Filed by: Bob Priddy
(NASCAR)—Kyle Larson dominated but couldn’t hold off Ryan Blaney at the end at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Larson led 269 of the 325 laps but his car faded at the end. Blaney passed him with nine laps to go and was more than two seconds ahead at the end.
Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five ahead of Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, William Byron, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
Blaney is the sixth different winner in the first six races this year, the eighth time in NASCAR history a season has begun this way. The most recent year was 2014. The record for most different winners to start the season is ten, set in 2000. There were thirteen different winners in the entire season last year. The most drivers to win at least one race in a season is 19, achieved in 2001.
NASCAR runs a race on dirt for the first time since 1970 next weekend. Bristol has covered its asphalt track with hard-packed clay and dirt. Three Cup drivers tested the new surface this weekend in the Super Late Model Bristol Dirt Nationals. Kyle Larson finished second. Chase Elliott finished 17th after a late-race tangle with another car. Kyle Busch, who has won eight times on the regular track, was 13th on dirt Saturday night.
(INDYCAR)—We’re 26 days away from the start of the 2021 INDYCAR season but some of the series drivers have been doing real-life racing (not iracing). Sebastian Bourdais picked up his second victory in the Sebring 12-hour IMSA sports car race this weekend. He and Loic Duval and Tristan Vautier once were down two laps in a damaged car but won by 1.4 seconds after racing for half a day. Bourdais is a four-time INDYCAR champion. His car won despite losing part of its rear wing in a late-race shunt and had to replace the front wing after another incident early in the race.
INDYCAR driver Simon Pagenaud, who teamed with NASCAR champion and INDYCAR rookie Jimmie Johnson crossed the line third but was penalized to last in class because Pagenaud had broken the rule by driving for more than four hours in a six-hour period. Pagenaud is a former INDYCAR champion (2016) and Indianapolis 500 winner (2019).
The team’s demotion moved the fourth-place finishing team, led by two-time 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya to the final podium spot.
(FORMULA 1)—Formula 1 starts its season next week with a lot of expectations and a lot of uncertainty. Mercedes, which has dominated the sport for several years, had a bad pre-season testing session and was outclassed by Red Bull. Nonetheless, the team’s lead driver—Lewis Hamilton—is considered the favorite to win a record-setting eighth championship. He’s looking for his 100th Grand Prix win, extending his record.
Ferrari appears stronger than last year although reliability questions remain.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso has returned after leaving McLaren at the end of 2019 and sitting out last year. He’s the lead driver for the Alpine team, the former Renault team.
F1 opens the season at Bahrain, the place where it concluded the 2020 season.