For a while it looked like Lewis Hamilton might pull out the Formula 1 win at the Circuit of the Americas after Max Verstappen had a slow pit stop. But the Mercedes team put Hamilton on hard tires and Red Bull opted for mediums for Verstappen, who chased down Lewis to take the win. It was a bittersweet victory, coming on the heels of the death of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, to whom Verstappen dedicated the race.
The win also clinched the constructors’ championship for Red Bull and scored Max’s 13th win of the season, only the third time a driver has done that in Formula 1. Michael Schumacher won 13 of the 18 F1 races in 2004 and Sebastian Vettel won 13 of 19 in 2011. With three to go in this year’s 22-race season, Verstappen could very well end the year with a record. He’ll get his first chance at 14 this weekend in the Mexican Grand Prix, which airs Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN. Today’s qualifying is on ESPNews at 1 p.m.
Nobody locked into the NASCAR Cup championship round last Sunday at Homestead because Kyle Larson dominated the race, leading 199 of 267 laps. It was his first win at the Florida track after also leading the most laps in 2016 and 2017 but coming up short both times. Ross Chastain’s second place put him 19 points above the cut line for the championship round at Phoenix next week. Larson’s win means that at least two, and possibly three, drivers will advance to the final championship round on points. Chase Elliott is 11 points above the cut line and defending Martinsville winner William Byron is plus-5. Denny Hamlin is five points below the cut line, Ryan Blaney 18 under, Christopher Bell minus-33, and Chase Briscoe at a must-win minus-44.
Martin Truex Jr., winless on the season, has won three of the last six Martinsville outings, and could be the spoiler tomorrow. Elliott won in the 2020 fall race, and Joey Logano is the only other driver in championship contention to win recently (2018). Hamlin won in 2015 and swept the 2010 Martinsville events. Other Martinsville winners not in playoff contention are Brad Keselowski (2017, 2019) and Kyle Busch (2016, 2017). Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch are both Martinsville winners but are out with concussion issues.
Opening odds have Elliott at 6-1, Hamlin 7-1, and Blaney and Byron sharing 8-1 odds. Logano is 9-1, Truex 10-1, and Larson 12-1. Bell, Busch, and Chastain share 14-1 odds and Kevin Harvick is at 16-1. My longshot pick is A.J. Allmendinger at 50-1.
Today’s Cup qualifying airs on USA at 9:30 a.m. and NBC will broadcast both today’s Xfinity series race at 12:30 p.m. and the Cup 500-lap contest at 11 a.m.
In other racing news, Tony Stewart, who is a champion in several forms of motorsport, is trying something new this weekend. Stewart, 51, will be wheeling a Top Alcohol dragster in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series at Las Vegas. Although Stewart owns an NHRA team, fielding wife Leah Pruett’s Top Fuel car and Matt Hagan’s Funny Car, it will be Stewart’s first outing in NHRA competition. He has attended Frank Hawley’s drag racing school and has made half a dozen practice runs in the McPhillips Racing Top Alcohol car he will drive this weekend, so he is as prepared as any rookie. At minimum, he will get three qualifying runs and is hoping to get at least one elimination run.
And finally, on a non-racing topic, happy Nevada Day to everyone. I’ll be announcing the parade today at 4th and Carson Streets. Come by and say hello.