by David Vodden
NHRA will be at nearby Sonoma Raceway next weekend July 23-25
How he won the race was also impressive in this way. Daniel Hemric has never won a NASCAR race in the trucks, Xfinity, or CUP where he has raced over the years. Never. On Saturday he was leading the Xfinity race with a few laps to go. Busch was second. On a final restart Busch attempted to give Hemric a push. Hemric crashed. He did not win. Busch did. As expected, some felt Busch crashed Hemric on purpose for the win. No surprise there. I do not think he did. More boos.
On Sunday, Kyle Busch rose to the top of the CUP competition as the 400-mile event wound down. Not much happened on the way to the end other than the two protagonists for the season point championship, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larsen, self-destructed with pit speeding violations and were never a factor. In the closing laps the battle for the lead was between Busch and his brother Kurt Busch. Kurt, aboard the now lame-duck Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, appeared to be a credible challenger and led his brother at different times. In the end, a pit stop saw Kyle Busch come out in front of his brother and it appeared that the race was over. But wait! Kurt Busch’s teammate, Ross Chastain, was up ahead of the leader Kyle with a few laps to go. Kurt Busch sent a message to his spotter, an observer that each team has in order to tell their driver what is going on around them. Kurt’s message was to tell Chastain to go high so he could pass him on the low side. Chastain did so and ended up slowing the leading Busch enough to allow Kurt Busch to catch up. It was awesome. The 42-year old Kurt Busch, a recovered bi-polar driving star, passed and held off his less than gracious and hypocritical brother, Kyle, for the win. It gets better. Kurt Busch taunted the audience in victory circle, generating huge cheers by proclaiming that he beat Kyle Busch. The crowd roars! Then he says that he taught Kyle Busch everything he knows adding that Kyle should appreciate that. Not.
The next interview with Kyle Busch was as expected. He called his brothers teammate, Ross Chastain, a POS and said that “his blocking him for the win tells what kind of driver he is!” This is the guy who creamed Ron Hornaday over an alleged block and took Kyle Larsen out on the last corner because he rubbed up against him on the third from the last corner. There are more examples. In the end Kyle Bush had one win after his teammate and early leader crashed in the closing laps and a second place on Sunday after he was allegedly block by his brother’s teammate in the closing laps. This is the stuff of soap operas and just what the fans seem to want. Kurt Busch became the twelfth different winner among the sixteen slots available to earn a spot in the playoffs. Remember with a win you are in in this program. There are four open spots left for race winners or the highest in points who have not won. Currently Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick hold the final two spots which would change if another new winner comes along in the five remaining races that make up the point season.
This week the Xfinity and the CUP cars race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where the application of track surface compounds has made a whale of a difference in the quality of the races. See it all on NBC sports and them wait two weekends for NBC to cover the Summer Olympics in Japan before going back to the channel to find out who will race for the title of overall NASCAR champion in each of the three major divisions.
Formula One races this weekend in England at Silverstone. The only question on any F-1 fans mind these days is will Max Verstappen continue his winning ways at the home track for most of the F-1 teams. There is more competition within the series and one would have thought that Verstappen would battle Lewis Hamilton for wins but that has not been the case. Instead they simply reversed roles with Verstappen winning all the time and Valtteri Bottas second with Hamilton, Sergio Perez or Lando Norris battling for the final podium position. F-1 is on ESPN in the wee-hours of the morning.
Do not forget the National Hot Rod Association [NHRA] will be at nearby Sonoma Raceway next weekend July 23-25. The three-day meet is worth going to just to see and hear this top of the line American motorsports series in person. All racing is better in person. A nitro-burning, big-block motor is a one of a kind-experience. You can feel the combustion, see the fire, and wonder at the decibels that are passing through your ears. It is awesome. Easy to go if you want with the possible exception of getting to the track. Never go there when others are. Go real early or go after the start. Highway 37 is an abomination to transportation queuing theory from Vallejo to the intersection of highways 37 and 121.
Silver Dollar speedway also races again on the 23rd of July for you dirt track enthusiasts.
I attended a salute to Baylands Raceway Park last weekend at the Petaluma Speedway. Drivers Chuck Gurney, Jimmy Sills and Lee James were present and we all signed autographs and told stories about the short-lived but exceptional dirt oval raceway that was part of the Fremont Dragstrip in its last iteration. Dennis Mattish created a book about the speedway that included a part I wrote about the dirt track. Race fans tend to be passionate people who care deeply about their sport, the tracks that come and go and the many personalities that make up the cast of characters in their racing world.
Thunderhill Park has a large number of passionate men and women who have been a part of what goes on at the track here. They feel the same way about our Willows raceway. Passionate, present, and emotionally linked to a chunk of dirt that was once the Sheeline Ranch and then the Thunderhill Ranch before becoming the northern California center point of motorsports recreation for the past thirty years. Imagine how this will grow over the next thirty years!?