This Week In Motorsports
Motor sports News by David Vodden
Local news reported that Fallon, Nevada sprint and midget car driving-ace, Tanner Thorsen, was seriously injured in an early-morning highway accident returning from the World of Outlaw races in Las Vegas. Reports said that Thorsen failed to slow for a construction zone and rear-ended a large milk-truck totally destroying the truck he was driving. Fatigue was blamed. Thorson’s injuries were not deemed life-threatening but his racing season is likely over for 2019. Thorson is the 2016, USAC National midget driving champion, a veteran of Red Bluff and Cycle Land Outlaw karts and current driver for Clyde Lamar in the famous Tri-C white and blue number three made famous by the late Dave Bradway Jr. Thorson was driving Lamar’s truck and pulling the race car trailer behind. The race car was uninjured.
NASCAR is moving their year-end annual awards banquet to Nashville, Tennessee this year. After almost a decade in sin-City, the NASCAR family was replete with praise for NASCAR executives who made the decision.
The NASCAR race weekend in Las Vegas left me scratching my head. Zero-yellow flags in the Monster Energy race and only a few late-race incidents in the Xfinity and Gander Truck races, the two previous days. The lack of excitement left most fans in the stands with a feeling that they had been gypped. Accidents and other drama-filled incidents are part of the entertainment package that fans pay to see. No matter what anyone says, the absence of any “drama” of this kind is like dinner at an expensive restaurant without the fine wine. NASCAR races qualify as expensive.
Post event dialog cited the lack of drama in the races and how boring Las Vegas Speedway is when it comes to getting what you come to see or watch on television. The same pundits that said Daytona was “different” and Atlanta was “not a true test”, promising that Vegas would be, are back-pedaling faster than Kyle Busch can drive through pit road. “We need more time to assess the new package that will allow the cars to pass more and race together,” they say. Poppy cock! Their messing with the show never seems to work. Give the drivers more horsepower than they can use and force them to modulate the throttle and manage the brakes and avoid crashing by being smart. Then, perhaps, all these theoretical applications of aero-management will simply go blow away and the racing will return to racing.
For the record Kyle Busch won what I thought was the best race of the weekend, the Gander RV/Truck event on Friday night. This was not necessarily a good race out front, but it did have a lot of good racing going on through out the pack. I watched as Natalie Decker and Angela Ruch race each other side by side, passing back and forth, and marveled that this was the first time that I had seen two young gals’ race together. Yes, we have had that one and only lady that battles the “boys” but not two ladies racing each other. It was entertaining to watch. Decker finished 12 and Ruch 16. I have not seen the television version but my guess is that it went unnoticed by the television operation where directors who know nothing about what happens “in” a race, focus on the leaders and little else. This generally means that the on-air announcers, using the television monitors to tell the viewers what they are seeing, also miss most of the good stuff.
Saturday’s Xfinity race was also won by Kyle Busch who, again, did not just drive away or dominate. Behind him, in the closing laps, Christopher Bell, who killed the competition at Atlanta, killed no one at Vegas. In the closing laps Brandon Jones tried to block Cole Custer with and ended up in the wall. A restart in overtime saw second place Tyler Reddick drive in too hard under Busch in turn three and spin. He collected Bell, Austin Cindric and Custer. On the next restart Nemechek gave it his best but fell short as Kyle Busch went on to make it two-for-two in his attempt to sweep his home-town NASCAR race weekend.
Busch would have won the Monster Energy race but on Sunday but he got a speeding penalty on pit row. He was closing rapidly in the final laps only to fall short to winner Joey Logano and second place teammate, Brad Keselowski. Logano was wearing Pennzoil yellow on his car in the race that was sponsored by, you guessed it, Pennzoil Motor Oil. This happens a lot. After the race Busch and Ryan Newman said that the race cars, in their Vegas race trim, were so easy to drive that anyone could do it. They suggested that NASCAR fill the field, [there were 38 entries this week], with fans from the grandstands driving back-up NASCAR show-cars. Logano said it was a tough race, very exhausting and challenging. I’d say the same if I won. You should know that Penske Racing has won eight of the last sixteen Monster races since Darlington and two of the three races run so far this year. Do you know how many times Roger Penske has won the Indy 500? If he transfers this same success to NASCAR, we are in for a long season.
17- year old Hailie Deegan of California won the Thursday night K&N race on the Vegas slick-track. She beat 16-year old grandson of Indy legend Parnelli Jones, Jagger, with a last-lap pass. After the win Deegan was celebrated on every conceivable motor sports media forum and, reportedly, got a six-race deal with Venturini Motorsports to run the ARCA series this season. She is clearly on her way with Toyota backing. She will join the likes of Ruch and Decker offering us the day when many female drivers will make up the starting field in the top-three tiers of NASCAR racing. That same Thursday night the Vegas slick-track played host to the World of Outlaws where Donny Schatz quieted down his fans following a two-race losing streak by taking the win in the last fifty feet from Daryn Pittman who, like Jagger, lost the race thanks to slower, lapped traffic.
SCCA invades Thunderhill Park next weekend, March 16-17, for their season opener. This is a two-day race program featuring nine race groups in action on the 15-turn, three-mile road course. Admission is a bargain at FREE.