By Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
- First 2011 Dash 4 Cash event
- Top 4 drivers in points are eligible
- $100,000 prize to top finisher
Four NNS drivers go after additional prize in Daytona
After a weekend away from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., last Saturday, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the Subway Jalapeno 250 on Friday. With the race being a companion event to the Coke Zero 400 to be held at the track on Saturday, a slew of Sprint Cup regulars will once again tread the Nationwide Series waters.
I’d love nothing more than to get ... that Dash 4 Cash money...
Among the Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in the Nationwide race on Friday will be Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Carl Edwards in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 60 Ford and Tony Stewart in the No. 9 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet. As they run for the race win and extra seat time in preparation for the Sprint Cup race the following night, a handful of other drivers have a bigger picture in mind.
Three Nationwide Series regulars find themselves separated by only seven points atop the championship standings heading into the race at Daytona. Reed Sorenson, driver of the No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, is in the top spot with a five point lead over Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Aside from racing for a series championship, the trio of Sorenson, Sadler and Stenhouse will join Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet as the four drivers eligible for an extra $100,000 bonus to be awarded by series title sponsor, Nationwide Insurance as part of its Dash 4 Cash program.
“I’d love nothing more than to get another win for (sponsor) Dollar General this weekend, and that Dash 4 Cash money that Nationwide is putting up for us regulars wouldn’t be bad either,” Sorenson said.
The four drivers are eligible to participate on Friday because of their positions as the top four drivers in Nationwide Series driver points. The highest finisher of the quartet will win the bonus, no matter where he finishes, overall, in comparison to the full race field.
Four races make up the Dash 4 Cash program, and the race at Daytona will be the first. Other races in the program include the Aug. 6 race at Iowa Speedway, the event at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 9, and the Oct. 14 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
One driver will win $100,000 in each of the four events. For the other three races, the winner of the Dash bonus in the previous race in the program will be eligible, along with the highest three series championship-eligible drivers in the previous Dash 4 Cash event. Since Friday’s race is the first one in the program this season, the points standings are being used to determine the four eligible drivers.
Given the chances of “the big one,” anything can and often does at Daytona, but if past statistics are any indication, Sorenson stands a good chance of claiming the first Dash 4 Cash bonus of 2011.
At Daytona, it’s either feast or famine for me.
Sorenson described racing at Daytona as “a wild card race where anything can happen, especially in the closing laps.”
Of the four drivers Sorenson was the only one who finished in the top-five when the series last visited Daytona in February. Sorenson finished fifth in that race. He also has the most experience of the four, with eight series starts at the track.
Back in February, Stenhouse joined Sorenson in the top-10 with an eighth-place finish. Allgaier and Sadler finished outside the top-20, though, as Allgaier was 27th and Sadler 38th.
“At Daytona, it’s either feast or famine for me,” Sadler said. “We had a really fast car there in February, but got caught up in a wreck early and finished 38th.”
None of the four have visited a victory lane following a Nationwide Series race at Daytona. Both Sorenson and Stenhouse each have a Daytona top-five to their credit, but Stenhouse leads the way in NASCAR‘s eyes, as he has the highest ranking in the pre-race driver rating system among all Nationwide Series championship-eligible drivers with a ranking of 89.1.