Friday, April 27, 2012
Danica Mania, Part II
The hype leading up to Travis Pastrana’s Nationwide Series debut didn’t quite reach Danica Mania proportions. But it was hard to turn on Speed or ESPN during the week before the Richmond race without seeing something on Pastrana.
Unfortunately, once again, the hype exceeded reality. Pastrana qualified 25th. He ran in the top 20 for most of the race, before picking up a speeding penalty during green flag pit stops and losing a lap. When asked about the race’s lowlight, he had a hyped-up answer: “Being beat by both the girls!” Johanna Long finished 20th, Patrick 21st and Pastrana 22nd.
Oh, by the way, in a great finish, Kurt Busch hung on to win in brother Kyle’s car, edging Denny Hamlin by inches for the victory. It was the first Nationwide victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Kyle called it his most emotional win – ever.
Meanwhile it was another driver making his first Nationwide start, 18-year-old Ryan Blaney, who impressed most of all. A third generation driver, son of Cup driver, short track wizard and proud father Dave Blaney, Ryan’s start was more anticipated by the NASCAR regulars than either Patrick or Pastrana. Both Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were singing his praises earlier in the week. Blaney delivered, finishing 7th. Only a botched pit stop kept him from a top five finish.
Both Blaney and Pastrana will race again in two weeks at Darlington. Wanna bet on who beats who?