Roger Diez: IndyCar nearing end of season | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: IndyCar nearing end of season

Roger Diez

From zero to hero. NTT IndyCar series driver Takuma Sato, who was fined for causing a first-lap, five-car accident the week before at Pocono, took the checkered flag last Saturday night at Gateway ahead of veterans Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan. For a while it looked like it might be the second rookie victory of the season, as Santino Ferrucci showed his heels to the field midway in the race. But a late caution caught the leaders a lap down, setting the stage for Sato’s win. This weekend, the series’ penultimate race will be on the road course at Portland International Raceway, and the season finale, a double-points affair at Laguna Seca in Monterey, is on Sept. 22.

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With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup idle last weekend, Matt DiBenedetto took a seat in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Xfinity car at Road America. He qualified second, led the race for a while, and was running second until he overcooked it on the last turn of the last lap, finishing in the gravel trap. You could say the audition could have gone better. Christopher Bell took the win, his first on a road course and sixth of the season, while Austin Cindric was second after winning the last two road course events.

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Brett Moffitt absolutely destroyed the field at the Gander Outdoor Truck series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, cruising to a victory margin of over four seconds! Perennial Canadian ringer Alex Tagliani finished second. The race marked the end of round 1 of the playoffs, with Johnny Sauter and Tyler Ankrum eliminated from the eight-driver playoff field. The remaining four contenders are Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, and Matt Crafton. The series’ next race is at Las Vegas on Sept. 13.

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This weekend both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series race at Darlington, the track with two nicknames. “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame” are the two very appropriate descriptions of this misshapen mile and a half oval. It’s also one of the oldest races on the schedule. The Southern 500 (now the Bojangles’ Southern 500) dates back to the Labor Day weekend in 1950. Recently, it has become a tradition to use historic paint schemes on the cars, and some drivers even wear iconic uniforms. But for all the fun, it’s also a deadly serious race, particularly for those who are fighting for a playoff berth. A number of drivers can lock in on points at Darlington, but among those who need a win is seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. He’s only got this race and next week’s Brickyard 400 to get it done. And even if he makes the playoffs, this doesn’t look like the year Johnson is going to win number eight. Brad Keselowski is the defending champion of the race, his only win there. Denny Hamlin has won twice, in 2017 and 2009. Martin Truex took the checkers in 2016 and Kevin Harvick was the 2014 winner. Jimmie Johnson has won three times, in 2012 and both races in 2004, the last year Darlington hosted two Cup events. The only other active driver with a Darlington win is Kyle Busch, in 2008.

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Formula One is back from their summer hiatus, racing at the very fast Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The race will air on ESPN2.

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Locally, Fernley 95A Speedway is hosting the World of Outlaws sprint car series for the first time on Sept. 15. It’s an all-day affair with a band concert before the 6:30 race start time. I’ll have more info next week.