A bit of housekeeping and two public service announcements before Splash And Go begins. Sorry for the lack of recent posts — I was splashing and going on vacation last week. And if you’re 18 or older and a U.S. citizen, please vote today. You lose your right to complain about your government if you don’t do anything about changing it. Finally, please help Hoosiers in need by donating to the 1 Lap, 1 Great Cause food drive at IMS.
On to racing.
Talladega was an interesting show last Sunday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but it wasn’t the decisive “wild-card” race many expected. All it did was reinforce that this is a three-man show with three races to go, as Jimmie Johnson leads Denny Hamlin by 14 points and Kevin Harvick by 38 points.
This is the kind of bandstand finish that NASCAR envisioned when it created the Chase. I’m starting to believe that Harvick can be the dark horse in this race and take it all, as he has the right attitude regarding the final three races: Top-10 finishes, simply staying out of trouble, don’t cut it.
Harvick also has a consistent, solid teammate to help him, Clint Bowyer. Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin are too inconsistent to be solid wingmen for Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to be largely irrelevant. Kyle Busch is too much of a wild man and wild card to be much of a help for Hamlin, and Joey Logano is no factor.
Take a minute to think about Bowyer. He has won two of the seven races during the Chase. Yet he’s 12th and last in the Chase standings because of the 150-point penalty levied by NASCAR for driving an illegal car to victory lane in the Chase opener in September at Loudon.
Bowyer deserves applause. He’s driving hard, like a man with nothing to lose, despite being buried in the Chase because his car was out of whack by about the width of a hair. He’s the Chase’s version of the Buffalo Bills, still playing with intensity despite being 0-7.
The “Big One,” which ESPN’s announcers seemingly so desperately wanted to see last Sunday at Talladega, never really happened until A.J. Allmendinger’s wild ride on the final lap that precipitated the extending scoring review to determine Bowyer edged teammate Harvick for the victory.
But there was a massive wreck last Sunday in the DTM (German touring car) race at Adria, Italy. This looked every bit like a tumble-and-spin job from restrictor-plate racing, yet it was on a road course. Thankfully driver Alexandre Premat was OK:
It takes a big story to push the Chase aside in NASCAR-land during a Sprint Cup weekend in the fall, but the death of longtime NASCAR and racetrack executive Jim Hunter did just that last weekend. And Hunter was worthy of every bit of praise coming from all corners. He was old school, someone who listened as much as he talked. Someone who understood the media and its job. Trust me when I say that is a rare commodity today among motorsports executives.
Godspeed to Hunter, a true giant.
MotoGP finishes its 2010 season this weekend with the Grand Prix of Valencia in Spain after an exhilarating Sunday of races at Portugal. The MotoGP and Moto2 titles are locked and salted away by Jorge Lorenzo and Toni Elias, respectively, but just 17 points separate leader Marc Marquez and Nicolas Terol in the 125cc points.
American rookie standout Ben Spies never started the race in Portugal, as he crashed on the sighting lap and suffered an ankle injury. Spies insists he’ll make his final ride on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine this weekend, regardless of the injury, before moving to the factory Yamaha team Monday when 2011 preparations start at a big test at Valencia.
Another rider on the move, seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, insists this will be an emotional final weekend with Yamaha before he moves to Ducati in 2011. Somehow, I think that’s good spin from The Doctor. Yes, he won four world titles with the Crossed Tuning Forks, but his relations with the team have been icy this season as Lorenzo has emerged as the golden child.
Plus Rossi is bringing wizard crew chief Jerry Burgess and his crew with him to Ducati. So I don’t think the Yamaha finale will resemble an episode of “One Life to Live” for Vale.
The MotoGP silly season merry-go-round continues to twirl, as new Moto2 champion Elias will return to MotoGP in 2011 with LCR Honda. On a more ominous note, the Interwetten Honda team confirmed its exit from MotoGP after this season.
With only 16 or 17 bikes on the grid next season, the new regulations to lower costs and encourage more entries for 2012 can’t come soon enough.
I started this blog with a couple of public service announcements, so I’ll end it with a reminder. Tickets for the 2011 Brickyard 400 and Red Bull Indianapolis GP go on sale at 8 a.m. (ET) Thursday, Nov. 4. That’s this Thursday.
Race Day general admission tickets start at just $30 for the Brickyard and $40 for the bike race, and kids 12 and under are free with any adult general admission. That’s a smokin’ deal in this or any economy, so please visit imstix.com or come to the Speedway Ticket Office on Thursday to get your great seats for these two fine, fun events.
We’d love to see you at the track next July and August!