KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race
We hope you will join us here every Friday, where we will reveal our thoughts about the week’s events in motorsports while previewing the coming weekend’s major events.
For the purpose of this blog, our heat race will be 12 laps in length.
1. We asked Levi Jones if he thought his chances of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had passed him by. The three-time USAC sprint-car champion’s response: “In the past five years driving past the speedway whether it be to pick up parts or taking a car to get painted, I’ve looked at the speedway as ‘man, it would have been cool to get a shot to race there.’” Jones and other USAC drivers may now get their chance thanks to the partnership between USAC and IndyCar to give an Indy Lights ride to the USAC National Driving Champion. Bryan Clauson leads Jones by 20 points in those standings with eight races remaining.
2. Where did we miss it that the Indy Racing League is now operating as IndyCar?
3. Tomorrow night will be the last Nationwide Series race at Gateway Int’l Raceway near St. Louis. It will also likely be the final auto race at the facility, which never had the success that many hoped when it opened in the mid 1990s.
4. Conor Daly has received an Indy Lights test as part of his prize for winning the Star Mazda championship. Why doesn’t he have a ride for the full Firestone Indy Lights Series next season?
5. The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series had one race last weekend and now has the next two weekends off before ending the season at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Nov. 4-6. That’s almost like having a second off-season for those guys.
6. We read two excellent stories this week that will be appearing in upcoming issues of National Speed Sport News featuring sprint-car drivers on opposite ends of the spectrum. One is about California teenager Kyle Larson, who won the Golden State Challenge championship this season and the second is about 53-year-old Danny Smith and his recovery from the broken back he suffered earlier this year.
7. We know sponsorship money is tight these days, but what exactly does Bobby Santos III need to do to get a shot at a top-notch stock car or Indy car? We’re betting he could drive the wheels off of either one.
8. Kyle Busch is winless in four races for the new-style NASCAR Nationwide Series car.
9. Kasey Kahne’s move from RPM to Team Red Bull for the final five races was hardly shocking, but the amount of media coverage that it received when a group of drivers ranked in the lower half of the standings swapped rides to get a head start with their new teams was surprising. Doesn’t this happen nearly every year?
10. Ninety-seven cars are currently entered for the Oct. 28-30 Short Track Nationals at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark. The record for the event is 107 set in 2007.
11. We were one for two last week in predictions. Jeff Gordon had a bad night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and saw his championship chances dwindle. Meanwhile, the green No. 14 race car did prove unlucky for Tony Stewart.
12. Read where McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said Vodafone is the best partner that McLaren has ever had. How quickly folks forget. Marlboro was a longtime sponsor of the racing team with McLaren synonymous with the cigarette company’s red-and-white colors.
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