KERCHNER: The Heat Race
CONCORD, N.C. — The Memorial Day weekend is in the books and the summer grind is ready to begin. Here’s some of what we are thinking about as the calendar gets ready to turn to June.
– The Indianapolis 500 was a terrific race. Talk about more manufacturers, higher speeds and better publicity all you want, Indy car racing got what it really needed — an American winner.
– Asphalt midget racing is officially dead. Only 11 cars were present for the 69th annual Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Meanwhile, many of the country’s top midget racers towed to Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway to race on the same night, while other top USAC contenders participated in the Little 500 sprint car race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.
– How the heck can a dirt track take rubber during hot laps? The Dirt Track at Charlotte was in miserable condition for the May 25 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series and Fastrak late model doubleheader. Credit the track crew, however, for reworking the four-tenths-mile oval after qualifying and producing a decent track for the features.
– One of the hottest racers in the country during the early part of the season, Rico Abreu broke his collarbone May 25 at Angell Park Speedway. Abreu hopes to get medical clearance in time to compete in USAC’s Indiana Midget Week, which opens June 11 at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway. Abreu leads the Honda USAC Dirt Midget Series standings.
– Nine months after breaking his leg racing a sprint car at Southern Iowa Speedway, Tony Stewart was back in the seat of his sprinter, getting some practice laps in on Memorial Day.
– Two Blaneys (Dale and Dave), a Jacobs (Lee) and a Haudenschild (Jac) have each won All Star sprint car features this season. Some things just don’t change.
– It was great — seriously — to see Jimmie Johnson win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Now maybe the reporters who cover the sport will can some of the ‘What’s wrong with Jimmie?’ stories.
– Congratulations to longtime SPEED SPORT columnist Dave Argabright, who will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Also entering the Hall of Fame on Saturday are racers Dave Blaney, Mark Kinser and Bobby Davis Jr., as well as Windy McDonald, Chuck Merrill, George Nesler and Larry Beckett.
– John Force never ceases to amaze. Asked during ESPN2’s qualifying telecast of last week’s NHRA round at Heartland Park Topeka to react to his daughters Courtney and Brittany qualifying No. 1 in Funny Car and Top Fuel, respectively, Force talked about poop instead, explaining in detail how his grandson used a toilet for the first time.