Roger Diez: Big crowd turns out at new Fernley Speedway
Last Saturday’s opening night at Reno-Tahoe-Fernley Speedway saw nearly 80 race cars take to the track, and there was a good crowd in the stands despite the chilly wind.
The IMCA Modifieds were the largest group, with 26 cars taking the green flag for the A main. Fernley’s Shawn Natenstedt made a last-lap charge to take the win ahead of early leaders Will Zinn, Jake Holland, and Russ Cazier. The Pro Stock division suffered attrition in their main event, with only three cars finishing the race. But those three put on the best race of the night, running side by side and nose to tail, swapping positions. Reno’s Jim Klopp finally got the upper hand and sprinted to the checker ahead of Carson City driver Gary Nevers and Dean Cichowicz of Mound House. Reno’s Joe Frock charged from the back of the pack and dominated the Dwarf car A main. Frank Hinds was second, followed by Ron Adams Jr. and Tate Morehead. Defending Hobby Stock champion Carl Barlow of Silver Springs picked up where he left off last season, driving through the pack to take the A main win ahead of Dayton’s Randy Boyd, Tom Haxall of Verdi, and Rocky Goetz. David Paine held off Will Ritchey and Stephen Crook to take the checker in the Mod Mini A main. And the KWS Lites, in their first appearance at RTF Speedway, put on an amazing show. Robert Cooney won the A main ahead of Jeffrey “Silent Ghost” Macedo, 11 year old Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, and track managing director Dan Simpson. Racing resumes at 6 p.m. April 27 with spectator gates opening at 3 p.m.
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Carson City’s Mackena Bell continues to improve in the K&N Pro Series East. She turned the fastest speed in the first practice at Five Flags Speedway in Florida last Saturday, and improved her qualifying position of 16th to an 11th place finish, her best in the series so far.
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Drama dominated Texas Motor Speedway’s Sprint Cup race last Saturday, and much of it centered around the Penske teams. On Tuesday, NASCAR announced penalties for both Penske Racing cars and one of the Michael Waltrip Racing teams. Both Penske Fords were found to have unapproved rear suspensions, resulting in the loss of 25 driver points and owner points for each car. In addition, crew chiefs Paul Wolfe of the No. 2 team and Todd Gordon of the No. 22 team were each fined $100,000 and suspended for six races. Both car chiefs also received a 6-race suspension. NASCAR is sending a message that creativity in rear suspension modifications will be strongly discouraged. The move is reminiscent of the penalties levied on the Hendrick teams when they “massaged” the bodywork of the Gen-5 COT car at Sears Point in 2007. The ironic thing is that Penske driver Brad Keselowski had complained about the rear suspension on the Hendrick cars at the end of last season. Now he thinks his team is being picked on, and aired those views in a rather profane rant after the race. NASCAR chose not to penalize him, judging that he was referring to fellow competitors rather than NASCAR officials. I suspect the mood in the garage this weekend will be pretty tense.
The No. 56 team of Martin Truex Jr. was docked six owner and driver points for failing to meet the ride height limit after the Texas race, and crew chief Chad Johnston received a $25,000 fine and was put on probation until June 5.
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This weekend will be a busy one for fans of all types of racing. NASCAR is at Kansas, the American Lemans Series and IndyCar are racing at Long Beach, Formula One is in Bahrain, and the NHRA Mello Yello series will be at Charlotte on the unique four-wide track. In F1, Sebastian Vettel will be looking to overcome a bad tire strategy decision that left him finishing fourth in China last weekend, and NHRA’s Antron Brown will try to repeat his Top Fuel win at Pomona.