Roger Penske celebrates 50 years at Indianapolis 500

Simon Pagenaud, of France, is congratulated by car owner Roger Penske after winning the pole during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 19, 2019 in Indianapolis.

Is there a better weekend for race fans than the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend?

We think not.

First up for racing junkies is the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix where Ferrari and Red Bull Racing Honda will be looking for a way to beat Mercedes. Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton has raced to three wins while his teammate Valtteri Bottas has won twice.

Get started early with On the Grid at 5:30 a.m. (ESPN) with the race set to start at 6:05.

That race ends just in time to switch over to NBC and it’s Indy 500 pre-race coverage at 8 a.m. And yes, I miss Jim Nabors’ rendition of “Back Home again in Indiana” as part of the pre-race festivities.

Pole-sitter Simeon Pagenaud will lead fellow front-row starters Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot, and the other 30 starters, to the green flag at 9. 

The last time an Indy 500 polesitter won the race was 2009 when Heilo Castroneves did so. Castroneves, seeking a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, starts 12th.

Get the grill going after the Indy 500 as there will be a bit of down time before NASCAR takes over.

Warm up with NASCAR RaceDay on Fox Sports1 at 1:30, switch to FOX at 2:30 for the pre-race show (yep, you should be chowing down about now) and settle in for the longest NASCAR race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. The Green flag is set to fall at 3:18 p.m.

Kyle Busch made a mockery of the race last year as he led 377 laps around the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval.

FYI, the quickest-ever Coca-Cola 600 came in 2016 when Martin Truex Jr. completed the task in three hours, 44 minutes and five seconds.

Sport Mods headline at Speedway

Sports Modifieds will compete in a split 50-lap race (with a midway break) to headline four divisions of racing on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.

Four previous races have produced four different winners. Points leader Guy Ahlwardt of Antioch has more top-five finishes than any other driver, three-fifths, but has yet to win. He holds a one-point lead over Jason Nation, who has won, and Chris McKellar, who is looking to win.

Michael Johnson, Gary Dutton and Garrett Jernagan are the other winners.

Also in action will be IMCA Stocks, Mod Lites and Mini Stocks.

Wayne Dotson leads a tight IMCA Stocks point race, David Wolford is atop the Mini Stock division and Kaden Cochrun leads in Mod Lites.

Racing starts at 7.

Quick shifts

Bakersfield’s Racin Vernon will be looking for his second straight Late Model victory at Madera Speedway on Saturday night. Vernon had engine issues in the first two races this season but those were solved on April 27 when he led the most laps en route to victory.

Kern County Raceway Park is dark this weekend as is Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Both will be hosting events next weekend. Late Models, Super Stocks, Modifieds, Supermoto, Legends, Hot Stocks and Junior Late Models all will be in action on a busy June 1 at KCRP. The ANRA Spring Nationals take place at Famoso on June 1-2.

Mike Griffith can be reached at 661 395-7390. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeGriffith54. 

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