(NASCAR)—Martin Truex’s win at Kentucky Saturday night wasn’t the best news Joplin’s Jamie McMurray could have gotten in that race; a McMurray victory would have been the best, of course. But Truex’s win was not bad news, especially since McMurray notched another top-ten finish.
The win was the third of the year for Truex, with eight races left to determine the sixteen-driver field for the playoff round. Ten drivers have won races this year, locking them into that field, leaving six slots for winless drivers to qualify on points.
One of the ten drivers with wins is McMurray’s teammate, Kyle Larson (left), who came home second Saturday night but saw his lead in the overall points cut to just one. Larson started in last place in the forty-car field because his car was not able to take to the track for a qualification run. He drove to second place before a speeding penalty on pit road dropped him to the back of the field again. And, again, he ran his way to the runnerup position. NASCAR keeps track of how many cars each driver passes during a race. It calculated Larson passed ninety cars under the green flag during that race, with fifty-one of those passes considered “quality passes”—of cars in the top fifteen.
McMurray is sixth in the overall points standings but when it comes to playoff eligibility, he is third in the rankings of six winless drivers that would fill out the field. Clint Bowyer is fifth. Had a driver without a victory this year won at Kansas, the list of drivers pinning their hopes on points would have been cut to five. McMurray would still be third on that list but with less of a cushion and Bowyer would have been left on the bubble. Bowyer was thirteenth at Kentucky after back-to-back second-place finishes in the two previous races.
Each of those six drivers are hoping for one of two things next week at Loudon, New Hampshire: a victory that would guarantee them a playoff slot—or a solid finish with another repeat winner, protecting their positions.
(INDYCAR)—The future is now for Helio Castroneves, the subject of a lot of speculation in IndyCar circles. For the last few days, rumors have been spreading that his long-time team owner, Roger Penske, is thinking of moving him out of a fulltime Penske IndyCar ride into a new sports car venture Penske reportedly is interested in starting, using Castroneves only for the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves, who at 42 is the second oldest driver on the circuit (Tony Kanaan is about five months older), ended a 54-race winless streak by dominating the last half of the race at the Iowa Speedway, winning by seconds over J. R. Hildebrand, who tied his best career finish. He was second in the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power were third and fourth.
The win is the thirtieth of Castroneves’ career and his first since 2014.
Castroneves has three Indianapolis 500 victories but has never won a national IndyCar championship. He now trails points leader Scott Dixon by only eight points. Dixon qualified poorly but managed to make it to ninth by the end of the race.
(FORMULA 1)—Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas dominated the field in the Austrian Grand Prix but had to hold off points leader Sebastian Vettel, who closed to within two-tenths of a second at the end. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo grabbed the last podium position.
Defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth and has fallen to twenty points behind Vettel. Bottas’ win moves him to third in points, fifteen behind Hamilton.
(Photo credit: NASCAR)