Roger Diez: Crazy season so far as drivers take week off | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: Crazy season so far as drivers take week off

ROGER DIEZ
For the Nevada Appeal

Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart parlayed a 1-2 qualifying performance into a 1-2 finish at New Hampshire last Sunday, improving both drivers’ chances of making the Chase this season. With his win, Newman became the 13th different NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to go to victory lane this year. There are more potential victors waiting in the wings, as 2010 winners who haven’t scored yet this year include: Stewart, Greg Biffle, Clint Boyer, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Reutimann. Montoya is looking to score a victory at the upcoming Watkins Glen race, but he’ll have to beat Stewart, who has five wins at the Glen and two at Indy, and is always strong in the summer events. McMurray is anxious to repeat his 2010 Indy win, and Bowyer should be strong at the upcoming short-track rounds at Bristol and Richmond. This season has already matched last year’s total number of winners, and there still are 17 races to go.

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Kyle Busch’s tenure atop the Sprint Cup point standings was short-lived, as a blown right front tire spoiled his New Hampshire race and put Carl Edwards back on top in points, seven counters ahead of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Busch’s poor finish dropped him from first to fifth in the standings, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped to ninth, only seven points ahead of Denny Hamlin. At this point, only David Ragan is in a wild-card spot, sitting 13th in points with one win. Brad Keselowski also has a win, but lost a lot of points last weekend and is now 25 points out of a top-20 spot. The new NASCAR point system makes it much harder to pick up points than in the past, so Keselowski’s single victory may not put him in the Chase.

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The Sprint Cup series is off this weekend, the last break until the season finale at Homestead. The Nationwide series is racing at Nashville tonight, with only three Cup regulars (Edwards, Keselowski, and David Stremme) entered. Next up for the Cup series is the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis on July 31.

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Tempers still are frayed among IndyCar drivers going into the second round of the series’ Canadian swing at Edmonton this weekend. There’s definitely bad blood between point leader Dario Franchitti of Target-Ganassi Racing and Team Penske driver Will Power. Edmonton is a much more wide-open course than the tight confines of Toronto, but even so there will be plenty of opportunity for some retaliatory driving if someone has that in mind. The officiating at Toronto also has come under fire (surprise), and it remains to be seen if there will be an overcorrection from the officials this weekend, or more of the same “have at it, drivers” laissez-faire attitude.

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Across the pond in Formula 1, the German Grand Prix will run at the fabled Nurburgring, with no fewer than six German drivers in the 24-car field. Naturally, the favorite among them will be Red Bull driver and point leader Sebastian Vettel, who has had a dominating season thus far. McLaren drivers Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton, both denied victory in their home race two weeks ago, will be trying their best to make sure that Vettel isn’t first to the checkered flag. The McLaren team hopes that the rule change that again allows the off-throttle blown diffuser system to be used will make them more competitive. The team claimed that the ban on the system cost them three-quarters of a second at Silverstone. And Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the most recent winner in F1, will try to back up his Silverstone victory at the ‘Ring Sunday.

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Local racers have been doing well at Reno-Fernley Raceway’s NASCAR-sanctioned 3/8 mile clay oval. Tom Purcell of Carson City is second in points in the Modified division, Al and Ed Goss sit third and fourth respectively in Pro Stock, and Royce Goetz is leading the Hobby Stock division. Billy and Bobby Wilson are 1-2 in the Dwarf cars, and Justin Schilling holds down second in the Mini Stocks. There’s no racing at Reno-Fernley tonight, but the track is holding the “Ferntucky Swap Meet” in the pit area from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.