Craig Murto: A lap around the racing world
It’s the heart of racing season, and sometimes there are so many good stories to discuss that it’s hard to pick just one.
Let’s start this lap around the racing world with the best story of the week, Ryan Blaney’s win at Pocono in the NASCAR Cup Series. It’s always good to see the Wood Bros. Racing team from Stuart, Virgina, in Victory Lane, and it’s always good to see first-time winners. The 23-year-old Blaney is a third-generation racer who cut his teeth in Super Late Models in Virginia and the Carolinas before working his way up the ladder.
The best racing by far all weekend was the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway, won by Will Power. But the dangerous style of oval racing of the fast open-wheel cars created more than a few accidents, and resulted, by one published estimate, in nearly $2 million in damage to teams.
It might be worth it if the series get the attention it deserved. But despite the Texas race being the most exciting race of the year, every year, the grandstands barely had a soul in them. And my guess is that the TV ratings weren’t much better. Such a shame, because sponsors don’t support a series that doesn’t draw a crowd. And with the cost to teams, I can see IndyCar giving up the race date.
Like I said, it’s a shame; there is no race all year as exciting as IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway. The racing product on the racetrack is phenomenal. But if the fans don’t support it, it’ll go away.
The Isle of Mann TT (Tourist Trophy) ran last week. The headlining event, the Senior TT, was won by Michael Dunlop.
The week-long motorcycle competitions are considered the most dangerous annual motorsport event on the planet. This year, three riders died as a result of crashes on the 37.7-mile course. That’s few compared to the 11 riders who died in 2005.
Some say the event shouldn’t continue in this day and age, but the 110-year-old competition is respected in its home country, where it undoubtedly brings in tourist dollars. The riders are local heroes, and as any one of them will tell you, nobody forces them to participate.
The most controversial race of the weekend was the Camping World Truck Series event at Texas Motor Speedway.
The white flag flew as Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe crossed the line. At the same time, Timothy Peters’ truck crashed, and a yellow flag was displayed nearly immediately.
Since it was the last lap, scoring did not go to the last scoring loop, but rather went by the position of the trucks at the time the yellow was displayed.
As declared winner Christopher Bell celebrated, the TV broadcast showed that from their vantage point, Chase Briscoe had a slight lead when the yellow LED lights on the catch fence came on.
So, shouldn’t Briscoe be the winner?
NASCAR released a photo with a timestamp on it showing Briscoe in front that was taken moments before the photo TV showed its viewers. They claimed that the yellow lights on the catch fence are not tied in with the official system and that the photo was time stamped at the moment of caution.
But actually, NASCAR’s photo was proof of nothing except that Briscoe was in front when it was taken. With all the cameras at the racetrack, it should be easy to sync a photo that actually has a yellow light with a photo of Briscoe in the lead. That is proof, and that’s what TV has done for fans all year in these circumstances.
If in fact Briscoe did win the race, the proof exists. But both NASCAR and Fox Sports are doing him a disservice by not showing the proof, not making the effort to sync views from different cameras to demonstrate that Briscoe was ahead when the track’s caution lights came on. There will always be a question in many fans’ minds.
Lewis Hamilton not only won the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada, but he tied the late Ayrton Senna with 65 pole positions. Senna’s family gave Hamilton a race-worn helmet from Senna’s collection to commemorate the milestone.
Locally, Peyton Sellers won the NASCAR Late Model race at Dominion Raceway. This Saturday will feature Late Models and United States Auto Club Midgets. Trever Feathers won the Super Late Model race at Hagerstown Speedway, which will host a regular weekly show Saturday night. Winchester Speedway will host a 30-lap Super Late Model feature.