Roger Diez: Four classes of racing tonight at RTF Speedway
The King of the West Sprint Cars were scheduled to return to Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway this weekend for a two-day event. However, due to an anticipated low car count because of the Knoxville Nationals, the races have been canceled. However, the track will be open this evening for four local racing divisions. Dwarfs, Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and the KWS Lite sprint cars will be in action, starting at 7 p.m., an hour later than usual. General admission is $12, $8 for kids 6-12 and seniors 65 and over, and free for kids younger than 6 and military in uniform.
Although the KWS sprint cars aren’t visiting this weekend, there’s a strong local connection to the series. Rico Abreu, who races in the KWS series, also races midgets for Keith Kunz Motorsports, sponsored by Abreu Vineyards. One of his teammates is 16-year-old Tanner Thorson of Gardnerville, who has been working his way up the ranks after starting locally in a Box Stock Outlaw Kart some 10 years ago. Last weekend the team was at the Belleville High Banks in Kansas for the Midget Nationals. Abreu and teammate Christopher Bell started the main on the front row, with Thorson gridded 13th. When the checkered flag flew, Abreu and Bell were first and second, and Thorson had raced through the pack to take third. Thorson was also teamed at one point with Kyle Larson, who is currently setting the NASCAR world on fire as a rookie in the Nationwide series. Thorson’s performance impressed a lot of people, so expect to hear more about this young man in the near future.
Mackena Bell returned to Iowa Speedway last weekend to race in the second K&N Pro Series East/West combo event. Thirteenth in the final practice, she qualified a disappointing 21st and finished 20th, a lap down. Because it was a combined race, she was credited with 15th place East Division points, and is currently tied for 11th in the season standings. Bell’s next outing will be on the road course at Virginia International Raceway. I spoke with her when she visited home in June, and she was a bit apprehensive about the series’ two road course outings. I told her to think two words: “Late apex.”
Congratulations are in order for Charlie Kimball for his first Indycar win. Kimball, the first licensed IndyCar driver with diabetes, has been having his best season so far, and the win further proves that the Ganassi team is back on top. Teammate Dario Franchitti finished third, with Scott Dixon in seventh.
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NASCAR is at Watkins Glen this weekend, and Sonoma winner Martin Truex Jr. turned a lap under the old track record in practice Friday on a drying race track. Other drivers with quick times included A.J. Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ron Fellows, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch. We should see yet another official record set by the Gen 6 Cup car during group qualifying today, weather permitting.
Tony Stewart is out with a broken leg from a sprint car accident earlier in the week, and Max Papis has been tapped to take over the number 14 for the Glen. This will be the best Cup car that Mad Max has ever had, giving him an excellent opportunity to get his first checkered flag in the series. Stewart and team competition director Greg Zipadelli expect to name a replacement for the next several races on Monday. Regan Smith is rumored to be the front-runner, although A.J. Allmendinger’s name has also surfaced. However, both drivers have Nationwide commitments that may take them out of the running.
Finally, Kyle Petty has poked another hornet’s nest. On the heels of his comments about Danica Patrick, Petty pontificated that Denny Hamlin has lost focus and should just hang it up for the season. Hamlin responded by saying that Petty hasn’t been seen in the garage area in ten years, and doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s a good thing Kyle isn’t still driving, or he might find himself in the wall, courtesy of the number 11 Toyota.