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Preview: Weekend of March 23-24, 2019

Preview: Weekend of March 23-24, 2019

This weekend we are watching three races: two NASCAR races from Martinsville, Virginia and the IndyCar race from Austin, Texas.

The Martinsville Speedway is the only track which has hosted Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races every year since their inception in 1949. At 0.526 miles in length, Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Because of its small size, tight corners and unique shape – described most often as a paperclip – Martinsville offers some of the most exciting and close-quarters racing in the sport. In contrast to the half-mile high-banked Bristol oval, the Martinsville track is essentially flat through the corners.

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is a purpose-built road course circuit which was constructed to host the US Grand Prix which has been held there every year since 2012. This year’s IndyCar event will be the first at this circuit.

Saturday, March 23:
1. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks at Martinsville Speedway
• 0.526 mile oval; 250 laps = 131.5 mi
• TV: FOX/FSR at 2:00P
• Last year’s race was delayed by two days by a freak snowstorm in this part of Virginia (23 laps were completed before weather stopped the race Saturday afternoon). The race winner was John Hunter Nemechek driving a truck entered by his father Joe Nemechek. Nemechek is running in the Xfinity Series this year driving for the GMS team. Kyle Benjamin was the runner-up last year; this year he is running a part schedule in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
• The winner of the previous race this year, the Strat 200 at Las Vegas, was Kyle Busch finishing ahead of Brett Moffitt. As a MENCS driver with more than five years experience at that level, Kyle Busch is only allowed to run a maximum of five truck races this year; he is entered in this week’s Martinsville truck race – going for another weekend sweep of wins.
• There are 41 trucks entered for this weekend’s race but only 32 trucks are allowed to start the race; this will be established as a result of qualifying. 

• Raphael Lessard is entered in the No. 46 Kyle Busch Racing truck; this will be his first start in this series. Lessart is a 17-year-old driver who comes from St-Joseph-de-Beauce (south of Quebec City). Over the past three years he has driven in a number of different US-based stock car series, including CARS Super Late Model (where he was the 2016 champion), the Snowball Derby in 2018 (where he led for 60 laps) and a some ARCA races. This year he seems to be taking a page from Ryan Preece's book and he is running a limited number of races in top-notch equipment, including three truck races in KBR entries.

• Click HERE for the NGOTS Entry List.

Sunday, March 24:
2. NTT IndyCar Series IndyCar Classic, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX
• 3.427 mi/5.515 km; 60 laps = 205.6 mi
• TV: Sportsnet World at 1:00P
• This is the first time the Indy cars have raced at this venue.
• This is the second race of the 2019 IndyCar season; the previous race was at St. Petersburg, FL. That race was won by Penske driver Joseph Newgarden ahead of Scott Dixon and Will Power. Oakville native James Hinchcliffe finished in sixth place.
• Twenty-four drivers are entered for this weekend’s race at COTA. Keep an eye on the former F1 driver Marcus Ericsson and on the former DTM driver Felix Rosenqvist.
• For those of you who are not prepared to pay your television service provider $20/month to watch these NBCSN-only races, keep in mind that IndyCar makes a highlights version of the race broadcast available on YouTube a few days afterward.
• Click HERE for the IndyCar Entry List.


3. NASCAR MENCS STP 500, Martinsville Speedway
• 0.526 mile oval; 500 laps = 263 miles
• TV: TSN1 at 2:00P
• Last year’s race was delayed by a day – until Monday – by a freak snowstorm in this part of Virginia. Clint Bowyer won the race ahead of Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.
• The previous MENCS race this year was last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It was won by Kyle Busch (his 200th NASCAR win) over Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
• Given that the Martinsville race is the first of this year on a proper short track, we may see some different teams come to the fore here.
• Click HERE for the MENCS Entry List.



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