Roger Diez: Recap of frenzied Labor day action |

Roger Diez: Recap of frenzied Labor day action

Roger Diez

Labor Day weekend was another frenzy of racing activity, with IndyCar, Formula One, NHRA, and all three NASCAR touring divisions in action. Here’s a quick recap of the action.

Verizon IndyCar — The Watkins Glen round saw jubilation in the Ganassi camp as Scott Dixon stretched his fuel mileage to take the win, and crushing disappointment on the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team as James Hinchcliffe coasted to a stop with a dry tank just short of the finish. Heading into the final race at Sonoma on Sept. 17, only two drivers are in contention for the 2016 championship, Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. It’s a double points race, so either one could come out on top.

F1 — Polesitter Lewis Hamilton had a terrible start, dropping to fifth. He worked his way back to second but by then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was long gone. It was another Mercedes 1-2 finish with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel taking the final podium spot in third. Hamilton’s championship lead is now a mere two points.

NHRA — Tony Schumacher won Top Fuel on reaction time over Steve Torrence; Matt Hagan had a similar result, with reaction time making the difference in his win over Del Worsham in the Funny Car final; Chris McGaha beat veteran Allen Johnson on both reaction time and ET to take the win in Pro Stock; and the Pro Stock Motorcycle winner was Andrew Hines with an easy run in the final as Hector Arana Jr. red-lighted.

NASCAR Sprint Cup — Martin Truex Jr. didn’t lead the most laps in his Furniture Row Toyota, but he led the one that counted at Darlington on Sunday night. Unless we have a new winner at Richmond, three Chase spots will be awarded on points. Jamie McMurray is on the bubble in 16th, just seven points ahead of Ryan Newman.

NASCAR Xfinity — Elliott Sadler’s Darlington win, his second victory of the season, makes him second seed in the Chase Standings behind Erik Jones. Only three Chase spots are secured with wins, the remaining nine to be awarded on points. Ryan Sieg is currently on the bubble, with 18 points in hand over Dakota Armstrong in 13th.

NASCAR Camping World Trucks — John Hunter Nemechek was awarded the win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park after an ugly incident coming out of the final turn that also involved Cole Custer. It was Nemechek’s second season win, seeding him to third in the eight-truck Chase. Custer is not in the Chase, sitting ninth in points with one race to go. Custer will have to win at Richmond, or pick up 33 points on Timothy Peters, to make the Chase.

I was at Sears Point (as Sonoma was known in those days) for the 1991 Winston Cup (as it was known then) race, when NASCAR penalized Ricky Rudd for rough driving and gave the win to Davey Allison. Sunday’s wreck between Nemechek and Custer was far more blatant, as Nemechek hit Custer from behind, got him out of shape, then pulled alongside and deliberately ran him into the wall on driver’s left. The two trucks slid under the flagman’s stand in the grass, barely beating Daniel Hemrick to the line. That sort of driving on Nemechek’s part would have gotten him disqualified at almost any dirt track in the country, and possibly banned for the rest of the season. NASCAR, which seems to nitpick on officiating (witness crew chief suspensions for loose lug nuts), blew it big time on this call, in my opinion. Tony Stewart and his crew chief were called to the NASCAR trailer after the Darlington race for an incident in which Tony basically did the same thing to Brian Scott, with no penalty assessed there either. It seems the drivers in the truck race were far more critical of Nemechek’s actions than was NASCAR, particularly Custer, who tackled Nemechek and might have inflicted bodily harm had the two not been quickly separated.