NASCAR: Sensationeel slot Nationwide Daytona. Outsider pakt onverwachte zege!

De veteranen waren te heet gebakerd. Alleen de jeugdige James Buescher hield het hoofd koel en won verrassend de Nationwide-wedstrijd nadat de ervaren koplopers elkaar in het zicht van de finish geëlimineerd hadden. Pole-sitter Danica Patrick werd door teamgenoot Cole Whitt geëlimineerd. Voor ruim 82.000 toeschouwers wisselde de kop maar liefst 38 maal. Een absoluut record in de Nationwide-series op Daytona.

Tekst Willem J. Staat
Foto’s NASCAR

2012_nw_buescher
Als vier honden vechten om één been gaat de vijfde er dus mee heen. Winnaar
Buescher zou met een Top 10 klassering al tevreden zijn geweest.


Wederom multicar crash
De koplopers Trevor Bayne, Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. en Kyle Busch crashten in het zicht van de finish van de DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide-wedstrijd en richtten onder hun achtervolgers een ware slachting aan. Alleen de jonge James Buescher leek het hoofd koel te houden en sprintte richting finish.

Buescher
: “Er was niemand die met mij samen wilde werken. Toen heb ik het gas nog maar eens flink ingetrapt en op de één of andere wijze kwam ik overal doorheen! Ik wist nog niet eens waar ik reed. Ergens in de Top 10 of zoiets. Ik was al blij dat ik er binnen kon blijven. Ik wist nog niet eens of ik vooraan of achteraan reed.Ik weet wel dat ik in de wedstrijd enkele “close-calls” had. Want ik was wel bij enkele crashes betrokken.”

Voor Buescher was het zijn tweede overwinning in drie jaar op de Daytona International Speedway. In 2009 won hij de Lucas Oil Slick Mist ARCA-200 wedstrijd. Buescher werkt dit seizoen een volledig programma in de Campingworld Truck Series af. Daarnaast heeft hij een budget voor 10/12 Nationwide-wedstrijden op zijn programma staan.

Tot aan de 104e ronde kende de wedstrijd een rustig verloop. Een crash waarbij maar liefst 20 deelnemers betrokken waren zorgde voor de zesde neutralisatie. De impact van Kenny Wallace met de “Safer Barrier” was zo heftig dat de wedstrijd zelfs met een Code Rood vier minuten onderbroken moest worden om een hierin uitstekende splitter te verwijderen! In de 113e ronde ging het wederom fout. De samenwerking van drie tandems met twee auto’s mislukt als Sam Hornish Jr. midden in het veld achterstevoren gaat. In de 119e en voorlaatste ronde gaat het licht voor de allerlaatste maal in de 120 ronden tellende wedstrijd op groen. Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch en Ricky Stenhouse gaan ervoor. Een push van Sadler richting Tony Stewart lijkt resultaat te hebben. Maar juist op dit moment trok de Chevrolet van Kurt Busch iets naar rechts, toucheerde de Toyota Camry van Denny Hamlin en het lokte bij het tandem Stewart-Sadler een kettingreactie uit. In het zicht van de finish crashten Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.,Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart en Kyle Busch. De jonge James Buescher die op dat moment als negende geklasseerd stond, won met zijn Chevrolet verrassend de wedstrijd. Voor Buescher was het zijn allereerste Nationwide-overwinning. Kurt Busch gaat in de fout met desastreuze gevolgen voor de rest van het veld.

2012_nw_daytona_crash_danica
Danica was niet blij met de actie van haar teamgenoot Cole Whitt.

Danica Mania snel over
Voor Danica Patrick eindigde de eerste Nationwide-wedstrijd van het seizoen in een behoorlijke teleurstelling. De koploopster viel al snel terug naar het middenveld.

Danica Patrick: De f….. No 88(haar teamgenoot Cole Whitt.red) raakte mij terwijl we in een groepje reden.” Ook de reactie van crewchief Tony Eury Jr. richting Patrick loog er niet om. Whitt overleefde de wedstrijd zonder kleerscheuren en werd als vierde geklasseerd. “Het komt wel goed, als ik haar was zou ik ook niet blij zijn. Wij zijn teamgenoten en we proberen elkaar naar voren te “pushen”. Wij willen ons team gewoon naar voren brengen.”aldus Whitt. Uiteindelijk werd Patrick als 38e op 48 ronden achterstand geklasseerd.

Danica Patrick: “Bij vandaag kan ik niet stil blijven staan. Ik geef me niet gewonnen en ik focus mij voor de grote dag van de Daytona 500. Hopelijk gaat dit beter!” De enige andere dame in het veld, Johanna Long, werd als 21e geklasseerd.

Uitslag
1. James Buescher Chevrolet 120 ronden
2. Brad Keselowski Dodge 120 ronden
3. Elliott Sadler Chevrolet 120 ronden
4. Cole Whitt Chevrolet 120 ronden
5. Austin Dillon Chevrolet 120 ronden
6. Taylor Malsam Toyota 120 ronden
7. Timmy Hill Ford 120 ronden
8. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 120 ronden
9. Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 120 ronden
10.Kurt Busch Chevrolet 120 ronden

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