by David Vodden
There is a $15 admission good for both days and spectators can get in! If you have not been to Thunderhill Park since the COVID restrictions and want to see some of the best real-racing action on the fifteen-turn, three-mile road course, drive seven miles past Wal Mart on highway 162 and check it out. Gates open at 8am.
Kyle Larsen won again in the NASCAR Cup series and it has everyone talking. As expected, Larsen has his detractors. They are complaining that Larsen is stinking up the show and he has an unfair advantage. Anyone with a brian can easily debunk these naysayers noting that Larsen’s teammates are also winning and that Larsen wins by making great moves like driving between Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola on the second Nashville restart and like his pass of Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski to win the All Star Race. There are more examples. Fortunately there are a huge number of fans who really like Larsen because he races short tracks, he came up through the ranks and spent all of his early career with a team that is, frankly, embarrassed by seeing what he can do in good equipment. To be fair Larsen did lead over 200 laps and he was not challenged in the end except that there was some idea that he might run out of gas in the Nashville race. He did not. The cars that followed Larsen across the finish line were not the regular cast of drivers. Ross Chastain took second in the Ganassi Chevy that Larsen used to driver. Chastain was fast and a real threat in the end passing several cars to get to second because he had the best tires as a result of a strange sequence of pit stops. William Byron got third. That was not so different but Aric Almirola got his best finish of the year with fourth and so to did fifth place Kevin Harvick. Both Almirola and Harvick were driving Stewart/Haas Fords. Another long shot, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., took sixth with Daniel Suarez next followed by Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, and Joey Logano. Perhaps this means we will see different top finishers in the nine races that remain before the NASCAR CUP. ten race playoff series begin September 6th. It is even possible that Kyle Larsen will not win them all. For those who want him to lose, Larsen finished fifth two nights in a row this week in the World of Outlaws in South Dakota after starting far back in the field. The winners each night started in the front row. For the record Chase Elliott was disqualified Sunday for loose lug nuts at the end. This placed him last and took away his stage one win. Kyle Busch finished eleventh and both Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., were out to lunch. Go figure.
Jeff Gordon is leaving the FOX TV booth and assuming a role as the Executive Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports. This has been expected for some time. Only the when was unknown.
Kyle Busch won his 100th Xfinity race on Saturday which is a huge achievement. His detractors even booed this adding that he should now quite racing in the Xfinity class because he said he would. He cannot because he has sponsor obligations for Joe Gibbs for the rest of this year. Who knows about 2022? It was unlike Kyle Busch when he shared that he was tired of getting booed and bullied about his racing in the truck and Xfinity classes. He added that if people really did not want him to race, they should “buy him out of his Cup ride” and he would oblige them. Sad if you are neutral and think about it. Busch will not be one of the twelve playoff contenders in this class and nor will be Ty Gibbs as both are ineligible. The Xfinity playoffs begin on September 26th.
Ryan Preece, a Cup Series regular, started his first ever truck race on Friday and won. No one complained. He beat Todd Gilliland, Grant Enfinger, Zane Smith, and Stuart Friesen to the finish line. Ten drivers compete in the ten race playoffs for this division starting on September 17th.
NASCAR is at POCONO in Pennsylvania this weekend with a double header on the there-turn course. The CUP cars will race on Saturday and then again on Sunday. Larsen starts in the front row based on his performance metric with Byron alongside. The Camping World Truck series races with CUP on Saturday and the Xfinity cars share the billing on Sunday making this the bargain-basket weekend for fans with four races in two days. Attendance is unlimited and follows a sell-out crowd last weekend in Nashville. The fans are back!
Donny Schatz won his 300th World of Outlaw feature event last week and is now third in the all-time wins category behind Sammy Swindell who has 394 wins and Steven Kinser who won 694 times in this tough league. Schatz races for Tony Stewart and is attempting to compete against an entire field of Chevrolets thanks to Stewart’s Ford connections. It has been a challenge. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been all the kids from California who are winning these days starting with reigning champion from Grass Valley, Brad Sweet. Add Rico Abreu, Buddy Kofoid, Logan Seavey, Carsen Macedo, Giovanni Scelzi, Cory Eliason, Tm Kaeding, Cole Macedo, Paul McMahan, Dominic Scelzi, Shane Golobic, D. J. Netto, Chase Stockton, and Kyle Larsen to the list of California born and bred racers competing across the country in winged sprint cars.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing won the F-1 race in France defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. The win stretched Verstappen’s driver championship point lead over the Mercedes team to twelve. It has been a long time since Mercedes and Hamilton have not been on top of the F-1 world and it looks like this is not a fluke. One might remember that, before Mercedes took hold of the F-1 championships, it was Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel.
Josef Newgarden and Roger Penske Racing were once again denied a win when the long-time leader of the Indy Car race at Road America had a mechanical failure with only a few laps to go. Youngster Alex Palou passed the faltering Newgarden and went on to become only the second driver this year to have two wins in the series. Colton Herta took second followed by Will Power, Scott Dixon, and Romain Grosjean. NASCAR star Jimmy Johnson continues to pursue driving in the Indy Cars on road courses. He spun out on lap 16 and finished twenty-second.
Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham have created a television racing program called Super Star Racing Series [SRX]. A local driver, Doug Coby won the first event at Stafford Speedway in Connecticut. Stewart himself won at Knoxville last weekend defeating Halie Deegan in the process. The Super Star reference comes from having former drivers of status in the field along with some current “ringers” who are deemed to be among the best at the tracks where the races are taking place. Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, Bill Elliott, Marco Andretti, Ernie Francis, Willie T. Ribbs, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Tony Kanan, and others are regarded as the Super Stars. About a dozen cars start the race using specially made cars that look like IROC cars or basic stock cars. IROC stands for International Race of Champions and was based on the same principal of placing famous drivers from different disciplines from across the world in competition against each other in what was hopefully similar racecars. So far so good.