Page Jones And Parnelli Copper World Feb 1, 1992 Paul Arch Photoaa
Parnelli and Page Jones in 1992. (Paul Arch 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: Weather Check

We are a week into the month of June, yet weather continues to plague short-track racing from shore to shore.

Qualifying: Speedweek Time

Indiana Midget Week has two rounds in the books with Ryan Timms and Emerson Axsom earning victories. Ohio Speedweek is scheduled to kick off tonight at Attica Raceway Park and ASCS Speedweek opens June 11 at Texarkana 67 Speedway. Guess summer is upon us.

First Heat: The Iceman

Scott Dixon, 43, continues to amaze. Once again, Dixon didn’t appear to be a contender during the early stages of the Detroit Grand Prix, but strategy got his Chip Ganassi Racing machine to the front and he kept it there for his 58th Indy car victory.

What’s more, Dixon now leads the standings as he pursues a seventh championship.

Second Heat: No. 200

Kudos go to longtime racing supporter Mike Curb, who earned a milestone victory this week when Ryan Timms won the Indiana Midget Week round at Lawrenceburg Speedway. It was his 200th triumph as a USAC entrant. Curb has teamed with Keith Kunz Motorsports since 2012 and 115 of those victories have come during that span.

Third Heat: Musical Chairs

Front Row Motorsports has two NASCAR Cup Series seats open for next season. The team signed Todd Gilliland to a contract extension this week and purchased a third charter from Stewart-Haas Racing the previous week. With Michael McDowell leaving the team for Spire Motorsports at the end of the year, it leaves to Ford-supported seats up for grabs.

With four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers (Ryan Preece, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe) available, it will be interested to see whose seated when the music stops.

Dash: Never Too Soon

It’s never too soon to sell tickets. Tickets for early 2025 events including the Daytona 500 and the Chili Bowl Nationals are already on sale. If you are in the buying mood, check out the SPEED SPORT store for items that make great Father’s Day gifts.

B Main: The Blaneys

It was an interesting weekend for the Blaney family. Neither Ryan Blaney, nor his dad Dave won a race, but it was not for the lack of trying.

Ryan had the NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway seemingly in the bag when he ran out of gas on the final lap. The reigning Cup Series champion has had a lot of bad luck this season, but what comes around goes around as he was the beneficiary of good fortune en route to winning the title last year.

Dad Dave, meanwhile, raced from 12th on the grid to finish second at Sharon Speedway, but did enough during Western PA Speedweek to win the series championship.

Feature: Parnelli

Parnelli Jones could drive anything, anytime and anywhere.

Best known for winning the 1963 Indianapolis 500, he was a winner not only in Indy cars, but stock cars, sprint cars, midgets, off-road trucks and more.

Maybe more importantly, Parnelli Jones was a classy gentleman. After joining Chris Economaki and the NSSN team in 1991, Parnelli was one of my first feature subjects within the pages of National Speed Sport News.

The personal thank you not I received from Parnelli several weeks later remains framed in my office. One of the very few I’ve received in 33 years of reporting on motorsports.

Godspeed Parnelli.

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