There is something sweet about getting that first victory. It’s a moment every driver pictures in their heads, and sometimes it works out to perfection as to how it happened, and where it happened.
Ask Trevor Bayne, the glass slipper fit exactly as one could expect in 2011 when the biggest race of the year became his backdrop to victory. Ten years earlier, a driver who had not even sniffed victory during his career was given a chance from the sport’s biggest icon to join a family business. First race out, he scored that win, but could only celebrate for mere moments. His owner, a legend among drivers, owners, fans, and teams…left us, suddenly.
Some use strategy to get the job done, like Austin Dillon one year ago in Charlotte. Others were in the right place, at the right time, when the skies decided to stop the activity. That’s how Aric Almirola got his only win of his career.
But, sometimes patience, intelligence, and finally a lot of courage, earn that first victory.
Saturday night, with the lights shining bright in Daytona, a young man who just a season ago won Rookie of the Year honors, finally had his moment. A season ago, his then-teammate hoisted a championship trophy. This year, he’s got one young gun, and two established veterans, as teammates. The equipment is the same, the people are different, and he took over for a driver that was a former champion, and likely a future hall of fame inductee.
It all worked out when it was needed most, as Erik Jones somehow found the right way to the front, and found the right spot to hold on when the checkered flag waved. That first win now is even sweeter when it comes at the World Center of Speed.
Sadly, that victory did not give any favors to the League. In fact, Daytona gave out no favors to anyone. Despite a couple playoff points earned, no one had a decent week, with everyone ultimately ending up outside the top-15. It was a tough week for all, as we look at how things ultimately ended up after the Coke Zero Sugar 400:
Sal Sigala Jr. – 673 – Kevin Harvick finished 19th (4) 23
Penny Whitecotton – 640 – Kevin Harvick finished 19th (5) 26
Ashley Hobbs – 638 – Clint Bowyer finished 22nd (5) 26
Trisha Rodisch – 628 – Chase Elliott finished 34th (4) 23
Rob Tiongson – 608 – Aric Almirola finished 27th (2) 10
Billy Fellin – 581 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 17th (3) 22
Dustin Parks – 579 – Chase Elliott finished 34th (0) 2
Misan Akuya – 573 – Joey Logano finished 39th (4) 23
Rob Blount – 555 – Ryan Blaney finished 40th (2) 14
Next Race: It’s not often that NASCAR decides to run back-to-back races under the lights, at least when it is scheduled that way. But, when it happens, it is an experience. Saturday night events are always much more fun for everyone. The cars shine more under the stars, often the speeds are faster with the cooler temperatures, and many big moments happen when the bright lights shine.
Hopefully, unlike a few years ago, the only thing that lights up at the Kentucky Speedway is the action on the track, instead of someone’s vehicle that is lit up like a torch in the parking lot.
This track may be another 1.5-mile intermediate track, but it is much more challenging than many others on the circuit, and that makes it a much more difficult race to win at the end of the night.
Participants, lock in those picks by Thursday, July 12, at 10 p.m. for the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart.