Atlanta Motor Speedway honors longtime motorsports reporter ‘Capt. Herb’ Emory

Leave a comment

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s media center is overflowing this weekend, with a number of reporters on scene to report on Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR racing after missing the last three races following the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy.

But two long-time figures around AMS are not there.

First is AMS marketing and public relations director Marcy Scott, who lost a long and valiant battle with cancer last November. The infield media center has been renamed in honor of Scott, who served the track for over a decade before falling ill.

And there is also an empty seat in the back corner of the media center that was filled for more than two decades by longtime Atlanta radio and TV reporter Capt. Herb Emory. A baseball cap marks Emory’s longtime seat at AMS this weekend.

Flying both helicopters and planes (hence how he earned the nickname of “Capt.”), Emory for years was the primary source of traffic news around Atlanta on WSB AM and FM radio, shepherding drivers around backups and accident scenes.

Emory, 61, passed away in April after suffering a massive heart attack..

Emory was also a long-time motorsports reporter, covering dozens of races at AMS as well as attending other races around the country, hosted a weekly racing show on WSB-AM for nearly 20 years, and was a yearly fixture on the annual preseason NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, N.C., in January.

True to his nature of always helping people, Emory died while assisting victims of a car crash that occurred in front of his suburban Atlanta home.

“That was Herb Emory,” Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan told the Atlanta Journal Constitution back in April shortly after Emory’s death. “Always serving his community.”

To honor Emory, AMS has painted a special “Capt. Herb” logo in the corner of the frontstretch and will hold a pre-race presentation to his widow, Karen Emory.

On a personal note, I knew Emory for close to 15 years. While we weren’t close, we had a number of conversations over the years and he was always both professional and friendly. He and Marcy Scott will continue to be missed for many, many years to come by members of the NASCAR media and the NASCAR community.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
1 Comment

SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.