In this week’s edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsport Report, Dave shares his thoughts about F1 and NASCAR and some of the recent ‘calls’ made by their Race Directors. He also covers NASCAR’s busy weekend at COTA…
Well, this is the last week reporting from Pura Vida country, Costa Rica. It has definitely been fun, but it will still be good to get back home to God’s Country.
Can somebody explain to me what has happened to Race Directing in the top series this year? The badly flawed business model employed by Formula One did it again last week in The Kingdom.
Apparently, Larry, Curly and Moe could NOT grasp the concept of the word ‘working.’ A jack touching the car is not working on the car.
So, once again, they totally embarrassed the series by giving Alonso a ten second penalty dropping him from third to fourth and then later reversing themselves. Charlie Whiting must be rolling over in his grave the way things have deteriorated since his death.
And then there is NASCAR. A half million dollars worth of fines for ‘hood scoops’? Really? Who is making these calls?
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS: I have to say, right off the bat, that this is my favourite race facility in the world. Well known Texas car dealer Red McCombs was a mover and shaker on this track, and they did it right.
Not only does the track run the opposite direction from most road courses but it has a steep HILL up the front straight. The complex has camping that includes a dog park, full hook ups and a SWIMMING POOL!!
It also has a full stadium for concerts and soccer fields that get used by the locals. It has track days, car shows, cruises, Cars & Coffee and concerts.
It has been a magnet for almost all the major sanctioning bodies who return year after year. And the drivers love it. The best part, you ask? No sand blowing everywhere!!
NASCAR CUP SERIES: William Byron (Chev) got the pole for the Cup race at COTA followed by Tyler Reddick (Toyota) and Austin Cindric (Ford). There’s that parity again. Several Formula One stars decided that they wanted to MOVE UP to NASCAR!! 2009 F1 champion Jenson Button qualified 24th and the ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen was 22nd.
However, MY pick to win was a ‘ringer’ who REALLY knows how to ‘get his elbows out.’ Jordan Taylor started fourth in the injured Chase Elliott’s Hendrick Camaro.
‘Seven-Time’ Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon went out after one lap. Chris Buescher clipped Dillon who spun, taking out JJ.
There was a bunch of overdriving the corners with several ‘offs’ as well as some penalties for cutting the corners. Reddick got around Byron for the lead and was out front for a bit before Byron regained the lead. On lap 11, Bubba Wallace, once again, appeared to run out of talent when he nailed Kyle Larson HARD going into 12. He appeared to be running at full song when it occurred. Ran out of brakes? Or something else?
Byron won Stage 1, without a caution!! Tyler Reddick won the flagless Stage 2. Reddick and Byron continued to swap the lead back and forth. Penalties continued for cutting corners.
The third yellow came out on lap 41 (of 68) for parts/pieces on the track in Corner 9. Shocking considering all the ‘close encounters’ that have been going on out there!!
Denny Hamlin spun at about the same time from about 18th spot. On lap 49 he ran into problems on track but managed to get back to pit road but went some laps down.
Stenhouse went into the spin cycle in 11 but kept going, avoiding another caution. Brad Keselowski stopped on track on lap 57 bringing out another yellow.
On the restart, several cars spun with Chastain getting the worst of it. With three to go, Austin Dillon’s car left crap on the track bringing out the sixth full course caution. On the restart it was Reddick and Byron again at the front.
In typical NASCAR fashion, the caution came out on the last lap!! Ryan Blaney left debris and Ryan Preece left oil on the track.
Back under green, it was Reddick, Busch and Byron. Byron got around Busch for second. And then another yellow, the eighth, this time for the destroyed tire of Daniel Suarez. We have now gone from 68 laps to 74 laps. The order now was Reddick, Busch, Bowman and Byron. Oops, up to 75 laps!!
At the flag – after THREE overtime attempts – it was Reddick, Busch, Bowman, Chastain and Byron. Button was the top finishing interloper in 18th followed by Taylor 24th and Raikkonen 27th. A bunch of drivers looked totally exhausted after the race. It was a good race all in all with LOTS of excitement.
In the points, Ross Chastain – the ‘Watermelon Man’ – climbed to the top and he leads Busch by 19 and former leader Logano by 25.
Their next race is Richmond, Sunday at 3.30 on TSN 5 and Fox.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Dinger (AJ Allmendinger) in a Chev got the pole for the Xfinity race at COTA followed by Sammy Smith and Ty Gibbs, both in Toyotas.
Canadian Alex Labbe, filling in for the new crowd favourite suspended Josh Williams, started mid-pack, 19th out of 38 starters. His road course talents honed in the Pinty’s Series should serve him well on this fast, fun and exciting course.
The race started with Dinger getting crowded by Gibbs letting Sheldon Creed get the lead momentarily. (Paybacks to follow? Asking for a friend!!). It didn’t take road course ace AJ to regain the lead.
A bit of contact back in the pack as Josh Berry, to use another Kenny Schrader saying, figured that 8 wheels were better than 4 for braking when he tried to use William Byron’s brakes.
It did NOT end well for Berry as he gave himself a monster ‘nose job’!! Brad Perez looped it in 8 but only a local yellow. A couple of cars got pass through penalties for trying to ‘shorten the course’!!
On lap 8 Hocevar stopped on-track at the top of the front straight hill bringing out the laundry. Most of the leaders pitted for tires and on the restart, Dinger was out front with Parker Kligerman beside him, the same guy who went off track in the earlier Truck race!!
Not surprisingly, Dinger won the non-yellow flag Stage 1. On lap 15 AJ pitted from the lead allowing Creed to take over at the front.
On lap 17 Preston Pardus stops on track for another caution. On lap 21 Brandon Jones explodes a tire leaving stuff all over the track necessitating another yellow. Byron got around Creed on the first lap after the restart and set sail. But Creed fought back and retook the lead.
A couple of laps later Byron was back out front. One lap later Brett Moffitt stopped on track for another yellow. Almost everybody pitted. On the restart Cole Custer beached his Mustang for another caution. On the restart Dinger once again grabbed the lead. He and Byron continued to do battle at the front of the pack.
At the checkers, it was Dinger over Byron, with Gibbs third. Labbe ended up a strong 15th. Dinger came home with a ‘bruised’ race car after tangling with Creed and Byron in the closing laps.
In the points even with his brutal finish (2nd last) Hill still leads Riley Herbst by 15 and Nemechek by 29.
Their next race is Richmond, Saturday at 1 on TSN 5.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: Ross Chastain nabbed the pole at COTA followed by Kyle Busch, both in Chevs and Ty Majeski (Ford).
Canadian Stewart Friesen (Toyota) started 15th. Thirty-six trucks took the green heading up that awesome front straight into that nasty more than 90-degree first corner. GREAT stuff. Ten trucks were sent to the rear on the initial start for ‘unapproved adjustments.’ That worked out to more than one-quarter of the field!
On lap 3, Ed Jones stopped on-track bringing out the first caution. He dropped out of the race. Carson Hocevar got stuck in the gravel trap at turn 11 on lap 9 for the second yellow. Parker Kligerman brought out what would be the final caution when he stopped on the front stretch on lap 28.
A decision that I DEFINITELY applaud was the elimination of yellow flags at the end of the stages. As a result, points were still given with no ‘stoppage in play.’
Christian Eckes thus ‘won’ Stage 1 with Busch winning Stage 2. Hopefully, this improvement will continue!!
At the flag, it was Zane Smith (Ford), Busch and Majeski, with Friesen 14th. Smith took the term ‘burnout’ to an all-new level as after he had done the ‘mandatory’ burnout at start/finish and exited his truck… it caught on fire at the left-rear requiring the ‘Bomberos’ (Espanol for firemen!! LOL) to come and put out the fire. Let’s see who will try to top that!! Challenge issued.
Zane Smith leads Majeski by 2 and Ben Rhodes by 18 in the points battle.
Their next race is Texas, Saturday on Fox Sports Racing at 4.30P.M.
FORMULA ONE: Their next race is Australia, Sunday. Sorry, not home to get TV details but I’m sure TSN will have it as always.
INDYCAR: Their next race is Texas Sunday. Ditto on the TV info but I’m guessing maybe SportsNet and NBC.
IMSA: Their next race is Long Beach, April 15.
NHRA: Phoenix was the second race of the season. There were 42 Super Stocks entered with 9 of them what I call Late Models, the new factory hot rods, and there ere 4 Canadian entries.
In Stock, there were 56 entries with 10 ‘Late Models’ and 2 Canadians.
Competition Eliminator saw a grand total of FIVE entries. Time for a ‘mercy killing’? Then, to rub salt in the wounds, the number 2 qualfier was a no show for round 1.
Top Fuel had 16 entries and Doug Kalitta topped the field with a 3.679.
In Funny Car Bob Tasca III topped the 17 cars with a 3.898.
Pro Stock had 18 entries with, wait for it, a FORD at the top of the pile!!! Cristian Cuadra ran a 6.552 in his Texas based ’23 Mustang after several years of gradual improvement. Long time campaigner Alan Prusiensky book ended all the Camaros (and one other Cuadra Mustang) with his New Jersey based ’16 Dart. I give Alan full marks for his persistence!!
There were two fuel Challenge races within the qualifying.
In the Top Fuel Challenge Doug Kalitta beat Steve Torrence in the first round and Mike Salinas got past Leah Pruett. In the final Kalitta ran a 3.868 to top a tire smoking Salinas. The Funny Car side had J.R. Todd beat Chad Green and then Alexis DeJoria beat Matt Hagan. Both losing cars had smoked the tires. In the final Alexis ran a 3.914 to beat a tire spinning Todd.
In the Top Fuel final Justin Ashley took out Shawn Langdon. There were 5 upsets (lower qualified car wins) and 7 ‘smokers.’
Robert Hight beat Ron Capps in the Funny Car final. There were 7 upsets and 4 smokers.
Camrie Caruso came out of the 8th spot to take out Bo Butner (qualified 11th) in Pro /stock. There were 7 upsets and 2 smokers.
In the Top Fuel points Steve Torrence leads Mike Salinas by 11 and Leah Pruett by 13.
Funny Car has Hight in the lead by 4 over Matt Hagan and 12 on Capps.
In Pro Stock Troy Coughlin, Jr. leads Caruso by 7 and Kyle Koretsky by 23.
Their next race is Pomona, Sunday on Fox Sports Racing.
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 13 at Sunset Speedway.
APC SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 20 at Sunset Speedway.
ONTARIO SPORTSMAN SERIES: Their season starts Friday, May 19 at Delaware.
SUPERSTAR RACING EXPERIENCE (SRX): Their season starts Thursday, July 13 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Friday, May 12.
FLAMBORO SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, April 29.
OHSWEKEN SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Friday, May 19.
SOUTH ONTARIO MOTOR SPEEDWAY (Buxton): Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
GRAND BEND SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 20.
GRAND BEND DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
ST. THOMAS DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
TORONTO MOTORSPORT PARK: Their season starts April 22.
SHANNONVILLE DRAGS: First race is June 17 & 18, Nostalgia Weekend.
DRAGSTRIP MEMORIES: April 16, Hamilton Airport.
CAN-AM STOCK/SUPER STOCK SERIES – their season starts Saturday, June 3, Grand Bend.
MY ‘VIEW’: Full marks to both Mopar and Ford for their continued building of some VERY bad-ass vehicles. SRT has gone nuts with the stuff they are putting out. An EIGHT second piece that has already been outlawed by NHRA (AND Made in Canada) and a pickup that can ‘pop a wheelie’? AWESOME!!!!
And Ford is putting out some fast units as well. In spite of this, it appears that GM has ‘slipped it into neutral’ as they have announced the end of the Camaro (again!!). The boys at the GM Tech Center must be going into withdrawal!!
Meanwhile, most of the automakers appear to be drinking too much of the Electric Vehicle Kool-Ade. The current infrastructure will never be able to handle all those charging stations. And right back home in St. Thomas two blocks from our house Volkswagen is building a HUGE EV battery plant. Great for jobs. I’ll be visiting that construction site on my daily walks with Jaxon!!
– Dave Mathers