Are there any "new" drivers or drivers that maybe you had not noticed before that caught your eye?
Eric: Travis Pastrana was more impressive in the Nationwide race than I thought he would be, but other than that, no. As cool as it was to see guys like Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley in the top 10 at the 500, they're not exactly up and comers anymore.
Scott: Again, any race that has Regan Smith, JJ Yeley and Michael McDowell finishing in the top 10 should really be taken with a grain of salt. I think the jury will be out on Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse for a bit until I get a chance to see them compete in the major leagues on a weekly basis.
Debi: . I am really impressed with Travis Pastrana but other than him, no one else really made me sit up and take notice. He should have wrecked many, many times in the last laps of the Nationwide race, yet didn't. He got beat on and banged against, and saved the car again and again. He has gained my respect already.
Jen: lol, I have been watching Travis Pastrana since his motocross days. I am thrilled he made his way to Nascar.
Bonus Question: Danica Patrick chose to go straight to the garage instead of her pit. Ignition failure, there are 2 switches. She could have switched the other. What are your thoughts about this? Did she Quit? Does this change your idea that she really is serious about racing in Cup competition?
Eric: I'm not touching this with a ten foot pole. All I have to say is breathe in and breathe out. You will all soon learn to take the Danica talk in one ear and out the other. I swear. ;)
Scott: This, added to the whole start and park request at the duel, really makes me wonder just how serious all parties involved are about Danica not just racing, but actually competing, with the big boys. If Patrick, Stewart and Haas are serious, they need her to get out on the track as much as possible and get laps, regardless of where Patrick finishes. You have to earn respect from the other drivers and the only way you do that is get into the mix and show the guys that you can do it. Obviously Daytona really wasn't the place for her to do that because the majority of the race was single file racing. The next couple of weeks, especially Bristol, will really show us a lot about whether Patrick can compete with the big boys.
Debi: Rookie mistake. No she shouldn't be making them. IMO she should have stayed in Nationwide another year so she'll probably make a lot more mistakes before she earns my respect, regardless of her finish Sunday.
Jen: I am not convinced she is serious. Any other driver would have flipped that switch and gone racing.
Racing with the big boys?
Scott: To me, "racing with the big boys" is just a metaphor to Danica bypassing another year in the Nationwide Series and racing in the Sprint Cup Series, where she will have to face the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and company on a weekly basis. No disrespect to any body that drives in the Nationwide or ARCA series but IMO, that is the minor leagues while the Sprint Cup Series is the big leagues. There is zero correlation from where I sit between the Sprint Cup Series and IndyCar. Both are two totally different styles of racing. What Danica accomplished in IndyCar has zero impact on how I see her as a Sprint Cup Series driver.
Eric: The hype is so great that it's going to be basically impossible for her to meet it. I've said all along that given a year or two, she'll be a consistent top 20 driver, similar to her IndyCar career. She's a good driver, not great. The attention will always be outsized compared to her results. It's inevitable and it's not 100% her own doing. For the record, I have a problem with this "racing with the big boys" phrase. To me, it implies that Danica's IndyCar competition weren't "big boys." I know that's probably not want you all mean, and that I'm over sensitive about this, but it still bother me. I know that attitude that IndyCar and its drivers are inferior is out there, and you can guess how much that rankles me.
Debi: I use "Racing with the Big Boys" any time I refer to a driver who has moved up into the Sprint Cup from the minor leagues, or even one who moves from minor open wheel to IndyCar or Formula 1. It isn't unique to her in any way! Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is also "Racing with the Big Boys" this year. And I say again. I believe she should have stayed in Nationwide another year, minimum.
Jen: Yeah, her Indy career was then, this is now. I only grade her on Nascar. I will try not to do it anymore. For me the phrase goes back to moonshine and stock cars...
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Tony Schumacher won Top-Fuel at the Arizona Nationals
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Erica Enders-Stevens won Pro Stock