Not for the first time this season a driver has shown that to win a race all you need to lead is the last few yards. In Joey Logano‘s case he led just the final half a mile or so of the Subway Jalapeno 250 Nationwide Series race at Daytona on Friday evening pushed along by his teammate, Kyle Busch.
It was a much needed fillip for Logano, aware that there are rumours his drive in the Sprint Cup Series is under threat. He has refused to worry about the rumours; his philosophy he sums up with the simple statement, “Those aren’t things that make the car go faster.”
As early as lap 26 Logano was spun when Brian Scott tagged him as the former dropped to the apron trying to pass a slower car. It took him until three quarter distance to reunite with his chosen partner for the tandem running, Busch, and from there the pair of them ran in the top ten.
On the final lap they got a fast run going and passed the pairing of Jason Leffler and Reed Sorenson with the flag in sight. Busch tagged the wall enough to break the two-car draft and drop back a fraction but Logano’s momentum was sufficient to see him take the checkered flag ahead of the other pairing.
At that very moment it all kicked off behind this group.
Danica Patrick, who had been in contention all race as a potential winner, was being pushed by her JR Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola when they came across a group which included Mike Wallace, separated from his pushing partner, who drifted up the track into their path. It triggered a seven car wreck but Elliott Sadler, Almirola and Patrick kept their feet on the gas to bring their entangled cars across the line – against the wall – in eighth, ninth and tenth places.
In February’s Daytona race Patrick had looked out of her depth trying to come to terms with the two-car bump drafting but, ever willing to learn her craft, she showed this time that she had fully mastered the intricacies of racing on the super speedways and was paid the compliment of both Tony Stewart and Almirola seeking her out as a draft partner.
When Patrick took the lead, for the fifth time, on lap 95 of 100 the fans who previously had wearied of Danica mania, especially from the media, took to their feet and cheered as they realised she really had a chance to win this thing. As Patrick faces the decision whether to continue racing in both IndyCars and NASCAR in 2012 or commit to running solely in the stock cars maybe Friday’s performance will help clarify her thinking. This was her third top ten finish in her last four Nationwide Series races.
Going into the race the top four in the points table, Sorenson, Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier qualified for the one hundred thousand dollar “Dash 4 Cash” offered by series sponsor Nationwide Insurance.
The highest finisher of that quartet at four chosen events, Friday’s Daytona race followed by Iowa Speedway on August 6, Richmond International Raceway on September 9 and finally Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 14 wins $100,000 per race over and above the regular prize money. Additionally, if one driver wins all four of those races he will receive an additional bonus of six hundred thousand dollars.
Sorenson’s third place behind Leffler earned him the bonus for the first of the races and puts him in line for the million dollar prize if he can win at Iowa, Richmond and Charlotte. It’s a big ask, but then it’s a big prize.
Eric McClure who crashed in turn one during the race on lap 44 and was able to walk to the mandatory ambulance was examined at the infield medical centre and then taken to the nearby Halifax Medical Centre for additional checks. At the time of writing there is no further news about the outcome of those checks.