This past weekend, it was all about the throwback schemes at Darlington, for NASCAR’s three major touring series. Dave Mathers guides us through that, F1 Miami and the rest of the weekend’s action in his Motion Motorsport Report.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: With Darlington being a ‘Throwback’ race again this year, Goodyear decided to join the party. The tires they brought for the race were similar to the ones used about 40 years ago and featured Goodyear in BIG white letters. Well done.
The fan vote winner of the best throwback paint job was Chase Elliott, with a paint design reminiscent of Jimmy Means. About thirty years ago, I sold Means an F350 diesel dually crew cab and he agreed to put Motion decals on his #52 car for the race at MIS. Then he failed to qualify!! Doh!
I had to laugh at the Rogers/TSN guide and on screen listing of the event: ‘NASCAR Mexico Series 2022: Queretaro’!
Bill Elliott gave the command to ‘Start Engines’ and he was wearing a throwback shirt with his late father George’s name on it. Cool. We were at Darlington in 1985 when Bill won the Winston Million and I still have a ‘Million Dollar Bill’!! And Richard Petty waving the green? It doesn’t get any better than that!!
Joey Logano (Ford) started from the pole over Kyle Larson (Chev) and Christopher Bell (Toyota). How’s that for brand parity?!
Brad Keselowski got tagged from behind by Chase Elliott when Denny Hamlin slowed on track and this brought out the first yellow on lap 4. Kyle Larson lost it on lap 57 when he was trying to pass Kyle Busch, bringing out the yellow.
Stage 1 ended under the green with Logano picking up the win over Ross Chastain and Bell.
On lap 112 Kyle Larson dropped out with a blown motor, possibly due to his backward spin back in Stage 1.
Brad Keselowski blew a right front tire and got up into the wall again on lap 167 and then got hit by Kyle Busch taking Kyle out of the race.
Kyle then, like a spoiled child, abandoned his car in the middle of pit road. Joe Gibbs did NOT look impressed with Kyle whose contract just happens to expire at the end of this year. Hmm.
Last year, Kyle dropped out of the race and drove into the garage area at speed knocking over some orange cones resulting in NASCAR fining him $50,000. Ross Chastain had the lead on the restart over Truex.
Chastain won Stage 2 ahead of Truex and Logano. Then Chastain spun coming off 2 and hit the inside wall really messing up the car. No watermelon smashing this time.
Caution came out with 37 to go after Alex Bowman spanked the wall and on the subsequent pit stops his car appeared to have a fire under the right front necessitating two fire extinguishers to be fired off. He was done for the day.
With 33 to go, Truex got turned taking him out along with Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Chase Briscoe.
William Byron had the lead with two to go but Logano bumped him up into the wall letting Logano retake the lead and the win. Tyler Reddick (Chev) was second and Justin Haley (Chev) picked up third.
The crowd showed they were NOT impressed with Logano’s move during the winner’s on track interview and they actually booed him. At the end of the day the Lady in Black once again proved that the ‘Track too tough to tame’ … did NOT get tamed!!
Chase Elliott continues to lead the points over William Byron and Ryan Blaney who are both tied for second 65 points back!
Their next race, Kansas, is Sunday, at 3 P.M. on TSN 4.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Xfinity qualifying for Darlington was rained out after only 16 cars had made attempts. As a result, per the rule book, Ty Gibbs (Toyota) started from the pole followed by Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier (both in Chevs).
Twenty-seven Chevs, six Fords and five Toyotas took the green. Many of the cars sported ‘Throwback’ paint schemes eliciting fond memories for many.
On lap 9, Timmy Hill got a little tap from Bayley Currey sending Hill into the ‘Spin Cycle’ and bringing out the first yellow of the race.
On lap 26 the yellow came out again for a spinning Jeb Burton. Apparently his ‘Darlington Stripe’ not only scraped the paint but also flattened a tire and he spun. NASCAR didn’t like that he deliberately spun to get a caution and held him a lap in the pits.
Noah Gragson (Chev) picked up the win in Stage 1 followed by Gibbs and Berry. Myatt Snyder hit the wall hard after a little contact ‘of the worst kind’ on lap 75 apparently from the very same Bayley Currey who bumped Timmy Hill on lap 9. Hmm.
With a yellow coming out for the stalled car of Brandon Brown stopped on the front stretch the Stage 2 win and points went, again, to Gragson followed by Gibbs and Allgaier.
On lap 121, Canadian Alex Labbe got together with Joe Graf, Jr. and got up into the wall bringing out the yellow. Josh Berry jumped the restart and had to take a drive-through penalty.
The same Joe Graf, Jr. got some help from Anthony Alfredo with 12 laps to go and spun up into the wall. Then, for reasons only known to Race Control, the yellow came out for Tyler Reddick with six laps to go even though Reddick was still running!!
AJ Allmendinger had grabbed the lead on the previous restart and appeared to be on his way to the win. Business really picked up after the green came out with only two laps to go. They were five-wide at the white flag and the race finished under green but it immediately went yellow for two cars getting together in Corner 4, Ryan Truex and Jeremy Clements.
Justin Allgaier picked up the win driving a Junior Motorsports car with a paint job reminiscent of a Dale Earnhardt, Sr. car of years ago.
He was followed by Gragson and Riley Herbst. Alex Labbe started 19th and recovered to finish 18th. John Hunter Nemechek continued to be a whiner after the race, NOT a smart move for retaining sponsors.
Jeremy Clements won the fan vote for best throwback paint scheme copying Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Bud Moore.
Dinger continues to lead the points by 25 over Gragson and 41 atop Gibbs.
Their next race, Texas, is Saturday, May 21 at 1.30 P.M.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: There were some really cool ‘throwback’ paint jobs on some of the trucks Friday night at Darlington.
John Hunter Nemechek (Toyota) started from the pole with Ty Majeski (Toyota) second and Grant Enfinger (Chev) 3rd. It only took right laps for the first caution as Akinori Ogata got together with Josh Reaume.
Interestingly, both cars started in the back row and Reaume owns both cars!! Awkward. On lap 20, Lawless Allan (GREAT first name!!) went into the corner too low and spun causing another yellow. On the restart the trucks went four-wide creating a great show for the fans.
Parker Kligerman won Stage 1 followed by Ross Chastain and Carson Hocevar.
On lap 58 Todd Bodine (a.k.a. the Onion) had to check up hard when the two trucks in front of him got a little crossed up and he spun to miss them.
Hocevar won Stage 2 ahead of Chastain and Kligerman.
Former NHRA drag racer Tanner Gray got caught up in a multi-truck wreck on lap 96. And the irony you ask? His sponsor ‘Dead On Tools’ looked pretty wrinkled up after the accident. Sorry, the devil made me say that!!
Corey Heim hit the wall hard with 30 to go causing yet another caution period. Blaine Perkins smacked the wall with 23 laps to go and collected Jay Fogelman as well. It was a lengthy cleanup. With six laps to go Ben Rhodes spun bringing out yet another yellow.
On the ensuing green / white / checker, things got VERY busy with Nemechek getting the win over Hocevar and Enfinger.
Matty D (DiBenedetto) won the fan vote for the best truck throwback paint scheme emulating Sterling Marlin.
Rhodes leads Nemechek by 30 and Chandler Smith by 32. Stewart Friessen started 23rd and finished 11th leaving him 4th in points.
Their next race, Kansas, is Saturday night, 8.00 P.M. on Fox Sports Racing.
FORMULA ONE: It’s really hard to believe but it was 40 years ago, May 8, 1982, that we lost the purest F1 driver of all time, Gilles Villeneuve, in the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. And nobody has come along since to replace him!
Liberty Group is, apparently, very serious about their race in Las Vegas and are dropping a cool $240 million to buy the vacant piece of property where they will be building their pits. Now that’s commitment!! And after the amazing full-blown entertainment of Miami Vegas is really going to have to step up their game!!
So, Lewis Hamilton wants to wear his jewelry during the race and the FIA says no. Every sport I have ever played, hockey, football, baseball, wrestling, squash AND auto racing I was told to remove all watches, rings and jewelry. I can’t understand why Lewis is fighting this.
Having said that, Miami did an awesome job creating this new circuit, very fast, very pretty and very exciting. Well done. And as for the ‘complaints’ about the high ticket prices, it is simply Economics 101… supply and demand, limited supply and high demand!!
An interesting tidbit is that, after the track had its final layer of asphalt applied, that layer was ground down to make the track grippier as the base was much coarser than the asphalt. Smart move.
Charles LeClerc continues his problem of shooting himself in the foot, spinning his Ferrari backwards into the wall early in Practice Two.
And speaking about Ferrari, apparently they have blacklisted Justin Bieber from buying any more Ferraris. His repainting of his white 2011 458 to ‘neon blue,’ plus his ‘irresponsible’ driving habits in and around LA and Miami appear to be the cause.
Michael Andretti (and father Mario) was very conspicuous at Miami as he is loudly rumoured to be seeking to start his own F1 team. His meetings with FIA boss Ben Sulayem reportedly went very well. Stay tuned!!
Qualifying ended up with Ferrari (Leclerc & Sainz) ‘one-two,’ and Red Bull (Verstappen and Perez) ‘three-four.’ Lance Stroll made it into the third session and qualified 10th while Nicholas Latifi ended up 19th.
Verstappen made short work of Sainz on the start and moved up to second. Lewis Hamilton lost a couple of spots on the first lap.
Max got around Leclair on lap 9 to the cheering of the crowd. The race went caution free up until lap 41 when Lando Norris got touched by Pierre Gasly and hit the wall hard.
Gasly had gone wide on the prior corner and was not up to speed nor aware of the fast-closing Norris. After a lengthy clean-up, Max once again pulled away from Leclerc and Sainz. Business picked up with seven to go as Bottas went wide allowing Hamilton and Russel to get past.
A couple of laps later, Russell was able to get around teammate Hamilton. Up front, Leclair was ‘pestering’ Max but was unable to make the pass. With five to go, Perez made a ‘Hail Mary’ pass attempt on Sainz, but overcooked the next corner, allowing Sainz to regain the spot.
Max picked up the win over Leclerc and Sainz. And the winner’s podium has to be one of the best looking ones ever!
The top three entered that very podium wearing, wait for it, Miami Dolphins FOOTBALL helmets!! All in all, a superb event that was much more than a motorcar race!! Full marks to Liberty and the organizing team that put this together.
About 45 years ago we went to ‘Circus World’ in Haines City, Florida, a venue closed in the 1980s and owned by Barnum and Bailey and the Ringling Brothers.
P.T. Barnum would be very proud and pleased to see that a much wilder and way more expensive version of Circus World had returned to Florida!!
Their next race is Spain, Sunday May 22.
INDYCAR: Their next race is the Indy Road Course THIS Saturday (driver error – in last week’s blog I stated it was last Saturday – sorry Clare!!).
IMSA: Their next race is at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.
NHRA: Their next race is at Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend.
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: They open their season May 14 at Sunset Speedway.
APC SERIES: The APC tour kicks things off the following Saturday, May 21, also at Sunset.
Until next week!!
– Dave Mathers