The Fan Favorite Does Well….
Â Â Â Â The All Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway had the field set with past champions, top performers, and two drivers filling the field by racing into the event the old fashioned way…by winning qualifying races. However, there was one spot left to be determined, and NASCAR came up with the idea of letting the fans vote for their favorite driver that did not qualify. This was not the first year for this voting process, Kenny Wallace was voted in one year, but the big difference in this year’s selection was that he started in the rear, with a Budweiser team that had been struggling…and went on to win the event! The young, light eyed favorite of mostly the woman in the stands, was estatic in victory lane after taking the checkered flag for the fans by winning the fourth segment of the event. Story over? No….the Coca-Cola 600 was to be held the next weekend during the Memorial Day festivities at the same track. If you were writing a racing movie script…what would happen to make this the perfect storybook type movie. Right you are…K.K. held on to win the longest event of the year for the Cup drivers, and just like the way he got into the All Star Event, with a little luck…a flat tire on the race leader Tony Stewart with only a few laps to go was all he needed to take the turn once again into victory lane. Congratulations go to the members of Evernham Racing and all the Kasey Kahne fans for a job well done. Just one more note on this youngster…he is also a favorite with the dirt track fans, as he still participates in as many clay oval races as he can. Earlier in the season, he was visiting a track with other drivers, and did not qualify through the traditional process for the feature event. The track management told him he could still race…as a provisional driver, but he opted out of the event. He said he didn’t qualify…and did not deserve to take a starting spot. Cute and with class…and still not married!
Â Â Â Â Another “attractive” driver is the IRL driver Danica Patrick. I have had dozens of people ask me about what happened at the Indy 500 to her in the pits. First off, it was great to see the place packed with fans again, now that the Indy Racing League and Cart are back together again. Danica, in her Go Daddy” Andretti Green Racing car qualified in the second row in the 5th position for the start of the race. She was in the top ten all day long and pitted with only a handful of laps left to go under a yellow flag. In most professional tracks there are actually 3 lanes in the pit area. The pit “boxes” make up the one lane where the tires are changed, cars fueled and minor adjustments are made by the crew. The next, usually unmarked, lane is where you turn onto to exit after the pit stop has been completed, and then begin to accelerate so that you can blend into the outside lane to process through the pits. Then the driver will exit onto the track with some speed already built up. Unfortunately for Danica, she had completed her pit stop, and was as far off to the right as possible when Ryan Briscoe flew out of his pit box nailing her in the rear of her car, spinning her around, and doing enough damage to put her out of the race. It was truly a rotten way to be knocked out of the biggest race of the year for the IRL racers, and the young spit fire was not going to be pushed around…she stomped down the pit lane toward the Team Penske driver with rage in her eyes, but was luckily turned away by cooler headed track officials. I did like her post race comment when she was asked if she was going to seek Briscoe out…she replied that she would give him a chance to find her first (and apologize)…class again, but she was unfortunately credited with only a 22nd place finish.
Â Â Â Â Closer to home the Sprinters and other divisions are going at it in our local facilities with the likes of Rahmer, Hodnett, Smith, Shaffer and Leppo having great seasons. Keep an eye on the young gun Cody Darrah…he’s a special kind kid..with a lot of potential and ability. And for the record, the Saturday Night program at the Grove will continue throughout the 2008 season…no doubt.
Â Â Â Â Finally, with the fuel prices soaring to unimaginable prices…keep in mind the cost of racing fuel and transportation for the rigs and crew members to every one of these events. If you are a sponsor…maybe kick in a little more this year…or if you are a fan of a certain team or division…just walk up to a team member or driver and give him a few extra dollars…to help support the sport we love.
Submitted by Kirk M. Wise – Racing with the Wise Guy
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The Fan Favorite Does Well….