By Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
(NASCAR)—Missouri’s NASCAR drivers, Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer, walked away from the Talladega Speedway with their cars candidates for the junkyard.
The weekend had started poorly for McMurray, who had lapped faster than 203 miles an hour in a practice draft. But during qualifying, a tire let go and things got serious real fast.
He told FOX Sports reporter Vince Welch he was just a passenger after that. “I just kept my eyes closed,” he said.
McMurray has to use a backup car for the race and started 27th in the 40-car field. He was working his way forward when Erik Jones lost control of his car which went up the track and left McMurray no place to go, triggering a crash that damaged six cars, including McMurray’s number 1.
His crew was able to make enough repairs to his car to keep him running until the end, salvaging a 28th place, fourteen laps down, but leaving him well down in the points standings, 47 hard-to-get points out of playoff contention. He has sixteen races to either win or to get enough points to make the sixteen-driver playoff series of races.
Clint Bowyer avoided a similar disastrous weekend —until the 167th lap of the 188-lap race when his car was killed in a wreck that involved thirteen other cars.
Bowyer wound up 31st and but still remains fourth in the overall standings and has a locked-in playoff slot because he has won a race this year.
Joey Logano won the race at Talladega, ending a 36-race victory drought. It’s his third win on NASCAR’s longest track. He held off Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott, who made last-lap runs but couldn’t catch him.
(FORMULA 1)—Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has moved him into the F1 points lead ahead of Sebastien Vettel. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtterri Bottas, had victory in sight until he ran over some debris with two laps to go and flattened a tire.
F1 returns to Europe in two weeks for the Spanish Grand Prix.
(INDYCAR)—IndyCar teams are preparing for the month of May in Indianapolis and there will be lots of story lines to follow during the month, starting today (Monday).
Defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden will run the first tests at the Speedway of a proposed windscreen design that is intended to protect the driver from flying debris. Former Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon gave the screen a thumbs-up after February tests at Phoenix. The week also will feature open testing that will give all teams a chance to see how the new aero package for this year’s cars works at 200 mph-plus. Earlier tests of the aero kit featured two cars. This will be the first time the design will be run at the track in near-race conditions.
Also to watch this month: The return to Penske of Helio Castroneves, three-time 500 winner who wants a fourth victory so badly he can taste it. Castroneves tried everything he could to run down Takuma Sato in the closing laps of last year’s race but came up short by two-tenths of a second. It’s the third time he has finished second in the race. Castroneves was moved by Penske into Penske’s IMSA sports car operation.
Also to watch—among many others—Danica Patrick who will drive what she says will be her last race in the 500, returning to a form of racing she abandoned after 2011 to try NASCAR. She finished in the top ten six of the seven times she ran the race, including a third. She also became the first woman driver in race history to lead a lap.
And there are more stories to mention later.
(Photo credits: Videos from NASCAR.com; Stills from NASCAR.com and from Morgan Weeks, NASCAR media)