EditorsNote: Update 1: with confirmation of Earnhardt Jr. status
Auto racing glance
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: CROWN ROYAL PRESENTS THE COMBAT WOUNDED COALITION 400 AT THE BRICKYARD (160 laps, 400 miles), Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Indianapolis, Indiana.
TV: Sunday, July 24, 3 p.m. ET - NBCSN (Radio: Performance Racing Network/Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network/SiriusXM Channel 90).
THEN AND NOW: This will be the 23rd Sprint Cup race held at arguably the most famous racetrack in the world. Kyle Busch is the defending winner of this race (his first career triumph at IMS), while Jeff Gordon won there for a record fifth time in 2014. Busch also won last year’s Xfinity race there, making for a weekend sweep. ... Speaking of Gordon, he will come out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday’s race at Indianapolis, as well as next weekend’s race at Pocono. It was announced Wednesday morning by Hendrick Motorsports that Earnhardt has not been cleared by doctors to resume racing due to ongoing concussion-like symptoms. ... Matt Kenseth won this past Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was Kenseth’s second win of the season. Tony Stewart finished a season-best second, followed by Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle. ... Speaking of Biffle, he’ll be racing with a heavy heart in Indianapolis. His father, Jack, passed away Tuesday. ... There have been 11 different drivers to win a race thus far in the first 19 races this season. There are only seven races remaining for drivers to qualify for the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship field ... Kevin Harvick (636 points) continues to lead the Sprint Cup point standings. Brad Keselowski (622) is second, followed by Kurt Busch (602), Carl Edwards (587), Joey Logano (571), Kyle Busch (556), Martin Truex Jr. (540), Matt Kenseth (521), Jimmie Johnson (514) and Denny Hamlin (505).
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: LILLY DIABETES 250 (Two heat races of 20 laps/50 miles each, followed by main race of 60 laps/150 miles), Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis.
TV: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET — NBCSN (Radio: Performance Racing Network/Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network/SiriusXM Channel 90).
THEN AND NOW: Saturday will mark the fifth time the Xfinity Series has raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won last year’s Xfinity race at IMS and has won two of the previous four races there. ... Only one true Xfinity Series regular has won this race: Ty Dillon in 2014. ... Kyle Busch won last Saturday’s race at New Hampshire, the 82nd time the younger Busch brother won an Xfinity Series race, extending his own series record. ... Winners of the first 16 Xfinity Series races this season have been Chase Elliott (Daytona), Kyle Busch (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky and New Hampshire), Austin Dillon (Fontana), Erik Jones (Bristol and Dover), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Richmond), Elliott Sadler (Talladega), Denny Hamlin (Charlotte), Kyle Larson (Pocono), Daniel Suarez (Michigan), Sam Hornish Jr. (Iowa) and Aric Almirola (Daytona). ... Suarez (574 points) remains in the lead in the Xfinity Series point standings. Sadler (559) is second, followed by Dillon (526), Erik Jones (520), Brendan Gaughan (509), Justin Allgaier (506), Brennan Poole (489), Brandon Jones (489), Darrell Wallace Jr. (459) and Ryan Reed (405).
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES: ASPEN DENTAL ELDORA DIRT DERBY, Five 10-lap qualifying races, one 15-lap “last chance” qualifying race, followed by three-segment main event race (40-50-60 laps) for total of 150 laps, 75 miles in total length; Eldora Speedway, Rossburg, Ohio.
TV: Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET (first of five heat races), 9 p.m. ET (main event race) — Fox Sports 1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network/SiriusXM Channel 90).
THEN AND NOW: This is the fourth time the Camping World Truck Series has raced at Eldora Speedway, arguably one of the best half-mile dirt tracks in the country — and also owned by NASCAR star Tony Stewart. ... Christopher Bell is the defending winner of this race, preceded by Darrell Wallace Jr. (2014) and Austin Dillon (2013). ... William Byron won the last Truck Series race on July 7 at Kentucky Speedway. It was the fourth win of the season for the 18-year-old phenom from Charlotte. ... There have been six winners this season: Johnny Sauter (Daytona), John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta), Kyle Busch (Martinsville), Byron (Kansas, Michigan, Iowa and Kentucky), Matt Crafton (Dover, Charlotte) and Bell (Gateway). ... Byron’s Kentucky win was the 51st for Kyle Busch Motorsports, which set a record for wins by one team in the series. Byron also tied Kyle Busch’s older brother, Kurt, for most wins by a rookie in the Truck Series (four) — and there are still 13 races remaining for Byron to break the older Busch brother’s record. ... Byron remains in the Truck Series points lead (263 points), followed by former champion Crafton (250), Daniel Hemric (246), Timothy Peters (246) and Sauter (233).
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: The series is off this weekend. It returns to action July 31 for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio.
THEN AND NOW: Will Power is red hot. With his victory Sunday at Toronto, Power has won three of the last four races (and he was the runner-up in the other race). ... There are five more races remaining on the 16-race schedule (Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Texas, Watkins Glen and Sonoma). ... This season’s race winners thus far are: Juan Pablo Montoya (St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Phoenix), Simon Pagenaud (Long Beach, Birmingham and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis 500), Sebastien Bourdais (Belle Isle 1), Power (Belle Isle 2, Road America, Toronto) and Josef Newgarden (Iowa). ... Pagenaud (432 points) continues to lead the point standings, but Power (385) has really closed the gap. Helio Castroneves (358) is third, followed by defending series champ Scott Dixon (349) and Newgarden (344), who dropped from second to fifth after finishing last at Toronto due to a crash.
NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES: MOPAR MILE-HIGH NATIONALS, Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo.
TV: Sunday, 3-6 p.m. ET, FOX TV. This will be the first time in NHRA’s 65-year history that a race will be televised live on national network TV. FOX will televise both the semifinal and final rounds.
THEN AND NOW: The NHRA begins its “Western Swing” (Denver, Sonoma and Seattle) this weekend. Five races remain until the start of the Countdown to the Championship (other two races are Brainerd, Minn., and the biggest race of the year, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day Weekend). ... Winners of the most recent race, two weeks ago at Joliet, Ill., were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). ... Several drivers have gone more than a year since their last win, including eight-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher and 16-time champ and winningest driver in NHRA history, Funny Car’s John Force. ... In the NHRA point standings, Brown is No. 1 (1,056 points) and former leader Doug Kalitta is just two points behind, followed by Steve Torrence (912), Brittany Force (896) and Schumacher (803). ... In Funny Car, Ron Capps leads with 1,068 points, followed by Beckman (942 points), Courtney Force (892), Matt Hagan (828) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (803). ... In Pro Stock, teammates Jason Line (No. 1, 1,472 points) and Anderson (No. 2, 1,392 points) continue to dominate the standings. Line and Anderson are the only drivers/riders in the four NHRA professional classes to have already clinched positions in the upcoming Countdown to the Championship. Bo Butner is third (898), followed by Allen Johnson (773) and Drew Skillman (717). ... Defending two-time Pro Stock series champ Erica Enders (522 points) continues to struggle, ranked in 11th place (now 950 points behind Line). If the Countdown were to start today, Enders would not qualify for it. She is eight points behind 10th-ranked Alex Laughlin. ... In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec leads the standings with 639 points, followed by teammate and 2015 series champ Hines (505), Angelle Sampey (471), Jerry Savoie (428) and Hector Arana (344).