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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Trevor Bayne made right choice by choosing to run for Nationwide title

In the immediate aftermath of the Daytona 500, it was easy for Trevor Bayne to think that he should try to run for the Cup title instead of Nationwide, but things aren’t as simple as they seem.

And when he said this week that he’ll stick to Nationwide as his designated series, Bayne and the Wood Brothers made the right decision.

First off, despite Trevor’s immense talent, Daytona was not indicative of how he will run all year in Cup. The top teams will beat the Wood Brothers most weeks on a non-plate track, so him running for the Sprint Cup is a pipe dream.

On the other hand, Nationwide is a title he can win because of the limited number of people running for it – and of course his immense talent.

His Roush Fenway team in Nationwide will be among the best each week in the series in comparison to the others running for a Nationwide title. Even if he gets beat by Cup drivers every week for the win in Nationwide, he is still a great shot to win the title due to the new points system in Nationwide.

And on top of all that, there isn’t even the funding for a full Cup season, and no guarantee it will come.

Trevor Bayne is very young, very talented and win run for the Cup for many years into the future – might even win one or more.

But that time is not now. He would not have competed for the Sprint Cup, so there is no point in him letting the emotion of a great Daytona win cloud his judgment about which series to run in 2011. By choosing Nationwide, he is continuing his development properly, and perhaps he will mature enough that next year he can run competitively every week in the Cup series.

In the meantime, he can spend 2011 chasing down Kyle Busch and the other Cup interlopers in the Nationwide series, a precursor to the future battles they will have in the Cup series in the upcoming years as Bayne’s career develops.

NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, F1’s Lewis Hamilton to try each other’s rides
In a rare joining of Formula 1 and NASCAR, there will be a brief ride swap this summer between NASCAR’s Tony Stewart and Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton … who share a sponsor in Mobil 1. Hamilton will drive the #14 NASCAR machine in an exhibition at Watkins Glen, while Stewart will drive a 2010 F1 McLaren machine. Should be fun for Stewart, one of the few NASCAR drivers who probably could have been somewhat successful in the Formula One series had he decided to give it a go as a young man. (He’s an old man now by F1 standards).

I’m pretty confident he’ll do well in the McLaren, as he has open wheel experience, but I’m curious to see Hamilton in a NASCAR ride. It’s a whole different animal and I’m wondering if he’ll be an instant learner or take a little while to figure it out.

Talking to other teams
In a curious discussion, some drivers were not happy that in this year’s Daytona 500, drivers were able to talk on radio with drivers not on their own team. This was done to aid the safety of the new two-car tandems at the newly repaved Daytona, and I’m glad to see they did it because many wrecks were probably prevented by this policy.

But some drivers were not happy with the decision.\"I think NASCAR should step in on drivers getting on other teams' radios," #22-Kurt Busch said. "... We shouldn't be able to communicate with radios."

I saw why not? Communication already takes place via spotters, so why not cut short the process and go directly driver-to-driver. It can only make restrictor plate racing safer, and that’s a good thing by anyone’s standard..
Carl Edwards is in that camp, calling it necessary for safety. I don’t see this policy changing at future restrictor plate races, so Busch and others who don’t like it are probably just going to have to accept it.

Brian Keselowski fails to qualify
After being the Cinderella story at Daytona, well at least until Trevor Bayne won the 500, Brian Keselowski’s fairy tale hit its first speed bump. After scrambling to get a car to Phoenix, Brian failed to qualify and is headed home.
Here’s hoping Brian can get things turned around and compete in more races this year, as it was nice to see the K Automotive team get its first taste of success. Hopefully this is just a minor bump in the road, and that Daytona money can be used to get the team to the next level.

Indycar offers $5 million
Let’s be honest; very few people, even hardcore racing fans, watch Indycar races or follow the series regularly. So this year, the series is trying to spice things up by offering a $5 million bonus to any non-series regular who can show up at the series finale in Vegas and win.

Few from NASCAR would be able to compete, but Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger are the most likely possibilities, but it’s logistically difficult due to the NASCAR race that weekend being in Charlotte.

I’ll be curious to see if anyone accepts the challenge from the NASCAR ranks, and will root them on if they do. $5 million is a big incentive, and it’s good to see Indycar thinking outside the box. But regardless, I still don’t see the ratings going through the roof, even if they get some takers, but it would bring an improvement for sure.

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