Rain cuts Nationwide quals short; Armstrong on pole tonight

Leave a comment

UPDATE (4:10 p.m. ET): A second shower at Daytona International Speedway has forced NASCAR to cancel the remainder of Nationwide Series qualifying for tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250.

As a result, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Dakoda Armstrong has earned his first career Nationwide Series pole. Trevor Bayne will join him on the front row.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the first round of qualifying, a sudden cloudburst over the midway point of the backstretch caused a cluster of cars to spin out and wreck. The incident brought out a red flag.

The drivers involved include: Matt Dibenedetto, Ross Chastain, Scott Lagasse Jr., Blake Koch, Benny Gordon, Robert Richardson, Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, and Eric McClure.

“I don’t know if there’s any words to properly describe it,” McClure told Fox Sports afterwards.

“We had no idea it was raining. The spotter caught it right as we came off Turn 2 and saw it. I’m a little disappointed that with all the technology we have and the spotters around the race track that a caution wasn’t thrown. But that’s not my call to make.”

NASCAR promptly declared Round 1 complete and with the onset of more rain, they’ve set the field for tonight’s race based off the results from Round 1.

Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed will start in Row 2, followed by Kyle Busch and Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler in Row 3. Chase Elliott and Regan Smith are in Row 4, while Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Kyle Larson roll off from Row 5.

Three of the drivers involved in the Round 1 crash – Koch, Gordon, and Dibenedetto – were unable to make the show.

Sprint Cup qualifying for tomorrow’s Coke Zero 400 is expected to go off at 5:10 p.m. ET, followed by the Nationwide race at 7:30 p.m. ET. Right now, the track is working to get the 2.5-mile oval in shape for Cup qualifying.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT DAYTONA – STARTING LINEUP

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t go quite as planned, but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”