Roger Diez: Gardnerville’s Miller second at Fernley
Opening night at Fernley 95A Speedway was a success on every level. More than 50 cars showed up for the four classes of racing, the track was smooth and fast, and the stands were filled with cheering fans. Gardnerville’s Robert Miller, who had won at Lovelock earlier in the day, chased California ace Ryan McDaniel for the entire IMCA Modified main, but came up short and had to settle for second. Craig Nieman won the Sport Mod main ahead of Ryan Svensson, and Royce Goetz passed brother Rocky Goetz to take the Hobby Stock main. Ray Blankenship won the Gen-X main ahead of fellow Fallon driver Kevin Ruder. The next race, on April 27, will feature winged 360 Sprint Cars in addition to the four track classes.
Martin Truex Jr. won the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup short-track race of his career at Richmond last Saturday night, another victory for Joe Gibbs Racing. Two organizations have won all nine Cup races so far this season — six for Gibbs and three for Penske. There was a bit of on-track friction between Penske teammates Logano and Keselowski at Richmond, with some less than friendly radio traffic between drivers and spotters. I’m pretty sure Roger will nip that in the bud. Kyle Busch sits atop the Cup point standings with Joey Logano second, Denny Hamlin third, Kevin Harvick fourth (but no wins), Brad Keselowski fifth, and Truex sixth. NASCAR has the traditional Easter weekend off, with the next race April 28 at Talladega.
The 1,000th Formula One race of the modern era, the 2019 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix, was a Mercedes benefit. In fact, the season so far has been all Mercedes, with a 1-2 finish in every race thus far. Valtteri Bottas took pole in China, but Lewis Hamilton jumped him at the start and held the lead to the checkered flag. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third, his first podium finish of the year. His teammate, Charles Leclerc, took third at Bahrain, while Max Verstappen got the last podium spot in Australia. Can anyone break the Mercedes domination this year? So far, the Ferraris have shown the pace to challenge the Silver Arrows, but haven’t been able to capitalize. Red Bull, particularly the talented and aggressive Verstappen, is the only other team with the potential to best the Mercedes juggernaut. The series returns to action next weekend in Azerbaijan.
It was a busy race weekend, as both the WeatherTech Sports Car series and the NTT IndyCar series made up the program at the Long Beach Grand Prix. The sports cars raced on Saturday, a sprint race of just more than an hour. Once again a Cadillac DPi prototype took the win, but the two Penske Acura DPi machines were second and third, both less than 3/10 of a second behind the Cadillac. On Sunday, the NTT IndyCar series saw the fourth different driver in four races this season. 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi scored the first season win for Andretti Autosport. The victory vaulted Rossi to second place in the point standings, 28 points behind Penske driver Josef Newgarden and five ahead of Ganassi pilot Scott Dixon. The teams have a three-week break before the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis track, the lead-up to the Indy 500 Memorial Day weekend.
With no racing to watch on TV Easter weekend, we gearheads can take some time off to spend with family and friends. I hope the Easter Bunny brings you eggs, candy, and happiness!