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: Amazing Sight
In some ways, NASCAR’s Garage 56 entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, managed by Hendrick Motorsports, sticks out like a sore thumb.
In the midst of the most technologically advanced race cars in the word, here is a shoebox-looking machine that features a pit crew, which utilizes a floor jack and a jackman and requires its drivers climb through the window when entering and exiting the car.
The driver changes over the course of the twice-around-the-clock race should be entertaining.
Yet, the car has captured both the admiration and appreciation of the huge crowds attending the Centennial running of the famed event at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Qualifying: A Racer
Saw a comment on Twitter that said Dale Earnhardt was not given enough credit as a road racer.
Dale Earnhardt was a racer. Plain and simple. No reason for qualifiers.
First Heat: Mutual, And Not As In Respect
Maybe the most overused term of the racing season to this point is “mutual parting of ways.”
We can pretty much bet that in virtually every circumstance, there was nothing mutual about it. Why is it no longer acceptable to “fire” or “release” a driver? Anyone that’s followed this sport for more than five minutes, knows the easiest thing to change when a team is struggling, is the driver.
Second Heat: Going the Other Way
It’s not very often these days, when a driver change is made that a team hires an older driver as the replacement.
Still, Ed Carpenter Racing replaced 31-year-old Conor Daly with 42-year-old Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Third Heat: The First Time
There are always fireworks when the NASCAR Xfinity Series races on a road course. Expect more than usual Saturday afternoon when the series makes its first visit to California’s Sonoma Raceway.
While the NASCAR Cup Series has raced there annually since 1989, very few of the Xfinity Series drivers have laps at the scenic Wine Country track.
Fourth Heat: Ohio Money
The 41st annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Cometic Gasket kicks off tonight (Friday) at Attica Raceway Park.
With eight events spread across nine days, the All Star Circuit of Champions sanctioned series is a chance for sprint car teams to make big money. The posted winner’s share for the eight events is $78,554, including $22,554 for the series final June 17 at Portsmouth Raceway Park.
In addition, the series offers a $12,000 point fund, with $5,000 earmarked to the champion.
B Main: Out Of The Box
Macon (Ill.) Speedway will host its biggest event of the season with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals and the USAC national sprint cars stopping at the fifth-mile July 6-8.
As part of the festivities, track officials are going outside the box and including an exhibition race featuring three USAC drivers and three late model drivers all driving front-wheel drive hornet race cars.
The race will be run at intermission of the July 6 Summernationals Herald & Review 100. The USAC sprint cars hit the track July 7-8. Sprint car racers Justin Grant and Logan Seavey and all-time Summernationals victory leader Shannon Babb have committed to the special event.
The Dash: Legends — To Be Or Not To Be
We also saw several references this week to IndyCar legend Will Power. Granted Power owns two series championships and 39 career victories, but we’re not sure that makes him a legend.
While the Australian Team Penske may very well be accepted as a legend when his career is finished, he’s not yet worthy of comparison to true legends such as A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Rick Mears.
Feature: But, He’s On The Mark
However, speaking of Power, the IndyCar Series veteran could not be more on the mark in his recent remarks about Formula 1 racing. Power called Formula 1 competition, where Red Bull has won every race this season, “a joke.”
Power added, “They have amazing drivers. And I feel sorry for them that they don’t get to experience the satisfaction we do with our racing because that is the top level of open-wheel motorsport.”
Five different IndyCar Series drivers have won during the first seven races this year, and Power is not yet one of them.
Who’s the winningest driver in Ohio Speedweek history?
Answer: Dale Blaney, 32 victories.