Raybestos Rookie O'Quinn Jr.'s learning curve is on the rise
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2006) -- Like many 21-year-olds, Danny O'Quinn Jr. (No. 50 Stonebridge Life Ford) is in a learning mode.
He's dealt with the requisite hard knocks associated with getting "out there" in the real world -- in his case, the world of NASCAR Busch Series racing. But with experience, he has started to show progress on his educational curve.
A native of Coeburn, Va. -- about 60 miles from Bristol Motor Speedway -- O'Quinn earned his ride with Roush Racing after becoming a 2005 "Driver X: Race for the Ride" reality show finalist.
O'Quinn opened eyes at Daytona International Speedway last February when he secured an eighth-place starting spot in the season-opening race and finished a respectable 18th.
He struggled in his next four races, until he headed back "home" to Bristol in March when he finished 11th, at the time his career-best.
He's still had disappointments -- like three finishes of 38th or worse -- but improvement has been the norm, especially in his last 11 races where he's at Indianapolis posted three top-10 finishes including a sixth-place at O'Reilly Raceway Park earlier this month.
O'Quinn is 17th in the point standings -- his second-best ranking of the year -- and has also moved into contention for series Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, climbing from fifth to third over the last 10 races. He sits 11 points behind leader John Andretti (No. 10 RVs.com/Camping World Ford) and is five points behind second-place Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet).
"I'm learning a ton each and every week," O'Quinn said. "We've definitely started to pull back up in the standings and also in the rookie points. I think the run at ORP really made a difference not only to me but to my crew. We all know we can do this and it's hopefully only one of many more great runs to come in the last 10 races.
"Everything has been a big learning curve for me this year, whether it be learning the tracks or adapting to the cars and tires. I have come a long way with that and my crew is doing a great job getting me everything I need to do this. They are on top of their game on pit road and I'm better able to help relay to (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) what the cars are doing so the setups are better.
"We've been closing on the rookie points in the last few weeks and are still right in the hunt for rookie of the year honors. Right now, winning that [award] is one of our main goals, along with moving up to the top 15 in driver points and top 20 in owners [points]."