Diez: Tempers flaring as NASCAR enters All-Star weekend
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Last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Darlington was the last straw for Rick Hendrick. After Ross Chastain took Kyle Larson out (again), Hendrick went to the powers that be at Chevrolet about Chastain’s aggressive driving. On Monday, Justin Marks, Trackhouse Racing’s owner and Chastain’s boss had what he called “uncomfortable conversations” with the Chevrolet folks and his driver. So, will we see a chastened and less-aggressive Chastain this weekend at the All-Star race? I’m not entirely convinced. In any event, William Byron went on to win the race, his third victory of the season in overtime. Larson recovered to finish 20th on the lead lap, while Chastain was unable to continue.
The NTT IndyCar series was back in action last weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Alex Palou utilized a combination of strategy and speed to take the win for Chip Ganassi Racing. The Arrow McLaren team scored the other two podium places with Pato O’Ward’s second place putting him second in points, just six behind Palou. Alexander Rossi’s third place was his best finish and first podium for his new team. The series was to begin practice on Tuesday for this weekend’s Indy 500 qualifying runs, but rain halted track activities all day. Takuma Sato led the way on Wednesday in a Chip Ganassi Racing Honda with a lap at 229.439 mph. Ganassi cars dominated, with three of the four top times and four of the top seven. Other teams in the top 10 included Team Penske (two cars), Andretti Autosport (two cars), and A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with one each. Qualifying airs on Peacock on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on NBC from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. NBC and Peacock will simulcast Sunday’s last chance qualifying and the Fast Six pole competition from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
This is All-Star weekend for the NASCAR Cup series at a venue that is both new and very old. The 5/8-mile North Wilkesboro oval was one of NASCAR’s earliest tracks, dating back to 1949. But it has been 27 years since the NASCAR Cup series last raced there. Although Charlotte has been the traditional home of the All-Star race, it moved to Bristol in 2020 and to Texas Motor Speedway in 2021 and 2022. Of the 21 drivers qualified for this year’s race, seven are previous All-Star winners. Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick have each won twice, and one-time winners include defending champion Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin. Top All-Star winners from the past include Richard Petty with 15, Darrell Waltrip with 10, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with five. Today’s schedule includes Craftsman Truck qualifying at 7:30 a.m. on FS1 with the Tyson 250 on FOX at 10:30 a.m. All-Star Heat 1 airs at 4:20 p.m. and Heat 2 at 5:15 p.m., both on FS1. The All-Star Open airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with the top two finishers and the fan vote winner transferring to the All-Star race, airing at 5 p.m. Both races will air on FS1.
There is much discontent in the Formula 1 paddock over Red Bull’s overwhelming domination of the season so far. But the sanctioning body can apparently do nothing to ease the situation as long as Red Bull is within the rules. However, teams will have another week to implement upgrades to their equipment as this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix has been canceled due to historic flooding in the area around the Monza track. The decision was made out of concern for the teams, fans, and the already overburdened emergency services in the area.