Roger Diez: Kyle Larson gets his racing started with early win at Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Opener
Although the racing season hasn’t officially started, two of the drivers in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series have already scored wins. Kyle Larson won the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Opener this past week on top of his Jan. 3 victory in round two of the Winter Heat Showdown, and Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in a tricycle race against a fan at a Washington Wizards basketball game. OK, Larson’s wins were more impressive, but Gordon still had the competitive spirit that saw him run his best season in a while last year.
If you have kids who are thinking about becoming racing drivers, it’s never too early to start. And a great way to start is in karts. To learn more, you may want to attend the Kart meeting at Fernley 95A Speedway at 3 p.m. today. Parent volunteers are needed to handle race operations as well. The karts will run on the infield dirt oval on the same days cars will be racing on the big 3/8 mile oval.
Speaking of Fernley 95A Speedway, there are some new spectator admission options for the 2015 season. A “Family 4 Pack” is now available for $30, and includes admission for two adults and two kids. If your kids are between 6 and 12 years old, that will save you $10 per event. Also, the track has made season passes available for $125. That will get you into all 14 regular point races in 2015. Special events are not included. If you want to get your season pass, it must be purchased before April 11.
Last weekend the Tudor United Sports Car Series took to the track at Daytona for the “Roar Before the 24” test session. Sixteen Daytona Prototypes (DP) and P2 prototypes were on hand to test both equipment and personnel as they prepare for the grueling around the clock Rolex 24 at Daytona. Fastest times were set by the Corvette DPs in new C7 bodywork. The No. 10 from Wayne Taylor racing set fast time of the test, with the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP second quickest in overall times and fastest in nighttime practice. Michael Shank Racing had the fastest of the P2 cars, third overall in fast lap time. The team switched from a DP last season to a Honda powered Ligier coupe. And the Ganassi contingent fielded two Ford-powered DP cars, the No. 01 for their series regulars and the 02 handled by NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Larson and Jamie McMurray teamed with IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. They were fourth and fifth fastest respectively. A surprising sixth on the speed charts was the revolutionary Delta Wing DWC-13. The car turned a fast lap just three tenths of a second off the fastest time set by the Taylor Racing Corvette DP. The Delta Wing has been endurance racing for a couple of seasons, but hasn’t been competitive up until now. It may be the sleeper of the season. Only a few of the teams took advantage of the rain that fell on day two, which may come back to bite those who didn’t if it rains during the 24. Knowing the rain setup ahead of time could prove to be a huge advantage.
When the NASCAR season kicks off at Daytona in February, expect to see fewer officials on pit road. Instead, they will be replaced by 45 cameras, some powerful software, and eight officials in a black trailer with TV monitors. The officials are there to make judgment calls, but the system is programmed to catch a lot of violations without human intervention. NASCAR has been working with the teams to integrate the new system and ensure a race doesn’t get bogged down with too many penalty calls. One call you won’t see this season is the one for loose lug nuts. That one will be on the “honor system” and teams can speed up pit stops at their own discretion (and peril) by not tightening all five nuts on every wheel. One benefit of the new system is both officials and the broadcast team will have an accurate running tally of tires and fuel used by each team.