Motorsports: Upcoming major three-day weekend across multiple series

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads the field into the first corner during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads the field into the first corner during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) /

This weekend is the first major motorsports weekend of 2019 with NASCAR, IMSA, Formula 1, Formula E and IndyCar all hosting races across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Race fans, this is not the weekend to make any big plans. Delay that renovation, skip grocery shopping and get delivery, make sure your alarm is set and go ahead and secure your spot on the sofa. This weekend is packed with numerous motorsports events across three racing disciplines and eight series. The best part? Most of these races shouldn’t overlap, so you can watch them in succession.

The weekend begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday night when the NASCAR Xfinity Series is set to take on Richmond Raceway in the ToyotaCare 250. This is the second race in the Dash 4 Cash. This week, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe race for the $100,000 prize. Bell won the first Dash 4 Cash race last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, jumping out to a big lead in the final laps while Reddick, Custer and Briscoe battled hard for second place.

On Saturday night, the NASCAR Cup Series is set to take on Richmond. Kyle Busch enters the race as a heavy favorite. Not only has the younger Busch brother already won three Cup Series and 10 total NASCAR races this year, he swept the races at Richmond last year with a pair of close victories. He held off Chase Elliot in overtime last spring, and he led the final 37 laps to win last fall over Kevin Harvick.

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Outside of the success of Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, Team Penske have been the strongest team in the Cup Series this season while Stewart-Haas Racing are still looking for their first win of 2019 despite almost always having their drivers finish in the top 10.

There’s just something about night races. The races are much more chaotic and much harder to predict, and with only two races so far this year having been decided by more than two seconds, this particular Richmond race has the potential to be a race to remember.

Richmond isn’t the host of the only NASCAR action this weekend. The 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season is set to begin at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. Race fans in America can easily watch this race, as well as every Euro Series race on the schedule thanks to and the EuroNASCAR channel on YouTube.

You have to get up early to watch this race, though. Round one of the NASCAR Grand Prix of Spain is scheduled to start with the Elite 1 at 7:15 a.m. ET while the Elite 2 stream is scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. ET. Both groups are set to return to the track on Sunday for round two. Elite 2 is scheduled to start the day at 4:40 a.m. ET while Elite 1 is scheduled to take over at 7:55 a.m. ET.

For American fans, the most intriguing aspect of this week’s Whelen Euro Series race is former Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte entering his second full-time season in Elite 1. Labonte had four top 10 finishes last year, with his best finish of second place coming at Tours Speedway in France.

2018 NASCAR Truck Series Rookie of the Year Myatt Snider is also in Europe this year, as he is set to compete in Elite 2. But the story of the races won’t be about them. Defending two-time Elite 1 champion Alon Day is set to begin his title defense, which won’t be easy with 2018 Elite 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux joining Elite 1. This creates an opening at the top of the Elite 2 standings.

While NASCAR rocks Spain, a quieter brand of racing is scheduled to take place across the Tyrrhenian Sea in Rome. Formula E is set to take on the streets for the Rome ePrix on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET. Formula E might be the most competitive series in the world right now. In six events this year, there has not been a repeat winner when it comes to drivers or teams. Only 10 points separate first place from sixth place in the driver standings.

Antonio Felix Da Costa leads the standings with 62 points despite a pair of DNFs. He has scored points in each of the last three races, but his win from the pole at the season-opening Ad Diriyah ePrix is the only reason why he’s still ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio, who has earned 61 points and has scored points in all but one race so far this season.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird (54 points each) and Lucas Di Grassi and Edoardo Mortara (52 points each) make up the rest of the top six in the driver standings. In Rome, will one of these six one-time winners this season finally earn another victory and begin o take control of the championship race, or will the status quo for 2019 remain with someone such as Daniel Abt or Robin Frijns standing atop the podium? That would really shake up the standings.

Back in America, the streets of Long Beach, California are home to two premier motorsports events this weekend. At 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, one of the shortest races of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach, is scheduled to take place at the track.

This race is only 100 minutes long, a baby of a race compared to the first two races of the season, which combined for 36 hours. The short length makes this race one of the more chaotic races on the schedule, as does the fact that this track wasn’t designed with sports cars and prototypes in mind. You don’t want to miss this race.

Then at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, the NTT IndyCar Series race on the same course, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, is scheduled to begin. In three races so far this year, there have been three different winners. Seven different drivers have finished on the podium.

Alexander Rossi won last year’s race at the track, but he’s still looking for his first podium finish of 2019. Five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon is also racing for his first win of 2019. He has a pair of runner-up finishes so far this season and is riding a 14-year streak of winning at least one race.

Not to take anything away from all the races and series previously mentioned, but they don’t have anything on Formula 1 this weekend. The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit is the 1000th Grand Prix in Formula 1’s almost 70-year history. That alone makes this Sunday’s race, which is scheduled to get underway at 2:05 a.m. ET, worth watching for any motorsports enthusiast.

But while you should come for the pageantry and history, stay for Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing as they try to knock Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport off their perch. Mercedes have won eight of the last 10 Grands Prix. Already ahead of the competition by a wide margin in the driver standings, the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton can pile more pressure onto their rivals.

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This weekend serves a precursor to even bigger race weekends coming up later this spring and summer. We still have the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 weekend to look forward to, and there are several other signature races to look forward to as well.