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Monday, June 6, 2011

Impressive returns to the track for Danica Patrick, Trevor Bayne

Saturday’s Nationwide race at Chicago was unique for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it was actually won by a Nationwide Series regular, as Justin Allgaier came through in the end when the leader fell short on fuel. That’s the second time that has happened this year, fresh off a win by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – who is in the middle of an amazing career turnaround at the Roush team he was nearly booted off a year ago.

In addition to Allgaier’s win, there was the little matter of a couple big stars’ returns. A lady named Danica got back behind the wheel of a stock car, and she did an impressive job … recording a 10th-place finish that was pretty worthy of the equipment she was driving. The days of her not knowing what to do in a stock car are starting to fade, and she will face higher expectations every time she can pull off a good run like this. With all indications that she will come full-time to this Nationwide series in 2012, it’s perfect timing for her to start doing better in 2011.

Then there was Trevor Bayne, who started out the season with a miraculous Daytona 500 win, then got a mysterious illness that was causing double vision and sidelined him for months. As I expected, Bayne didn’t miss a beat and came back with a near-win in the Chicagoland race Saturday. It goes to prove that no matter how long the layoff, a great racecar driver is still a great racecar driver. Look for Bayne to start winning races soon and shake off whatever was ailing him.

His return is good for the sport, and I’m sure NASCAR and lots of fans are glad to see him back – myself included.

Iron Man
Kudos to Chris Showalter, who this weekend marked his participation in ALL 400 Truck series, from the very first race in 1995 to this weekend, in various roles on various teams.

Currently, he is Travis Kvapil’s crew chief at Randy Moss Motorsports, but he has the distinction of being the only person to take part in every single series race so far, and he won a titie as crew chief for Travis Kvapil in 2003, and as truck chief in 2002 for champion Mike Bliss. He has also served as spooter and tire changer at times.

“I think it says a lot that the series is so strong that we are celebrating 400 starts and that I have not had the desire to go do anything else,” said Showalter. “The truck series kind of reminded me of our Saturday night down-home racing that I grew up doing. It’s grassroots. We ran the shorter tracks in the beginning and it just seemed like a home for me.”

Top Truck moments
Over the last month, NASCAR media members have voted on their top-10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series moments with the 2003 three-truck photo finish at Daytona International Speedway taking the top honors.

Here’s the top 10:

1. Race No. 193 (Feb. 14, 2003): Rick Crawford breaks a 120-race winless streak in a three-wide photo finish with Travis Kvapil and Robert Pressley to open the 2003 season at Daytona.

2. Race No. 11 (July 15, 1995): First photo finish is recorded at Colorado National Speedway on July 15, 1995. Television replays were used to determine that Butch Miller beat Mike Skinner by the depth of the paint on his front bumper cover. The race pre-dated the use of electronic scoring, so no official margin of victory was available.

3. Race No. 1 (Feb. 5, 1995): First race, first finish of less than a 10th of a second – 0.09 – by Mike Skinner over Terry Labonte.

4. Race No. 352-356 (June 20-July 24, 2009): Ron Hornaday Jr. wins a series-record five-consecutive races – only third NASCAR national series driver to do so – between June 20 and July 24, 2009 at Milwaukee, Memphis, Kentucky, Indianapolis and Nashville.

5. Race No. 389 (Oct. 30, 2010): Kyle Busch beats Aric Almirola and Johnny Sauter by .002 seconds in a three-wide battle to the finish line producing the closest finish in series history since the introduction of electronic timing and scoring.

6. Race No. 366 (Nov. 13, 2009): A fourth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway gives Ron Hornaday Jr. a 215-point advantage over Matt Crafton and a record-breaking fourth series title.

7. Race No. 342 (Nov. 14, 2008): Johnny Benson finishes seventh at season ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Ron Hornaday Jr. in eighth. Benson wins the championship over Hornaday by a mere seven points.

8. Race No. 123 (Feb. 18, 2000): Daytona International Speedway is added to the series schedule in 2000. The race produces several spectacular accidents, 31 lead changes and Mike Wallace’s slingshot pass of Andy Houston on the final lap to seal the victory.

9. Race No. 217 (Nov. 14, 2003): Carl Edwards lands a seat in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford and won twice to capture the 2003 Rookie of the Year honors.

10. Race No. 243 (Feb. 18, 2005): The 2005 season begins with Jimmy Spencer in Victory Lane at Daytona – only to be replaced by Bobby Hamilton, who drafts past Spencer a split-second before the race was ended under caution.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you be impressed by someone who is not even competitive?

June 7, 2011 at 3:17 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

You can't expect her to go from not knowing anything about stock cars to automatically winning. She has made a lot of progress in the last couple of years -- not too long ago, a top-10 wasn't even a possibility.

June 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM 

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