Roger Diez: Fernley 95A Speedway set to begin season Saturday | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: Fernley 95A Speedway set to begin season Saturday

Roger Diez

Local racing begins Saturday, weather permitting. Fernley 95A Speedway kicks off the 2019 season with stock cars, Gen X, Modifieds, and Sport Mods. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m., racing starts at 6. The track has an ambitious schedule this year that includes a class for 360 sprint cars and a visit from the World of Outlaws in September.

•••

Well, he’s done it. Last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Busch tied Richard Petty’s total of 200 NASCAR victories. The occasion kicked off a firestorm of commentary, as comparisons and differences between the two drivers flew thick and fast. Personally, I think comparing the two is like comparing apples and space shuttles. Petty raced in a totally different era, where there was basically one series. Busch scored his wins across three series. Was NASCAR as competitive in Petty’s day? Instances of drivers winning by several laps would suggest not, but Petty still raced against the best of the era. And while the level of competition in NASCAR’s top division is probably the best it’s ever been, a lot of Busch’s victories were scored in the Xfinity and Gander Outdoor Truck series. And let’s face it, against the drivers in those series, Busch is like a Major League ballplayer joining a high school or junior college game. Don’t get me wrong, 200 wins in any sporting endeavor is impressive, but let’s not make comparisons where the circumstances are totally different.

•••

The 2019 Formula One season also began last weekend with the Australian Grand Prix. As expected, Mercedes took pole and the race win. The surprise? It wasn’t Lewis Hamilton crossing the stripe first, but his teammate Valtteri Bottas. And it was a dominant performance by the Finn, who had more than 20 seconds in hand at the checker. Hamilton held off a charging Max Verstappen’s Red Bull for second, while the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had to settle for fourth and fifth. Bottas also scored an extra point for setting fast lap of the race, a new rule for this season. That could be significant in the final standings. The series moves on to Bahrain next weekend.

•••

Cadillac DPi prototypes dominated the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, with the Penske Acura DPi machines fourth and ninth. The GT Lemans class was competitive among makes, with the top four finishers Porsche, Ford GT, Corvette, and BMW in that order. In GT Daytona, Lamborghini Huracans finished 1-2 with a Ferrari third.

•••

Coming up this weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup goes from the wide-open Auto Club Speedway to the tight confines of Martinsville. Not surprisingly, oddsmakers in Vegas opened wagering with Kyle Busch the favorite at 8-5 odds. He has only won twice there, in April 2016 and October 2017, but he has momentum. Compare Busch’s record to Jimmie Johnson’s nine Martinsville wins, most recently in October 2016. Of course that was before the switch to the Camaro body, and Johnson’s opening odds are 30-1. Other favorites are Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski at 5-1 and Joey Logano at 7-1.

•••

Also on tap this weekend is the second NTT IndyCar series race of 2019, the IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It will be the first time the series has raced there, although drivers did have a test there last month. Twenty-four drivers will take the green flag to challenge each other and the 3.41 mile, 20-turn road course for 60 laps or 204.6 miles. Since it’s the first race there for the series, there’s no record to go by. But I’m betting either a Penske or Ganassi driver will be in front at the checker.