by Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
Both of American’s premier racing series are back, and the weekend’s races in Georgia and Texas produced milestone wins for big stars of both.
(NASCAR)—Kevin Harvick dominated the Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (which is really in Hampton) to record his 51st career victory, putting him alone in twelfth place in the list of all-time Cup winners. Harvick led 56 of the last 59 laps, 151 of the 324 to finish 3.5 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr., finished third.
Clint Bowyer was troubled by blistered right rear tires that robbed him of a contending position. He was leading the first segment and hoping to nurse the tender tire to the end but could not hold off Truex and Busch. He had a top ten finish, at least, in sight with a dozen laps left when another blistered right rear tire forced him to the pits. He came out 26th, a lap down, and managed to get back to finish 20th.
Atlanta is a special track for Harvick. It’s where he picked up his first Cup win, driving Dale Earnhard’s re-numbered car to victory at Atlanta three weeks after Earnhardt was killed at Daytona in 2001. He has led at least 100 laps in seven of the last nine races at the track. The victory was his third there. He has twelve top-ten finishes in the last 14 Atlanta races.
(INDYCAR)—-Scott Dixon’s fiercest challenger in the INDYCAR season opener at the Texas Motor Speedway was teammate Fexlix Rosenqvist—until Rosenqvist crashed with ten laps to go. Dixon averaged 175.201 mph to win by 4.4 seconds over last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud’s teammate, the 2019 INDYCAR national champion, Josef Newgarden, came home third. Zack Veach finished fourth with Ed Carpenter 0.37 seconds behind him in fifth. All of the top five finishers average more than 175 mph.
Dixon led 157 of the 100 laps but Rosenqvist was closing and had just turned the fastest lap of the race 215.025 mph on the lap before he caught the wall. The victory is Dixon’s 47th career victory, which puts him only five behind Mario Andretti, who is in second place to A. J. Foyt, who has 67.
The race was the 318th consecutive start for Tony Kanaan, who is running only on ovals this year for A. J. Foyt’s team. It marked the end of his record for consecutive starts because the next race will be on a road course.
That next race is the Indy Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 4, part of a historic double-header with NASCAR, which will run its annual Brickyard 400 on the historic oval the next day. Because Indianapolis has not advanced through enough Coronavirus reopening stages, no fans will be allowed at the track to watch either race.
The Indianapolis 500 is to be run August 23. Speedway officials are planning for public attendance by then.
(FORMULA 1)—Formula 1 has finally announced when its season will start. The Grand Prix of Austria will go off on July 5, with seven more races through Labor day. All of the races will be in Europe. F1 normally runs in China and in the Southern Hemisphere. But no races have been scheduled in those areas because of Coronavirus outbreaks. Officials say the first races are expected to be closed events.