by Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
(NASCAR)—Chase Elliott, needing to win to make it into the final four for NASCAR’s championship race next weekend in Phoenix, seized the lead after the last round of pit stops and raced to a six-second victory.
Elliott went into the race well below the points cutline and could only advance with a win. Martin Truex, Jr., in the same position, was leading with 50 laps left when a wheel not fully tightened in the last pit stop forced him to pit again and killed his chances of victory. He finished 22nd.
Joining Elliott in the final four are 2018 champion Joey Logano, 2019 runner-up Denny Hamlin, and 2012 champion Brad Keselowski.
Elliott will try to become the third son of a NASCAR champion to win a championship of his own. The father of seven-time champion Richard Petty, Lee Petty, won three titles in the 1950s. The father of three-time champion Dale Jarrett, Ned Jarrett, won NASCAR’s title twice in the 1960. Elliott’s father, Bill, won the title in 1988.
Regular season points champion Kevin Harvick went two laps down early in the race when a brush with competitor Matt Kenseth left him with a flat tire. He finally got back on the lead lap with 100 laps left in the 500-lap race. His last desperate effort to gain a standings point that might have put him into the finals led to spinning both himself and teammate Kyle Busch with Busch spinning across the finish line while Harvick wound up 17th.
Elliott was chased across the finish line by Ryan Blaney, Logano, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch. Clint Bowyer, running his next-to-last race before retiring to the broadcast booth, ran consistently all day and finished 8th.
(FORMULA 1)—Every time Lewis Hamilton wins a Grand Prix he sets another record. At Imola, he set one and tied one. Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas, who started from pole, by almost six seconds to extend his record for most F1 wins to 93. The victory also was his 72nd for Mercedes, tying Michael Schumacher for most wins for one manufacturer. Schumacher drove for Ferrari. The win at Imola marked the 29th track at which Hamilton has won a Formula 1 race, another record.
The victory moves Hamilton closer to clinching his seventh F1 title, equaling Schumacher’s record.
(INDYCAR)—Another Formula 1 driver is looking to jump to INDYCAR. In Romain Grosjean’s case, it’s more like he was pushed into looking. Grosjean has been the longest-serving driver for Gene Haas’s American Formula 1 effort but will not be with the team next year. He tells RACER magazine
he’s “open” to discussing driving in INDYCAR.
There are some open seats with three teams, perhaps with a fourth, and a part-time gig possible with a fifth team. All, however, will require a driver to bring some sponsorship with him.
Gene Haas will keep chasing his F1 dream. He’s also the co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing in NASCAR with partner Tony Stewart.
Indycar’s next race is scheduled to be March 7 in St. Petersburg, Florida, the place where the 2020 season was supposed to start but where it ended instead because of the pandemic.
(Photo credits: Elliott–Jim Coleman; Harvick—Rick Gevers)