This Week In Motorsports
Motorsports News by David Vodden
Get out your sleeping bag because there is a lot of racing in our market for the next seven days occurring at several different venues. Starting today Thunderhill park has two days of motorcycle racing on the three-mile course plus cars on the skid pads as well. This event is FREE which makes attendance for the family very easy, money wise. Orland Raceway is offering a series of sprint car classes as the feature in their show tonight at the Glenn County Fairgrounds. Tonight, it is the first-of-four-night races in a row for outlaw karts at Cycle Land Speedway located on highway 99 south of Chico in route to Oroville. This event culminates on Monday and Tuesday nights with the annual Kyle Larsen Outlaw Kart event on the small dirt oval there. I am told that the talented sprint car driver will be in attendance. [Larson] Also tonight, the famous Calistoga half-mile dirt track there will host 410 Winged sprints and the very exciting non-wing USAC 410 sprint cars from Southern California. This show continues Sunday night in the beautiful tourist hamlet of Calistoga at a venue that reeks of history, drama and danger. I will make the show on Sunday for sure.
After the Larsen program at Cycle Land, Silver Dollar Speedway kicks off the annual Gold Cup Race of Champions Wednesday with two nights of high-paying 360-Winged sprint car action leading up to a Friday and Saturday night show for the World of Outlaws. Just about everyone from Willows attends this outlaw event adding to the full house of “once-a-year race fans” at the quarter mile dirt oval. Look for Mike Murray, Ray Mudd, Sean Crandall, the Moore family, Angelo and Carl Gustafson and many more enjoying the high-speed drama.
All of the racing over these four days will be good in different ways. The WoO show offers the national stars of winged sprint car racing starting with the legendary Donny Schatz. This multi-time series champion is the Steve Kinser of today generally winning and forcing all the other drivers to battle for second. Not so at the Chico track. Look for local drivers to excel starting with Tim Kaeding who won the four-night shootout that ran a week ago. Kaeding was the class of the show in a race car that I seriously doubt was in the same class with Kyle Larsen and the other big-buck teams. Tim can win the Gold Cup. So can Sean Becker, Andy Forsberg and a handful of very fast local youngsters who know the track and are fast and capable of beating the best in the business. Outlaws heading to this event include: Grass Valley star and second in points, Brad Sweet; Knoxville winner David Gravel; Kyle Larson team driver, Carson Macedo, Shane Stewart; Logan Schuchart and Daryn Pittman. I expect about 34 winged warriors to do battle over this two-night annual celebration.
Last week Takuma Sato went from villain to victor winning the Indy Car race at Gateway International Speedway in Illinois. The strange turn of events, following last week’s horrific crash at Pocono Raceway that involved Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Felix Rosenquist that could have been a deal-killer, was mostly a result of fuel strategy and luck. It was a win, none the less, for the only Japanese driver to ever win the Indy 500. Sato was blamed for causing the crash at Pocono. He was followed to the podium at Gateway by two other longshots in part time driver, Ed Carpenter and regular last place finisher Tony Kannan. The Indy cars are in Portland this weekend and end their season in Monterey on September 22nd. You should go see this one.
NASCAR MONSTER Series drivers were off last weekend in preparation for the Darlington 500 tonight. In their absence the Gander RV Trucks ran and Motorsports Park in Canada and the Xfinity cars were also on a road course at Road America. The build-up for the truck race was so grandiose, promising a close race with a dramatic last lap crash for the win that it could never have lived up to. It did not. Brett Moffitt won going away, for the second time in what was the second of three races in the first round of their playoff schedule. Now everyone thinks that Moffitt, last years truck champion, is going to win that title again. Maybe. I pick Ross Chastain to be champion. Canadian road racer, Alex Tagliani, driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota and Ben Rhodes made up the top three. The Xfinity cars run today at Darlington at 1pm our time on NBC Sports. It is worth noting that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race in this Xfinity race. I hope he wins.
The Xfinity race at Road America saw Christopher Bell win scoring his first victory on such a venue and adding to his domination in the class. The drama, once again, centered around Matt DiBenedetto who had the best car, a Joe Gibbs Toyota, and who started in the front row and led most of the race. He finished 27th. How he did this is a bit of a sad story to go with last week’s sad story in the Monster race. Suffice it to say, poor Matt is just going to be a sad story when it is all over. No silver slipper and no miracles. You are only as good as your last race in this business and how much money you have to contribute to your cause. Austin Cindric got second followed by Tyler Reddick. The series has three more races before their playoffs schedule begins at Richmond. Last year Bell was also the dominate driver going into the final but did not win the title. Recent predictions by on-air-air say that he will not win again. Really?
This weekend is the NNRA biggest event in Indianapolis at the Lucas Oil Raceway strip. It is called the US Nationals and spans six days. Wow! That is a lot of Nitro Methane! Like the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500, the NHRA US Nationals is a bucket list win for all drag racers. Ron Capps [TFC] and Leah Pritchett [TFD] will enter as the most recent winners on the tour.
Formula One returns after a four-week hiatus with their annual run in Belgium at Spa, one of their most legendary road courses. This event is special for me because I raced at Spa in the VW Fun Cup a few years ago. As a result, all of the visuals and references take on added meaning and excitement. Pundits think that Ferrari can win at Spa but they are picking Charles Leclerc not Sebastian Vettel. Vettel won last year. Honda powered Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and new driver Alexander Albon, plus the omnipotent Mercedes entries of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are all likely winners. Enjoy Au Rue. You have to watch on ESPN to see what I mean.
Labor Day weekend used to be the seasonal end of many motorsports’ programs but not anymore. Still lots of racing left in 2019 especially at Thunderhill where there is always something happening on one of the road courses offered there.