Roger Diez: Minden resident Gimble has nice showing at Watkins Glen
Minden resident and professional racer Kyle Gimple was looking for a season-changing result last Sunday at Watkins Glen. The rainy conditions gave the no. 75 Audi A4’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system an advantage, and co-driver Paul Holton had advanced from 15th to fourth place when Kyle took over driving duties with 90 minutes to go in the race. Gimple took the car to second and was chasing down the leader when transmission gremlins forced him to pit for repairs. Rejoining in 16th, he began a charge through the field that was abruptly halted when organizers red-flagged the race due to worsening weather conditions. Said Kyle, “In my opinion, the track conditions were drivable, and I didn’t agree with throwing a red flag. Without it, I think we could have had a top-10 and even higher.” The race will air at 7 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports 1.
I always enjoy watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma. I put in a lot of racing laps there in years past, so the in-car footage always brings back a sense of déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say. Chad Knaus made an uncharacteristic bad call in leaving Jimmie Johnson out on old tires before the last restart, but in all fairness he had no choice. If Jimmie had come in, everybody chasing him would have stayed out, and he would have restarted too far back to regain the lead before the checkers flew. Strategy definitely plays a part in racing these days, and the win doesn’t always go to the fastest car. Kyle Busch’s victory put a check mark in one box in his quest to make the Chase, but he’s got a steep uphill climb to reach 30th in points in the remaining 10 races of the “regular season.”
Sunday, the Cup drivers return to their natural habitat, oval racing, at Daytona for the Coke Zero 400. As opposed to last week’s shifting, turning right, and elevation changes, Daytona’s race will be all about pedal to the metal, drafting and avoiding the “big one.” There also will be a new broadcast partner, as NBC takes over from FOX for the remainder of the season. Rick Allen will anchor the broadcast with Jeff Burton providing color commentary from a driver’s perspective and Steve Letarte giving the crew chief’s view of race strategies. I like Burton’s dry sense of humor, and Letarte’s credentials include engineering a number of victories for Jeff Gordon when the two worked together. Gordon, by the way, took his first of six Daytona victories 20 years ago and won the first of his four championships the same year. Could he finish his career with a repeat of both feats?
IndyCar teams seem to be coming to grips with the new aero kits if last Saturday’s race at Auto Club Speedway was any indication. The racing was absolutely insane, with big packs dicing three, four, and even five wide. It was eerily reminiscent of the Las Vegas race of three years ago that took the life of Dan Wheldon, and several of the drivers complained that something should be done before something similar occurs. Graham Rahal proved that Honda is the equal of Chevy on a high-speed oval, breaking a winless streak of 124 races and becoming the ninth different winner of 2015. The series has the weekend off before returning to action at the Milwaukee Mile July 12, beginning the stretch run to the season finale at Sonoma in August.
Formula One is back in action this weekend for the British Grand Prix. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is highly motivated to win his home Grand Prix, but teammate Nico Rosberg may be even more motivated to beat his teammate and take over the points lead in the drivers’ championship. So far this season, the two Mercedes drivers have been all but invincible. Both have stood on the podium in every race and finished 1-2 in six of the nine races run while winning eight of them. Yesterday Rosberg topped the second practice time charts with Hamilton fourth behind both Ferraris. The race will air Sunday on CNBC rather than MSNBC, so set your DVR accordingly.