Roger Diez: Busch misses hat trick in Texas
Kyle Busch came up short on his bid for the hat trick at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday. Busch won both the Gander Outdoor Truck race and the Xfinity race, but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series win went to teammate Denny Hamlin, who now ties with Busch at two wins apiece. A pair of Stewart-Haas Fords finished second and third, with Clint Bowyer beating teammate Aric Almirola for the runner-up spot. Jimmie Johnson scored his best finish of the season in fifth with teammate William Byron in sixth, a good sign for the Hendrick Racing and the rest of the Chevy contingent.
This week the Cup and Xfinity teams go from the fast mile and a half at Texas to the short and brutal Bristol bullring. A short .533 mile in length with variable banking from 24 to 30 degrees, Jimmy Spencer once likened racing a Cup car at Bristol to flying a fighter jet in a gymnasium. Kyle Busch has seven wins at Bristol including two of the last three, the most of any active driver. Brother Kurt has scored six Bristol victories, most recently last fall. Four active drivers have a pair of wins each; Johnson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick. Hamlin has one Bristol win on his resume. But as the disclaimer on a stock prospectus says, “past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance.”
The Formula One series raced in Bahrain last weekend. The Ferraris were fast in practice and qualifying, with Charles Leclerc taking pole (his first in F1). Sebastian Vettel started alongside in an all-Ferrari front row. But when the checkered flag flew, it was Mercedes once again with a one-two finish. This time it was Lewis Hamilton taking the win with teammate Valtteri Bottas 2.98 seconds behind. But the finish would’ve been far different if Leclerc hadn’t been plagued with an engine problem late in the race. He dropped from an almost sure win to limping home in third place. Bottas holds the points lead over Hamilton, 44 to 43, by virtue of the “fastest lap” point he gained in Australia. The series will move from the Middle East to the Far East next weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The NTT IndyCar series is back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It will be the 10th anniversary of IndyCar at the 2.3 mile, 17 turn natural road course that lies just 37 miles from the Talladega Superspeedway. Young Colton Herta, who won at Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago at 18 years, 359 days, has stated his intention to go for the win this weekend. But he’ll be up against some stiff competition. Penske driver Josef Newgarden has won three of the nine races previously held at Barber, including last year’s two-day rain-delayed event. Will Power, has won twice, as has Ryan Hunter-Reay, with Simon Pagenaud winning once. Other possible contenders are; Felix Rosenqvist, a rookie driving for Chip Ganassi, who set fast time in Friday’s first practice; Sebastian Bourdais, second quickest on Friday; James Hinchliffe, who clocked in third fastest at 1/10 of a second off the fast time; and Scott Dixon, who was fourth-quickest on Friday.
Locally, Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon is kicking off its 2019 season tonight. In addition to the Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Gen-X, Modified Minis, and Winged Sprint Cars, Dwarf cars are on the program. The Outlaw Karts will also be racing tonight. Races start at 6 p.m. and adult admission is $10. For military with ID it’s $8, and $5 for seniors over 55 and kids 6-10. Kids under 6 are free.