Drivers can’t have a lead foot on pit road if they hope to win Chase

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Remember the old Sammy Hagar song, “I Can’t Drive 55”?

That’s kind of the same situation with a number of Sprint Cup drivers when it comes to being on pit road.

According to NASCAR’s crack team of statisticians – and not exactly surprising – there’s a number of drivers with lead feet when they’re on pit road.

Surprisingly, Travis Kvapil has the heaviest foot on pit road, having been whistled for speeding a series-leading five times thus far in 2014.

You have to wonder if NASCAR officials haven’t asked Kvapil a time or two, “Where’s the fire at, Travis?”

Dave Blaney and David Ragan also have been whistled for speeding infractions four times, along with Chase drivers Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

The only other Chase driver who has been caught multiple times is Kevin Harvick, who’s been guilty of the violation three times thus far this season.

Non-Chase drivers that have also been caught speeding thrice each are Kyle Larson, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson and Joe Nemechek.

Courtesy of Dustin Long of MRN.com, here’s a list of how many Chase drivers have been caught exceeding the pit road speed limits thus far in 2014:

Four times: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson

Three times: Kevin Harvick

Twice: Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski

Once: AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman

Zero: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards

Long also makes a very important point:

“A penalty could prove devastating to a team’s title hopes. No driver has won a Cup race after being penalized for speeding on pit road since Matt Kenseth did so Aug. 2013 at Bristol.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994