Motor Sports News…. By David Vodden
May 7, 2021
Thunderhill will have Trans Am Racing next weekend at the three-mile road course venue Saturday and Sunday. Limited spectators are allowed.
There was a boatload of motorsports this past weekend ranging from Formula one in Portugal to sprint cars in Chico at Silver Dollar Speedway. Of all these races, Saturday night in Chico on the quarter mile dirt track was the best. In all of real sports there is the build-up, the drama of the players, the nature of the playing field and the speculation as to the outcome. But when the whistle blows, the gun fires, the gates drop or the green flag falls, that is when it really begins. The desire to win, to be the best, to prevail over others, all of which is innate in the human species, bursts into action and, in real sports competition, all bets are off. The winner gets the laurels, the girl, their place in history. This is what makes it all happen. If it were not for this pre-wired behavior to prevail, to win at all costs, there would be no sports. There would be no real competition with consequences both good and bad. Instead we would all be sitting in a circle discussing what would, could, should happen, downplaying our role in the process. Viva the will to win and all the great sports moments throughout history that have resulted.
In Chico at the Silver Dollar Speedway, sixty-one-winged sprint cars assembled to see who could win the thirty-five-lap main event. That drive to win was evident in the extreme as drivers Justin Sanders, Dominic Scelzi, Corey Day, and Chase Madjic bet their lives and their cars in move after breathtaking move to be first, each new lap and at the finish. It was exciting and dangerous and thrilling and it was real racing. Not surprising the top finishers were young boys who’s pre-wiring to win and lack of fear or understanding of the risks involved, inspired them to do crazy things, each time more daring than their competitors. In the end Sanders executed a last lap pass of Scelzi for the win as fifteen-year-old Corey Day raced with abandon to finish third after a flat tire put him last in the line-up not that many laps before. It was the kind of entertainment that makes auto racing the number one sport in the nation for spectators and participants. It was great. This weekend it happens again, last night and again tonight at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. A good crowd was their last week and I expect that most will be back. Join them and see if you too can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as only motorsports can provide.
At the other end of the spectrum Lewis Hamilton won again in Formula One with great skill and the second-best car. Youngster Max Verstappen, in the best car, chased him to the line in second. Valtteri Bottas occupied his usual space in third spot behind the top two combatants.
The National Hot Rod Association had their last ever meet at the Atlanta Drag Strip that will be shuttered for development. Antron Brown won on Top Fuel Dragsters over the omnipotent Steve Torrence in that final. Brown is a fun fellow with a good attitude and smile compared to Torrence’s entitled attitude and smug approach to his fellow competitors. Bob Tasca won again for the second meet in a row in the Top Fuel Funny Car final defeating birthday boy John Force who turns 72 this week. Back to back wins for the Ford sponsored Tasca combined with the usual shuffling that occurs in drag racing ladder results has Tasca way out in front in the class point standings. Greg Anderson won in the Pro Stock class getting within one Wally of the legendary Warren Johnson for overall wins in that class. Anderson hails from Northern California and is the son of local drag racing star Brad Anderson who made his resume winning at Fremont Drag Strip aka Baylands Raceway Park. Scotty Pollachek won in the dangerous Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Indy cars had a double header at the Texas Motor Speedway with two Kiwis’ topping the score chart on Saturday in Scott Dixon and newcomer Scott McLaughlin. The Indy cars were hella fast on the 1.5-mile banked oval and produced more multi car crashes in their races then the entire NASCAR weekend did at Kansas. Sunday’s winner Pato O’Ward finished third with Alex Palou and Graham Rahal rounding out the top five. On Sunday, a first lap crash saw Connor Daly flip on his top after the back of the field overran the middle of the field sending cars everywhere. Josef Newgarden finished second Sunday with Rahal, Dixon and Colton Herta following. Like NASCAR Cup races, the Indy car series has had a series of different winners in the four races run thus far. Those winners are O’Ward, Herta, Palou, and Dixon. Only Herta is an American driver.
In NASCAR CUP, the win by Kyle Busch in Kansas made him the tenth different winner in eleven races so far. This leaves six more spots for the “Win and get in” drivers but wait, there is an exception! However unlikely, the regular season point champion, currently Denny Hamlin, gets into the playoffs even if they do not win a race and there are already sixteen winners. This means that a winner would not get in to make room for the point champion after twenty-six races. Could happen. I did not know this. Now we all do. Hamlin will win a race and likely will win the regular season title. Stay tuned.
The Kansas race was described as the Kyle Larsen show for 132 of the 267 laps run. Larsen dominated the race until it counted where, again, late race yellows played a roll in his failure. These late race yellows took away his advantage where again tires and restarts also did not go his way. Kyle Busch had the best restart when it counted. Kevin Harvick had the newest tires and came some distance in the last lap to finish second followed by Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, and Chase Elliott. On that last restart, then third place Larsen pushed Ryan Blaney hard hoping to make up lost ground. This caused Blaney to half spin, lose momentum and gather up Larsen in the process. Larsen finished nineteenth and Blaney finished twenty first. Bubba Wallace finished twenty sixth. The NASCAR show is at Darlington this weekend. The big story after the race was the sixteen laps that it took NASCAR to throw a yellow flag for an errant tire that got loose on pit row. The callers all week, and most of the talking experts there, were critical of NASCAR for their handling of the supposed danger that required a strategically timed, late yellow flag. The loser was Chris Buescher who would have benefitted if the yellow had been called when the tire first appeared on the grass between the pits and the front straightaway. “If it was safe for sixteen laps, then it was safe until the end of the race or next yellow,” stated capable commentator Jamie McMurray. NASCAR had a response to all the criticism but it generally sounded like gobbledygook. Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone can own up to it.
Kyle Busch, who turned thirty-six on race day, also won the Camping World truck race the night before over Ross Chastain who was making a guest appearance, Austin Hill, Chris Eckes, and point leader John Hunter Nemechek. The TV announcers claimed that Kyle Busch has never lost a NASCAR race on his birthday. Go figure.
Cooper Webb is the Monster Energy Super Cross 2021 450cc series champion over Ken Roczen and last years champion, Eli Tomac. Webb won the final race over Marvin Musquin and Chase Stockton while the other title contenders, Roczen and Tomac, gave up and just making it into the top ten finish count. The motocross riders now go outdoors to jump over hills and each other.
Brad Sweet is on a roll in the World of Outlaws winning eight times so far this year and three times in a row after last Saturday’ WoO event victory at the re-opening of the I-70 Speedway. Sweet drives for retired NASCAR celebrity Kasey Kahne.