Welcome to week 40 – four races this weekend. F1 is in the U.S. at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA); MotoGP has their final race of their Pacific Rim tour, this time in Sepang, Malaysia; WRC has a mixed-surface event in Rally Catalunya in Spain; NASCAR has their last race of their “Contender” round, at the big restrictor plate track of Talladega, after which four more drivers will no longer be in the Chase for the Cup. Picks can be made at: http://www.roadracetracks.com/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 39:
Moto GP Australia, NASCAR Kansas City:
The MotoGP race on Phillip Island has been described in the press as “one of the greatest grand prix motorcycle races of the past decade” (Roar.com), largely because the four top protagonists battled side-by-side and nose-to-tail for the entire race, with other riders also in the mix in the early laps. It was in the last lap when Marc Marquez moved from fourth into the lead and crossed the line the winner, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Andrea Iannone similarly passed Valentino Rossi on the last lap to take the final podium position. Behind them the next three also had a grand scrap, with Daniel Pedrosa finishing in fifth ahead of Maverick Vinales and Cal Crutchlow. Our two other picks simply didn’t have a good race, with Bradley Smith finishing 10th, and Andrea Dovizioso finishing 13th.
In the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, it was race 2 of the “Contender” round, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth both had to win to get a pass into the next round. Neither did. In fact Earnhardt Jr. had another poor race, finishing 21st, which leaves him second to last place amongst the contenders and only a win next week will get him through to the next round. Kenseth on the other hand had a great shot at winning, leading the race with only a handful of laps to go. But last week’s winner, Joey Logano, was looking strong again, and was pressuring Kenseth when they come upon traffic to lap. With aerodynamics on Kenseth’s car degraded by the slower cars, he was forced to try and block Logano. But that didn’t turn out so well with Logano protesting the blocks by turning Kenseth around, and going on to take the win. Kenseth at least saved the car from the wall, and with a green-white-checker finish, was able to hold on to the lead lap and finish 14th. But that is not enough, and he will again need to seek the win at Talladega next week. Two other contender drivers finished behind Kenseth – Martin Truex Jr. in 15th, and Kevin Harvick in 16th. They are now on the bubble for elimination without a good result next week, along with Kyle Busch who finished 5th, Brad Keselowski who finished 9th, Jeff Gordon who finished 10th, and Ryan Newman who finished 11th. Besides the winner Logano, 2nd place finisher Denny Hamlin, 6th place Kurt Busch, and 8th place Carl Edwards are now positioned at the top of the Chase leaderboard, so would need a poor result at Talladega to miss out on the next round.
Drewe and I tied on points, but because we had different picks I win on count-back with two 2nd place picks versus Drewe’s one. But I think Drewe’s picks were slightly more impressive as I loaded up with the usually consistent Moto GP, and Drewe split his picks to include five in the volatile NASCAR series. No changes in the standings …