Fuel & Tires: Full plate of racing this weekend
As the month of May gets into full swing, there's a full roster of racing on tap this weekend. Let's get right to it.
BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Indianapolis for a month of action, leading up to the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28.
There was already some on-track activity at the speedway last week when current Formula One driver Fernando Alonso undertook his rookie orientation test for the Indy 500, which was streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and multiple other outlets.
According to motorsport.com, over two million people tuned in to see the two-time world champion take his first-ever laps on an oval. Needless to say, the Spaniard passed with flying colors and will return for practice next week.
The IndyCar Grand Prix will be run Saturday on the 2.439-mile road course within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the fourth year the race has been held, all having been won by current Team Penske drivers.
Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural race in 2014 driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and then with Penske last year while Will Power took the win in 2015. Pagenaud also won at Phoenix two weeks ago.
Following Saturday's race, Indy 500 practice runs Monday-Friday with qualifying taking place next weekend. Carb Day, held on Friday, May 26, will be the last practice session before the race.
Coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Kansas Speedway for the Go Bowling 400, the first Saturday night race of the season. The 1.5-mile oval has hosted NASCAR since 2001, expanding to two races in 2011.
There have been no repeat winners in the spring race, but Jimmie Johnson is the winningest active driver with one spring race win and two fall race wins. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner and is without a win yet this season.
Kyle Larson still sits atop the point standings while Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray round out the top five. Larson is looking to rebound from finishes of 14th and 12th in the last two races, his first back-to-back finishes below tenth since late last season.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finally broke through Sunday at Talladega, winning for the first time in his 158th start. It was the first win for his Roush Fenway Racing team since 2014 and moved Stenhouse up three spots in the point standings to twelfth.
Coverage of the Go Bowling 400 starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on FOX Sports 1.
FORMULA ONE RETURNS TO EUROPE
Formula One heads to Europe for the first time since September with the Spanish Grand Prix. The race was first held in 1913 in Guadarrama, but the 2.892-mile Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted the race since 1991. Ten different drivers have won the last ten Spanish Grand Prix races, with Michael Schumacher holding the all-time record with six wins.
Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are the only active drivers with multiple wins in Spain, both with two. Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa have also taken a win at Barcelona.
Alonso's win in his home country in 2013 was his last F1 win. The best he can hope for this weekend is to finish the race, something he has yet to do this season. At the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Alonso didn't even make the starting grid due to mechanical issues with his McLaren-Honda.
Last year's race was won by then-rookie Max Verstappen after a collision between Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took them both out of the race.
Coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix starts at 6 a.m. Sunday on NBCSN.
—Andrew Morrissey won the Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway on Sunday, becoming the second two-time winner of the event. Morrissey made his race-winning pass with 16 laps to go and held off Dan Fredrickson and Ty Majeski for the win. The season kicks off Friday, May 19. Visit misracing.com for full results from Sunday and a complete schedule.
—The season got underway Saturday at Jefferson Speedway with Edgerton's Casey Johnson winning the Late Model feature and Janesville's Tony Ciano winning the Sportsman feature. Edgerton's Mark English took the International feature; AJ Lloyd of Loves Park, Ill. won the Hobby Stock feature; Fort Atkinson's Chris Gottschalk won the Road Warrior feature; and Watertown's DJ Hill won the Bandit feature. Action continues at 7 p.m. Saturday. Visit jeffersonspeedway.com for more information.
—Rockford Speedway has a full lineup of races starting at 7 p.m. Saturday. Visit rockfordspeedway.com for full results from last weekend and a complete schedule.
Dave von Falkenstein is a digital content coordinator for The Gazette and an auto racing fan. Follow him on Twitter at @achtungvon or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.