In today’s edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsport Report, Dave covers NASCAR’s trip to the COTA track in Austin, Texas, F1’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and more…
NASCAR CUP SERIES: What a difference a year makes! Last year, the race was run under one of the biggest rain storms ever and it looked like Noah would win in his ark! This year, clear skies, sunshine and thousands of fans.
The pre-race festivities were pretty cool at this beautiful Circuit of the Americas (COTA) circuit, southeast of Austin, Texas. Coach Joe Gibbs delivered the prayer and Michael Waltrip was the Grand Marshall.
He, along with the winner of the sponsor’s contest, gave the command to start engines. Apparently, Matthew McCaughey was originally going to be the Grand Marshall, but he said it was ‘alright, alright, alright’ that Mikey could do it!!
Ryan Blaney started from the pole ahead of Daniel Suarez and Cole Custer. Blaney had spanked the wall Saturday, but it didn’t appear to do much damage. This new car is really tough.
This road course makes great use of the new sequential transmissions and could eliminate the broken trannies of years past.
WWE star ‘The Undertaker’ was driving the pace car for the initial start and apparently they couldn’t get a big enough helmet for him!! Or maybe he needed a ‘Gurney Bubble’ as he was too big for the car (if you got the Gurney reference you are, like me, REALLY old)!! LOL
Thank goodness they had ‘track limit’ rules on only selected three corners (4, 5 & 6) at COTA because half the field would have been penalized on the very first lap going through Corner One! They were at least TEN cars wide in Corner One on the initial start and on every subsequent restart.
Daniel Suarez won the first stage followed by pole sitter Blaney and Alex Bowman.
The announcers asked Denny Hamlin, the winner of the second stage, which corners he was having trouble with. He answered, ‘One to Twenty.’ Great line. He was followed by Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Joey had a day to forgot as he seemed to be constantly spinning out and he finished 31st after starting sixth.
How cool was it for Mikey to take the sponsor’s contest winner around the track in a new Tundra then to tell the guy that the truck was the actual prize!! Awesome.
Bubba Wallace lost a left-rear wheel on Lap 45, which will result in some heavy penalties for the team. Chaos ensued in the final ten laps as the bumping and spinning got heavier, producing several yellows and quite a few damaged race cars.
A restart with two laps to go saw business really pick up. A three-way battle with Reddick, Chastain and Dinger got very intense. However, Reddick fell back while Ross Chastain picked up the win.
Alex Bowman, who finished 2nd, had bumped A.J. out of the way while A.J. and Chastain were battling for the lead. Christopher Bell ended up third.
This was the first Cup win for the watermelon farmer from Florida and he smashed a watermelon while standing on the roof of his winning car. A. J. ended up 33rd. It is so refreshing to see wins for the smaller teams instead of one of the mega-teams.
Chase Elliott continues to lead the points by 13 over Ryan Blaney and 23 atop Joey Logano.
Their next race, Richmond, is this Sunday at 3.30 P.M. on both TSN 3 and Fox.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: ‘Dinger does it in Dallas, oops, Austin’!! A. J. Allmendinger (Chevy) continued his road course dominance at COTA coming out of starting slot ‘4’ to win over Austin Hill (Chev) and Cole Custer (Ford).
Canadian Alex Labbé started a STRONG fifth and finished second in the first stage but broke a rear-end with five laps to go and finished a disappointing 36th. Amazingly, 35 cars finished on the lead lap.
With his win, Dinger gets to compete with Austin Hill, Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash this Saturday at Richmond with the highest finishing car of those four grabbing the gold.
Gragson leads AJ by one point and Ty Gibbs, the pole sitter, by 31.
Their next race, Richmond, is this Saturday at 1.30 P.M. on TSN 2.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: It was a pleasant surprise to have IMSA veteran and road race ace Andy Lally join the broadcast team. He presented a totally different view of the race.
Canadian Stewart Friesen started a strong seventh and moved up towards the front finishing second in the first stage and seventh in the second stage.
He was in position to win, running second in the closing laps, but became the meat in the sandwich between leader Kyle Busch and the ‘corner-over-cooking’
Alex Bowman, resulting in all three sliding wide.
This allowed Zane Smith (Ford) to slip through and end up with the win over John Hunter Nemechek and Busch, both in Toyotas.
Friesen ended up ninth, while Bowman finished a distant 25th. Karma? There were two ‘overtime’ sessions to finish the race and 26 trucks on the lead lap.
Chandler Smith leads the points by 15 over Ben Rhodes and by 23 over ‘our boy’ Friesen.
Their next race, Martinsville, is Thursday, April 7 at 8 P.M. on Fox Sports Racing.
FORMULA ONE: Why would anybody be concerned that a missile hit the Aramco distribution station just six miles from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia during LIVE practice Friday? Nothing to see here, move along!! Wow.
Apparently, discussions were held about cancelling the event but that quickly ended when it was suggested that F1 ‘might’ have a hard time getting their cars, crews and equipment out of the kingdom. Hmm.
Weekend news from the track indicated that the Saudis are going to build a new racing complex attached to an ‘entertainment centre’ in the near future. That can’t come soon enough.
Qualifying on this VERY difficult track was interesting to say the least. Both Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher hit the wall hard.
But Lewis Hamilton’s brutal qualifying performance was the talk of the race weekend. For the first time in several years, he did not advance from Round One of qualifying, ending up 16th.
Sergio Perez grabbed the pole in his Red Bull followed by the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Max Verstappen, in the other Red Bull, ended up fourth with George Russell sixth in his Mercedes.
Schumacher was unable to start the race nor was Yuki Tsunoda in his Alpha Tauri resulting in only 18 starters for the race.
When asked about Hamilton’s problems, Mercedes head honcho Toto Wolff suggested it was an ‘experiment’ that didn’t work out. Really? I guess they didn’t try that ‘experiment’ on Russell’s car?
The race started calmly enough with little drama. Hamilton worked his way from his revised spot of 15th (Schumacher had qualified 14th) up to 10th by lap 15.
On lap 16 Latifi hit the wall bringing out a full course yellow. Pit stops ensued.
Hamilton, the only real mover through the pack, was up to sixth by lap 25. Meanwhile, there was MUCH ‘clutching of pearls’ as Verstappen complained that
LeClerc appeared to cross the white line at ‘pit in’ at full song!! Wow. Talk about ‘picking fly sh*t out of pepper’!! Let ‘em race.
How refreshing to see the use of the ‘virtual safety car’ once again! Well done by Race Control!!
On lap 42, Leclerc and Verstappen swapped the lead back and forth creating some excitement. On the next lap, Mad Max almost wrecked in an unsuccessful passing attempt and more moaning about the white line.
His pit crew advised Max to calm down and leave it to them to ‘take care of things.’ Max finally got the lead on lap 47.
Lance Stroll tangled with Alex Albon on lap 49 of 50 resulting in Albon retiring. ‘The stewards are reviewing the incident’! LOL
Verstappen retained the lead and took the checker ahead of LeClerc and Sainz. Hamilton ended up 10th, Lance Stroll was 13th and Latifi was 18th. Jenson Button was a great addition to the announce team and brought a fresh perspective on things.
Their next race is Australia April 10.
INDYCAR: Their next race is at Long Beach, April 10, a double header with IMSA.
IMSA: Their next race is at Long Beach, April 10, in a double header with IndyCar.
NHRA: Their next race is at Las Vegas this weekend.
NASCAR Pinty’s Series – They will open the season at Sunset Speedway on May 14.
APC SERIES: They start 2022 off on May 21 at Sunset Speedway.
SRX SERIES: Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham’s uber-successful six race Saturday night series returns again this year featuring racing on six straight weekends. Action begins on the ½ mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida (or, as Junior Hanley always calls it, Pepsi-Cola!!) on June 18, the home of the popular long running Snowball Derby.
Until next week!!
– Dave Mathers