This Week In Motorsports


Motorsports News by David Vodden  

Motorsports News by David Vodden

Sprint car fans were treated to an exceptional three nights of racing on the tricky-fast Tulare Fairgrounds dirt oval with the running of the 25th anniversary of the Trophy Cup.  Created by San Jose, Ca. resident, Dave Pusatera who is a race fan in the extreme, the race format featured fully inverted starts which, more than anything else, created awesome racing. Eight-eight cars participated. The format over the three days used passing points and finishing points, a system that is too complicated to go into here. In the end there were two big winners, the driver who accumulated the most points over the three days and the first-place finisher in the 50-lap main event on Saturday night. Jac Haudenschild won the overall point title and is the 2018 Trophy Cup Champion. He collected the $25,000 that went with it.  Willie Croft won the Saturday main event and collected $10,050 for that effort. All twenty-four main event starters earned at least $5,000. The total purse for the three-days was $197,975. To say that this winged sprint car race is the biggest and the best in California is an understatement. Created by a fan who wanted to see passing and who wanted to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Trophy Cup, held annually in October, is a must-see event.

Hyundai Motor-America was at Thunderhill Park all week introducing their new “N” series high performance cars. The fast-little machines were most impressive with 275 horsepower and a litany of performance features dealing with handling, shocks, differential, brakes and much more. The top of the line for this car model was reported to be priced at under $30,000. It appeared to be targeting the Ford Focus and similar cars with much bigger price tags when all the high-performance options are included. These “N” cars will make great track cars. No doubt all the press-people from around the world were impressed and will record the days activities in print, social media and television for many months to come. All of this will identify Thunderhill Park in our home town of Willows as the place they came to play. I imagine the local hotels were replete with foreign accents and new faces. All good!

The NASCAR final in Kansas for the round of twelve was a no-brainer. The four drivers who were below the cut line before the Kansas race started last Sunday were still below the cut line when the race ended. The drivers who were eliminated from the championship quest included: Alex Bowman, Chevrolet; Kyle Larsen, Chevrolet; Brad Keselowski, Ford and Ryan Blaney also in a Ford. The remaining eight contenders who will start the three-race elimination leading to the final four include: Kyle Busch, Toyota; Martin Truex, Toyota; Sunday race winner Chase Elliott in the only Chevrolet; and the Ford drivers of Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Clint Boyer and Kevin Harvick. Eight drivers in five Fords, two Toyotas and one lone Chevy. I think a Ford will win the 2018 NASCAR Championship manufacturer title.  You might also note that four of the eight finalists are all from one team – Stewart/Haas. The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series races at Martinsville this Sunday with the trucks on Saturday. All three divisions convene at Texas the following week and then again at Phoenix Raceway where the final four will be determined for all three divisions. This is like the World Series in a way in that it comes down to the best of the best also known as the luckiest of the rest, and, in the end, only one driver, one team, and one manufacturer will go into the history books as the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Champion. It is a big deal!

The Xfinity race at Kansas was won by John Hunter Nemechek in the Chip Ganassi - #42 Chevrolet. He defeated Daniel Hemric who can’t seem to win even though he is bound for the Monster Cup series taking over the #31 car for Ryan Newman in 2019. The start was the big deal as Justin Allgaier spun in turn two on the first lap and gathered up Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer, to name a few. These drivers are all in the battle for the Xfinity championship. After the first lap wreck it was all about Hemric losing as Nemechek avoided crashing for once and was there to win. Elliott Sadler finished third. The next cutoff for this series goes from eight to the final four. At present the most dominant driver in the Xfinity Series, Christopher Bell, is only one point above the cut-line which demonstrates, once again, that these playoff systems rely heavily on just plain old luck. Joining Bell above the cut line are: Sadler, Hemric, and Red Bluff driver Tyler Reddick. Currently below the cut line are: Matt Tift, multi-time winner, Allgaier, Custer and Cindric. The Xfinity series is off this weekend.

Formula One in Texas last weekend was not won by Lewis Hamilton and Hamilton did not secure the 2019 F-1 Championship. Instead, Kimi Raikkonen won the race in a Ferrari, his first win in over 100 starts. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second after starting eighteenth. Pole sitter Hamilton was third and Vettel finished fourth after yet another early-race spin. The traveling show goes to Mexico next where Hamilton is likely to win the title once and for all. His fourth.  Maybe.

Thunderhill will offer awesome Vintage Car Racing on November 3rd and 4th followed by BMW Club action on the 10th and 11th and then the big 25-Hour Endurance race on December 1st and 2nd. Only the 25-Hour event has an admission fee and it is a paltry $20 which works out to $10 a day, Saturday and Sunday being included. Imagine, some of the best sports entertainment in town, just a few miles away at bargain prices and no one knows. Tell your friends.



Thunderhill Raceway