ROGER DIEZ: Reno-Fernley hosting driver meeting Wednesday
In local racing news, Reno-Fernley Raceway is hosting a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for all drivers who are interested in racing at the 3/8 mile clay oval in 2011. It will be held at the Round Table pizza parlor on Highway 95A in Fernley. Those attending are offered a pizza buffet for only $5. I plan to be there, and will fill you in on the track’s plans for 2011 in next week’s column.
For sheer entertainment value, last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas was hard to beat. It had everything – a fist fight (well, actually a shoving match), a wholesale pit crew change mid-race, an obscene gesture and subsequent two-lap penalty, and a change in the Chase points lead. Denny Hamlin’s victory at Texas vaulted him into a 33-point lead over four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth after his faltering pit crew was replaced by teammate Jeff Gordon’s crew. Gordon’s gang became available after Jeff Burton wrecked Gordon under caution, incurring Gordon’s wrath and few swings before the drivers were separated by NASCAR officials and then escorted into the same ambulance. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall in that ambulance. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch was caught speeding on pit lane attempting to stay on the lead lap after changing a blown tire. When he was held a lap for speeding, he expressed his displeasure with a single-finger salute to the official in front of his car, resulting in another penalty, this time for two laps. Like I said, you can’t beat it for pure entertainment value.
Sunday, the green flag flies at Phoenix at noon Pacific time. It will be Johnson’s best chance to regain the points lead. Not since Alan Kulwicki won the championship in 1992 has a driver come from behind in the last two races. But Johnson has won the last three Phoenix fall races, and leads all active drivers in statistics at Phoenix with a driver rating of 123.7, an average running position of 4.902, and most laps in the top 15 (95.9 percent of his laps completed).
I will be getting reports direct from Phoenix this weekend. My son Donavon and two of his co-workers at Carson City Toyota are being hosted in the Toyota hospitality suite for the race, with garage passes and the whole VIP treatment. He has promised to text photos and give me any inside information he happens across.
The 2010 Formula 1 season comes to a close in Abu Dhabi Sunday. Red Bull has already clinched the manufacturers’ championship (worth somewhere between $10 million and $40 million, according to broadcaster David Hobbs), but four drivers still have a mathematical chance of winning the drivers’ title. Only a victory in tomorrow’s race will give McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton his second championship, but only if Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fails to score any points, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel finishes lower than second, and his teammate Mark Webber runs sixth or worse. Vettel has a slightly better chance, but must finish first or second, even if the other three score no points. Webber can win the championship with a race victory, but only if Alonso finishes third or worse. Alonso wins the title if he finishes in first or second. And if he takes himself and all three rivals out in the first corner, he will also win the championship. There are other possible scenarios, but I won’t go into all of them here. Suffice it to say, it should be an interesting race, and qualifying is critical. SPEED aired the qualifying session at 5 am here, so if you didn’t get up early or set your DVR, you missed it.