Roger Diez: Two-day shootout finishes up Fernley racing
Fernley 95A Speedway is hosting the final race of the season tonight and Sunday with the traditional October two-day shootout. In years past local drivers have dueled with racers from California, Oregon, Utah, and other states for money and bragging rights. IMCA Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, and Gen-X are on the schedule to race both days. Racing action is scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening and will resume at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for kids 6-12. Kids five and under are free.
Kyle Larson used a different strategy in last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Dover, running the bottom instead of his usual position up against the outside wall. The strategy paid off, as he scored his first win in 75 races and propelled himself into the round of eight in the playoffs. Chevys took four of the top 10 spots, Toyotas four, and Ford only two. Martin Truex Jr. was the highest finisher of the Joe Gibbs Toyotas in second place. Truex now leads the point standings with 3095, but Ryan Blaney is 22 below the cut line and will likely not advance to the next round without a win. His Penske Teammate Joey Logano is also below the cut line, but only by virtue of a tiebreaker with William Byron. Clint Bowyer is four points below the line, and Chase Elliott is seven.
NASCAR’s top series is at Talladega this weekend, the track where anything can happen, and usually does. Famed for the “big one,” just surviving Talladega is a challenge. Chase Elliott won there in April and Aric Almirola, who just re-signed with Stewart-Haas Racing, took the win last fall. Eight out of the last ten Talladega outings have gone to Ford; three to Logano, three to teammate Brad Keselowski, one to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Almirola’s fall 2018 win. The last time a Toyota visited victory circle at Talladega was Denny Hamlin’s spring 2014 win.
Oddsmakers favor Logano, who’s odds are 8-1, while Elliott and Keselowski are both at 10-1. Hamlin sits at 11-1, Kyle Busch at 12-1, and Kevin Harvick at 12-1. Dover winner Larson is at 22-1 and might be a good bet. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup coverage begins at 11 a.m. PDT tomorrow on NBC, while the Gander Outdoor Truck series race airs today at 10:30 a.m. PDT on Fox Sports One.
The Formula One season is winding down, with only five races remaining after tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix. The event may be affected by Super typhoon Hagibis, with is expected to hit Japan today, with more than six inches of rain and winds of over 100 miles per hour. In response, all track activities at Suzuka have been canceled, with qualifying rescheduled for 10 a.m. Japan time Sunday morning when the weather is expected to improve. Japan is 16 hours ahead of us, so qualifying will air on ESPN2 at six this evening. Mercedes is coming into the weekend with the dual advantages of an upgraded package and a five-year winning streak at the Suzuka track. Lewis Hamilton scored four of those wins, plus a 2007 win at Fuji Speedway driving for McLaren. If Hamilton wins tomorrow, he will tie the record of six Japanese Grand Prix victories set by Michael Schumacher.
Although there are currently no Japanese drivers in the F1 field, Toro Rosso put Japanese Super Formula and Super GT champion Naoki Yamamoto in Pierre Gasly’s car for the first practice session on Friday. Yamamoto, with typical Japanese politeness, actually apologized to Gasly for taking his car for the session. Given that weather may affect the rest of the practice sessions, it’s probably not that big a loss for Gasly.