in a hospital in Japan. Bianchi suffered a head injury in a crash with a mechanical lift truck that was extracting another car.

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Upcoming changes for next season include Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, who will be joining Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull in 2015. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull to join Ferrari, taking over the seat vacated by Fernando Alonso, who will replace Jensen Button at McLaren.

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Going nowhere next season are the Mercedes teammates and points leaders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton’s victory in the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix last Sunday puts him 10 points up on teammate Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship standings. With three wins in a row, Hamilton is looking to add No. 4 in Russia this weekend.

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Finally, voting is now open for the most popular NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. Go to http://sports.sprint.com/speed/ and click on the Most Popular Driver banner to vote. Polls close on Nov. 17.