by David Vodden
The Trucks have already started their playoffs with last year’s champion, Sheldon Creed, taking the win and earning a starting spot in the next elimination cycle. The CUP cars have one more race before their ten race playoffs begin. It takes place this Saturday night under the lights at Daytona International Speedway where anyone can win, or so they say? Xfinity ran last night at Daytona.
Last week Ryan Blaney won the CUP race at Michigan securing the Detroit win for Ford for the ninth year in a row. Chevy could have won this coveted honor if the Hendrick boys would stop racing each other as if there was no interest in the Chevy versus Ford drama. William Byron took second ahead of Kyle Larsen, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin. A. J. Almendinger won the Xfinity race in Michigan making his record for his last three starts two wins, with one of those being the CUP win at Indy, and a second in the Xfinity series where he is a contender for that championship. Brandon Jones and Noah Gragson followed Almendinger across the finish line.
Toyota won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend in France with Mike Conway, Jose Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi doing the driving. It was the fourth consecutive year the Japanese automaker won the overall first place in the prestigious race that has been going on for 89 years.
Steve Torrence won again in the NHRA top fuel final at Brainard Minnesota while Matt Hagan took the funny car Wally at the end of the day. Two weeks prior, history was made with John Force won in the funny car final and his daughter Brittany Force won in the top fuel final match up. Father and daughter winning top honors in a top tier of motorsports on a Sunday afternoon is a big deal that is unique and historic. Just having John Force win again is history. Their playoff series will begin after their biggest drag meet of the year held in Indiana over the Labor Day weekend.
Kyle Larsen left the NASCAR race at Michigan and got to Sharon Speedway where he made his fifth start in a powerful dirt track late model car. The event, a World of Outlaw late model series race, saw Larsen lead every lap in route to the $10,000 win. I wonder what third in the NASCAR Cup race paid. Larsen also swept the BC39 USAC midget race at the dirt track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and inspired Roger Penske to ask if he would race the Indy 500 in 2022? Do you think he should?
For NASCAR fans understanding the playoff series can be difficult so here is a primer that may help. We will use the CUP series but the other programs, Xfinity and Truck are mostly the same. Sixteen CUP drivers will start their ten race playoffs. There will be three elimination rounds with three races in each of the three stages. After each of the rounds, three drivers will drop out of the playoffs until only four remain.[16 drivers – 3 -3 – 3 = 4]. You advance by earning more points or winning one of the playoff races in the current round. In any of the playoff races if an eligible playoff contender wins, he automatically advances to the next round. The second phase will be composed of twelve drivers where winning again will advance you to the next round. This goes on until the final four drivers have been identified. If you do the math you know that there is only one race left for these four finalists. [10 races -3 -3 –3 = 1] The champion will be the highest finisher among the last four drivers regardless of where he finishes. To be fair, these four are the best and one of them has won the final race each year for as long as I can remember. The final top sixteen-point finishers for 2021 will be made up of the four finalists in the order the finished in the final race. Fifth through eighth will be made up of the next highest point earners which should be those eliminated in the final three races of the last elimination round followed by the remaining drivers using the same criteria in order up to sixteen drivers. Again it is possible for a losing contender to go on a terror and advance beyond his position when he was eliminated but the top four teams for 2021 will he the final four in the order they finished the last race. Got that? It is confusing and the screeching voices on TV do not help me understand since I can hardly understand them. Am I the only one that thinks having Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr screaming in the TV box is distressing? One maybe, but two screeching voices. Terrible! I cannot listen