NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth was able to take Nationwide Series gold at Daytona International Speedway Friday night. After surviving the furiously paced race and making the proper choice on the final restart, James Buescher pushed Kenseth to victory, a victory that tied him with Jeff Burton for sixth all time. It was the first Nationwide Series victory for Joe Gibbs Racing driver development crew chief Matthew Lucas in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well.
Elliott Sadler was able to secure a $100,000 bonus by finishing ahead of Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Sam Hornish Jr. All of the Nationwide Series regulars performed admirably, avoiding the big wreck while providing a great race despite seeing Matt Kenseth in victory lane. Penske Racing driver Joey Logano had pushed Hornish Jr. nearly the entire race, but the tandem which led over half the race was broken up late.
Overall, races at Daytona, as exciting as they are, are generally useless regarding momentum and setting precedent. It’s part of the nature of the beast. But, surely the driver who gained the most was Elliott Sadler. Not only is his wallet a lot fatter, but the series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track which suits Sadler’s driving style perfectly. Since returning to the Nationwide Series in 2011, Sadler has had two top-15 runs at the one mile track.
The points standings became even tighter than before though, as all of the contenders where able to secure excellent finishes. Points leader Regan Smith was unable to get his Hendrick Motorsports powered machine to the front during the green-white-checkered finish, and as a result the top five in the points are now separated by seventeen points.
Matt Kenseth was able to score an impressive victory tonight. But, NASCAR has eliminated tandem drafting for the Sprint Cup Series, and knowing South Florida weather, track conditions will more than likely differ. Still, victory is victory, and for a driver like Matt Kenseth who is finally being recognized as an elite driver, that has to feel better than all the momentum in the world.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486