Racing heats up as temperatures soar at Fernley
For the Nevada Appeal
Both the weather and the racing were hot at Reno-Tahoe-Fernley Speedway last Saturday night. Despite the triple-digit temperatures, the track came in beautifully and the racers loved it. Danielle Paine of Carson City won her first A Main in the Pure Stock division, while Fernley’s Justin Busch led from the green flag to take the Mod Mini victory. Silver Springs driver Carl Barlow charged through the Hobby Stock pack to take another of his patented back-to-front wins ahead of Gardnerville’s Dwight Bolton. Travis Peterson of Spanish Springs overcame a smoking race car to take the Pro Stock win, while Shawn Natenstedt passed wife Melissa in the late going to capture the Modified main. The 95A Series is off until August 24, but the King of the West Sprint Car series and USAC Sprint Cars are on the schedule for the second and third weekends in August.
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Speaking of dirt track racing, the “Mudsummer Classic” for the NASCAR Camping World Truck series on Wednesday night was hailed as a rousing success. Drivers, fans, crews, the track, and most importantly, NASCAR, loved it. I think we can count on this becoming an annual event. I was pulling for Kyle Larson, who has some local ties, but restarting on the bottom was problematic for him in the late going and he had to settle for second behind Austin Dillon. Both drivers came from deep in the field, proving that you can pass on dirt if you know what you’re doing.
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From a half-mile dirt oval with 24-degree banking to a relatively flat 2 1/2-mile asphalt rectangle (with a yard of bricks at start/finish), this is a big weekend for NASCAR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be the 20th annual race for the Cup cars, and the second for the Nationwide and Grand-Am series. The Grand-Am ran last night after my deadline, so you’ll have to look up the results elsewhere in the Appeal or online. The Nationwide cars take to the track today, and the Cup series races tomorrow, both televised on ESPN. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have won the Brickyard 400 four times each, and Tony Stewart has been to victory lane twice. Those three are definitely contenders for the win tomorrow. Juan Montoya was fastest in practice yesterday, and would have a win under his belt as well, but for a pit lane speeding violation. Another driver to watch may be Danica Patrick, who will make her first Cup start at Indy. Patrick has more miles at the Brickyard than many NASCAR veterans, although in a much different type of car. She scored six top-10 finishes in her seven Indy 500 starts, with a best finish of third. The new Gen-6 Cup car should provide more competitive racing than the previous car, so look for more passing than there has been in the past few years.
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As ESPN takes over broadcasting for the Sprint Cup Series for the remainder of the 2013 season, NASCAR announced last week that it has signed a 10-year deal beginning in 2015 with NBC Sports. NBC will broadcast the last 20 races of the Sprint Cup series and the final 19 Nationwide races, as well as the K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour, Toyota (Mexico) Series, and NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and awards banquets. The deal also includes exclusive TV Everywhere rights, Spanish language rights, and certain video-on-demand rights for Cup and Nationwide races. In addition, all qualifying sessions for Cup and Nationwide during NBC’s broadcast window are included in the deal. Seven Cup races will air on NBC and 13 on the NBC Sports Network, while four Nationwide races will be broadcast on NBC with the remainder on NBCSN. NBCSN already airs Formula 1 and most IndyCar races, so it will definitely be the 600-pound gorilla of motorsports broadcasting in the U.S.A.
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In other racing action this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello series visits Sonoma Raceway, just a short 3 1/2-hour drive away, and Formula One is back in action in Hungary.