NASCAR CUP SERIES: Wow, yesterday’s race at Martinsville Speedway was entertaining from start to finish!! With only 4 spots open for the 8 challengers the points bounced back and forth all race.
Drivers were in then out then back in again. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott were pretty much a lock while Denny Hamlin was very close to being locked in.
This left Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano to fight for that fourth spot. And fight they did, and fight, and fight!!
Cars getting ‘bumped’ into the wall on the tight, paperclip half mile, cars sliding into those same walls and paint exchanged!!
Chase Elliott led more than half the laps, winning the two stages but was one of the cars hitting the wall and finished 16th. With six laps to go Alex Bowman, who had been stalking leader Denny Hamlin, overcooked the corner and bumped Hamlin out of the lead. “And the crowd went wild”!!
Bowman ended up holding off both Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski for the win. At the finish line, Hamlin drove up as Bowman was about to collect the checker flag for a cruise around the track, something his idol Mark Martin would do. Hamlin eventually drove away and Bowman was cheered during his interview. When Hamlin was interviewed, the crowd booed him long and hard. Interesting.
This Sunday afternoon’s race, 3 P.M., at Phoenix promises to be awesome. I remember the first time that Junior Hanley drove that track at the Copper Classic he commented that the ‘pucker’ factor’ going into three was HUGE!!
They have since reconfigured the track and now they can dive right down onto the apron coming out of Turn 1!! That produces three, four and five-wide racing on the one mile oval. It will be interesting.
The first time we went to the track there was a huge dip in the road coming into the track. I asked one of the locals what that was all about. He said it was for the snow melt water coming down from the mountains in the Spring. The next time, there was a bridge over that ‘ditch’!
One of the highlights of going to Phoenix Raceway was watching the awesome Sprint Car races Saturday nights at the bad fast dirt Manzanita Speedway. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s race, it promises to be a good one.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: Noah Gragson won the race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway but the win was not without a whole bunch of drama!! The last 10 laps saw some cautions requiring two, count ‘em, two green/ white / checkers.
On the first attempt Gragson got around Hemric only to see the yellow fly. On the second and final restart Gragson held off a fast closing Cindric to secure the win. Gragson was outside the top four coming into the race and needed a win to advance to the final four at Phoenix.
Austin Cindric finished second with Daniel Hemric third in the race. Alex Labbe started 25th and finished a very strong 8th. The top four who will be battling for the championship are Gragson, Cindric, Hemric and AJ Allmendinger.
They race Saturday night, 8.30 P.M., at Phoenix Raceway. The driver with the highest finish in the race will be crowned the 2021 Xfinity Champion.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: The fans definitely got their money’s worth Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. With only four spots open for drivers to advance to this week’s final where the top finisher amongst the four will be crowned the season champion. Action was, to put it mildly, fast & furious!!
John Hunter Nemechek started on the pole but after ‘bumping’ Austin Wayne Self (what’s up with all these three-named drivers?) he got ‘bumped back’ and hit the wall hard. It looked like he would not make the final four.
But he got lucky and ended up in the mix, while watching from pit road. Zane Smith won the race in a Chevrolet, over Austin Hill in a Toyota and Tanner Gray in a Ford. How’s that for parity!!
Todd Gilliland led the most laps (133 of 204) but on the final ‘green / white / checker’ he was forced a little high by Smith and Canadian Stewart Friesen was on his outside. Friesen bumped the wall then came back down and into Todd who spun crossing the line for the last lap.
Stewart then spun going into Corner One and his outside chance of getting into the final four came to an end. If NASCAR could duplicate the last 10 laps of this race, they would sell out every race going forward. Talk about pure excitement!
The Final Four, Smith, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton and Nemechek, will duke it out this Friday night, 8 P.M. at Phoenix Raceway.
NHRA: The action was hot and heavy on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway yesterday.
First and foremost, congratulations to both The Strip and NHRA for nailing the track prep. Only one Top Fueler (ironically it was the Paton Racing car driven by Cameron Ferre) overpowered the track along with four Funny Cars.
Steve Torrence, once again, marched through the Top Fuel field taking out Mike Salinas in the final. Salinas had taken out low qualifier Brittany Force in the semis. Cruz Pedregon seems to have returned to form winning over Ron Capps in Funny Car.
Lyle Barnett prevailed in Pro Mod besting JR Gray for the win. Sadly there were only 11 cars at Vegas. Dallas Green won again in Pro Stock topping Erica Enders. Steve Johnson won Pro Stock Bike over Karen Stoffer.
Aaron Stanfield took out Tony Stewart’s fiancée Leah Pruett in Factory Stock Showdown. That is the popular class stocked with those bad boy factory hot rods that can be bought from GM, Ford and Mopar!!
Torrence now leads Brittany in Top Fuel by 73 points going into the finals at Pomona in two weeks with Justin Ashley third, 147 back. Ron Capps has a ONE-point lead over Matt Hagan in Funny Car with JR Todd third a distant 83 points out.
Greg Anderson still leads Pro Stock by 81 points (about a 4 round advantage making him almost a lock for the championship) despite qualifying number one and losing to Troy Coughlin, Junior in the first round.
Enders is second with Green third. In Pro Stock Bike Matt Smith has a 25-point lead over Angelle Sampey and a 56 lead on Steve Johnson. PS/M has the closest race of the four heading to Pomona.
FORMULA ONE: In Mexico on the November 7 weekend.
IMSA: Their next race, where the GT cars will reunite with the prototypes, will be at the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta on November 13th.
Did You Know?
– Congratulations to Jacques Villeneuve upon winning his first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. A former employee of mine, Bill Burns, is the crew chief for Jacques. AND all those Euro Series cars are built by McColl Racing in London, Ontario. Well done by all!
– It appears that the wheels fell off the tentative Michael Andretti/Sauber deal at COTA. That leaves Colton Herta in IndyCar next year which is a good thing.
– Let’s talk about ‘track limits.’ ‘Track limits’ is the boondoggle that raises its UGLY head at almost every Formula One race. While the stewards were ‘clutching their pearls’ at COTA a week ago about perceived or imagined violations over at Kansas the Cup cars were running all over the racing surface, below the line, three, four and even five wide AND putting on a very entertaining race. Which sanctioning body has got it right? Hmm.
– Jim Head crew member and hauler driver Dylan Cromwell, 23, was tragically killed in an accident on I-70 just west of Indianapolis last Sunday when a big rig going the opposite direction crossed over and hit his truck in a construction zone. He was heading for Las Vegas for the NHRA National Event.
Until next week!!
- By Dave Mathers
Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 Speedco Ford, and Zane Smith, and Stewart Friesen, driver of the #52 Halmar International Toyota, are involved in an incident under the white flag as Tanner Gray, driver of the #15 Ford Performance Ford, Austin Hill, driver of the #16 United Rentals Toyota, and Zane Smith, driver of the #21 MRC Construction Chevrolet, avoids the incident during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway. CREDIT Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle). CREDIT NHRA