Just a couple of quick notes before we get to the headline:
– Don’t forget that I do a podcast preview of every Grand Prix with Canadian Formula One expert Gerald Donaldson. Be sure to listen to our pre-race discussion about what to look for in next weekend’s Grand Prix of Malaysia, which will be posted to wheels.ca by noon on Thursday (a day earlier because of Good Friday).
In fact, this will be the headline: Malaysia GP Preview: Listen now
– Gerald also files a report from every Grand Prix (the lucky fellow gets to go to them all) and here’s a link to his story following this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. I, of course, kick off Mondays with my review of all the weekend’s racing and that can be found at wheels.ca, thestar.blogs.com/autoracing and thestar.com/sports/autoracing
Hint: What did I think of the Aussie GP. Exciting – but not that exciting . . .
Okay, there’s something going on in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that I find intriguing.
For the second time this season, an ex- Formula One driver has entered a race – and hasn’t done all that badly.
You will recall that Nelson Piquet Jr. entered the first truck race of the season at Daytona and finished a most respectable fifth. This was after extensive testing in the truck as well as in ARCA and Nationwide stock cars at that track but it was an excellent result all the same for an oval-track newbie.
Now, this weekend at the Martinsville, Va., half-mile "paper clip" short oval, none other than Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan entered and finished 13th after starting 11th and I find this result even more astounding for a first-timer than I did Piquet’s.
The race on Saturday, incidentally, was won by Kevin Harvick – his second truck series victory this season. Ron Hornaday finished second and Brian Ickler was third.
Canadian D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas finished 17th after starting 35th, which was a great result for him as well. So far as I know, it was Kennington’s first crack at the trucks, after acquitting himself pretty well in recent years in the Nationwide Series, thanks to help from sponsor Northern Provincial Pipelines of Alberta.
But back to Kathikeyan for a moment. I don’t know if this guy had even seen an oval track before this weekend, never mind one like Martinsville where the straights are long and the corners are as tight as, well, a paper clip.
Qualifying was rained out and owner points set the field, which was a break for this guy because, as mentioned he started 11th. But he sure got the hang of NASCAR short-oval racing quickly because not only did he finish 13th but he was on the same lap as the winner and only 15 of the 36 starters managed to do that.
Karthikeyan previously drove in F1 for Jordan (in 2005) and was a test driver with Williams in 2006 and ‘07. He also drove for India in the A1GP series and did some sports car racing.
The fact that ex-F1 drivers like Piquet and Karthikeyan can do as well in NASCAR in so short a time shows two things: a) F1 drivers – even the second-tier guys – probably are the best drivers in the world. b) the times, they are a-changin’ and more and more "offshore" drivers are going to be attracted to NASCAR and that, in itself, signals interesting times ahead.