Bell excited about Nationwide debut
I spoke with Mackena Bell last week by phone about her NASCAR Nationwide debut today at Phoenix.
She’s excited about the opportunity, but realistic about her chances.
“We have a 20th to 30th place car, so I’m not going out there expecting to win. I just want to stay out of trouble, keep my head on straight, finish the race, and learn everything I can,” said Bell. She also wants to have some fun while she’s doing it. “I’ve tried to do so much and put so much pressure on myself the last few years, I forgot to have fun racing. This will be a chance to enjoy myself.”
The Nationwide car is heavier and has more power than the K&N Pro Series car she’s used to, but she doesn’t see that as a problem. Fortunately, she won’t have to worry about qualifying, as the car has enough owner points to lock her into the race. Bell is hoping this ride is going to lead to further opportunities in racing, perhaps in ARCA, Camping World Trucks, or Nationwide. Friday practice went well, and she improved her time to within 1.5 seconds of leader Kyle Busch.
After the post-race brawl in Texas on Sunday, I wonder if some of the NASCAR Chase contenders are considering switching their activities to the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
It was Brad Keselowski’s second physical confrontation in the Chase, this time with Jeff Gordon instead of Matt Kenseth.
The whole thing began as a war of words until Kevin Harvick appeared and shoved Keselowski forward into Gordon’s grasp, and then it was on. And by the next morning, the term “Harvicking” was all over social media. I think if the Sprint Cup drivers were polled right now on the “Most Popular Driver,” Keselowski would come in dead last. NASCAR reviewed the videotapes of the fight, and issued harsh penalties on Tuesday.
Two Hendrick crew chiefs, Alan Gustafson and Kenny Francis, were fined $50,000 each and put on probation for the next three point races. Suspensions and fines were also issued for several crew members whose actions were termed “over the line.” Oh, by the way, Jimmie Johnson actually won the race, not that anyone noticed.
NASCAR certainly got more coverage on TV than it usually gets, with video of the brawl prominently featured on morning and evening news shows for several days.
I’m sure the NASCAR marketing folks are high-fiving each other for this unexpected attention.
With one more race to go in the Eliminator round, you can expect some real fireworks at Phoenix on Sunday. The flat one-mile oval won’t see the high speeds of Texas, so you might see somebody get roughed up a bit, especially if Gordon is having a bad day and decides on a little retaliation. Speaking of Gordon, he has three victories at Phoenix, second only to Harvick who’s first among active drivers with five wins, including three of the last four.
Edwards has two, including last year’s Chase round. Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, and Kenseth have each posted one win at Phoenix, while the two Penske drivers, Keselowski and Joey Logano, are winless there. If another “Chase Buster” driver wins tomorrow, the top four in points of the eight remaining Chase drivers is going to advance to the final round. At the moment those four are Logano and Hamlin with 4,072 points each, Newman with 4,070, and Gordon with 4,060. Kenseth and Edwards each have 4,059, just one point out, While Keselowski has 4,055 and Harvick 4,054. So everybody is still in play.
There was another race in Texas last Sunday, as the Formula 1 series visited the Circuit of the Americas in Austin for the third year. Once again, the Mercedes team was dominant, with Nico Rosberg starting on pole and Lewis Hamilton alongside. Hamilton stalked his teammate and finally made a textbook pass for the lead, pulling away for a convincing win. Rosberg’s second-place finish ensured he would stay close enough in points the drivers’ championship won’t be decided until the final race. The next race is in Brazil this weekend with the season finale two weeks later in Abu Dhabi.