Roger Diez: Hamilton scores Formula One title
Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on his fifth Formula One World Championship! Despite a lackluster race and a fourth-place finish in his Mercedes at the Mexican Grand Prix last Sunday, Hamilton scored enough points to put him over the top. With two races to go in the 2018 season, there’s no way for rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari to equal Hamilton’s points total. Hamilton is now tied with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time champion, and two titles behind Michael Schumacher’s seven. But in Fangio’s day the season consisted of seven races compared to today’s 21. And Hamilton has amassed 81 pole positions compared to Schumacher’s 68, and done it in fewer races (227 to 308). At the peak of his career now, there’s a real possibility Hamilton could eclipse Schumacher’s total of 91 race wins and seven championships.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville last Sunday provided some last-lap drama and some hard feelings. After racing Joey Logano cleanly side by side for half a dozen laps, Martin Truex Jr. surged ahead on the last lap, only to be punted by Logano coming to the checker. Logano took the win while Truex recovered to finish third behind Denny Hamlin. Logano justified his actions with the usual “anything goes on the last lap” defense, but Truex wasn’t buying it. Since Logano is now locked into the final round, retaliation probably won’t happen this weekend at Texas, nor at ISM Speedway in Phoenix. But Joey may find himself in the wall in Miami, courtesy of Truex. There are just two more races to go to determine who will join Logano for the championship run at Homestead. Truex is still in the fight on points, but being denied the Martinsville win and the certainty of being in the final four was a devastating blow.
For advancing on points, Kyle Busch is in the best shape, 46 points above the cut line. Truex and Kevin Harvick are tied at 25 points above, so if drivers from outside the top eight win at Texas and ISM, those two have the best chance of advancing after Busch. Aric Almirola is 50 points below the cut line, and needs a win to advance as does Clint Bowyer at 42 below. Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott at minus 25 and minus 31 respectively can advance on points if disaster befalls Harvick or Truex, but a win is certainly the goal for both. Kyle Busch and Harvick are the two most recent winners at Texas, but Jimmie Johnson won in 2017 and has won five of the last 10 races there. If a driver from out of the top eight is going to win at Texas, Johnson is high on the list. Jimmie’s all-time Texas win total is seven with Kyle Busch next at three. Logano won in 2014, and Hamlin swept both Texas races in 2010. Kurt Busch won in 2009, the only other active driver to have posted a win at Texas.
Finally, some sad news from the IndyCar series. Robert Wickens, still recovering from injuries suffered in a horrific crash at Pocono, confirmed last week he’s a paraplegic. Wickens is paralyzed from the waist down, but is working hard to make a recovery. He reports he has some small movement in his legs, as evidenced by videos he has posted, but is still a long way from walking on his own. He’s working on his upper body strength to be able to transfer from his wheelchair on his own. The determination he has always shown in a race car will serve him well in his fight to recover and race again.