This Week In Motorsports
MOTORSPORTS NEWS: By David Vodden
There has been a lot of good racing going on these past few weeks. The Friday night show at Silver Dollar Speedway, June 29th, saw a last-lap pass and crash involving Tanner Carrick and Andy Forsberg in the winged 360 sprint car show. Carrick was in front when the white flag fell on the quarter mile track, indicating one more lap. In turn one, Forsberg muscled his way past Carrick, who was looking for his first ever win in the sprinters at Chico. Carrick, perhaps with a little emotional inspiration [You think?] drove into the third turn without lifting and collected Forsberg. The contact sent the young charger up and over in turn four while the badly damaged car of Forsberg limped to the finish line just inches ahead of Tanner Thorson. Forsberg had bumped Thorsen off the track on lap one. Michael Kofoid was also there making it a three-wide dash-to-the finish. Computer timing and scoring said that Andy Forsberg won in what could only be described as wow racing! This is what race fans want so badly when the pay to see any form of auto racing. If this sounds familiar advance to last Sunday when hard charging Kyle Larsen in his greatly inferior Chip Ganassi, Chevrolet #42, came on strong in the closing laps in the Monster energy feature at Chicago Land Speedway. He was trying to catch late-race leader Kyle Busch. Using a high line around the 1.5-mile oval, Larsen tried a slide job for the lead entering turn one with three turns to go. Exiting the second turn Larsen did not complete the pass and made side-to-side contact with leader Busch causing Busch to bounce off the wall. The loss of momentum by Busch in his far superior Joe Gibbs, Toyota #18, allowed Larsen to zoom into the lead. As expected, an irate Kyle Busch drove into turn three with only one intent, to kill Larsen. He hit him hard right in the center of the turn and then proceeded to hit the outside wall. Busch had no chance of making the turn and crashing Larsen. After being hit on the rear bumper, Larsen executed the best-ever NASCAR dirt-track slide through most of the fourth turn only losing forward direction and momentum long enough for Busch to limp past him and win. Larsen powered back up and finished second. Remarkably he gave Kyle Busch a thumbs-up on the cool-off lap because he, Larsen, felt that the whole experience was fun and “good racing”. Go figure. When Kyle Busch got out of his car on the front chute, per the new NBC procedure for greeting the winner, the roar of the crowd was inspiring-boos. Busch rubbed his eyes simulating “cry-baby fans” and added his fifth win to his 2018 season record and forty-eight career wins in the Monster Energy cars. Later Larsen went to Busch’s pits and shook his hand thanking him for the great racing experience. Wow! Imagine what Kyle Bush would have done if their roles were reversed. The NASCAR media immediately began espousing that Kyle Busch won fair and square because Larsen hit him first. They used Larsen’s own responses to the incident to repeat, over and over, that it was all, “just good racing”. And so, it was. It was the racing drama that fans want and used to expect when going to auto races, that is until efforts to sterilize the sport began to show their effects.
Larsen won the Xfinity NASCAR race on Saturday at the same Chicago track, once again, using the high-high line. It was the first time that the #42 Ganassi-Xfinity Chevrolet had won in the series since Larsen did it earlier in the year. The “Kyle and Kyle show” with Busch and Larsen, has a score card of Busch 8, Larsen 0. Not good. Larsen simply will not move another driver out of the way intentionally. Not! He reminds me of Mark Martin, a nice guy who, essentially, finished last because he would not do whatever it took to win. Drivers who would and do include: Dale Earnhardt Sr., but not his son, Darrel Waltrip, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and many more. I will end this with, “Nice guys finish last”. For the record, Larsen won the following Tuesday night in a Pennsylvania Posse winged sprint car race after finishing second with the same group on Monday. That gave the Elk Grove driver an Xfinity win Saturday, a Monster energy second place on Sunday, a sprint car runner up on Monday and another sprint car win on Tuesday. He won against some of the best winged sprint car drivers in the nation who are known as the “Pennsylvania Posse.” You have to respect this guy’s talent. His fellow drivers are his biggest fans because they know that he, and he alone, is carrying the Ganassi-NASCAR race team and Chevrolet on his back in 2018.
The Formula One race in Austria had some of the same entertaining and unpredictable drama. The short version is: Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas, should have finished one-two again. Neither finished. Lewis Hamilton lost the series point lead to Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel by a single point going into Silverstone this weekend. Mercedes lost the Constructors point lead to Ferrari. Vettel fell way back at the start of the race but still managed a third-place finish. Kimi Raikkonen made many dramatic moves and finished second. Max Verstappen won his first F-1 race of the year in his Red Bull machine and the USA F-1 Team of NASCAR team owner Gene Haas, got their best results ever scoring fourth with Romain Grosjean and fifth with Kevin Magnussen. It was unpredictable and entertaining enhanced greatly by the F-1 television coverage that leads the way in all aspects of professional motorsports television production. Meanwhile NBC’s NASCAR coverage sucked, except for new television commentator Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was good but lost out in the competition for the most words spoken in a broadcast by four  on-air talking heads. Jeff Burton talked the most and spoiled the show in doing so.
I hope the upcoming weeks of motorsports locally and on television and radio can match what we saw last weekend. It was scary good!