Stewart is on a roll | NevadaAppeal.com

Stewart is on a roll

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

If Tony Stewart keeps up the momentum that he has built over the past two months, he will score his second Nextel Cup championship with ease this season.

Stewart was awesome on the Watkins Glen road course last Sunday, winning handily from the pole. However, Robby Gordon and Boris Said were also impressive, coming from deep in the field to finish second and third. Robby is getting close to breaking into the magic top 35 in points, which means he will have a guaranteed starting spot rather than having to qualify on speed every weekend. That’s a big deal for those teams out of the top 35, who can’t hang it all out going for pole for fear of making a mistake and having to go home.

Today’s Nextel Cup race at Michigan could mean the difference between making the Chase for the Championship or not. Jeff Gordon, who has suffered some miserable luck this season, is starting from the second spot alongside “Front Row Joe” Nemechek, who bumped Gordon for the pole spot late in qualifying.

Points leader Tony Stewart is starting deep in the field, as is Jimmy Johnson, who had to change an engine. If those two don’t finish well, it will be a big break for drivers farther back in the point standings. Michigan traditionally does not have a lot of yellow flags, which makes it more difficult for cars starting at the back to make up ground.

Noticeably missing from the Michigan lineup was Champ Car star Paul Tracy, who had been touted to drive a Richard Childress entry. In what was termed a “mutual decision,” Tracy’s entry was pulled. Both Tracy and Childress cited the short time span to put together a competitive effort as the reason for the cancellation. There is still a real possibility that Tracy will switch to a Childress Cup car for 2006.

Congratulations are due to Scott Sharp, who broke a 43-race drought at Kentucky last Sunday to win the Indy Racing League event by about a car length over Vitor Meira. Danica Patrick set fast time and started from the pole, but had problems in the race and was unable to finish.

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LOCAL KARTS

A group of Outlaw Karters from Carson City and vicinity traveled to Knoxville, Iowa to attend the Knoxville Nationals sprint car races and also to race at the nearby Englishtown Speedway. The Open Outlaw division was represented by Mackena Bell (taking a weekend off from racing her Legend car at Champion), Christian Steele, Tom Purcell, T.J. Dobson, and Ernie Cross. Racing in the Box Stock division were Kellcy Bell, Jennifer Purcell, Korry Combs, Kris Larson, Keith Combs, and Zachary Heinz.

Aug. 10 preliminary race results saw Tom Purcell with the best finish in the Open A Main, taking sixth place. Dobson finished 20th, and Cross was 27th. In the Box Stocks, Heinz topped the Carson City driver charts with a fourth in the A Main, followed by Kellcy Bell in fifth, Jennifer Purcell in seventh, and Keith Combs in ninth. Purcell won her heat race with Heinz second, while Bell and Combs finished third and fifth respectively in their heat. Bell set fast time in qualifying, followed by Heinz in second.

The Aug. 11 prelims found Mackena Bell the best of the Carson crowd with an eighth in the A Main. Christian Steele took fifth in the B Main and 19th in the A. The Friday finals on Aug. 12 featured Steele as the top local finisher in the Open A Main in the seventh spot after winning the B2 Main.

The finals were run on Aug. 12. Mackena Bell took 12th in the Open A Main after racing to fourth in the B1 Main for a transfer spot. Tom Purcell finished 20th in the A Main, while Dobson ended up seventh in the B1 Main and Cross ninth in the B2.

Jennifer Purcell was the Carson star in Box Stock, taking a fourth in the A Main on Friday, with Kris Larson finishing 7th. Keith Combs finished ninth in the A after winning the B Main, Kellcy Bell and Zachary Heinz were scored 18th and 20th, respectively in the A Main after tech inspectors found alleged technical discrepancies on their karts. The decision is under appeal.