Craig Murto

Craig Murto

The Short Track U.S. Nationals return to Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31 – June 1, and offer fans the best opportunity to experience the high banks of the Tennessee half-mile.

The schedule has been shortened from last year due to the dropping of Late Model Stock Cars and Modifieds from the program. The May 31 date will be practice, and June 1 will see all the qualifying and racing action for Super Late Models, Pro Late Models, Compacts and Hobby Stocks.

A number of sanctioning bodies are involved in the event. The Super Late Models are co-sanctioned by the Championship Racing Association (CRA), Southern Super Series, and the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) tour. The Pro Late Models and the Hobby stocks are sanctioned by CRA, and the Compacts are sanctioned by Southern Super Series.

Speed51.com offers a pay-per-view broadcast of the racing action, should you not want to travel but do want to see the best racing Bristol has to offer. But it isn’t really too far to travel, and nothing beats attending the races. Put the Short Track U.S. Nationals on your calendar.

If you’re looking for racing this weekend, Shenandoah Speedway will feature its Late Model division in action on Saturday night. Likewise, Late Models will headline at Dominion Raceway and Entertainment in Thornburg, competing in twin 60-lap features.

If you don’t mind a little travel to get your weekly racing fix, Langley Speedway in Hampton will feature its Late Model division on Saturday. And South Boston Speedway features its star-studded Late Model division in a 100-lap feature.

Hagerstown Speedway will run at 6 p.m. Sunday, offering the Tex Shaffer Memorial 46-lap, $4,000-to-win Crate Late Model event in honor of the recently passed car owner.

Winchester Speedway is in operation Saturday night, featuring the Mason-Dixon Shootout Series for Limited Late Models.

It is concerning that Winchester announced on its website that due to low car count, the Four-Cylinder division has been dropped for the remainder of the season. The biggest concern is that normally one thinks of the Four-Cylinder division as a lower-budget division, not that any form of racing is inexpensive.

In the past, when the economy soured, the lower divisions were always the first to suffer. Those were racers doing all they could just to afford to race; after all, if they had a lot of money, they’d be racing a Late Model. But since the economy is the best it’s been in 50 years, it’s hard to tell why that division did not get enough support at Winchester to continue.

There was a lot of racing crammed on television and the internet on Saturday so that fans were free to celebrate Mother’s Day.

The IndyCar race on the road course at Indianapolis was a good one and came down to a pass for the win with less than two laps remaining. Simon Pagenaud grabbed his first win in more than a year, passing Scott Dixon in a classic Penske vs. Ganassi showdown. And even more impressive for Pagenaud, the Penske racer made the pass without the aid of “push to pass,” the limited horsepower boosts available to IndyCar racers. Pagenaud used all of his just getting to Dixon.

There was a lot of good racing on www.fanschoice.tv, including American Flat Track motorcycle racing from Perris Speedway in Southern California, and the NASCAR Modified Tour Spring Sizzler at Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Five-time Modified champion Doug Coby held off Craig Lutz in the exciting final 10 laps of the 200-lap affair, before a packed house in what is undoubtedly “Modified country.”

The best race of the weekend was NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup race on Saturday night from Kansas. If you watched that race and didn’t like it, well, you don’t like racing.

NASCAR’s experiment with high-downforce setups on the cars appears to be working. Statistically, even the races that on TV may not appear to be the best (such as Dover), actually have more passing throughout the field than in years past. And at Kansas, the TV coverage did a good job panning back in the field to find those battles, so fans at home got an idea exactly how competitive the race was.

Next, we head to Charlotte, for the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600. Hopefully, those events will be just a competitive.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.