(NASCAR)—Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., edged Joplin’s Jamie McMurray to win NASCAR’s spring race at Talladega, his first victory in 158 starts in the sport’s top series. McMurray was seeking his first win since he took the October race at Talladega in 2013.
McMurray started the overtime laps running fifth but made a bold move on the backstretch on the last lap, splitting Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch to move into second. Stenhouse did not give him or Busch enough room for a finish-line pass. McMurray finished inches ahead of Busch, his best finish of the year.
McMurray (who is following Dale Earnhardt Jr., as the big crash develops behind them) and the other contenders at the finish avoided the only major crash of the day, on the 169th lap that damaged or eliminated eighteen cars and caused the race to be red-flagged for almost half an hour.
Stenhouse started the race from the pole with a qualifying lap at 191.547 mph. McMurray started 23rd in the 40-car field but was running in the top ten before the race was one-third finished.
The race was extended by three laps beyond the 188 laps scheduled on the 2.66-mile speedway, NASCAR’s longest and fastest oval where McMurray has won twice. He also won the fall race in 2009.
Stenouse’ victory ends a 101-race drought for car owner Jack Roush. The last victory for Roush Fenway Racing was provided by Columbia’s Carl Edwards on the road course at Sonoma in June, 2014.
NASCAR will race at the Kansas Speedway next Saturday night.
(INDYCAR)—May means Indianapolis for open-wheel racing fans. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be run on the Speedway road course for the fourth time next weekend and after that the focus turns to the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Track officials who had hoped for a major carryover of enthusiasm after last year’s 100th running of the race (which drew 350,000 people), say ticket sales indicate a crowd approaching those numbers this year.
Some of the fan enthusiasm is likely fueled by the presence of two time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, who will drive a McLaren-sponsored car for Michael Andretti’s team. Alonso got his first laps in the car last week at the Speedway, quickly passing the mandatory rookie test and working his way up to a top lap at 222.548 mph, a speed that would have earned him 32nd starting position in the 33-car field last year. In all, he ran 110 laps, some of them simulating fuel-saving runs or restarts.
The test was not the first time Alonso has run at the Speedway. He competed in the United States Grand Prix events when they were run on the road course.
Alonso told reporters afterward that driving an Indy car was fun because, “They ask you if you are ready inside the car, you say yes. You switch on the car, and you go. They put fuel, tires, and you go. While in Formula One, it takes maybe six minutes to fire up the car, because they need to check, recheck. There is so much technology there, electronics, the hybrid system that needs to be linked with the combustion engine, the brake by wire, and many things that slow down every run or every feel that you may have on the car. So here, as you said, probably it’s more fun because you just switch on the engine and you race.”
In short, he said, “Here is just more raw. Everything is more racing.”
Track officials say the tests were watched on the internet by about two million people worldwide with about one-third of the viewers being in Europe. Alonso talked with reporters afterward: http://www.indycar.com/Videos/2017/05/05-04-Alonso-IMS-news-conference
If you’d like to watch all six hours of the tests and his after-test news conference, you can find it at: http://www.cbssports.com/general/news/watch-fernando-alonso-aced-indy-500-test-drive-with-mclaren-says-michael-andretti/
Alonso will return to the Speedway when practice for the 500 starts on May 15.
(FORMULA 1)—Fernando Alonso stays at home for the next Formula 1 race. It’s the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend in his hometown of Barcelona. Alonso is hoping to at least finish a race this year in front of the home folks. The two-car McLaren-Honda team has failed to finish six times out of eight opportunities in the four races this year. His car did not even make the green flag in the most recent race. McLaren officials have denied to Skysports.com any thoughts of returning to Mercedes engines, which had powered their cars until Honda re-entered F1 three years ago.
(Photo Credits: NASCAR/Getty Images and Indianapolis Motor Speedway)