KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


We hope you will join us here every Friday, where we will reveal our thoughts about the week’s events in motorsports while previewing the coming weekend’s major events.

For the purpose of this blog, our heat race will be 10 laps in length.

1. Six points separate Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin entering Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Johnson and Hamlin make very few mistakes, but interestingly, both have made a few in the restrictor-plate events at Talladega and Daytona Int’l Speedway.

2. One of the races that we’ve never attended, but would love to one day, is this weekend. The ShortTrack Nationals at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., kicked off last night and culminates Saturday with more than 100 360 sprint cars from across the country expected. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. was the opening night winner.

3. Everybody likes Las Vegas. Drag racers are no exception. The highest car counts of the year are expected in the professional classes at this weekend’s NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Twenty-seven Top Fuel cars will be joined by 21 Funny Cars, 27 Pro Stocks and 23 Pro Stock motorcycles.

4. Ken Weeks of the appropriately named Pleasant City, Ohio, won Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway’s online sweepstakes, which awarded him a trip for two to attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series banquet in Las Vegas. Weeks and his wife Betty will receive three days and two nights in Las Vegas, roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, seats at the banquet and other perks, including $500 in spending money. Anyone care to guess what car number he’ll bet the money on?

5. Five, 11 or 17? The number of cars collected in The Big One during Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway?

6. Helio Castroneves will appear on the Nov. 1 edition of “Dancing with the Stars.” The three-time Indy 500 winner and former winner of the reality-based television show will serve as a celebrity judge for what will be the 200th episode of the ABC series.

7. Crazy thought of the week: Wouldn’t it be cool if someone would offer an outlandish bonus for a driver to win all three features during the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The accomplishment would rival Jack Hewitt sweeping the 4-Crown Nationals and there are only a handful of drivers that could be competitive in all three (winged sprint car, modified, late model) types of cars.

8. Like many we’re still wondering how things will shake out with Richard Petty Motorsports. The most interesting quote we heard during the team’s tumultuous weekend at Martinsville, Va., came from team manager Robbie Loomis, who said: “We’ll be at Talladega. I hope we’re all in Talladega.”

9. Bill Elliott will be Trevor Bayne’s driving coach when he makes his Sprint Cup debut in the Wood Brothers No. 21 at Texas Motor Speedway. Bayne, who is 19, was not born when Elliott won the Cup title in 1988.

10. If you missed Ron Lemasters, Jr.’s Monday blog about the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, you missed some good reading. His line about sending “intervention teams” in search of fans of races at 1.5-mile tracks was a classic. Read Ron’s thoughts every Monday afternoon at

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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.