Plenty of records and rain in the racing world
A record was set, two records were tied, and racing ran well into the week.
Lewis Hamilton’s 92nd win made him the all-time Formula 1 race winner, Scott Dixon tied A.J. Foyt for the most Indy car championships with six, and Kyle Busch tied Jimmy Johnson, Rusty Wallace, and Ricky Rudd with a 16-season consecutive win streak. Only David Pearson at 17 and Richard Petty with 18 have scored higher.
And an epic week of racing came to an end when the 72 Hours of Texas (unofficial name) finally saw the checkered flag on Wednesday night.
Rain was the story for the second race of the NASCAR Cup playoffs Round of Eight at Texas Motor Speedway. The race was red flagged after 51 laps on Sunday due to wet track conditions. Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, and J.J. Yeley all fell victim to the slippery surface, Harvick while leading. With rain continuing through Monday, Tuesday, and into the afternoon Wednesday, the race finally resumed early Wednesday evening.
Kyle Busch salvaged his formerly winless season, beating teammate Martin Truex Jr. to the checkered flag. Now it’s on to Martinsville, where the final four championship contenders will be decided. Joey Logano is locked in with his Kansas win, Harvick is all but a lock at 42 points above the cut line, with Denny Hamlin at plus 27 and Brad Keselowski 25 to the good.
It’s a must-win situation for Kurt Busch at minus 81, and the other three below the cut line are also realistically in need of a win (or a good finish and bad luck for the three above the line). Truex Jr. is minus 36, with Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott both 25 below the line.
Martinsville is Truex’s best shot at advancing. He has won the last two outings there, and a hat trick would put him in position to win his second Cup title. Among the other playoff contenders, Keselowski and Kurt Busch have two Martinsville wins each, Harvick and Logano have one apiece, and Hamlin has posted five wins at the “Paperclip,” but none since 2015.
Among the non-playoff drivers who could win, Johnson leads with nine victories, most recently in 2016. Clint Bowyer, who ran strong and led in Texas, won at Martinsville in 2018. And Kyle Busch has two victories there, the latest in 2017.
Penske driver Josef Newgarden did what he had to do at the NTT IndyCar finale at St. Petersburg on Sunday. He won the battle, taking his fourth checkered flag of the season, but lost the war by 16 points to Scott Dixon.
The Chip Ganassi Racing pilot scored his sixth championship in the top U.S. open-wheel series, tying the record set by A.J. Foyt in 1975. The series will re-visit the Florida track for the 2021 season opener on March 7.
Lewis Hamilton won his 92nd Formula 1 race last Sunday at Portugal’s Portimao circuit, eclipsing Michael Schumacher’s formerly unassailable win total. He also won the pole position, his 97th in his F1 career. The key to victory in the race was Hamilton’s mastery of tire management, making his tires last and perform well for laps longer than those of his rivals.
This weekend the series is at Imola, officially the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, where Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994. It’s the first two-day schedule for F1, with one practice and qualifying earlier today and the race on Sunday.
Finally, another domino fell in the NASCAR Cup silly season, as Hendrick Motorsports announced that Kyle Larson has signed a multi-year contract to drive the No. 5 Camaro. Apparently, Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 number will be retired, as least temporarily.