KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


Mud is flying on both coasts of Florida and in California and the smell of burning rubber fills the air at the World Center of Speed.

It’s time for a Florida Speedweeks edition of the Friday Morning Heat Race.

This week, we’ll run a lucky 13 laps:

1. Thanks to the late Crocky Wright, a great friend of open-wheel racing, the 64th annual Night Before the 500 midget race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis is scheduled to pay a whopping $20,000 to the winner. The race at the .686-mile asphalt oval had one of USAC’s best midget car counts of the season last year, and that kind of money is sure to bring a few extra entries to the party.

2. While another sealed engine — Fontana’s Rhino — has been approved for USAC competition, giving racers another low-budget option for competition in the USAC Mopar National Midget Series, there still hasn’t been much from USAC on how it plans to police the rev limit which was placed on “open” engines last fall.

Scott Bloomquist used Chevrolet power to win Tuesday night at East Bay Raceway Park in Florida. (Al Steinberg photo)

3. Sometimes winning is still the most important thing. Last season, Scott Bloomquist won a lot of races with a Roush Yates Ford-based engine in his dirt late model. But this year Bloomquist is carrying both Ford and Chevy powerplants and after practicing with the Ford engine, switched to a Chevrolet plant and won the opener of the 35th Winternationals for the Lucas late models at East Bay Raceway Park earlier this week.

4. Ford and Ferrari are facing off away from the race track. Ford Motor Company is suing Ferrari in Detroit federal court, alleging the Italian sports-car maker has violated its trademark regarding the F-150 truck name. Ferrari is calling its new Formula One car the F150 and has created a website Ford is asking a judge to block Ferrari from using the trademark in the United States and is seeking damages from Ferrari.

5. Are there any drivers other than Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. racing at Daytona?

6. Speaking of Patrick, was it really smart for the IndyCar Series to remove Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi from its schedule beginning in 2012, when it’s the only track where Patrick has won a race?

7. Anyone else think that Robby Gordon and Paul Tracy would make a great two-driver team for the Indianapolis 500?

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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.