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Race Weekend Preview: July 28-29, 2018

This weekend we are watching six races:

Saturday, July 28
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Gander Outdoors 150, Pocono Raceway
NASCAR Xfinity U.S. Cellular 250, Iowa Speedway
NASCAR Pinty’s Luxxur 300, Edmonton International Raceway

Sunday, July 29
FIA Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring
NASCAR MENCS Gander Outdoors 400, Pocono Raceway
Verizon IndyCar Honda Indy at Mid-Ohio

 Here is the link for George's Race Fan TV listings: http://www.prnmag.com/images/tvlistings/2018/Georges_Race_Fan_TV_Listings_Highlights.pdf

Formula One at the Hungaroring

The F1 circus comes to the Budapest circuit this weekend for the final race before the month-long summer hiatus. There has been a championship Grand Prix held here every year since 1986. Despite its origins as an iron-curtain event – or perhaps because of it –this race has always been able to draw a large number of F1 fans.

Sebastian Vettel won here last year, He had previously won in 2015. Lewis Hamilton has won five times in Hungary, his most recent win coming in 2016 – three of those wins in a McLaren-Mercedes car. With both of these drivers fighting it out for the 2018 championship, we can expect sparks to fly here this time. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who won in 2014, is the only other driver to have won here in the past six years. In that race Hamilton finished third after starting the race from the pit lane.

In the previous two rounds of this year’s championship season, Vettel won at Silverstone and Hamilton at Hockenheim. After Germany, Hamilton has a 17-point lead over Vettel in the points standings.

Verizon IndyCar at Mid-Ohio

The IndyCar series returns to the country-club-like 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend. Although the finish line is opposite the pits on a short straight, the race starts are flagged away at a line on the longish straight mid-way between the Keyhole (T2 and the right-hander T4). This is a long-standing road course, the first race being held here in 1962; the first Indy car (CART) race was in 1980. The IRL IndyCar series has raced here each year since 2007.

Last year’s race was won by Josef Newgarden with Will Power second and Graham Rahal third. Canadian James Hinchcliffe was 11th. The most recent Indy car race this year was the Toronto round which saw championship points leader Scott Dixon winning. Simon Pagenaud was second. The Ontarians Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe were third and fourth.

This weekend’s race at the Mid-Ohio road course should be a good opportunity for both of those Canadians to have a shot at the win. The other Canadian who was in the Toronto race, Zachary Claman de Melo, has been replaced in the No. 19 car by Pietro Fittipaldi who has recovered from the leg injuries he suffered during practice for the Spa-Francorchamps WEC race in early May.

 

NASCAR MENCS at Pocono

The Cup series returns to Pocono’s 2.5-mile tricky triangle for a second time this year. The unusual three-cornered layout makes this track unique – each corner is different, making it ‘tricky’ for the teams to set up the cars and for the drivers to manhandle them around the different corners. Unlike most oval tracks, the cars are often set up so that the drivers can shift down to third for the tighter corners and up to top gear for the long front straight.

In the second of the two Cup races here last year, Kyle Busch was the winner over Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex.

In the June race this year, Truex was the winner over Kyle Larson, Busch and Harvick. In the most recent Cup race at NHMS, Harvick was the winner over Kyle Busch with Truex in fourth place. This ‘big three’ of Harvick, Busch, and Truex seem to be continuing to be dominant through this year. Perhaps we will see a different winner – Larson or Elliott? – this weekend at Pocono – or not.

NASCAR Xfinity at Iowa

The Xfinity Series race at 7/8ths-mile Iowa Speedway will run on Saturday afternoon paired with a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race the day before.

Last year, Ryan Preece took a dominant win at NHMS in a Joe Gibbs car ahead of Kyle Benjamin and Brian Scott. This year, the most recent Xfinity Series winner was Christopher Bell in a JGR car with Brad Keselowski and Preece second and third. Preece is running a very limited number of Xfinity races this year as he did last year.

Scott is not racing this year. Preece is sitting this race out while Benjamin takes over the No. 18 JGR car. Chase Briscoe is in a Roush Xfinity Mustang here this weekend. Ontario driver Peter Shepherd III will be in the No. 255 J.P. Motorsports Toyota hoping to impress on his return to this series (Once he qualifies for the race his number will become two-digit, probably No. 55).

 

NASCAR Camping World Trucks at Pocono

Rising star Christopher Bell won last year’s truck race at Pocono. Ben Rhodes was second ahead of Ryan Truex, John Hunter Nemechek and Johnny Sauter. The most recent truck race this year was the Eldora mud derby, which was won by Chase Briscoe over Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen.

Briscoe is only running a few NASCAR races this year and he is not entered at Pocono this weekend; he will be at Iowa in an Xfinity car. Bell has moved up to Xfinity after winning the truck championship last year – as have Nemechek and Ryan Truex. Of those mentioned above, this only leaves Rhodes, Sauter, Enfinger and Friesen competing in the Pocono truck race. Friesen won in his big-block modified stock car at the Granby, Quebec, dirt track this week – a rare race appearance in Canada for this driver who lists Niagara-on-the-Lake as home. Kyle Busch will be running as a Cup interloper.

 

NASCAR Pinty’s Series at Edmonton

The seventh round of the 2018 Pinty’s Series season will be run at the quarter-mile Edmonton International Raceway bullring on Saturday.

This is the third race in the series’ western swing. On Wednesday, July 25, a double-header of two races was run at the one-third-mile Wyant Group Raceway near Saskatoon, SK. The first race was won by Donald Theege over Cole Powell and Alex Tagliani. Powell won the second race over L.P. Dumoulin and M-A Camirand. Both Theege and Cole were first-time winners in the Pinty’s Series.

Last year, the Edmonton race was won by Alex Labbe with Theege second and Cayden Lapcevich third. Neither Labbe nor Lapcevich is competing in the Pinty’s Series this year, Labbe is running the full season in the Xfinity Series in 2018.

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