Roger Diez: Carson’s Mackena Bell wraps up season in 13th place | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: Carson’s Mackena Bell wraps up season in 13th place

Roger Diez
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal
Nevada Appeal | Nevada Appeal

Happy Nevada Day. If you’re attending the parade in Carson City today, I’ll be announcing at Fouth and Carson streets. Stop by and say “hello.”

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Mackena Bell wrapped her first full season in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East last weekend at Road Atlanta. Her race ended early, as she parked on course with a broken transmission after only five laps. However, the season overall was pretty decent. Mackena finished 13 in overall points, and fifth in the rookie standings. With such a strong season, I’m sure she’ll be back in a Revolution Racing Toyota next year. I’ll try to talk with her soon, and relay her feelings about this season and her future plans. She was busy this past week working as a mentor to the young racers in NASCAR’s Driver for Diversity combine.

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The IndyCar series season finale took place last Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. And once again, the Penske organization was denied a championship as Scott Dixon’s fifth-place finish gave the Target-Ganassi driver a total of 577 points on the season, bettering Helio Castroneves’ tally by 27. The past two years it has been Castroneves’ teammate Will Powers who lost the title in the final race of the season. Simon Pagenaud finished third in the title chase, followed by Power, Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato.

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Chip Ganassi’s excellent weekend continued on Sunday at Talladega, when Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing’s Jamie MacMurray won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Jimmy Mac was the second non-Chase driver in a row to take a race win. There was no “big one” to scramble the standings, but Jimmie Johnson took the points lead. He is now four points to the good over former leader Matt Kenseth. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are tied for third, 26 points back, while Jeff Gordon is fifth at minus 34. Although Talladega wasn’t the wild card everybody expected, Martinsville could really shake things up. Predicted chilly temperatures will mean teams will have problems getting tires up to temperature. I recall an Indy 500 a number of years ago when cold temps caused a number of drivers to lose control coming out of the pits on new tires. Drivers were complaining about the grip level during qualifying, but polesitter Denny Hamlin and 17 other drivers all broke the old track record. Johnson, who has eight Martinsville wins, including the last two, qualified second. Kenseth starts fourth.

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Speaking of qualifying, NASCAR announced a proposal to change the single-car qualifying format next season to a group qualifying session. The group format was used this year for the two road course races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, and shortened qualifying by a significant amount. Perhaps this is NASCAR’s way of dealing with the shorter attention spans of today’s race fans? Speaking as someone who grew up with road racing and group qualifying, I think it’s a very positive move.

Single car qualifying can be as boring as watching paint dry, especially when I was trying to make it sound exciting on the PA system at Sonoma. All the details have not yet been cast in stone, but it looks like a done deal.

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The Formula One championship fight could be over this weekend at the Indian Grand Prix. If Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel finishes fifth or better, it’s all over. Those ten points will secure his fourth consecutive Drivers’ Championship even if Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso sweeps the remaining race. The other teams can only hope that the drastic rule changes coming up for 2014 will cause the Red Bull juggernaut to stumble. However, given Adrian Newey’s design prowess, that’s a rather forlorn hope.