The NASCAR Cup race at Talladega was unusual last Sunday. There was no “big one,” although Joey Logano might disagree. Logano’s aerobatics at the end of stage one avoided triggering a multi-car wreck although he did ricochet off of Bubba Wallace’s Toyota.
Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski only led one lap, but it was the one that counted, as he became the ninth winner in the first 10 races of the season.
But Logano’s accident got his attention as he realized that he narrowly escaped a situation similar to Ryan Newman’s at last year’s Daytona 500. As a result, Logano is lobbying NASCAR to do more to keep cars from going airborne at restrictor plate tracks, even though there are only two more such races before the Next Gen car goes into service.
Logano has a good shot at a second win Sunday at Kansas. He has three previous wins there including last fall.
Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick also have three Kansas wins each, with two of Denny’s coming in the last three races there. Harvick hasn’t won since 2018. Martin Truex Jr. and Keselowski (who starts from pole) have two apiece while Kyle Busch and Newman have one Kansas victory each.
Hamlin is the favorite to win at 5-1 odds. Other non-winners this year with good odds are Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick at 9-1. The Camping World Trucks race Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and the Cup cars will be up at noon Sunday, both races to air on FS1.
While the Talladega winner led only one lap, it was a different story in the St. Petersburg IndyCar race. Colin Herta dominated, leading 97 of the 100 laps from pole.
Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud chased him the whole way but never got close enough to pass. Jimmie Johnson’s first outing on a street course was less than stellar, featuring two spins and a 22nd place finish, five laps down. Tony Kanaan will replace Johnson this weekend for a doubleheader on the Texas Motor Speedway oval.
Qualifying for Saturday’s race airs at 1 p.m. with the race at 4 p.m., while Sunday it’s qualifying at 1 p.m. and the race following immediately at 2 p.m. All events air on NBCSN.
Formula 1 is back in action in Portugal at the Portimao course that was used last year. It’s a very challenging layout with both fast and slow corners, elevation changes, and blind corners.
The race is predicted to be a continuation of the battle between the Mercedes of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, looking to score his first F1 driver’s title. After two races they appear evenly matched, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff feels that their car is not equal to the Red Bull at this point in the season.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner disagrees, but the proof will be on the track Sunday. Qualifying is at 7 a.m. Saturday and the same time Sunday, both on ESPN2.
In other F1 news, the F1 Canadian Grand Prix Miami has been canceled due to COVID restrictions and will be replaced by a race in Turkey. F1 qualifying will feature Saturday sprint races in three events (venues to be announced) for 2021. More sprint qualifying is expected for next season. And there is about a 90% chance of a second F1 USGP in 2021, a street race in Miami.
And finally, all three manufacturers in the NASCAR Cup series will unveil their Next Gen cars on Thursday at noon. The event will be streamed on the internet.