A Year In The Life
One year ago, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers had won each of the season’s first five races. In fact, it took 12 races – until reigning series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won at Iowa Speedway – for a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver to break through the Cup-centric winners.
Fast forward to the first open week of the 2012 season, which also follows the first five races. The difference is astounding.
Of those first five Nationwide Series races, four – in consecutive fashion – were won by non-Sprint Cup Series drivers. Joey Logano snapped that streak with his win last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway. That stat is amplified even more specific to series history, where the record books show the last time the first four races were won by non-Sprint Cup drivers was 1995.
Elliott Sadler, winner of two of this season’s first five events, also has led the standings since Daytona. That’s a first since 2000, when Matt Kenseth was atop the points for the first seven races. He’s got an 18-point advantage on second-place Stenhouse.
The series is off for the next two weeks, resuming on Friday, April 13 – superstitions, anyone? – at Texas Motor Speedway.
When racing resumes at Texas, the top 30 automatic qualifiers will begin using 2012 owner points versus 2011 owner points that were in play for the first five races. ML Motorsports and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Johanna Long find themselves in 31st, two points out of the cutoff spot. The No. 70 Chevrolet will have to qualify on time at Texas. … DeLana Harvick, owner of the No. 2 Chevrolet, leads the owner standings by 18 points over the No. 6 Ford of Jack Roush. The series driver and owner championship hasn’t been unified since 2009 when Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing won with the No. 18 Toyota. … On Tuesday, March 27, Austin Dillon, his younger brother Ty who runs in the Truck Series and their team owner – and grandfather – Richard Childress will tour the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and attend the 8th Annual Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala in Washington, D.C. They’ll join 200 wounded warriors from the National Capital Region and their families along with more than 60 members of Congress and senior Department of Defense officials in recognition of those who are dedicated to supporting the men and women of the Armed Forces. Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch also are scheduled to attend.