NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Friday November 5, 2010
With Brad Keselowski set to end the Nationwide Series season two races early, it only seems fitting that this week be the one that Frontstretch recaps the top 10 moments that Nationwide Series regulars (and semi-regulars) have enjoyed this season (with Morgan Shepherd’s dump move on Danica Patrick at Loudon just narrowly missing the cut).
10. Leffler Leads the Braun Pack At Iowa On a night that saw teammates drop like flies (Tayler Malsam suffered damage in an early wreck, while Reed Sorenson and Brian Scott both crashed as a result of tire failures), Jason Leffler picked the perfect opportunity to score his best finish of the 2010 season. Qualifying in the top 10 for only the fourth time all year, Leffler was a top-10 fixture despite the specter of tire failure looming over his squad, and came home third, the first top-3 run for the No. 38 team since Texas last November.
9. Clements Averts Disaster En Route to First Career Top 10 at Gateway While ESPN spent ample time following a lap 103 disaster dissecting Danica Patrick’s path through the carnage and how she just barely kissed the wall missing everything, very little time was spent reviewing one of the most impressive saves the Nationwide Series has seen all season. That would have been Jeremy Clements, skirting down three lanes on the track to completely miss the wall, the wreck, and everything in between. With a top-15 run preserved, Clements moved on later in the event to lead six laps (the first he’s led in Nationwide competition and the most he’s led at any national stock car racing level since leading 27 in ARCA competition at Chicago in 2007) and score a 10th place-result, the best of his career and his first NNS top 10. Pretty remarkable for a team running on half-tire allotments with little to no sponsorship.
8. The Year’s Most Unlikely Top 5 Goes to Borneman At Talladega Driving his own unsponsored No. 83 machine, and entering the day with a career best finish of 25th on a restrictor plate track, Johnny Borneman III dodged all the wrecks and came home fifth, the most unlikely finisher in all the Nationwide Series field at Talladega. Borneman, whose crew guys were seen on TV as ecstatic beyond words, later revealed after the race that his team had only four crew guys working in their pits, and called the best performance in his Nationwide Series career “the best day of his life.” A well-deserved shoutout goes to the few guys that could call themselves part of the No. 83 crew on this Sunday.
7. Reed Sorenson Welcomed Back to Relevance at Nashville Following a solid top-10 effort at Bristol two weeks prior, Sorenson had the No. 32 team running at the front much as they’ve been accustomed to with Brian Vickers behind the wheel, putting on a great show for hometown sponsor Dollar General. Sorenson was consistent all race long, and in the closing laps charged to second, running down leader Kevin Harvick. Only lapped traffic kept his Toyota from reaching the back of Harvick’s machine… and had Sorenson done so, chances are he would have had his first Nationwide Series win since way back in 2005. Still, Sorenson’s was an impressive runner-up result.
6. Kligerman Tames Bristol for First Career Top 10 Penske Racing’s other development prospect has done quite a bit in his debuts, be it winning nine races in his first ARCA campaign last season or winning the pole in his Nationwide Series debut at Kansas last fall. Under the lights at Bristol, Kligerman made his Nationwide Series debut on a short-track (he attempted the spring race at Bristol but failed to qualify), and posted a career best result in doing so. The ninth-place finish for Kligerman, who alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. battled from a starting position outside the top 30 into the heart of the pack, was his first ever top 10 in Nationwide competition, and the best for the No. 42 since they debuted with Kenny Hendrick in the season opener at Daytona last February. As Kligerman noted in his post-race interview, not too shabby for a team of three guys.
5. Tri-Star Motorsports Arrives on the Scene at Talladega To say it had been a struggle for newly-formed Tri-Star Motorsports is putting it lightly, as longtime series veteran Jason Keller had already failed to qualify for three of the first seven races of 2010. That all changed at Talladega. While Tony Raines garnered the most TV time for the team this Sunday, making two well-documented charges into the top 5 with his No. 34 machine, it was Keller that scored a top-5 finish come race’s end. Running on the high line that would send Brad Keselowski to victory, Keller’s unsponsored No. 35 came home fourth, his first top 5 in NNS competition since finishing third at Gateway in 2008. Raines wasn’t far behind, finishing seventh and proving that his top-5 run with the same race team at Talladega last year was no fluke. Always good to see some of the real NNS stalwarts prove they’ve still got it.
4. Scott Wimmer Produces for JR Motorsports, Danica on No Notice at Bristol While the JRM organization has posted better results than a 10th and a 12th as an organization, for one of their drivers, those finishes represent redemption. First of all, a tip of the cap to Scott Wimmer, who scored a top 10 and led laps in his return to the JRM camp – one that came about on very short notice. Only days before the race, JRM announced that they would run the No. 7 car full-time, sponsored or not, largely to ensure that Danica Patrick wouldn’t be faced with the overbearing challenge of actually having to qualify into a race. That led to Wimmer’s deal, which only extended to the next race at Nashville – but produced results both times.
3. Trevor Bayne Emerges at Las Vegas Imitating Justin Allgaier’s 2009 performance, Trevor Bayne had himself a Vegas coming out party of his own this year. In a race where a plethora of younger prospects found themselves embracing LVMS’ concrete walls, Bayne looked very much like Allgaier did in this race a year ago, catching the guys at the front off guard with his willingness to make three-wide passes and to tackle both the high and treacherous low sides of the high speed circuit. Bayne’s sixth-place finish was easily a career best, and a sign that this driver has put the bitter disappointment he endured to start the season at Daytona behind him.
2. Justin Allgaier Tops the (Soon to be) Champ at Bristol On this Saturday, the tables were turned; it was the spring race, and it was Keselowski himself who got, as he put it afterwards, “used up.” After a stretch of restarts following late-race cautions that saw his No. 22 Dodge burning the field from the drop of the green, it was Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier who anticipated the start perfectly on lap 274, making the pass and holding off a hard charge from the No. 22 en route to his first career Nationwide Series victory. Allgaier’s win also marked the earliest in the season that a series regular had won since Martin Truex, Jr. conquered Mexico City in the third race of 2005.
1. Score One for the Said Heads “Finally!” exclaimed Boris Said as he emerged in Victory Lane after scoring his first career Nationwide Series victory, moments after a drag race to the checkers with Max Papis that hit the highlight reels as the fifth-closest finish in series history.
More importantly, this was finally the type of ending the Nationwide Series had been waiting for since Justin Allgaier’s win at Bristol in March; a non-Cup regular emerged as the winner. While Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Robby Gordon dominated much of the event, Ambrose’s failed alternator, Edwards’ broken track bar mount, and Gordon running out of fuel opened the door en masse for an intense two-lap finale between Said, Papis, and Jacques Villeneuve that was nothing short of spell-binding. Villeneuve’s dive-bomb move on Papis for second eventually fell short, leaving Papis and Said to duke it out between themselves for the victory. Initially falling back several car lengths, the Italian made a valiant charge following the tenth turn on the road course, actually seizing the lead for a few short seconds as both cars bounded through the track’s final few corners.
Speaking of Said, was there anyone else in the field more deserving of a win on Sunday than the driver of the No. 09? Just about every NASCAR driver at all levels that’s become a good road racer has Said to thank in some capacity, and yet his long-desired full-time career in the Sprint Cup ranks has never quite come to fruition. Left driving for a Nationwide team struggling to survive with a crew chief who, after a release from Braun Racing, had been out of work for much of the 2010 season (Scott Zipadelli), Said earned his first NASCAR win since a Truck Series victory at Infineon back in 1998. Perhaps that’s why Said appeared more exhausted than exuberant after emerging from his car in Victory Lane…
Honorable Mention: Willie Allen Races with a Heavy Heart at Richmond Earning the 43rd and final spot in the field, Allen drove the No. 05 car to a 27th-place finish, three laps down, and failed to move the No. 05 team into the top 30 in owner points. On paper, this wasn’t really a memorable run.
But Allen was racing with more than a heavy heart on this Friday… for his father had died the night before. At his bedside, Allen drove through the early morning from his father’s home in Tennessee, arriving at RIR five minutes before the start of Nationwide practice… because his father had wanted him to be there racing. In the face of great personal tragedy, Allen did his job, kept his nose clean, and demonstrated an unrelenting passion for this sport. What more could you ask for from an underdog racer?
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