Droughts extinguished, familiar faces on top and controversy highlight the world of motorsports to cap off June

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Toyota Save/Mart 350

SONOMA – Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t seen its best luck since Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 in Feb. 26. It all changed Sunday when Kevin Harvick and teammate Clint Bowyer finished 1-2 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.

It’s Harvick’s first win since Kansas Oct. 16, 2016 and his first road course victory since Aug. 13, 2006 at Watkins Glen International. The win gained Harvick one spot in the points standings and sits third, 34 points behind points leader Kyle Larson.

The Cup drivers will return to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. Brad Keselowski won last July’s race but finished 27th in the Daytona 500 after being caught in an 11-car crash during the second half of the race.

NASCAR Xfinity Series: American Ethanol E15 250

NEWTON – A week removed from gaining respect from Cup veterans and coming up inches short of beating Denny Hamlin at Michigan International Speedway, JR Motorsports driver William Byron broke through and captured his first Xfinity Series win in his 14th series start at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa Saturday.

Byron held off Ryan Sieg after a late-race caution put several top contenders at the end of the longest line.

Among the victims was pole sitter and 16th place finisher Christopher Bell after leading a race-high 152 laps.

The caution gave underdog drivers Ross Chastain and Dakoda Armstrong their first top-5 finishes of the season. Sieg, Chastain and Armstrong also achieved their best career Xfinity Series finishes.

Byron currently sits third in points behind teammates Justin Allgaier and points leader Elliott Sadler.

The Xfinity Series drivers leave the cornfields and head south for its second trip at Daytona International Speedway. Biagi-DenBeste Racing has won two out of the last three restrictor plate races including last July’s race with Aric Almirola behind the wheel.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: M&M’s 200

NEWTON – A win can do a lot for a race team and the Nemechek family are no exception. After two straight crashes, the family were endangered of not running the entire season due to sponsorship woes and a win became necessary to keep the family-operated team alive.

Last Saturday, father Joe parked but his son John Hunter captured the all-important victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. Not only John Hunter acquired sponsorships from Fire Alarm Services and Romco Equipment, he captured his second consecutive victory at Iowa Speedway Friday for his fifth career Camping World Truck Series win.

John Hunter became only the second series regular (Christopher Bell) to win more than once this season and sits eighth in the standings, trailing points leader and race runner-up Johnny Sauter by 153 points.

The Truck Series will have an off week before traveling to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky July 6. William Byron won last year’s race.

Verizon IndyCar Series: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

ELKHART LAKE – Urgency surrounded IndyCar drivers entering Sunday’s race at the four-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Two weeks removed from the dramatic race at Texas Motor Speedway that saw nine of 22 cars finishing, angry spirits and tons of owners losing money in damaged race cars, only one driver retired after Tony Kanaan crashed late in the race after colliding with Alexander Rossi on lap 45.

The caution set up a late race battle between Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden.

Dixon crossed the line first, snapping a 10-race winless streak and extended his points lead over defending champion Simon Pagenaud by 34 points.

It was Dixon’s 41st American open wheel racing victory, a win away from tying Michael Andretti for third all-time.

The IndyCar drivers take a week off before returning in action at Iowa Speedway July 9. Newgarden is the defending race winner.

Formula One: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

BAKU – Controversy and an unfamiliar podium defined Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku as Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo became only the second driver not named Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to win a Formula One World Championship race this season.

The Australian held off Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll for his fifth career F1 victory.

Bottas and Stroll battled for second in the closing laps but Stroll was overtaken by Bottas coming towards the finish line. It was Bottas’ fifth podium of the season.

Stroll’s podium was the first of his career and his second consecutive top-10 finish after facing criticism by drivers, the press and fans alike throughout the season.

The championship battle heated between points leader Vettel and Hamilton under the safety car. Vettel accused Hamilton of brake checking but the FIA stewards saw no evidence.

Instead, they penalized Vettel, deeming he caused an avoidable collision towards Hamilton.

Vettel was unable to stop and hit Hamilton, resulting such penalty.

Vettel then veered left and lifted both hands to show his displeasure at Hamilton, consequently Vettel’s Ferrari collided into the left side of Hamilton’s Mercedes-Benz and caused minimal harm to their vehicles.

Hamilton didn’t got away without punishment, receiving a 10-second stop-go penalty for dangerous driving but it was minimal compared to Vettel’s penalty after the race.

The FIA handcuffed Vettel with a 10-place gird spot penalty and received three penalty points on his Super License, adding his total to nine in 12 months. The penalty puts Vettel three away from a race ban.

Despite controversy, Vettel beat Hamilton for fourth and extended his points lead to 14.

The world championship heads to Spielberg, Austria for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring July 9.

Hamilton is the defending race winner, looking to extend Mercedes’ dominance at Spielberg since the circuit returned to the F1 calendar in 2014 after an 11-year hiatus.

MotoGP: Dutch TT

ASSEN – In a thrilling finish, Valentino Rossi proved the MotoGP world he’s still the man to beat after capturing his 89th career win at the Dutch TT in Assen, Netherlands Sunday.

Rossi eked out Danilo Petrucci by 0.063 seconds for his first win of the season, snapping an unheard-of 18-race winless streak dating back to June 5, 2016 at Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona, Spain.

Rossi sits third, trailing points leader Andrea Dovizioso by seven points as the riders travel to Sachesnring in Saxony, Germany for the German Grand Prix July 2. Marc Marquez has won the last four straight races in Germany.

Marquez finished third Sunday, sitting fourth in points and trailing Dovizioso by only 11 points.

Published by Luis Torres

University of Idaho graduate that's currently pursuing the dream of becoming a motorsports media personnel.

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