This Week in Motorsports - July 8

This Week in Motorsports - July 8

by David Vodden

The Sunday night show at Silver Dollar Speedway last weekend had a great crowd and a great fireworks The local fairgrounds speedway has a series of big events planned with the next one on July 23rd. It is a labeled as a special “Salute to Chico”.  Another big event is the Louie Vermeil Classic, a non-wing sprint car race that honors the memory of the founder of the Northern Auto Racing Club [NARC]. The two-day tribute has been held at the old Calistoga Speedway, Vermeils hometown and track, for twelve years. The date for the Chico version is September 4th and 5th. It could be one of the best races of the year at the quarter mile dirt oval located on the fairgrounds in Chico.  A few days later Silver Dollar Speedway will host the World of Outlaws sprint cars in a week of racing action that starts on September 8th and ends on the 11th.  Many folks from Willows make this their annual fix for sprint car racing. The Chico quarter mile is one track where the locals actually have a chance of beating the traveling stars. One problem, the hottest driver in that series is Grass Valley born Brad Sweet. Is he a local or a traveling WoO raider?

NASCAR ran at Road America over the July 4th weekend with the Xfinity and CUP cars sharing the billing. Kyle Busch won the Xfinity race, his 101st in the class. His win was exciting because he spun out, went off track and still won. He was helped a bit by Austin Cindric whose Ford Mustang faded to eighth.  Ty Gibbs was also a contender until his Toyota failed dropping him to his worst finish in his young career of 33rd. Following Busch across the line were: Daniel Hemric, Michael Annett, A. J. Almendinger, and Harrison Burton.

On Sunday in the CUP race, Cindric suffered some sort of drive line problem after battling for the lead with Matt DiBenedetto. Cindric’s efforts denied his desperate teammate a chance at the first stage win and the points he needs to make the playoffs. All for naught.  The long road race was won by Chase Elliott who is now back on top of the talking heads pedestal for road race wins. Elliott started deep in the field and was clearly the best car and driver in the race as demonstrated by his drive to the front. Christopher Bell took second in his second-best performance of the year. He won the first road race of the season for the CUP cars at Daytona. Kyle Busch took third making it a good weekend for the popular driver. His brother Kurt took fourth and moved into the top sixteen eligible for the playoffs based on points with six-point races to go. Denny Hamlin finished fifth and kept the regular season point lead by three markers over Kyle Larsen who finished sixteenth after being spun out by his teammate Alex Bowman late in the race. After crashing Larsen, Bowman had to pit and ended up twenty second in the scoring while the other Hendrick driver, William Byron, finished thirty-third. There was lots action in the television version of the race because of the turns, elevation changes and the old, narrow course that rambled for four miles to complete a lap.  

The NASCAR contingent starts this weekend with the truck series Friday night on the flat, smooth dirt track in Knoxville, Iowa.  I think this track is ideal for the trucks and will present a better, less dusty race for the fans. See it in FOX Sports. The rest of the troupe, Xfinity and CUP, will race at Atlanta Motor Speedway which will operate in its present configuration for the last time. The track will be repaved and turned into a “Super-speedway” like Daytona but only 1.5 miles long. 28 degrees of banking and a forty-foot wide track are in the offing. The announcement of these changes created a buzz in the industry with both favorable and unfavorable responses. We will all see the outcome next spring.

Josef Newgarden finally won for Roger Penske in the Indy Car series that Roger owns. It is hard to believe that this team of four top drivers had not won yet.  Newgarden led 72 of the 80 laps that made up the race at the Mid-Ohio road course. Newgarden had dominated the last two Indy car races only to have mechanical woes take him out with a few laps to go. Marcus Ericsson took second with teammates Alex Palou and Scott Dixon following. All three drive for Penske arch-rival, Chip Ganassi.  Alexander Rossi finished fifth. The racing was good in this series except for Newgarden not being seriously challenged for the win. The Indy cars take a break until August 8th when they will appear on the streets of Nashville for a completely new event.

Max Verstappen continues his dominance of the Formula One world by leading every lap and winning over Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton in Austria.  The F-1 gang is off for their summer break which cannot come soon enough for the faltering Mercedes juggernaut.

NASCAR will take two weeks off starting after the New Hampshire race July 18th and return August 8th. This is so NBC can cover the Olympics in Japan.

NHRA drag racing is off this weekend but resumes the following weekend in Denver and then comes to nearby Sonoma Raceway on July 23-25. This is your chance to see real ground-pounding, nitro-burning dragsters and funny cars in serious competition. Go for the noise and stay for the finals.

Orland Raceway ran last Saturday night and shows activity at the fairgrounds this weekend and every remaining weekend in July. Best to check as the heat is causing cancellations in a lot of outdoor activity these days but not at Thunderhill Park.