NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Rainy Day Blues, Record Setting Trucks & Late Model Success

Sprint Cup: Another Drenched Day in Pocono – Pocono Raceway now holds a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record as the only track to have two rainouts in a single season.

Needless to say, that’s not the record the 2.5-mile racetrack would hope to achieve, as Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 was postponed from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning at 11 a.m. due to on-and-off showers.

Before you think Monday is the day of racing, don’t get too excited. According to Brian Neudorff – who is better known as @NASCAR_WXMAN on Twitter – there is a chance of scattered showers and storms in the afternoon. This forecast can lead to an intense race on Monday for the fans and competitors.

Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway Postponed to Monday Morning 

With strategy always standing as a hot, erratic variable in Pocono’s history, a chance of rain can and will add a level of intensity for the field, as they will plan on racing to halfway [Lap 80 of 160].

Additionally, the Richard Childress Racing trio of Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon [and every other team without a win this season] may have just received what they needed to beat the Joe Gibbs Racing foursome. – Zach Catanzareti

XFINITY Series: Josh Berry Scores Top 10 at Iowa – Late model racer Josh Berry made his first appearance of 2016 in the XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway Saturday night.  Driving the JR Motorsports No. 88 car, Berry raced to a ninth-place finish, but not without a few bumps along the way.

Berry started sixth and ran in the top 10 for most of the evening.  However, trouble struck during a restart on lap 158.  Berry appeared to miss a shift and struggled to get up to speed, causing him to get hit from behind by Daniel Suarez.

XFINITY Breakdown: Erik Jones Cruises to Victory in Iowa

The resulting damage ended Suarez’s night, but Berry was able to continue.  He was still able to turn quick lap times, even with the spoiler kicked higher into the air and the rear bumper torn to pieces.  Though Berry faded a little in the closing laps, he sealed up his second top 10 in four career starts.  It was a good finish after a potentially disastrous situation. Bryan Gable

Camping World Truck Series: William Byron Scores Record Fifth Win – His win in Saturday afternoon’s Pocono Mountains 150 marked William Byron’s fifth trip to Victory Lane in 12 races this season (a whopping 41.7 percent). The feat surpasses Kurt Busch’s record of four wins as a rookie, set back during his 2000 Truck Series campaign.

“That’s pretty crazy,” Byron said of breaking the elder Busch brother’s record. “I grew up watching Kurt and Kyle (Busch) and guys like Jimmie Johnson. Those are my idols. Now I’m out here on the race track racing on the same race track and it’s pretty neat. So, I’m trying to take it in one race at a time.”

Tracking the Trucks: William Byron Makes History at Pocono

And based on how he’s run so far this season, it’s not that far off base to expect that Byron will continue to notch more wins in the remaining 10 races on the schedule. In fact, he could actually surpass Greg Biffle’s single season winning record at nine with a little luck on his side, though there are plenty of winless drivers this season that would love to stand in his way and punch their ticket for the inaugural Chase. Either way, one thing is for sure: Byron is a talented driver who is destined to a bright future in the sport. Beth Lunkenheimer

NHRA: Rolling On With the Western Swing – The second leg of the NHRA’s Western Swing, the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, played out in front of a sellout crowd. Those fans could not have been disappointed with the great racing they saw in the Mello Yello Series categories, with J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) standing atop the winner’s stage by the end of the day.

Force upped his career win total to an amazing 145 Funny Car victories with his win over Ron Capps. Force ran 3.948 seconds, 324.59 mph to defeat a 3.960 second, 320.13 mph pass by Capps. As the only driver to repeat from last week and win the second leg of the Western Swing, John Force is now the only driver with a chance to get the sweep of all three events, a feat he accomplished once before in 1994.

“We won Denver and that got me motivated,” Force said. “My daughter (Courtney Force) and Robert (Hight) were outrunning me in Denver but we got the win. We knew it was going to be a different animal here. We got down here and I was amazed.”

Force also had to beat all of his own Funny Cars to get there, defeating Alexis DeJoria, along with teammates Robert Hight and Courtney Force in earlier rounds. DeJoria made contact with the wall after her car made a hard left off the starting line in that first round loss and suffered a fractured pelvis. The injury will not require surgery, but her status for the next race in Seattle is in question.

J.R. Todd got tired of being the runner-up, a position he’s found himself in three times prior this season, and took down Richie Crampton with a 3.745 second, 324.83 mph run to Crampton’s 3.806 seconds, 313.07 mph. Neither driver had posted a win in 2016, guaranteeing a new face hoisting the Wally in Top Fuel.

“It has been a long time coming for these SealMaster boys,” said Todd. “We have been to a few finals and haven’t been able to close the deal. I had all the faith and confidence in Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn and they made the right calls all day.”

Todd also beat Clay Millican, Antron Brown, and teammate Doug Kalitta en route to the finals.

After a slight hiccup that saw the only Pro Stock final of the season without a KB Racing car last week in Denver, the team got things back on track, with Greg Anderson facing off against Bo Butner in the finals. Give it to Anderson with a 6.580 second, 210.54 mph run over Butner’s 6.622 seconds, 210.70 mph. Anderson had a bye run in the first run after Alan Prusiensky was unable to make the run, and then defeated Vincent Nobile and Shane Gray to get to the finals.

Andrew Hines won the Pro Bike Battle all-star event on Saturday and looked poised to make it a weekend sweep when he advanced to the finals on Sunday, but LE Tonglet had other ideas and scored his first win in five years with a 6.813 second, 196.73 mph pass besting Hines’ 6.864 second, 194.52 mph run. Tonglet also got by Katie Sullivan, Hector Arana, and Eddie Krawiec in earlier rounds. Toni Montgomery

Formula 1: Hamilton Wins… Again – Nico Rosberg may have earn the pole for his home grand prix but a poor start felled his race and allowed teammate Lewis Hamilton to race past and go on to with at F1’s return to Hockenheim. The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen crossed in second and third, respectively.

For Rosberg, the race proved to be a trying one as his poor start left him in fourth for much of the early part of the race though through pit stops he made his way to second and looked poised to recover. However, a questionable move while racing Verstappen, where Rosberg seemed to push him off the track, led to a five-second penalty. Then, while in the pits serving the penalty, the team mis-timed his penalty, which ultimately dropped him to his finishing position of fourth.

For Hamilton, everything has gone right since he and Rosberg collided at the Spanish Grand Prix. For Rosberg, things have seemed to fallen apart, as he has lost his championship lead and now has had difficulty closing out races in the dominant Mercedes.
One particular note. Bernie Ecclestone, F1 supremo, faced difficult circumstances recently. His mother-in-law, Aparecida Schunck, was taken hostage in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and held for ransom. She was freed after a major police operation removed her from the situation. – Huston Ladner

IndyCar: Bowtie Brigrade Survives Honda Scare For Sixth-Straight Win – For much of the final 60 laps at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it appeared Chevrolet’s stranglehold on the Verizon IndyCar Series might finally be lifted thanks to some creative strategy and luck. However, after two separate issues from Mikhail Aleshin and Conor Daly, Chevrolet was able to keep the streak alive.

Taking the pole with Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet seemed to be in good position to continue their success in the 90-lap event. However, untimely cautions and differing pit strategies allowed Honda drivers like Aleshin and Daly to lead laps and contend for the race victory. It wasn’t until a pit road mishap and fuel mileage woes affected the two young drivers that Pagenaud and Will Power were able surge to the lead and -ultimately- the victory.

Mikhail Aleshin Loses Mid-Ohio Chance to Pit Road Mishap

Conor Daly Positive After Caution-Free Finish Ruins Mid-Ohio Upset

With the win, Chevrolet has earned six-straight IndyCar race victories on the year, stretching back to the Detroit Grand Prix. In fact, Honda has only one win in the opening 12 rounds of the 2016 tour- Alexander Rossi’s fuel mileage win in the Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet has also gained a stranglehold on the driver’s championship.

IndyCar Championship Turns Into Team Penske Prizefight as 2016 Winds Down

Sports Cars: AMG-Mercedes Ticks Off Everyone in Spa – Last weekend was the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the crown jewel of the Blancplain GT Series.  The race was won by ROWE Racing’s No. 99 BMW M6 GT3 shared by Philipp Eng, Alexander Sims and Maxime Martin by a full lap.

But that’s not why we’re here. Six of the Mercedes AMG-GT’s were presented for initial inspection with one ignition timing setting, then qualified for the race with a different one. They then swept the top 6 spots in qualifying.

Once the violation of homolgation was discovered, all six cars had their times disallowed, moving them to the back of the top 20 teams that participated in Friday’s Superpole. They were then hit with a stop and five minute hold that had to be served in the first two hours of the race.

The result was anger from everyone involved.  The penalty forced all the Mercedes teams to spend the entire 24 hours playing catch-up. Having said that, the best Mercedes (the No. 88 AKKA-ASP entry of Felix Rosenqvist, Tristan Vautier and IMSA regular Renger van der Zande) finished second overall, a lap down.

Others were angry that the Mercedes teams were allowed to qualifying with the illegal settings. Another group wanted the Mercedes excluded from the weekend (i.e. an outright booting).  Regardless, that is not the end of this mess. – Phil Allaway

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Russ

It will be interesting to see how the aftershocks from Spa tuen out. I imagine the other manufacturers will be lobbying hard for Mercedes to excluded or pay some additional price for their games at Spa.

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