Apart from the “Super” or “Mega” teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, the smaller teams usually relegated to the back of the field often get a chance to shine at Daytona. This year was no different.
Regan Smith (No. 51 Phoenix Racing), Michael McDowell (No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing, see right) and J.J. Yeley (No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing) all scored top-10 finishes in this year’s Daytona 500. Smith ended seventh from 40th on the grid, with McDowell and Yeley ninth and 10th from 38th and 41st, respectively.
James Finch’s Phoenix squad has a prior win at Talladega, the first of Brad Keselowski’s career in 2009, but has otherwise struggled with Finch funding the effort largely out-of-pocket. The team threw Kurt Busch a lifeline after he was released from Penske Racing at the end of 2011.
The Parsons and Baldwin teams had not previously secured a top-10 finish in the “Great American Race.” Baldwin’s No. 36 was in a position to win last year’s Daytona 500 with Dave Blaney, who was leading at the time of a red flag when Juan Pablo Montoya collided with a jet drier. McDowell’s ninth place is his first Sprint Cup top-10 in six seasons.
Of the other relatively smaller teams, BK Racing’s pair of cars got both of its cars (David Reutimann, 16th and Travis Kvapil, 25th) in the top-25 although Kvapil had an accident on the last lap of the race. Scott Speed finished a respectable 23rd in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Ford. All three of Front Row Motorsports’ Fords (David Ragan, Josh Wise, David Gilliland) were caught up in a lap 139 accident.
It’s difficult for these teams to get noticed with a lack of “big name” drivers or sponsors. But in the restrictor-plate racing crapshoots at Daytona and Talladega, they can score good finishes simply by staying out of trouble.
Danilo Petrucci will make his comeback from injury at this weekend’s MotoGP race in Le Mans after missing the first four races of the season.
Petrucci underwent surgery on his right hand due to a recurring problem that meant he could not race in Qatar, Argentina, Austin or Spain for the Pramac team.
The Italian’s place was taken by Michele Pirro for the last three races, but Petrucci is now fit again and will race at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.
“I trained a lot in the last few weeks. This time I did things more calmly, waiting for my body to give me permission to train,” Petrucci said.
“I’m happy to be back and I feel good. Of course we must see the reaction to the first impact with the track as the intense workout made at home certainly cannot be compared to a race weekend. But I’m very confident.
“I want to thank all the people who helped me, my trainer Marco Baglioni, Tommaso, Filippo, and my brother Francesco who have trained with me, pushing me every day.
“I also want to thank the Medical Team of Terni who provided me with all the tools for physiotherapy and Dr. Tarallo, from the team of prof. Catani, who operated me.
“Then a big thank to all my fans for their support. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans and I hope I can soon give to all of them so much satisfaction.”
The French Grand Prix takes place on Sunday May 8.
Kevin Magnussen has won Formula 1’s official Driver of the Day poll for the Russian Grand Prix.
Magnussen started 17th in Sochi after a difficult qualifying session, but made the most of the trouble at the first corner for many of the cars ahead to work his way into the top 10.
The Dane’s pace was impressive during the second half of the race to ensure he finished the race seventh, marking Renault’s first points as an F1 constructor since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The result was also Magnussen’s first top 10 finish in F1 since the penultimate race of the 2014 season when he raced for McLaren.
On Monday, the official F1 Twitter account confirmed that Magnussen had won the vote through its website.
The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a busy race for the FIA stewards as a number of incidents resulted in three drivers receiving penalty points on their super licences.
Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Carlos Sainz Jr. were all sanctioned by the stewards for actions during the race.
Kvyat’s antics on the first lap defined a number of drivers’ races as he hit Sebastian Vettel twice in a matter of seconds, the second hit punting the Ferrari racer into the wall and out of contention.
Kvyat said after the race that it was easy to attack him, but the rest of the paddock was less than impressed, leaving many expecting an apology from the Russian.
After being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, Kvyat was also given three points on his FIA super licence, taking his tally up to five for the 12-month period.
Gutierrez was also penalized for an incident on the first lap after he took out Nico Hulkenberg and sparked a multi-car melee at Turn 2. He too received a time penalty during the race, but was handed two penalty points afterwards by the stewards.
Finally, Sainz was found to have forced Jolyon Palmer off track between Turns 2 and 3 during the race. He had 10 seconds added to his race time and also received two penalty points.
Nico Rosberg saw his Formula 1 championship lead swell to 43 points on Sunday after winning the Russian Grand Prix, marking his seventh straight victory.
The German has not lost since the Mexican Grand Prix back in November, and will head to the start of the European season in Spain later this month full of confidence.
It proved to be a race full of intriguing storylines as Lewis Hamilton fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second, Romain Grosjean took Haas back into the points and everyone got angry with Daniil Kvyat for causing mayhem at Turn 2.
Following the race on Sunday, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news, interviews and insight in Paddock Pass.