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Things are getting interesting

BY ROGER DIEZ

Nevada Appeal Motorsports Writer

It’s that time of year when racing wraps up the season. NASCAR’s Cup Chase has only three races to go, Formula 1 ends its season tomorrow and the Indy Car Series has already crowned its champion. And some local drivers have hung up the helmet until next season, while others are just starting a winter series.

First, I have to apologize to Bobby Hodges. I had an attack of “old-timer’s disease” and incorrectly identified him in a story this past week as a 2007 Carson High School graduate. He is, in fact, a 2008 Manogue graduate and a freshman at Cal Poly. That’s what I get for relying on memory.

In any case, Hodges finished second in three series this season; the Westcar Late Model series and the Altamont Raceway Park Big Dog and Tri-Holiday series. He also finished in the top 250 in the nation among NASCAR Whelen All-American series racers.

Another of the local “young guns,” Mackena Bell, finished eighth in the championship standings for the NASCAR Whelen Late Model Series at All American Speedway in Roseville, and is ranked in the top 25 California NASCAR late model drivers and in the top 200 in the nation.

Another local racer, Dallas Colodny, finished up his season in the ASA Speedtruck Challenge with a third place in the final point standings. Colodny was in contention for the championship all season, but a few bad breaks set him back. And T.J. Bell, who like Bell and Colodny cut his teeth on kart racing locally, has scored a series of top-10 finishes recently in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series. Congratulations to all.

– Speaking of kart racing, the Red Bluff Outlaw Karts kicked off their season last weekend, with a number of local racers in attendance. In the very fast Open (500 cc) division, Daniel Thorson was the top finisher among the locals with a fifth place in the A main after running second in his heat. Chris Rytting finished fourth in his heat, but took 10th in the B main and did not transfer to the A. Cameron Millard had a problem in his qualifying run, finished 10th in his heat, transferred from the D main with a second place, but ran 14th in the C main and did not transfer.

In the 250 cc division, all three local racers made the A main: Mason Millard finished seventh, Zachary Heinz took 13th, and Tanner Thorson came home 14th. Heinz scored a second-place heat race finish, with Millard third and Thorson sixth in their respective heats. Thorson also won the trophy dash in the division.

– Last season McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton went into the final race of the season in Brazil with a seven-point lead in the drivers championship”and finished second in the title race to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Tomorrow Hamilton again goes into Brazil with a seven-point lead, this time over Raikkonen’s teammate Felipe Massa. No other driver is mathematically in the title hunt, and if Massa finishes third or worse the championship goes to Hamilton. It should be a very interesting race to watch.

– On this side of the pond, there are only three races left for the Sprint Cup title, and it will take a near-miracle to keep Hendrick Racing driver Jimmie Johnson from matching Cale Yarborough’s feat of three championships in a row. Carl Edwards thought he had made some headway last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but Johnson’s incredible drive to second place in his Chevy negated the Ford driver’s victory.

Edwards has to make up an average of better than 61 points per race for the next three races at Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead, a daunting task. Of course, if you do the math, it is still possible for Kyle Busch, 425 points down, to win the title”provided he wins all three races, leads the most laps in each, and Johnson finished 43rd in all three.

On top of that, most of the other drivers in the Chase would also have to have three bad races for that scenario to come true. Hmm . . . I wonder what the odds at the sports book are on that happening?