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Five thoughts on NASCAR at Michigan, NHRA's Ron Capps and more

August 19, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Funny car driver Ron Capps celebrates after winning at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
Funny car driver Ron Capps celebrates after winning at Brainerd International… (Jerry Foss / NHRA / Associated…)

Looking back at the weekend in motor racing -- including the NASCAR race in Michigan, NHRA drag racing in Minnesota and the motocross event in Utah -- five things come to mind:

1. Clint Bowyer keeps rolling. The headlines naturally went to Joey Logano for winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, but save one for Bowyer. Although he's winless this season, the 34-year-old Kansan finished fifth at Michigan despite an early spinout, his 13th top-10 finish of the year. Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 Toyota, is second in the standings to Jimmie Johnson and firmly in the Chase for the Cup title playoff, which starts in a month.

2. All types of engines fail at times. At the very moment ESPN's announcers at the Michigan race were rehashing the engine problems Toyota's NASCAR teams have endured this year, Johnson -- the five-time champion who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, which also is a big supplier of Chevrolet engines -- was coasting to the garage with a broken motor. It happens to all of them. Johnson finished 40th in the 43-car field.

3. Driver changes appear in the offing, centered on Stewart-Haas Racing. With co-owner Tony Stewart sidelined with a broken leg, the team reportedly is looking at having veteran Mark Martin -- currently a part-time driver at Michael Waltrip Racing -- take over Stewart's No. 14 Chevy the rest of the season. SHR reportedly also has offered a ride next year to Kurt Busch, currently with the one-car team Furniture Row Racing. Stay tuned.

[Updated at 11:53 a.m.: Stewart-Haas later confirmed that Mark Martin would indeed replace Stewart for 12 of the 13 remaining races this season, with Austin Dillon driving Stewart’s car in the other race at Talladega, Ala]

4. Ron Capps gets the weekend's perseverance award. In a qualifying run Saturday, the 7,000-horsepower engine on Capps' funny car exploded, the body tearing apart as though a bomb had gone off. Yet Capps was uninjured and he returned in a backup car Sunday to win the funny car event at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota, his third victory of the season, by defeating teammate Matt Hagan with a pass of 312.28 mph.

5. Ryan Villopoto extended his dominance in the world of off-road motorcycle racing. After winning his third consecutive supercross title in May, the 25-year-old Villopoto clinched his second Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship (supercross is the stadium version of motocross). The motocross series finishes its season Saturday in Lake Elsinore, Calif.


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