Time is running out! In the NASCAR Cup Series there are three races before the playoffs. In the Indy Car Series, there are just four races before the entire 2023 season ends! There's still plenty of raw mega fast speed excitement in the NHRA. There are nine events to go before the racing year ends. Most regional and local tracks running stock cars, Figure 8, and other divisions-series hold championships in mid-late September or early October. It is a great time to watch racing! And a perfect time to still get out to the local track and watch some tough side-by-side fun.
Louisville's Ben Rhodes is locked into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series playoffs. Ben is wiser than a few years ago. Still, he has his "own" racing style. He's rubbed some people the wrong way, at times, including one of his own teammates. Sure miscalculations happens. Some drivers would like to have a do-over. But when you race in NASCAR, you want to win. At times, there is a very fine line. Ben is the 2021 NASCAR Truck Series Champion. And he finished a close second last year by less than a half-dozen points. So far this season, Ben doesn't have the playoff points as most of his truck competitors. When the playoffs begin, he'll need to win early to have another title shot.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series John Hunter Nemechek and Austin Hill have been the class of the series this year. Both have been at or near the top of the standings as of late. Former Cup racer Cole Custer has had flashes of brilliance. The consistency isn't there for his team. We believe one of these 3 will win the title. Longshots would be Chandler Smith and Justin Allgaier.
It is certainly good news Martin Truex Jr. The 43-year old racer is returning for another season in the Cup season. He had much on his mind in 2022, professionally and personally. Seems like he's more focused than in recent years. And there's no doubt Joe Gibbs and sponsors like Bass Pro Shops wanted him back too. Racing needs him. And congrats to Corey LaJoie for re-signing a multi-year agreement with Spire Motorsports. He's a strong racer. Just a matter of time before he gets into victory lane, many times! Doesn't seem like Kurt Busch will race full-time in Cup again. He's still recovering from a hard hit at Pocono in 2022. It would be great if he could come back and race some events. Kurt is a true warrior who can wheel a car. On a totally different note, drivers should know by now, how to conduct themselves. There is no excuse for stupidity. NASCAR Cup Drivers are elite athletes. Though they don't make the same dollars, there's nothing shabby about racing in Xfinity or trucks. Cup driver Noah Gragson was suspended by Legacy Motor Club for an apparent insensitive or inappropriate post on social media. Gragson is 25, still young. Someone by now, should have taught and told him, just how special a ride in NASCAR. And how to behave as a professional. A challenging learning experience, yes. Let's hope he grows up.
As for NASCAR and the Cup Series, after the rain delayed Michigan event, only 3 races remain: Indianapolis, The Watkins Glen Road Course, and our favorite for being the last race in the regular season: Daytona! Bubble drivers narrowly above or below the cut line include Bubba Wallace, A-J Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, and Michael McDowell. Despite what happens to Gibbs, what a year the rookie is having even to be thinking about making the playoffs going into mid-August. He's quietly been the most consistent bubble driver in recent races.
This weekend if you like fast and quick speed try the NHRA Kansas Nationals. Fox Sports 1 carries most of the action. As for the stars of the Indy Car Series, Kyle Kirkwood won on the streets in Nashville. The top 3 Indy Car points leaders all finished in the top 5 at Nashville. Expect one of those three: Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden, or Scott Dixon to win the 2023 championship. Palou is in the driver's seat and is handling the late season pressure very well. This weekend the Indy Cars compete on the road course at Indianapolis. Palou won the event last year.
We do encourage you to get out to the local tracks to watch all the fun and excitement as our local race teams battle for championships. Though school is cranking back up (Please keep watch for the school buses and kids), most events are on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. Do check out local track websites and social media for last minute changes and tickets deals. When visiting tracks, you'll see Lucas Oil logos on walls and signage. Forrest, Charlotte, Morgan, and Katie Lucas all strongly support grass roots racing and drivers! The Sportsdrome Speedway (See Interview with track owner Mike Gibson below) and Salem Speedway get much attention locally. Other area tracks are the Ponderosa Speedway. It's called the Baddest Bullring in the Bluegrass state. It is a short dirt track in central Kentucky at Junction City near Danville (About an hour and fifteen minutes southeast of Louisville). Drive south to Bowling Green (KY) and you'll enjoy Beech Bend. There is an amusement park, camping, and racing. The Beech Bend dragstrip brings in the fans and has a wide range of events. Just outside of Louisville in West Point Kentucky is the Ohio Valley Dragway. It is a 1/8th mile track on Dixie Highway. This season Sportsdrome owner Mike Gibson has had some events at the county fairgounds in Scott County, Indiana.
Make sure your car, truck, motorcycle, boat, other vehicles, and lawn equipment are all running efficiently. Think Lucas Oil Products. They do so much for racing communities across America. Other sponsors of KMS include PNC Bank (Sponsor of Scott Dixon's Indy Car Series Car), Sportsdrome Speedway (Celebrating more than 75 years of Racing!), locally owned Bright Pest Control and Bright Retail in Louisville, (Offering Do-It-Yourself Professional Pest Products with a retail store), and Knox Ford in Radcliff, Kentucky) (It also has a sister dealership, Tri-County Ford in Oldham County, KY). KMS friends also include: VoiceTel Kentucky (Offering telephone service for low as $25.00 a line per month), Temco Roofing, Jim Ellis/Attorney-At-Law, ICA Dumpsters, Kentucky Raceway Ministries, Nimlok Kentucky, Dynamic Healthcare, Lyndon Mower Repair, and Kentucky Medicare Plans (Serving Kentucky and Southern Indiana with Health and Medicare plans). We also thank our media connections in all series, NASCAR and with NASCAR Media, Indy Car, Monster Jam, ARCA, and NHRA for helping us bring the sport to the fans!
As summer vacations wind down and fall is in sight, lets not forget those who help families across America. Our farmers and ranchers are doing work hard and need support. Protect the Harvest backs them. It is a Lucas Oil initiative. Learn more at: www.protecttheharvest.com