This Week in Motorsports February 17

This Week in Motorsports February 17

by David Vodden

The Daytona 500 is the big item this week. It started Wednesday night with qualifying for forty-two entries seeking one of forty slots in the race. Hendrick cars got the guaranteed front-row staring spots in the form of Kyle Larsen on the pole and Alex Bowman alongside. Hendrick has had a car on the pole of this race for many years. It was interesting to see that Bowman got on the front row for the “Great American Race” for the fifth consecutive year.

So you know, thirty-six of the forty-two cars present are already guaranteed to start in the race. They have a NASCAR Charter that gives them this guarantee.  It grants a starting spot in every NASCAR CUP race in 2022. This leaves four spots available for six uncharted teams. Four of these will race on Sunday. Two will not. The fastest two among this group get to start based on qualifying. That turned out to be Noah Gragson and Jacques Villeneuve. The other four in this group include returning NASCAR veteran Gregg Biffle, J. J. Yeley, Kaz Grala and Timmy Hill. The final two starters from these four will be the one who finished ahead in their two 150 lap races on Thursday.  Since this is all about speed in a straight line, the best cars and not the best drivers will complete the forty-car field.

Friday saw the always exciting Camping World Trucks on track in what has been one of the most entertaining races of speed weeks each year. Saturday both the Xfinity series cars and the ARCA cars will be on track and on television. These cars can provide good racing and good crashes, but there is no guarantee.

At the CUP level NASCAR and the media people are concerned that the drivers will slog through all but the 500-mile race because there are very few back up cars in their shops. This is due to production delays at the single source for all that makes a NASCAR Cup car these days. As said many times ,anyone can win the Daytona 500 depending on missing crashes and the elimination of the best of the best so that who is left can beat whomever else is left, to the checkered flag.  The old adage that the best cars and drivers rise to the top and win has been proven wrong many times at the Daytona and Talladega races. Or, as Tony Stewart liked to say, “It’s a crap shoot!” Pick your favorite driver and hope he misses all the crashes and can cross the line after 500 miles.

The National Hot Rod Association starts this weekend in Pomona CA. This year has a lot of unknowns as teams have shifted and drivers have come back and no one has really left. There are eight new teams at the NITRO level including last year’s Pomona winners Leah Pruett in Top Fuel Dragsters and Ron Capps in Top Fuel Funny Cars. It will be interesting to see if Tony Stewart is in Pomona Ca. or Daytona Beach Florida this weekend?  Make your bet. Tony owns his wife’s dragster. That would be Leah Pruett. This is the 71stseason for the drag racing series that started on the dry lakes in Southern California where Wally Parks saw what was happening.  He believed it could become a national series traversing the country, stopping at all major dragstrips along the way. It is too early to predict the top dogs in NHRA in 2022 with the exception of Steve Torrence, the reigning Top Fuel dragster champion. We will have to see someone beat him before we take his CAPCO Team off the sure bet title winners list.

Silver Dollar Speedway has an abbreviated schedule on tap this year under the direction of Brad Sweet and Colby Copeland with financing from Kyle Larsen and hard work done by Lowell Moural of CycleLand fame. This Sunday will see an open practice, play day at the Chico Fairgrounds Speedway.It is free to watch from noon until about 4pm. The first race of the year will take place March 4th and 5th. It will feature the popular winged sprint cars. One-month later Monster Trucks take over the stadium for that kind of fun. The sprint cars fire off again on June 3rd and 4th.  June 17th, July 4th, August 26th.All of this leads up to the Gold Cup Race of Champions set for September 7-10th.  Sprint cars return for the last time September 30th and October 1st. There are four Monster Truck nights within the schedule and fifteen sprint car and other class races totaling nineteen chances to sit in the grandstands and watch motorsports competition.

Marysville Speedway east of Yuba City has a full season of weekly racing, four monster truck shows and some special events, one being for Dwarf cars.  This privately owned racetrack starts on February 26th and then begins weekly racing starting March 12th.

NASCAR TV is all FOX with the 500 on FOX network TV. The restof Speed Week is on Fox Sports TV.  NHRA is on FOX TV too. Monster Energy Supercross is showing on Peacock TV. You cansee USAC sprints and midgets plus World of Outlaw races on YouTube.

Get ready. The motorsports non-stop television presentation begins now.