Roger Diez: Gibbs Racing has edge on Sunday at Bristol | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: Gibbs Racing has edge on Sunday at Bristol

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

Rain halted the racing action at Fernley 95A Speedway last Saturday night shortly after the start of the IMCA Modified feature. But the storm passed and once the rainwater had soaked in, the track was wicked fast. Early leaders had problems, but Fallon’s Mike White took command about halfway through and held off a charging Cory Sample to take the victory. Sample set fast time with a lap of 17.8 seconds on the 3/8 mile high-banked dirt oval, but wasn’t able to catch White. Dwight Bolton of Gardnerville romped to an easy win in the Street Stock division ahead of Reno’s Rick Miller, mirroring their one-two points tally of the 2015 season. And Dennis Crook of Reno won the Super Stock 4 division in convincing fashion over Fernley’s Jesse James. The track is back in action on April 23, when the BCRA Midgets visit. The Dwarf cars also will be on hand as will the Nevada Pro Stock Racing Association’s second big $1,000 to win race.

•••

In the top levels of racing, three drivers are racing with momentum on their side. NASCAR’s champion Kyle Busch is on a two-race winning streak. Formula One Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is on a winning streak that extends back to last season. And Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is coming off an IndyCar win at Phoenix oval to try to repeat his 2015 win at the Long Beach street course.

•••

At Texas, Busch’s teammate Carl Edwards and pseudo-teammate Martin Truex dominated most of the race, leading a combined 265 of the 334 laps, but faded to sixth and seventh at the end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried in vain to catch Busch in the closing laps. Sunday is the first of two Bristol races this season. Kyle and brother Kurt have each won there five times, although not recently. Matt Kenseth, another Gibbs driver, won the Bristol spring race a year ago, his fourth victory at the half-mile bullring. Edwards has won three times at Bristol, most recently in 2014. Both Penske drivers have two wins there, with Joey Logano taking the checker at two of the last three Bristol races. Three of the Hendrick drivers have a Bristol win each; Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne, while Denny Hamlin is the fourth Gibbs driver to win, with one victory. Kevin Harvick is the only other active driver to visit victory lane at Bristol. I’m betting a Gibbs Racing driver will take the checker Sunday, and it very well could be Kyle Busch.

•••

The Xfinity series will be an interesting one today, with the first of four “Dash 4 Cash” races of the year. This season the format will feature two heat races, with the top two finishers in each becoming eligible for the $100,000 bonus prize, which goes to the highest finisher among those four in the feature race. The heats are 50 laps, the main race 200 circuits.

•••

Formula One is in China this weekend, and Rosberg will start with a leg up on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, no matter who qualifies better. Hamilton will be given a five grid spot penalty because the team changed the transmission in the car after it was damaged in a collision in Bahrain. Hamilton, who has scored podium finishes in the first two races of the season, will have his work cut out for him to equal that performance. If Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari doesn’t let him down like it did in Bahrain, he might be able to challenge for the win. And some good news . . . in response to an outcry from fans and race teams, the qualifying format has been changed back to the way it was in 2015. Hallelujah!

•••

The streets of Long Beach are the playground for the IndyCar series this weekend. Dixon will be defending both last year’s win and his series championship. Juan Montoya won the first street race of the season at St. Petersburg, and he also won at Long Beach back in 1999 in the Champ Car series. Other Long Beach winners from that era in Sunday’s field are Helio Castroneves with one victory and Sebastien Bourdais with three!