Great news from the short track circuit, as California’s Irwindale Speedway is set to host lower-level NASCAR racing once again starting tomorrow night.
The half-mile oval in suburban Los Angeles had been known as a home for some of NASCAR’s minor-league categories such as the Whelen All-American Series (pictured) and K&N Pro Series West. It had also garnered national attention as host to the now-defunct Toyota All-Star Showdown, which served as an all-star race of sorts for the top drivers throughout all of NASCAR’s various regional series.
But its previous owner was forced to file for bankruptcy in February of 2012. Luckily for race fans in the Southern California region, a new operating group was eventually found for the track.
Saturday’s event marks the first of 14 nights this season that will feature NASCAR “Home Tracks” series at Irwindale, whose general manager is naturally thrilled about Opening Night.
“There’s a renewed attitude, a great sense of adventure — drivers, crews and fans all telling us that they can’t wait for this coming Saturday night,” Bob Klein said in a track statement. “We’re very excited to be back in the stock car racing business. Everyone on our staff is ready to get back to what Irwindale Speedway was built to do, and that’s put on a short track racing show that’s second to none.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.