KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


Let’s get the heat race started. Ten laps is the distance.

1. The legends of the sport late-model race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway quietly — and wisely — went away for this weekend after old-time drivers Larry Pearson and Charlie Glotzbach were injured last year. Instead, the track will hold exhibition speed runs for various types of race cars including non winged sprint cars, sprint cars and supermodifieds. It should be an interesting exercise.

2. Let’s see the Cup Series had an off weekend last week, but a Cup regular still won a NASCAR race. Despite Kasey Kahne winning another one for the Cup guys, the fantastic crowd for a one-day show at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway should be noted.

3. While we’re still hoping Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon will end up with IndyCar Series rides, the collection of drivers assembled for the 2011 season is impressive and should give the series more depth than it has had in years.

4. With nearly 60 entries and 18 manufacturers entered Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring is shaping up to be a beauty of a race, but someone explain to us why these cars, teams and drivers need so much practice. Practice, disguised as “testing,” began Monday and runs daily through Saturday’s race.

5. Sometimes racing is too confusing. We’ve been working in this business for 20 years and some things still don’t make sense. The USAC Western Classic sprint-car series debuted last weekend. The cars look just like those in the USAC-CRA Sprint Car Series. Further complicating things for fans, the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series debuted last year. While we know those cars run 360 cubic-inch engines, they also look like the cars in the other two series. Finally, the USAC Western Sprint Car Series, which races exclusively on asphalt, features cars that are similar in appearance. All four series are based in California. That’s a lot for the common fan to digest.

6. We know season openers are traditionally well attended, but the crowds we’ve seen in photographs from race tracks around the country have been spectacular. Here’s hoping for the same at the track in your neighborhood.

7. Representatives of the Palm Beach Int’l Raceway, which recently purchased Memphis Int’l Raceway, continue to negotiate with the folks at Dover Motorsports in an attempt to buy Gateway Int’l Raceway. GIR builder Chris Pook, who later worked for Dover, is now involved in the negotiations as a third party.

8. IndyCar executives are pondering adapting a NASCAR-type Lucky Dog rule. Why does everyone have to copy NASCAR?

9. Saw TNT NASCAR pit reporter Marty Snider working NCAA tourney action in Dayton, Ohio, as a sideline reporter. He did an excellent job.

10. The NASCAR Hall of Fame lost $187,983 in January, bringing its total loss for the fiscal year to $1.03 million.