Roger Diez: A trio of amazing things from racing world | NevadaAppeal.com
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Roger Diez: A trio of amazing things from racing world

By Roger Diez

Three things amazed me about last weekend’s racing. First, the NASCAR Cup short-track race at Richmond was remarkably calm, with yellow flags only for a competition caution and at the end of stages. Second, the Formula 1 race at Mugello was a wreckfest featuring two red flags and three restarts. And third, Scott Dixon went winless twice at his most successful track the IndyCar circuit, significantly tightening the points race.

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Brad Keselowski punched his ticket to the NASCAR Cup playoffs with a dominant win under the lights at Richmond, leading 192 of the 400 laps. Martin Truex Jr. was second yet again, (his ninth time to finish second or third this season). Going into Bristol, Denny Hamlin is locked into the playoffs on points, 64 above the cut line. Joey Logano should also be safe at 51 plus. The two drivers who are in the worst shape are Matt Dibenedetto and Ryan Blaney, who are -25 and -27 respectively. William Byron is only three points below the cut line and Cole Custer eight below, so either could be in the playoffs if things go right for them or wrong for Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, or Aric Almirola. And a night race at the Bristol bullring isn’t the place you want to be if you’re vulnerable.

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The Busch brothers are by far the winningest active drivers at Bristol with 14 wins between them – eight for Kyle, six for Kurt. Seven other active drivers share 16 victories among them. Hamlin is the favorite to win Saturday, at 9-2 odds. Points leader Kevin Harvick is next at 11-2 with Chase Elliott at 6-2 and Keselowski and Kyle Busch both 13-2. This may be Kyle’s best chance at a win this season. But he’s just 38 points above the cut line, so if he’s out early he may not advance.

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By contrast to a clean NASCAR short-track race, the Formula 1 Mugello event was a train wreck. The safety car came out on the first lap after last Sunday’s winner, Pierre Gasly, crashed heavily. A multi-car collision on the rolling restart resulted in a red flag and the first of two standing restarts. The second red flag was followed by another standing start. With 40% of the field out, it was an easy romp for Mercedes to another 1-2 finish with Hamilton in front. Red Bull’s Alex Albon scored his first podium as teammate Max Verstappen was out early with power unit issues. Next race is Sept. 25 at the Sochi circuit in Russia.

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The NTT IndyCar doubleheader at Mid-Ohio was a bust for six-time winner Scott Dixon, who failed to win either race. Saturday it was Penske’s Will Power taking the checker ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden, and Sunday Colton Herta nursed his tires to bring home a 1-2-3 finish for Andretti Autosport. Dixon was 10th both days, narrowing his point lead to 72 over Newgarden. Dixon now has 456 points, Newgarden 384, and Pato O’Ward mathematically alive at 338. There are just three races remaining in the season with the IndyCar Harvest GP doubleheader on the Indy road course coming up Oct. 2-3 and the season finale at St. Petersburg on Oct. 25. Four-time Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais will return to the series for those last three in the A.J. Foyt no. 14 car, replacing rookie Dalton Kellett. Next up is the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on the Indy road course Oct. 2-3.

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Also this weekend, the delayed 24 Hours of Lemans is on Motor Trend TV. And we have two local tracks in action; both Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon and Fernley 95A Speedway are racing Saturday. Check their Facebook pages for details.