Roger Diez: Auto racing returns to Northern Nevada
Live racing has finally started in Northern Nevada. Fernley 95A Motorsports Complex will hold its first race of the 2020 season on Friday, May 29. IMCA Modifieds, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, and Diamond Mountain Hobby Stocks are on the card. Masks will be required, and social distancing will be enforced. Spectator admission is $10, with $25 for a pit pass. Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Today the action moves to Winnemucca Regional Speedway for the two-day Higher Desert Classic, and next weekend will see another two-day show at Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon in conjunction with Octane Fest.
NASCAR is also back in action, with an Ironman schedule for the NASCAR Cup drivers, who will run four races in 11 days. Kevin Harvick dominated Sunday’s 400-miler at Darlington, taking his first win of the season and giving him a berth in the playoffs. Matt Kenseth, in his first Cup start since 2018, took the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Camaro to a 10th-place finish. Ryan Newman, back from his Daytona crash, was 15th. Back in action on Wednesday for a 500-kilometer race delayed by rain, Denny Hamlin took the win over Kyle Busch after Busch punted Chase Elliott into the inside wall on a restart. Elliott was less than pleased, giving Busch the one-finger racing salute as he came by on the next lap. Busch admitted fault after the race and made peace with Elliott the next day. But keep an eye on these two at Charlotte on Sunday. Hamlin got out of the car for the post-race interviews wearing a facemask with his likeness on it, sporting a big grin. He joins Joey Logano as a two-time winner in 2020.
Sunday is the Coca-Cola 600, with same day qualifying and the race. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending champion, having won NASCAR’s longest race last year. Truex has won this race twice, as has Kevin Harvick. Austin Dillon and both Busch brothers have one 600 victory apiece, but Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four 600 wins. Johnson is looking pretty racy this year as the Chevy teams seem to have figured out the Camaro after two seasons. The oddsmakers however favor Toyota driver Kyle Busch, still winless on the season, at 4-1 odds. Harvick is at 11-2, Martin Truex at 6-1, with Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano at 8-1 odds. Elliott goes off at 9-1, Denny Hamlin is pegged at 11-1, and Hendrick teammates Johnson and Alex Bowman are at 16-1. History however favors the Chevrolet camp, as Chevys have won at Charlotte 39 times to Ford’s 25 and Toyota’s six. The rest of the winners in Charlotte’s 121-race, 60-year history have driven Plymouths, Dodges, Pontiacs, Buicks, or Mercurys.
The NTT IndyCar series has released its 2020 schedule consisting of 14 races. The season will open at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. There will be a four-week gap until the next race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4, which is the start of a marathon. The following week will see a doubleheader on July 11/12 at Road America , then another doubleheader at Iowa Speedway July 17/18. Next up is Mid-Ohio Aug. 9, followed by the Indy 500 on Aug. 23 and Gateway Aug. 30. The next two weekends will be on the west coast with Portland on Sept. 13 followed by a doubleheader at Laguna Seca Sept. 19-20. Then it’s back to the Indy road course on Oct. 3 and the series finale at St. Petersburg.