From the return of bumping to the Indianapolis 500 to an abundance of rally on both sides of the Atlantic, diehard race fans couldn’t ask for much more excitement this past weekend. Fan favorite James Hinchcliffe’s DNQ at Indy added even more intrigue to an already compelling Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle, while the first doubleheader on the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series schedule added some early-season clarity to its top classes.
With everything that went on over the weekend, we can’t blame you if you might have missed some of the biggest stories in the world of action motorsports. Here are some of the top drivers with something special to talk about this week in the worlds of drag racing, rally, off-road, and of course IndyCar:
Verizon IndyCar Series: Ed Carpenter
The local favorite in Indianapolis, Carpenter won his third pole for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing by posting a blistering average speed of 229.618 miles per hour in Sunday’s pole shootout. The only driver to crack the 230 mph barrier on the final day of qualifying, Carpenter broke up what would have been an all-Team Penske front row, knocking Simon Pagenaud off the pole, Will Power into third, and defending series champion Josef Newgarden onto the second row for next Sunday’s iconic race.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Eli Tomac
He may not be able to put it together in Monster Energy Supercross quite yet, but Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Tomac remains the rider to beat when the sport leaves behind the stadiums and hits the great outdoors. Sweeping both motos at Hangtown enabled him to take the overall win and retain the red plate, as last year’s 450MX champion looks to make up for a disappointing third place overall in the Supercross standings. He’ll go to Glen Helen next week with a six-point advantage on Marvin Musquin.
NHRA: Deric Kramer
In a rain-delayed Heartland Nationals, all three major national classes—Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock—saw the top qualifier take the Wally on Monday afternoon. But the win was extra special for Kramer, as it marked his first career Pro Stock victory, in his first career final appearance. After signing a new engine lease agreement with KB Racing this offseason, Kramer has two poles in the first eight rounds, and had already doubled his career round win total before even hitting the lanes in Topeka.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: RJ Anderson
It was an incredible weekend in Ensenada for Anderson, who went four for four on the podium in Pro 4 and Pro 2 during LOORRS’ annual Mexican doubleheader. He finished second in both classes on Saturday before winning Sunday’s Pro 2 race and taking another second place in Pro 4. As a result, he’s the current Pro 4 points leader by 11 points over Doug Mittag, and sits only eight points back of Rob MacCachren for the Pro 2 championship lead heading into next month’s event at Lucas Oil Speedway.
WRC: Thierry Neuville
Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul were able to retake the WRC points lead for Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team this weekend, capitalizing on Sebastien Ogier’s Friday troubles by dominating Vodafone Rally de Portugal. The Belgian driver took the overall victory with five stage wins, as well as four bonus points on the Power Stage at the close of the rally, to assert a 19-point championship lead. He’ll look to extend it heading into next month’s Rally Italia Sardegna, which he won just two short years ago.
Rally America: Piotr Fetela
Winning his second straight Rally America round, Fetela conquered the second annual Southern Ohio Forest Rally despite not competing at this event last year. He and Dominik Jozwiak conquered eight of the 22 stages, including both the first and last ones of the event, to back up their March victory at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. The top Open class entry in the series so far in 2018, the Polish duo are poised for a run at this year’s championship, and will look for the hat trick at Rally Colorado in July.
American Rally Association: Patrik Sandell
Better known in the United States for his rallycross endeavors, it was a successful return to the stages for Sandell at Olympus Rally this weekend. The 2006 Junior World Rally Championship winner capitalized on teammate David Higgins’ mechanical troubles to keep the overall victory in the Subaru Rally Team USA family. Sandell and co-driver Per Almkvist won the former WRC event by nearly seven minutes over current ARA points leaders Jeff Seehorn and Karen Jankowski.