Perhaps the biggest reason for Kasey Kahne winning last night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway was the help he got behind him from Ryan Sieg.
However, the Nationwide Series has a rule in which pushing another car (in effect, tandem drafting) is forbidden – and earlier in the Subway Firecracker 250, race officials tagged Josh Wise and Landon Cassill with drive-through penalties for that very reason.
But in post-race comments, NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton explained why officials didn’t call Sieg for pushing.
“When you look at any of the situations and the cars make contact and bump and in that last lap there, a car will close on another car and the accordion will close up and make tight quarters all the way down through the whole row,” he said to reporters late last night.
“Cars are moving side to side, which tells you they are not directly connected.”
As part of the no pushing rule in Nationwide competition, cars are allowed to bump other cars in the draft but cannot stay “locked” together.
With the no-call, Sieg’s third-place result stands and it’s a big deal for the 27-year-old, who runs for the small RSS Racing team in the Nationwide Series.
“Hopefully, it will bring some more sponsors,” Sieg said in a statement. “We have some sponsors here and there, but it would be nice to have a full-time sponsor, because we run full-time Nationwide, hopefully we turned some eyes.”
Sieg’s efforts got the attention of both Kahne and his Nationwide Series team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who both praised him for being able to run with the big boys.
“He does a great job,” Kahne said. “It’s tough to run with the JR team and Gibbs and Penske and Roush and Turner Motorsports. He does a good job with what they have, and if he keeps it up, he’ll get more opportunities.”
Earnhardt said he first noticed Sieg earlier this year at Dover, and was impressed.
“I haven’t really paid a ton of attention to him prior to that,” he continued. “He had a couple runs during the race at Dover that were better than anyone outside the Top-5 for sure. He kinda hung around and raced with the 62 [Brendan Gaughan] and a couple of other guys in some equipment that’s far better than his.
“It was great to see him run well [Friday], because I think he does a lot with very little, so [it’s] good to see.”
Additionally, Sieg was able to make the Nationwide Series’ Dash 4 Cash with his third-place result. The Dash 4 Cash, which begins next weekend at New Hampshire, is a series of four races in which four eligible, full-time NNS drivers can compete for a $100,000 bonus that goes to the highest finisher in the D4C group.
For New Hampshire, the D4C drivers are Sieg, Regan Smith (finished second at Daytona), Ryan Reed (fourth), and Jeremy Clements (eighth).
Should one driver win the first three D4C awards at New Hampshire, Chicagoland, and Indianapolis (July 26), then win the Iowa race outright on Aug. 2, Nationwide Insurance will award a $600,000 bonus to that driver – bringing the total payout to $1 million.