(NASCAR)—Clint Bowyer’s gamble that he could hang onto the lead with old tires after a late-race caution at Bristol fell apart as soon as the green flag fell to resume racing. Teammate Kurt Busch, starting alongside Bowyer, swept into the lead coming out of turn two on the 478th lap of the 500-lap race and fought off a challenge from Kyle Larson the rest of the way. Larson was on thirty-lap newer tires. Bowyer faded to sixth.
The victory was Busch’s first since winning the 2017 Daytona 500. It locks him into a playoff slot.
Bowyer, (right, leading Kevin Harvick and William Byron early in the race) had a chance to get the lead back on the final restart on lap 488 but he spun the tires and fell out of contention. He faded to sixth. He had started the race sixteenth but took the lead for the first time on lap 356. He wound up leading 120 laps, second only to the 121 laps led by seventh-place finisher Ryan Blaney. But it was a disappointing night. “You get a car that good and you get that close you hate to not come home with it…In the grand scheme of things, it was a pretty good run for us, but you hate to give them up like that,” he said afterwards.
Jamie McMurray’s car developed a right rear hub problem during the first stage of the race. He was far
behind when he re-entered the race but ran enough laps to finish ahead of eleven other cars, in 29th, 65 laps back. He has to win one of the two remaining races to make it to the playoffs for a fourth straight year. He has only six top-tens in seventeen races at Darlington. But he has a win (2010) and four top-tens in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
Bowyer has a couple of weeks to relax and recover at the Lake of the Ozarks before the Darlington race.
(INDYCAR)—Alexander Rossi has won his second 500-mile race, dominating the IndyCar race at Pocono by leading 180 of the 200 laps. Rossi averaged more than 191 mph, exchanging the lead six times with this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Will Power, during the last three-fourths of the race. Series points leader Scott Dixon finished third.
Rossi’s first 500-mile race victory was the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016.
The race was red-flagged for about an hour and a half because of a wicked multi-car crash that has left Robert Wickens hospitalized with “orthopedic injuries.” IndyCar has not been more specific than that. Wickens’ car touched the left rear wheel of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car, sending the Wickens car soaring into the catch fence. Wickens was conscious and talking when removed from the car but was flown to a nearby hospital. The race resumed after repairs to the SAFER barrier and to about eighty feet of the catch fence.
(GATEWAY)—The next track where IndyCar’s tightening points race will be contested will be Gateway Motorsports Park, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis next Saturday night. Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, and defending points champion Josef Newgarden go into the race with three wins each this year and separated by only sixty-six points. Dixon leads Rossy by only 29.
The race on the fast 1.25 mile oval is one of the last three on the IndyCar schedule.
(FORMULA 1)—Formula 1 drivers return to action after their usual summer month off with the Grand Prix of Belgium next weekend.
Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso says he will not be back in the series next year. He has not announced where he will be racing but persistent reports say he will join IndyCar. Alonso was hugely popular when he ran the Indianapolis 500 last year, his first and so far his only IndyCar race. Alonso, 37, is a 17-year veteran of Formula 1. He has started 302 F1 races, fourth on the all-time list. Alonso has been open about the disappointing performance of his McLaren cars. The team went from Honda to Renault for engines this year but the year still has been a disappointment for Alonso.
(photo credits: Bowyer: Zack Albert, Getty Images. McMurray: Nigel Kincaide/NASCAR)