Road racing takes over center stage

Endurance road racing was center stage again this past weekend as the IMSA WeatherTech series visited the historic Sebring International Raceway for the 12 Hours of Sebring, presented by Mobil 1.

For 66 years the top sports car racing teams have taken to the worn bumpy asphalt and concrete at Sebring Airport in Florida for 12 grueling hours of racing. This race is very similar to the 24 hours of Daytona race in that three different classes run at the same time. The high speed Prototype cars, The GT LeMans and the exotic GT Daytona series are all racing for a seasonal point’s championship along with the race win in their respective classes.

The overall winner was the Prototype division team Tequila Patron ESM Nissan number 22, driven by the team of Pipo Derani, Nicholas Lapierre and Johannes van Overbeek. The Nissan defeated the two Cadillac teams by more than 12 seconds.

In GT LeMans the number 911 Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki defeated team BMW. Team Porsche’s team car number 912 was third. The powerhouse Ford GT factory team cars finished fourth and ninth in class. The Chevrolet Corvette G7R cars finished sixth and eighth in class.

In GT Daytona class the number 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with drivers, Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow,and Corey Lewis defeated the Scuderia Ferrari 488 GT3 and the factory Mercedes-AMG GT3. There were a few hard crashes and several front running teams fell out with mechanical problems but overall it was an exciting sports car race.

NASCAR racing visited the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California. The Xfinity and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup cars competed this past weekend.

All eyes were on Kevin Harvick to see if he could win four Cup series races in a row. He didn’t disappoint through practice, setting fast times during each of the sessions. In qualifying Martin Truex Jr captured the pole when Harvick bobbled during his final run. It should be noted Harvick set a new track record in the first round of qualifying.

The Xfinity cars ran the Roseanne 300 on Saturday. Joey Logano captured the pole position and never looked back. He swept both stage victories and held on to win the event in his Penske Racing number 22 Discount Tire Mustang. This gave Rodger Penske his first victory at the track he built and designed. Teammates Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler battled right to the finish line, finishing second and third respectively. RCR teammates Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric were next across the line to round out the top five. Cole Custer was racing before his hometown crowd and finally grabbed a good finish in sixth. Kaz Grala racing hard for 14th place crashed as he slid under the checkered flag. No one had anything for Logano.

On Sunday the Auto Club 400 looked like it could be another Kevin Harvick runaway. That never really materialized, though. Martin Truex Jr took off from the pole and grabbed both stage wins. Early in the event around lap 50 Harvick was engaged in a heated battle for second place with Kyle Larson. The two cars touched and Kevin nailed the back straight wall. The crash took Harvick to the pits several times for repairs and he finished seven laps down in 35th place.

Kevin took full blame for the crash, saying that he shouldn’t have been racing Larson that hard that early in the event.

Kyle Busch appeared to be the spoiler and put his JGR Camry out front near the end of the race; however, on a final pit stop his crew made a wrong chassis adjustment and a minor handling issue was made worse and made the car very unstable. Martin Truex Jr was able to get back around the car of Busch to take back the lead and the victory. Kyle Larson finished a strong second and Kyle Busch held on to finish third. Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

This coming weekend, the Camping World Truck series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series invade the half-mile paperclip-shaped Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The Xfinity cars have two weeks off.

Martinsville is where “Rubbin is Racin'” for sure! It should be an exciting couple of races and remember, at the end of the long straightaway there is another (tight, flat) left turn. Short track racing at its finest!