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.
The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.
Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.
Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.
Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.
Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.
While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.
Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.
“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”
“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.
Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.
“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”
Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.
But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.