It was a good weekend to be named Kyle if you were a racer. Kyle Kirkwood won his first pole and first NTT IndyCar series race at Long Beach on Sunday, while Kyle Larson won the NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville.
Long Beach was a triumph for Andretti Motorsport with Romain Grosjean finishing second and Colton Herta fourth. Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske each had three cars in the top 10 as well. The next race for the IndyCars will be the Children’s of Alabama Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park on April 29.
At Martinsville, Larson’s crew gave him two tires on the final pit stop and that was good enough to overtake Joey Logano, who elected not to stop. Ryan Preece and Kevin Harvick won the first two stages and Chase Elliott scored a top-10 finish in 10th on his return to the series. It was Larson’s first win at Martinsville, his second NASCAR Cup race of the season and his 21st career victory. The win tied him with Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte for 38th on the all-time NASCAR Cup winners list.
This weekend NASCAR goes from one of its shortest tracks to its longest oval, Talladega. The race is a high-speed game of chicken with big packs running at 200 mph, usually resulting in at least one big multi-car pileup and sometimes two or three of them.
Ten of the 38 entries have won at the big 2.66 mile high-banked oval. Brad Keselowski leads with five victories there, the most recent in 2021. Ross Chastain won a year ago and Elliott was the winner of last fall’s race. Bubba Wallace scored his first Cup win at Talladega in 2021. Logano has three Talladega victories with Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Blaney winning two each. One-time winners are Chastain, Wallace, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Even FOX commentator Clint Bowyer has a pair of Talladega wins.
Saturday, FS1 will broadcast Cup qualifying at 7:30 a.m., the ARCA Menard’s series General Tire 200 at 9:30 a.m., and the Xfinity series Ag-Pro 300 at 1 p.m. Sunday’s NASCAR Cup GEICO 500 airs at noon on FOX.
Formula 1 is back in action this weekend with the first sprint qualifying race of 2023. Regular qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix took place on Friday, with sprint race coverage Saturday on ESPN at 6:30 a.m., and the race at 4 a.m. Sunday on ESPN.
So far it has been a Red Bull season with Max Verstappen winning in Bahrain and Australia and teammate Sergio Perez triumphant in Saudi Arabia. All three races featured 1-2 finishes for the Red Bulls.
Fernando Alonso finished third in all three races and is in third place in the drivers’ championship standings behind Verstappen and Perez. However Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack downplays the likelihood of Alonso being able to challenge Verstappen for the championship this year. Red Bull’s cars are just too fast.
The crime report from last weekend’s Martinsville NASCAR Cup race features an L1 penalty for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevy driven by Austin Dillon. The underwing assembly and hardware were judged to have violated the “overall assembled vehicle rules.” Dillon lost 60 driver points, Childress 60 owner points, and crew chief Keith Rodden got a $75,000 fine and a two-race suspension.
The Childress organization announced that it will appeal the penalties, which can no longer be completely overturned under NASCAR’s recently amended appeals policy. It’s like appealing a jail sentence and having them say, “Yeah, you didn’t do it, so we’re only going to jail you for five years instead of 10.”