by David Vodden
The long shot winners, all for the first time in their careers, included: Bubba Wallace in the Cup series, Brandon Brown in Xfinity, and Tate Fogleman in the trucks. The Truck race was first and had lots of crashes. Only twenty of the forty starters were around at the finish. The race was enhanced when Fogleman spun out series playoff leader John Hunter Nemechek coming to the checkered flag. He then tangled with second place finisher Tyler Hill causing them both to spin across the finish line and hit the inside wall. Awesome! Following Foglemen and Hill were Todd Gilliland, and Nemechek. The top five playoff drivers at the end of this race, with one more playoff race left before the final four are selected are, Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Sheldon Creed and Stuart Friesen. All of these drivers were involved in crashes but Nemechek crashed going across the finish line. Lucky fellow.
The Xfinity race was a bit less of a crash fest but crash they did. A late finish as a result of crashes and rain saw Brown and Jones swap the lead several times on the final official lap before the race was called due to darkness. Remember both the truck race and the Xfinity race were held on the same day, Saturday. As one and then the other led the race, a final crash brought out the yellow and when the race was called the officials declared Brown the winner, his first ever for a low budget team. Naturally, Brandon Jones thought he was in front when the yellow came out but there is no fooling mother-NASCAR and Brown got the emotional win to the cheers of many. This playoff ranking has Auston Cindric in front with Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, A. J. Almendinger, and Justin Haley holding the top five-point spots. Late news in this class has Michael Annett retiring from stock car racing which is no surprise since it was his dad, Harold Annett, who loved the sport and the son was living his dad’s dream. Dad died not too long ago freeing the younger Annett. This is not a rare scenario in the sport of auto racing.
The CUP race finished off the weekend at Talladega giving us yet another first-time winner in Bubba Wallace. The race had crashes including an early one that tagged Kyle Larsen and relegated him to a 37th place finish and a huge drop in his 50+ playoff points card. Bubba’s win was also the first for car owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin and crew chief Boodie Barker, all of whom were beyond thrilled. Jordan was not present. The downside of the deal and the cause of miserable people to claim foul was that Wallace won because the race was called early due to rain. It had been a rainy day. The short version of all this is that a win is a win and how you win can vary in a number of ways. It is likely that having won, finally, Wallace will start winning again in short order. Too bad he is not in the playoffs. Second place in the rain shortened race was Brad Keselowski with teammate Joey Logano, Chevy driver Kurt Busch and Christopher Bell all following.
The NASCAR CUP and Xfinity drivers are in Charlotte this weekend racing on the Roval where Alex Bowman and William Byron have to win to move on. It is highly unlikely that both or even either will do so. The Cup playoffs have Hamlin in front due to his win, Larsen second but now only 22 points above the cut offline. Next up is Logano followed by Keselowski, Truex, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch. The four drivers that will need help this weekend at the Charlotte Roval are Kevin Harvick, Bell, Alex Bowman and Byron. Watch and see who moves on. This is a “cutoff” race Cup and only eight will go to the next round leading up to the final four.
Indy cars are done for the year and NHRA drag racers are on the end of a week-long meet in Texas. Steve Torrence is 36 points ahead of Brittany Force in Top Fuel dragsters. Matt Hagen is 59 points atop Ron Caps in the Funny Car class. Greg Anderson is a mere 17 points ahead of Eric Enders in Pro Stock and Steve Johnson is 17 points ahead of yet another female challenger in Pro Stock motorcycle.
Formula One has Lewis Hamilton in an exciting championship contest with Max Verstappen. Lewis has a very slim two-point lead with six races left including this weekend in Turkey.