In this edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsports Report for Inside Track Motorsport News, Dave takes aim at the seemingly endless number of restart attempts at the end of NASCAR races…
NASCAR has to take a long and hard look at their current business model. I’m referring to the THREE green, white checker restarts at COTA. The current ‘model’ is definitely not working. The costs involved for the teams is one consideration, but the bigger damage is to the audience.
How many comments have been heard from disgruntled fans? Maybe it’s time to limit overtime to ONE attempt, and one only. After all, Formula One finished the Australian Grand Prix under a yellow flag!! You can do it!!
Opinions are mixed on the Cup race at COTA – some liked it, some hated it. I personally loved it. What is to be expected when the front straight goes up a hill and is wide enough to have up to ten cars wide funneling into an almost 180 degree corner, basically a hairpin?
Comments were made about the number of exhausted drivers at the end of the race. 3½ hours is a long time to be turning left and right. Maybe shorten the race a few laps, like maybe 50 laps instead of 68 (or 70 or 72 or 75)? Everybody will thank them if they do.
The National Motorsports Appeals Panel has upheld the fines to Hendrick Motorsports but has reversed all the points penalties. NASCAR had charged HMS after modified hood louvers were discovered during a volunteer tech inspection at the Phoenix race. I still believe the fines were too steep. When will we get to see the ‘guilty’ louvers?
NHRA must have a long, hard look at the ‘dirty pool’ shot taken by Camrie Caruso against number one qualifier Cristian Cuadra at Phoenix.
Caruso DOUBLE BULBED, a definite no-no in drag racing. Remember this is big time PRO Stock not Pure Stock or bracket racing. It’s way past time to get Double Bulbing listed in the NHRA Rule Book as a punishable offence – meaning ‘you do it, you lose’!! I suspect there would be no opposition to adding it to the rulebook.
Max Verstappen has threatened to retire from Formula One if they don’t stop using the new Sprint Race format. I say, ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ as I personally LOVE the sprint format. They definitely add to the weekends.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: Rain washed out qualifying at Richmond, so the lineup was done based on the points (what, no metrics?). As a result, Alex Bowman, who recently, as did his teammates, had his points penalties cancelled, started up front followed by Kyle Busch and William Byron, all in Chevs.
Things ran smoothly up to the Competition Caution on lap 30. A couple of penalties on the pit stops – Todd Gilliland for ‘equipment interference’ and Denny Hamlin for speeding. Ricky Stenhouse appeared to have problems on pit road and they took his car back to the garage.
On lap 44 JJ Yeley got bumped by Hamlin bringing out the caution as JJ hit the wall. Byron won Stage 1. On lap 95 Ryan Blaney tagged Josh Berry sending Berry spinning coming out of 4 for another yellow.
William Byron picked up the win in Stage 1.
Denny Hamlin won Stage 2. On lap 305 Noah Gragson made hard contact with the wall in 2 bringing out another yellow. On lap 371 Tyler Reddick looped it going into 2 for another caution.
Denny Hamlin got another speeding ticket on pit road pretty much eliminating him from winning. On the restart, Bell moved up from the bottom lane and spun Byron for yet another yellow. Cautions breed cautions? Really??
With 15 to go, the green came back out and Larson jumped ahead of Berry for the lead. At the flag it was Larson with his first win of this season followed by ‘Super Sub’ Berry in Chase Elliott’s ride and then Ross Chastain.
Larson’s car sported the colours of Rick Hendrick’s late son Ricky who was killed in a plane crash flying to a race at Martinsville 19 years ago. AND today would have been Ricky’s birthday. SO fitting for Hendricks Motorsports.
In the points, Bowman retains the lead by just 4 over Ross Chastain and by 34 ahead of Christopher Bell.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Justin Allgaier (Chev) picked up the pole for the Richmond race followed by teen phenom Sammy Smith (Toyota) and Sam Mayer (Chev).
Canadian Alex Labbe started 32nd. Parker Kligerman was sent to the back for the start. Sammy Smith grabbed the lead from Allgaier on lap 4. On the same lap Joe Graf, Jr. had a bit of contact with Cole Custer cutting his left front tire.
This sent up to the wall but kept going with no yellow. A Competition Caution came on lap 35. Chandler Smith won Stage 1. Josh Berry won a caution-free Stage 2. On lap 220 Jeremy Clements had problems and made it unto pit road but stalled there bringing out a yellow.
On lap 231 Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst got together in 2 after Connor Mosack tapped Jones causing another caution. On lap 239 Brett Moffitt spun in 3 for what ended up being the final yellow.
At the flag it was Chandler Smith who led the most laps followed by John Hunter Nemechek and Berry. Labbe finished a strong 11th.
Austin Hill continues to lead the points but with a reduced margin of only 12 ahead of Riley Herbst and 18 on Nemechek.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: Nick Sanchez got the pole at Texas ahead of Jack Wood, both in Chevs, and Ty Majeski (Ford). Stewart Friesen started 7th.
On the very first lap Chad Chastain hit the wall bringing out the yellow, then red??, then yellow. On lap 22 Chastain again hit the wall this time in 2. A Competition Caution came on lap 35.
Sanchez won Stage 1. On lap 78 Lawless Alan spun causing Majeski to hit the wall while running top 5. Sanchez won Stage 2.
On lap 137 Jack Wood took an ‘agricultural excursion’ tearing up a lot of grass after spinning out of four.
The BIG ONE happened on lap 145 when Dean Thompson spun and got hit very hard by Matt Mills. Dean climbed out on his own but, reportedly, was sent to a local hospital for further evaluation.
There was a red flag to clean up all the debris. On lap 157 Taylor Gray brought out a yellow after hitting the wall. On the first attempt at a green/white/checker on lap 165 Matt Crafton hit the wall and collected several other trucks. On the second attempt Lawless Alan spun.
Coming to the white, Sanchez and Christian Eckes crashed out of the lead handing the win to Carson Hocevar, his first ‘first’ in the series, ahead of Chase Purdy and Friesen.
In the points Majeski leads Zane Smith by 3 and Ben Rhodes by 12. Friesen sits 13th.
FORMULA ONE: In qualifying, it would appear that Sergio Perez learned nothing from his off in the third practice session as he duplicated it again in qualifying resulting in a 20th place starting spot.
Max Verstappen grabbed the pole in his Red Bull ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. Lance Stroll continues to impress with his 6th place start.
On the initial start, Russell got past Max into one bringing Hamilton along with him. And Max was whining on his radio that Lewis had ‘crowded’ him!! On lap 1 Charles Leclerc bounced off Stroll and ended up in the gravel.
On lap 7, Alexander Albon looped it and hit the gravel spewing a bunch onto the course. This brought out the red for track clean-up.
On the lap 13 restart Max got around Lewis for the lead. On lap 18 Russell’s Mercedes blew up on track and caught fire. Kevin Magnussen brought out the yellow on lap 53 when he contacted the wall and lost his right rear tire/wheel which ended up on the racing surface.
This incident also brought out the red flag for track cleanup. More whining from Max – ‘what’s the red flag for’?
On the restart, it appeared that EVERY driver pulled their helmet straps WAY too tight as there was carnage all the way through the field. Both Astons appeared to be off track.
But Wait, There’s more!!! In the biggest head scratcher ever, they went back out on track to have a ‘parade lap’ to complete lap 58 of 58 using the ‘pre-collision’ lineup for the restart!!
So Max wins, Lewis 2nd, Alonso 3rd (he was backwards off track at the red flag) and Stroll 4th. Wow, this finish will create a LOT of discussion this week!!
In the Championship, Red Bull leads Aston Martin, YES Aston Martin, by 58 and Mercedes by 67. Ferrari lies a very distant 4th 30 back of Mercedes.
Their next race is the Azerbaijan GP, at the end of the month.
INDYCAR: Feliz Rosenqvist started from the pole at Texas ahead of Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi. Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco started a super impressive 12th on the bad fast track.
Things went very FAST until lap 48 when Takuma Sato got into the fence on the back straight. It went green until lap 180 when Felix got into the wall in 4.
The 3rd yellow came out on lap 210 when Sting Ray Robb (I did not make that name up!!) got into the wall on the back straight. The 4th yellow came out when Graham Rahal and DeFrancesco tangled at the end of the back straight.
Romain Grosjean brought out the final caution on the white flag lap overcooking corner 2 entry and hitting the wall.
At the flag it was Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou. Devlin ended up a disappointing 23rd.
In the points, O’Ward leads Marcus Ericsson by 7 and Scott Dixon by 15.
Their next race is at Long Beach, on April 16.
IMSA: Their next race is Long Beach, April 15.
24 HOURS OF LEMANS: Saturday, June 10 & Sunday, June 11.
NHRA: The Ultimate Showman was the star at Pomona after changing lanes downtrack and going around J.R. Todd in the shutdown area and hitting the wall all while on a qualifying run!! Both drivers were fine and both had to go to back up cars.
In the four-entry Top Fuel Challenge, run during qualifying, Leah Pruett took out a smoking Shawn Langdon while Justin Ashley outran Steve Torrence. In their final Ashley beat Pruett.
The Funny Car Challenge saw Alexis Dejoria beat Ron Capps with both cars ‘boiling the hides.’ Chad Green took out Robert Hight with both cars also spinning. In the final Green topped a smoking Alexis.
NASCAR star Tony Stewart qualified 13th in Top Alcohol Dragster and lost in the second round one round better than his wife Leah Pruett!!
In Top Fuel Ashley topped the charts with a 3.707. There were only 14 cars.
18 Cars vied for the 16 spots in Funny Car and Cruz Pedregon put a 3.865 at the top of the list.
Pro Stock had 19 entries and Camrie Caruso, last week’s winner, notched the number one spot with a 6.518.
Justin Ashley marched through the Top Fuel field from his number one spot to take out number 12 qualifier Austin Prock in the final. There were only three ‘upsets’ (lower qualified car wins) and five (loss of traction) ‘smokers.’ Ashley extends his points lead to 45 over Steve Torrence and by 55 over Steve Torrence.
Matt Hagan qualified tenth in Funny Car and he took out Ron Capps, the 16th qualifier, in the final. There were eight upsets and 8 smokers. Hagan has the points lead by 26 on Ron Capps and by 64 over Alexis Dejoria.
Dallas Glenn came out of his number 4 qualified spot to take out number 2 qualifier in the Pro Stock final. There were four upsets and only one smoker. Glenn now has the points lead by 5 over Caruso and Hartford who are tied for second.
Their next race is two weekend from now, in Las Vegas.
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.
Until next time.
– Dave Mathers
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