Memorials for fallen drivers scheduled
It is with a heavy heart that I share my thoughts on the tragedy at Reno-Tahoe-Fernley Speedway last Saturday night. Despite all the safety equipment and the response from emergency workers, two drivers died in the multiple-car accident at the end of the Dwarf car main event. Both David Richardson of Truckee and Leroy Kay of Yerington were veteran racers, but neither had a chance to avoid the accident that happened. I was in the booth announcing the event, but I’ve been in both the driver’s seat and on the flagstand in my racing career, and I can’t fault the track or any of the personnel for the tragedy. Normal procedures were followed. Due to the number of cautions, the race was shortened from 20 to 15 laps, when a spinout caused a yellow flag and a green/white/checker restart with one lap to go. With the field bunched closely coming onto the front straight at 70 miles per hour or so, there was nowhere to go when the third-place car spun into the outside wall and bounced back across the track.
I spoke to track owner Dan Simpson, oval track manager Matt Ramthun, and Vuki Wilson about the track’s immediate plans. Racing will take place tonight as scheduled, with a brief tribute to both fallen drivers. A more extensive remembrance will take place over the Fourth of July weekend. There will be a celebration of life for Kay Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Casino West Convention Center in Yerington, and Richardson’s memorial will be held at the Sierra Bible Church in Truckee at 11 a.m. on Monday. A memorial fund for Richardson’s family has been set up at Wells Fargo under the name “Richardson Memorial Fund.”
Due to the tragic accident, the Modified main was not run.
Here are the results of the other racing divisions, and the point leaders in each. Travis Barr won the Pure Stock main and leads in points 148. The Mod Mini main went to points leader David Paine, who has 195. Joe Frock won the Dwarf car main, but Tate Morehead leads the points with 178. Carl Barlow won the Hobby Stock main and trails Randy Boyd by a single point, 146-145. The Pro Stock winner and points leader was Malen Gonzalez with 158. Shawn Natenstedt’s 155 points puts him 30 ahead in the Modified Division.
On a much happier note, it was wonderful to see Tony Kanaan finally win his first Indy 500 last Sunday. The Brazilian driver is a big crowd favorite, but until this year he had been so snake-bitten at the Brickyard I half expected him to change his last name to Andretti. The racing was excellent with a record number of leaders (14), lead changes (68) and average speed (187.433 mph). The number of cars running at the end (27) broke the 1911 record of 26, and it was the first time a No.11 car has won the 500. Ending the race under caution was anticlimactic, but if motivation counts for anything, I think Kanaan still would have prevailed. Also impressive was A.J. Allmendinger in his Indy debut, leading laps and finishing sixth despite being off-strategy. And young rookie Carlos Munoz from Columbia looks to be a future factor in IndyCar, qualifying and finishing second.
The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte is NASCAR’s longest race, and this one was even longer than usual, with a couple of red flags slowing things down. Kevin (where did he come from) Harvick scored his second season win in his lame-duck year with Richard Childress Racing. Mercedes drive Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix from the pole in a race that was also slowed by a red flag.
This weekend NASCAR takes on the Monster Mile at Dover, while IndyCar stages its first doubleheader of the season, the Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit. It will be Sprint Cup’s final race on FOX, while IndyCar will be televised on ABC both days. TNT will take over Sprint Cup broadcast duties for six races beginning next weekend at Kentucky Speedway.