Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday’s race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race day questions, covering all five Ws and even the H… the Big Six.
Who… gets my shoutout of the race?
After struggling with handling early, Elliott Sadler was able to make the most of it when points rival Ricky Stenhouse Jr., spent more than 20 laps in the garage with drivetrain problems. Sadler was able to finish fifth in the History 300, but even more importantly, he cut 21 points off of Stenhouse’s lead and now heads to Dover just 13 points behind the top spot. Sadler also put a little more distance between himself and rookie teammate Austin Dillon in the standings. After a six-point penalty after failing post-race inspection last week, this week was a much needed shot in the arm for Sadler and the No. 2 outfit.
What… was THAT?
It’s one thing to be assertive and let the competition know where you stand. It’s another thing to hold up a driver who is racing for position when you’re more than 20 laps in arrears. Stenhouse crossed that line on Saturday, when, despite being 21 laps down after repairing the drivetrain in his car, Stenhouse made a point of holding up Dillon. Dillon reacted by radioing his spotter and saying angrily, “If I get to the [No.] 6, tell him I’ll hit him as soon as he messes with me!”
Stenhouse defended his move after the race, saying, “I just wanted to let them know we’re here to win,” he said. “Obviously, we pulled away by more than a straightaway so… they didn’t have a very good day. That’s just part of it.”
Had Stenhouse been on the lead lap, his racing would have been completely acceptable, but from 21 laps down, it was disrespectful. In this sport, where drivers have long memories and give the respect they’re given, don’t expect Dillon to be lenient if Stenhouse pushes the issue again.
Where… did the polesitter wind up?
If there was a prize for the best firesuit, Joey Logano would have it hands down after sporting a suit styled to look like… well, a suit, complete with jacket and tie. Logano, who was also strong in Sprint Cup practice on Saturday, looked to have the car to beat early, but a two-tire strategy later in the race proved to be the wrong one, and Logano was never able to claw his way back to the front. Instead, he was forced to settle for sixth, but if his early run is any indication, Logano could be looking at a much-needed top 10 in the Cup race.
Why… was Richard Childress smiling after the race?
After resurrecting his Nationwide program this year, purchasing Kevin Harvick’s operation, Richard Childress proved Saturday that there was no rust on this team. All four RCR cars finished in the top 11 in the History 300, including Joey Coulter, who made his Nationwide Series debut in the race. In addition, Sadler and Dillon sit second and third in points, and Kevin Harvick took the field to school for much of the race on Saturday, leading a race-high 92 laps en route to a fourth-place finish. Sadler came home fifth, while Coulter and Dillon finished 10th and 11th, respectively. It’s good to be at the top of your game, and Childress certainly earned that feeling Saturday.
How… disappointing was Travis Pastrana’s showing?
On one hand, while Pastrana spun the No. 99 three times on Saturday (once in qualifying and twice during the History 300), the rally car and X-Games champ managed not to hit anything and finished 24th, five laps down. On the other hand, the goal for a rookie driver is to complete laps without incident, and Pastrana was unable to do that on Saturday. Given that the car he was driving was a top-10 finisher in its last race (it finished seventh at Fontana with Kenny Wallace driving), had he been able to keep the car going straight, Pastrana could have had a much more successful day. If he had logged laps without incident and finished 24th, it would have been a solid, if unspectacular day. Instead, Pastrana made it spectacular… in all the wrong ways. If Pastrana wants to succeed in NASCAR, he’ll need to learn the adage “to finish first, first you must finish.” And while he finished Saturday in his proven top-10 car, it could have been much better.
Like what you saw in the Big Six? Check it out every Monday on Frontstretch, where Amy breaks down the weekend’s Sprint Cup race into five Ws and one big H.