Sprint Cup: Hollywood Ending for Unlikely Teams – It was quite the super finish for a number of NASCAR’s “underdog” teams Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.
Behind Superman of Jimmie Johnson driving to another victory in 2016 there were 31 cars who finished on the lead lap in an afternoon littered with tire failures and side-by-side competition. Of the 31 drivers, eight stood out as truly impressive runs.
The first was handed to Premium Motorsports and Cole Whitt. The team suffered the agony of missing the Daytona 500 in February and has brought their No. 98 entry to the track each week since. Sunday saw Whitt stay on the lead lap and finish 26th, tying the team’s best result since July 2014 and earning their second lead-lap finish in its history.
Clint Bowyer has been a tough find so far in 2016 as he continues to adapt to the changing grounds of HScott Motorsports. Fontana, however, saw Bowyer bounce back from a flat tire to score an 18th-place finish, the two-car team’s best result of the year.
In terms of a boost for an organization, Roush Fenway Racing will be high on momentum before this Easter break for at least one of its three teams following a fifth-place effort by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. He made contact with rookie Chase Elliott, who ran a phenomenal race in the top 5 almost all day before coming home sixth. – Zach Catanzareti
In defense of Busch, debris clearly flew off his car as he drove into Turn 1. It is hard to tell, however, whether that debris was metal or chunks of rubber. More importantly, a caution on the white flag lap would have ended the race. Perhaps Busch would have won if NASCAR had acted quickly, but once most people realized what was going on, Daniel Suarez had taken the lead anyway. Regardless, the race would have been decided by officials in the control tower.
Instead, NASCAR determined that the track was safe enough to let the race play out. That decision was the right one, and one that worked to the benefit of the fans. It is true that NASCAR has thrown cautions for lesser debris in the past. Yet if the officials say that there is not a dangerous situation on the track, there is no reason to change the outcome of the race. Besides, can you imagine the uproar if NASCAR did throw the caution and ended the race? The fans got treated to a fantastic finish, one that would not have happened if NASCAR had pulled the trigger and dropped the yellow flag. – Bryan Gable
Formula 1: Horrific Crash Adds to Wild Race at the Australian Grand Prix – The Formula 1 season began this past Sunday in quite a wild fashion. The grand prix, held in Melbourne, Australia, featured the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen racing past their Mercedes foes at the surprising start.
On Lap 18, as the Alonso chased Gutierrez into turn 3, the two collided with Alonso catching the left rear of Gutierrez’s Haas F1 car. The incident propelled Alonso first into the the left wall, sent him airborne, then had him roll into the outside barrier.
The scary incident left little of Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, but somehow he emerged from the wreck and limped away.
Gutierrez and Alonso conferred with one another and then both left the track.
In interviews afterward, Alonso said that he thought of his ‘mum’ and that the safety of the cars is something that should be applauded stating that “we are both happy and talking here.” The stewards took no action and deemed the collision to be a racing incident.
The accident caused the race to be red-flagged, one that Nico Rosberg eventually won.
For a more humorous take: – Huston Ladner
NHRA: First-Time Winner Part Two – Last race out, the Top Fuel final came down to two drivers running for their first win in the class. One of those drivers, the one who came out on the short end of that win, was Brittany Force. Just one race later she found herself on the other side of the equation, facing off in the final at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals against Terry McMillen, making his first final round appearance ever in his sponsor’s race, and she came up as the winner this time around.
Force’s 3.772 seconds, 318.77 mph was good enough to beat McMillen’s engine-grenading 3.981 seconds, 266.90 mph. She also defeated Morgan Lucas, Tripp Tatum, and Dave Connolly en route to the finals. Force has knocked on this door for quite awhile, scoring seven runner up finishes before finally sealing the deal.
“It feels good to finally bring home the win,” said Force. “Our car was on fire all weekend. It went down there and had great runs. This is a very proud moment for me and the John Force Racing team, the Monster Energy team. It took everyone to get us here.”
In what was a good day all around for John Force Racing, Robert Hight took home the Wally in the Funny Car class, making a 4.429 second, 280.95 mph tire spinning pass to defeat Ron Capps, who also struggled with traction issues. Hight beat Terry Haddock, Matt Hagan, and Chad Head in the earlier rounds to face off against Capps.
More of the same in Pro Stock as the Summit teams continues to dominate and we see our first repeat winner of the year in Greg Anderson. Anderson beat teammate Jason Line on a holeshot, using a .009 reaction time to parlay his slower 6.598 seconds, 210.01 mph into a win over Line’s 6.581 seconds, 210.57 mph. Anderson got by V. Gaines, Jeg Coughlin, and Allen Johnson on his way to the finals.
Pro Stock Motorcycle returned for the first time in 2016 this weekend with the Harley Davidson team striking the first blow as fast qualifier Eddie Krawiec also came up with the event win, running 6.820 seconds, 198.23 mph to beat runner-up Hector Arana’s 6.920 seconds, 196.44 mph. Krawiec also beat Michael Phillips, Jerry Savoie, and teammate Andrew Hines to advance to the final round. – Toni Montgomery