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Aspiring IndyCar driver Jason Reichert kisses sky at Laguna Seca

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky …”

When Jimi Hendrix wrote that lyric he was in a psychedelic “Purple Haze.” The great guitarist probably never envisioned that people who drive race cars would come to use it when all other words fail to describe the blind downhill double-apex corner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California’s wine country known world over as the “Corkscrew.”

The Corkscrew is like an amusement park thrill ride. You go up this big hill before dropping five stories at a high rate of speed. One would throw his hands into the air in exhilaration, if one wasn’t feathering the throttle and gripping the steering wheel in abject trepidation.

“You have no idea where you’re going and it’s really hard to gauge it,” said Jason Reichert, the aspiring open wheel racer from Henderson.

Reichert, 17, gauged the Corkscrew really well last weekend.

In his fifth outing since moving up to the Pacific F2000 series, Reichert notched podium finishes in two nonpoints races. He finished second in both to establish himself a contender for the remaining events that count in the points.

He led seven laps Sunday and was running just .106 of a second behind the winner at the checkered flag. He wasn’t quite close enough to make an audacious move and banzai charge as the cars entered the Corkscrew on the final lap, a la Alex Zanardi against Bryan Herta in a still-discussed 1996 IndyCar race at Laguna Seca.

“The Pass,” said Reichert, who wasn’t born when Zanardi overhauled Herta in a hail of gravel and a cloud of dust by completely leaving the pavement on the inside of the hair-raising turn. “I must have watched it a hundred times on YouTube.

“It was such a scary move. I’d love to drive an IndyCar at Laguna Seca. All the corners are super fast, over 100 mph even in our cars.”

It was the first outing for Reichert flying the Team Carson colors on his No. 32 Dave Freitas Racing Team entry for the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society. Carson Arreola of Las Vegas was 6 when he lost his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and Reichert and the race team will use the rest of the season to honor the youngster’s memory and create awareness in blood diseases.

Green, white, checkered

— With four races remaining in the NASCAR Truck Series regular season, Las Vegas teenager Noah Gragson has yet to clinch a playoff spot despite a string of top-10 finishes. He has yet to win a race, which would automatically punch his ticket to the eight-driver playoffs. “We just have to go win. That’s really the only thing you can do to have any hope of making it into the playoffs,” said Gragson, who drives the No. 18 Switch Toyota for fellow Las Vegan Kyle Busch. “I’m not really worried about the points now.”

— If GMS Racing (headed by Allegiant Airlines chief Maury Gallagher of Las Vegas) jumps up to the Cup Series for 2018, it probably will have a relationship with Hendrick Motorsports — in which case Kasey Kahne probably will be the team’s lead driver. Despite winning the Brickyard 400 recently, Kahne, 37, has been told teenager William Byron will replace him in the No. 5 car (which is losing primary sponsors Farmers Insurance and Great Clips) at Hendrick in 2018 and beyond.

— Danica Patrick, on her in-car radio after being spun on a restart at Watkins Glen: “Aw !@#$%, aw !@#$%.” She was speaking in not-so-eloquent terms about Las Vegan Kyle Busch, who tapped her from behind during one of the accordion-style stack-ups. “Certainly was my fault,” Busch wrote on his social media account during another postrace Twitter storm. He was less apologetic to Brad Keselowski and stock car fans who troll him after races. Just another case of Rowdy being rowdy? You bet.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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