Reddick Talladega
Tyler Reddick sported a Michael Jordan paint scheme at Talladega Superspeedway. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race

It’s time for our weekly Friday morning tour around the racing world. From hot laps to the main event, here’s what’s on our mind this week.

Hot Laps: Brave Strangers

USAC’s top drivers will test their fortitude this weekend. First up are two nights of sprint car racing at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, followed by Sunday’s Rich Vogler Classic Silver Crown Series race at the daunting high banks of Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.

Justin Grant, Logan Seavey, C.J. Leary are among those expected to run at both tracks.

Qualifying: X-Factor

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, a winner of 231 NASCAR national touring series races, had a great post on X on his 39th birthday on Thursday.

“I may be getting old, but at least the trophies will always outnumber the candles,” Busch wrote.

First Heat: Who?

What will be the most uttered phrase on the grid at Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix? My guess is, “Who the heck is that?”

In only its third year, the Miami Grand Prix has become the place to be for actors, entertainers, influencers and corporate leaders. Being seen in Miami has become way more important to the success of the event, than whether or not the race is another Max Verstappen runaway.

Second Heat: Manufacturer or Team?

Is it Toyota and Chevrolet or Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports that matter most in the NASCAR Cup Series so far this season? Through 11 races, Chevrolet has won six races and Toyota has won five. Ford remains winless.

Hendrick Motorsports, led by William Byron’s three victories, has won five of the six events for Chevrolet. Daniel Suarez and Trackhouse Racing have the other victory. On the Toyota side, JGR has won four of the five, with Denny Hamlin earning three victories for the team. Tyler Reddick is the other Toyota winner with 23XI Racing.

Hendrick and Gibbs drivers hold the top six positions in the standings, with Hendrick’s Kyle Larson out front, followed by Martin Truex Jr. (JGR), Chase Elliott (Hendrick) and Hamlin.

Third Heat: The Weather

The weather always has an impact on early-season racing, but it certainly seems more so this season.

The World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models, USAC, High Limit, ASCS and the Lucas Oil Late Models have all endured rainout after rainout after rainout. Tonight’s opener of the USAC and World of Outlaws doubleheader at Eldora appears in jeopardy of falling to Mother Nature as well.

Weather hasn’t been good to the short tracks either. It’s the first weekend of May and Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway has yet to get a race in.

Here’s wishing better luck to promoters and racers from coast to coast.

Dash: The Insider

If you don’t subscribe to the SPEED SPORT Insider, you are missing out.

In next week’s May 8 issue, Dave Argabright provides a straightforward opinion-piece about the Team Penske scandal, while Shawn Miller’s investigative report answers the question ‘what happened with ASCS?’

B Main: Charters

NASCAR and its Cup Series teams have yet to reach a new deal regarding the charter system, which expires at the end of the season. Essentially, teams want more money and the granting of permanent charters for the 36 guaranteed spots on the grid.

The charter system has been in place since 2016, but charters have been frequently sold and can be revoked by NASCAR if teams are deemed not to be performing up to standards.

As well, teams are seeking a bigger slice of the pie from the NASCAR’s new $7.7 billion media rights deal that begins in 2025. Teams currently receive 25-percent of that revenue.

Mostly silent on the issues of NASCAR since entering the Cup Series as a co-owner, basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has let his voice be known more frequently of late, including regarding the charter situation.

“If you had permanent charters, then you could create a revenue stream, either with new investors or different types of sponsorships that would subsidize that type of variance between ownership and the league,” Jordan told the New York Times.

“That’s a big, big miss right there. If you don’t correct that, this sport’s going to die not because of the competition aspect, but because economically it doesn’t make sense for any businesspeople.”

Feature: Quarter Miles

There are not enough significant winged sprint car races on quarter-mile race tracks.

Wednesday night’s World of Outlaws event at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway was a thriller from start to finish with cars racing all lanes of the quarter-mile fairgrounds track. David Gravel and Kyle Larson waged an exciting battle for the lead with Gravel holding on at the checkered flag.

Every driver interviewed said it was a fun race to drive. And it was great to watch.

The majority of sprint car racing’s big-money, crown-jewel events are on big race tracks. The only one on a quarter mile is the Gold Cup Race of Champions, which falls under the High Limit Racing banner this season and will be run Aug. 22-24 at California’s Silver Dollar Speedway. The event will pay $100,000 to win.

The World of Outlaws’ High Bank Nationals at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota features a three-eighths-mile track, but the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal and National Open are run on half-mile circuits at Knoxville Raceway, Eldora Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway, respectively.

Let’s get another biggie on a short track.