By Yvette VenDerBrinkThey say the most expensive hobby starts with 98 cents, such is the case playing with Hot Wheels cars. Alan, like most of us, was taken in by the vibrant colors and the fun playing with them in the dirt. He couldn’t wait until he could have a a full-sized version of the pint-sized toy for himself. Fast forward, a 1970 Dodge Challenger in bright orange was his […]
A lot can happen during Speed Weeks. Faster than you can turn a lap at Martinsville, you can go from hero to zero. What we’re saying is this isn’t quite a sign of things to come, but Team Penske made quite a statement in The Clash.
Brad Keselowski shook loose of some demons to take the checkered flag. He lamented having “choked away” earlier shots at Daytona glory. Such was not the case Sunday. Packed with Penske power, Keselowski took a car that was apparently in danger of overheating, and led teammate Joey Logano to the finish line. Team Penske newbie Ryan Blaney finished fourth.
In fact, Ford was quite well-represented towards the front of the field. Kurt Busch from Stewart-Haas Racing took third to join Team Penske in the top five. The only non-Ford was the Chevy driven by Austin Dillon that took fifth place.
Speaking of Blaney, he may have been the one Team Penske driver disappointed with his day. The former Wood Bros. young gun made a passing attempt on the final lap that never materialized. Instead of challenging his teammates for a win, he got stuck and found himself settling for a top five. There’ll be better days ahead for the 12.
Of course, a successful Clash is hardly a harbinger. Considering all the practice and the Duels that follow, there’s plenty of opportunity for teams to tweak at a track where so many variables beyond one’s control come into play. For all we know, Team Penske may find themselves chasing the Toyotas who have complained of handling issues this far.
There may be many events at Daytona during Speed Weeks, but each one is an element unto itself, with all the time spent here. You can be a stinker in the Clash and a stud in the 500 if you can adjust quickly enough. It’s happened more than once.
RT if you would save this Z/28 pic.twitter.com/1OqyGdI49c
1969 Camaro pic.twitter.com/LNztJWF8xI
RT – New | Like – Old pic.twitter.com/rOWakh73ak
Question: what do Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch have in common? A couple of things actually. Both were champions in the early 200s- 2003 and 2004 to be exact. Now, what else did they have in common? Both won NASCAR championships while in the employ of what has been known of late as Roush Fenway Racing.
It wasn’t so many years ago, Roush Fenway Racing was mentioned in the same breath as Hendrick and Gibbs. Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle all enjoyed solid careers at Roush Fenway. They were the standard bearers for Ford.
Roush Fenway looks a lot different now. The drivers are younger. And until Ricky Stenhouse Jr. picked off a pair of wins last year, victories had been scarce. All the old guard is gone, and now Roger Penske is the big dog under the Blue Oval umbrella.
The good news is no news for Roush Fenway in 2018. Their drivers are back, their crew chiefs are back, and there’s a little wind in their sails.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has broken free from the shadows of ex-girlfriend Danica Patrick in more ways than one. Not only have they called in quits romantically, the former Xfinity champion collected his first two Cup series wins, and he made the playoffs. He’s proven he belongs; not something all believed until lately. The numbers are coming up, now it’s a matter of greater consistency.
Trevor Bayne returns in the number 6 car. Since his improbable victory at Daytona in 2011, Bayne has yet to make another trip to victory lane. After laboring on a part-time basis for Wood Bros., is back for his fourth season of full-time racing. Bayne is one of NASCAR’s good guys- a driver that’s not hard to root for, and yet one has to think he’s got to show something this season, or someone else will sit in his seat come next year.
So there’s a sense of stability at Roush Fenway Racing. The question is whether or not this signals a forward move, or whether they’ve settled into mediocrity.
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