Welcome to week 41 – four races this weekend. F1 is in Mexico City; WRC goes back to gravel (and likely rain and mud) with Rally Wales; Moto GP is at Sepang in Malaysia; and NASCAR is at the short track in Martinsville, Virginia, for the first of the three races in the Eliminator round that will decide the four drivers who will vie for the Cup in the final race. Picks can be made at: http://www.roadracetracks.com/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 40:
F1 Circuit of the Americas, Moto GP Australia, NASCAR Talladega:
Lewis Hamilton has always liked the Circuit of the Americas, and again this weekend he dominated to take the win. But with his teammate Nico Rosberg finishing second, the Championship didn’t change too much. Daniel Ricciardo felt he had a shot at second place, but a virtual safety car at the same time as the Mercedes pit window (with Ricciardo having pitted before the safety car), meant that Ricciardo had to settle for third. Sebastian Vettel finished a lonely fourth after Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen both dropped out of the race while ahead of him. For Verstappen, his race started to unravel when he pitted when the crew wasn’t ready, and then on lap 31 his gearbox failed, leaving him with a 20th place finish. Raikkonen’s woes also came in the pits, when he pulled away from his third stop, with the tire gun still attached to the wheel, and the wheel not properly on, which led to his retirement and a 19th place finish.
Although Marc Marquez entered the Australian round of the Moto GP calendar as the newly crowned Moto GP Champion, he showed no signs of letting up, opening up a decent gap up front in the early part of the race. But an error on lap 10 saw him go down, out of the race, and classified with a 20th place finish. That handed the lead to Cal Crutchlow who seized the chance at the win, and raced hard to keep himself ahead of Valentino Rossi, and indeed take the win at the end. Rossi’s run to second was extraordinary considering he started 15th on the grid. But he earned his nickname, “the doctor”, for a reason, and in this race he surgically picked off one rider at a time until there was only Crutchlow ahead, and no one near him behind. But Crutchlow was too fast on this day to give Rossi that final step. A battle looked to be brewing for third, with Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales gaining on Aleix Espagaro, but then Espagaro also crashed out, leaving it down to Maverick Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso to battle it out. Vinales was too fast and a gap opened to Dovizioso giving them a third and fourth place finish respectively. Behind Pol Espagaro in fifth, Jorge Lorenzo also had a good race, finishing sixth after starting 12th on the grid.
In NASCAR four more drivers were eliminated from the Chase leaving eight. Going into the race Joey Logano, who won this event last year, was on the bubble of elimination, but he took the victory in “overtime” to make no doubt of his place in the final eight of the Chase. His win also denied Chase Elliott of his must-win, although a 12th place finish meant that Elliott wasn’t really close. Brad Keselowski was another driver who needed a good race, and another 38th place finish when his engine failed doomed his chances. Martin Truex Jr. also went out of the race with a failed engine, and so too went his chance to move on in the Chase. With Elliott, Keselowski, and Truex out, there was one more driver to face elimination. At the end of the race it came down to Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon fighting for that final position with Hamlin needing to finish 6 places ahead of Dillon to move on to the next round. Hamlin finished 3rd and Dillon six places behind him in 9th, which tied them in points, but Dillon was out of the Chase based on tie-breaking rules. So the eight that move on are: Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch.
A tie this week between Sebastian and Iomracer – only the second tie this year, with Vettal finishing fourth in F1 for Sebastian and Dovizioso finishing fourth in Moto GP for Iomracer, and all other picks being the same. So, no changes in the standings…