Roger Diez: Despite lack of sprint cars, great show at Fernley
The IMCA Modifieds and Hobby Stocks put on a great show at Fernley 95A Speedway last Saturday night. Unfortunately, the organization of winged 360 sprint cars that had promised track owner Dan Simpson up to 30 cars, only managed to muster four sprint cars. And only two of them answered the call for the main. Simpson was understandably upset, but on the plus side he has signed the World of Outlaws sprint car series to race at the track in September.
Talladega proved to be rather tame in terms of big wrecks until the end of last Sunday’s Geico 500. The last lap wreck sent Kyle Larson’s car into a rolling, flipping imitation of an Olympic gymnast’s floor routing. Aside from that and an early incident that sidelined four cars including a so-far winless Kevin Harvick, the rest of the race was remarkably accident-free. The good news for Chevy fans is Chase Elliott took his Camaro home first, breaking the season-long drought for the bowtie brigade. Alex Bowman and Ryan Preece followed Elliott across the line, making it a 1-2-3 for Chevy and a 1-2 for Hendrick Motorsports. In all, Camaros took six of the top 10 finishing positions. Elliott is now locked into the playoffs, joining Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Martin Truex Jr. in that elite group.
This weekend NASCAR moves to the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. Elliott won there last fall, and with the momentum he carries from Talladega, Sunday could be another good day for Chevrolet. Other recent Dover winners include Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Truex. According to the oddsmakers, Kyle Busch is the favorite for Sunday’s win at 3-1, with Harvick at 4-1. Keselowski, Truex, and Logano all start at 8-1, while the odds are 12-1 for Elliott and Clint Bowyer. Hamlin is 14-1, and at 18-1 are Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson. If you want a long-shot bet, put a couple of bucks down on William Byron at 200-1.
Mercedes continued its domination of Formula One last weekend in Baku, Azerbaijan. While pundits pontificated Ferrari’s superior speed and power on the long straightaway would give it an advantage, Mercedes calmly scored a front-row lockout in qualifying. Then it went on to score its fourth 1-2 finish of the season, an unbroken record of taking the top two podium spots. This time it was Valtteri Bottas taking the win, 1.5 seconds ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. For the second race in a row Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the final podium spot in third. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth splitting the two Ferraris ahead of Charles Leclerc in fifth. Both Racing Point cars (formerly Force India) and both McLaren Hondas were in points-paying positions, while Kimi Raikkonen brought his Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari home in 10th for the last point. The series will race in Spain next weekend, with Monaco two weeks later to start one of the biggest racing days of the season.
One of the reasons May 26 is such a big deal is in addition to Monaco, it’s the day of the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 in Charlotte, NASCAR’s longest race. Next weekend the IndyCar series will have a warmup for the 500 with the IndyCar Grand Prix, run on the road course at the famed speedway. This year we’ll see something that has been missing at the 500 in recent years, bumping. With 36 cars entered for the 33 starting spots, there will be some wild action on the final day of qualifying to see who will make the field and who will go home.