Fuel & Tires: Kenseth among eliminated Chase drivers; Hamilton wins third F1 title
So the last superspeedway race of the Sprint Cup season is over and with it, the Contender Round of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Joey Logano took his third win in a row and sixth of the season at Talladega Superspeedway and the series will now have the eight-driver Eliminator Round for the next three races.
Much of the post-race talk is focusing on whether or not Kevin Harvick intentionally brought out a race-ending caution, which in turn eliminated Dale Earnhardt Jr. from championship contention. Earnhardt, who finished second, took the hit in stride and proved why he's one of the most likable drivers in the series. It's common for drivers who do not get their desired result to throw somebody under the bus, but Earnhardt has never subscribed to that.
NASCAR reviewed video of the final restart several times, but decided that Harvick did not do anything out of the ordinary. Many drivers did not agree, with some taking to Twitter to express their frustrations with the defending series champion.
Two of the pre-Chase favorites, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, were also eliminated as was last year's championship runner-up Ryan Newman.
As I said last week, it's absurd that Kenseth is now eliminated from title contention after a season that has seen him win five races and stay near the top of the points the entire time. But, rules are rules and all Kenseth can do is try to win a couple more races (there's only four remaining) and prove that this Chase format is a joke.
The series now heads to Martinsville, which at .0526 miles is the shortest track in the series. Jeff Gordon has won this race five times and has eight total wins at the track. Gordon is the only driver still in title contention with no wins yet this season. If we can win next week, he will punch his ticket for the Championship Round at the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That would be quite an ending for both the retiring Gordon and the series itself.
HAMILTON WINS THIRD TITLE
Lewis Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday and clinched his third F1 championship. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished second after starting on pole while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel came home third.
Rosberg was unhappy with Hamilton's “extremely aggressive” move on the opening lap, forcing Rosberg wide on the first turn and enabled Hamilton to take the lead.
It was Hamilton's tenth win of the season, making him the first driver to win ten or more races in consecutive seasons. His third title matches his idol Ayrton Senna and ties Jackie Stewart for most championships by a British driver.
Hamilton has obviously proved over the last few years that he will ultimately be one of the greats in Formula One. It's quite amazing that in this era we have two drivers in Hamilton and Vettel, who have a combined seven world championships and 85 wins since 2007. Throw in double world champion Fernando Alonso and you have what is arguably one of the most competitive eras in F1 history.
The series now heads to Mexico City for the Mexican Grand Prix, the first time the series has raced in Mexico since 1992.
INDYCAR SCHEDULE SET
The Verizon IndyCar Series is set to announce its 2016 schedule Tuesday. The schedule looks to start at St. Petersburg, Florida in mid-March and conclude at Sonoma Raceway in California in mid-September.
While it may not be the expansion that many feel the series needs in order to stay visible for more than six months, it is an improvement from this season, which ran from March 29 through August 30.
The highlights of next season's calendar include the return of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Phoenix International Raceway and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. There will also be a street race in Boston on Labor Day weekend, assuming local organizers can quiet opposition with angry residents regarding the cost of preparing the circuit.
Among the tracks not expected to return next season are Auto Club Speedway in California, NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans and the Milwaukee Mile. Fortunately for us Wisconsin fans, we will have the Road America race, but it will be sad to not have the legendary track in West Allis on the schedule. Hopefully the series can find a race promoter and return to Milwaukee in the near future.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.