Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana, two of the bigger names in today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, were unable to have a say in the outcome of the race.
Patrick started in Row 2 and went into the race as a potential threat for the win. But on Lap 14, she was spun out by drafting partner and rookie teammate Kyle Larson. She went into the wall and then down the track for a spin through the soggy grass below Turn 3, and shortly afterwards, she was forced to retire from the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet for a 39th-place result.
As for Pastrana, who earned his first career NASCAR pole for the race on Friday afternoon, he was running a steady race until Lap 71. While on the backstretch, Brian Scott turned around Reed Sorenson, who then went right into Pastrana as he attempted to avoid him.
The impact lifted Sorenson’s rear wheels off the ground momentarily before he came back down, while Pastrana shot up the track and smashed into the Turn 3 wall. Both of them finally came to rest inside the Turn 3 grass.
After being released from the infield care center, Pastrana was hard on himself. The action sports legend told ESPN that “[he] just [got] an award for being stupid” and predicted that on Monday, team owner Jack Roush would “say ‘You guys had the two fastest cars and you should’ve put them 1-2.'”
“And we doggone should have put ’em 1-2,” a disgusted Pastrana added.
Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20) Car No.: 33 Races: 20 Wins: 0 Podiums: 0 Best Finish: P4 (Singapore) Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 54 Championship Position: 9th
Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.
Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.
Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.
Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.
Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.
Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.
Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.