Racers duel in the desert
NASCAR action this past weekend was truly a duel in the desert.
The Xfinity series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series both visited the oval that races like a road course. The Phoenix International Raceway is a tricky tri-oval in that none of the turns are similar in shape or banking. The truck series teams are still recovering from Daytona and will be back in action at Martinsville. in a few weeks.
The D C Solar 200 for the Xfinity teams rolled off under beautiful weather. The action was as hot as the weather. Eric Jones raced off to the early lead and was able to win the first stage. Ryan Blaney was the class of the field in the second stage and took the win in that part.
Tempers flared toward the end of the race. Cup regular Austin Dillon and Xfinity regular Cole Custer tangled in what appeared to me to be just hard racing. Cole bumped Austin and he slid into the outside wall. Austin then drove slowly around the bottom of the track and suddenly cut across the track and slammed Custer into the outside wall.
NASCAR parked Dillon for the remainder of the event. This was really no consequence for him because his damage would have probably parked him anyway.
Austin finished 33rd and Cole raced back to 21st. NASCAR called both drivers and spotters to the official’s truck after the event and no further fines were issued.
Justin Allgaier raced his way into position to win the Xfinity $100,000 dash for cash bonus for Xfinity regulars and he held off Cup star Ryan Blaney for the win and the big check. Eric Jones finished third. William Byron and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five.
Temperatures were in the 90s on Sunday and in-car temps soared to over 140 degrees. The Camping World 500 rolled off and Joey Logano streaked away to win the first stage. Chase Elliott took the lead and drove off to capture the second stage.
Matt Kenseth was one of several drivers to explode a right front tire and slam into the safer barrier. His accident happened with around 100 laps remaining in the event.
Kyle Busch had been steadily improving his car and he took the lead late and seemed to have the race won. He had more than a four-second margin over second-place Kyle Larson. Then with only seven laps remaining, Joey Logano exploded a right front tire and slammed the first turn wall to bring out the caution flag. Kyle Busch and most of the lead lap cars came down pit road for two fresh right-side tires. Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and Martin Truex Jr. stayed on the track.
It took several laps to clean the track and when the race resumed only two laps remained. Ryan Newman pulled away with the lead. Stenhouse and Kyle Larson bumped as they entered the first turn. This broke their momentum and every one’s behind them.
Ryan drove away to the victory, which was his first since 2012 and RCR,s first win since 2014. Kyle Larson made it three second-place finishes in as many races. This also gave him the point lead.
Kyle Busch raced back to third place. Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Eric Jones, Jimmy Johnson, and Denny Hamlin.
This week, action moves to the fast mile and a half California Motor Speedway. Once again the Xfinity and Monster Energy series share the spotlight on Saturday and Sunday.
In local news, Elkins Raceway announced its 2017 schedule this week and the thunder begins with test and tune the last two Friday nights in April and the first points event will kick off on the first Friday night in May.
Action will continue each week through the end of August.
WOW Racing Ministries is proud to announce that our sponsors will be back with us once again. The WOW Racing Ministry/Mountain School Mud Bus will once again carry the Intermountain Newspaper colors, and also Herradura Mexican Restaurant and T.J.’s Tire will all be back to help us deliver the Good News of the Gospel to race fans and competitors also.
I’m getting excited because at the end of the straight there’s always Another Left Turn.