While I don't necessarily enjoy trophies handed out for gas mileage or "strategy" wins, Joey Logano's first NASCAR Sprint Cup series win was fun to watch last Sunday from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Much like the start of Logano's season, it wasn't pretty. Just ask the guys who work on the sheet metal. But dents and donuts look beautiful in victory lane.
The rookie's day appeared to be done after he went a lap down, but Logano hung in, took advantage of the "Lucky Dog" free pass, and stayed out as the rains fell to capture the win. The story was even sweeter for Logano, the youngest person ever to win a Cup race, because the strategy beat second-place Jeff Gordon, who clearly had the strongest car all day. Gordon, one of Logano's childhood idols, congratulated the young driver when it became obvious that the race would be called.
The storybook ending wouldn't be complete without mentioning that the Connecticut native with the toothy smile won in front of his hometown crowd. If I didn't know better -- and I do -- I'd say it sounds scripted.
Speaking of storybook endings, who would be the perfect choice to win the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola this Saturday night under the lights at Daytona International Speedway? If I were writing the script, it would have to be Dale Earnhardt Jr., of course.
Why Earnhardt? Whether you're an Earnhardt fan or not, you probably know why. If you have to ask, you probably don't watch much NASCAR.
Despite being voted "Most Popular Driver" for the past six consecutive years, I think Earnhardt wants something much more elusive than fans. I think he wants to win. I know he NEEDS to win. And there is no place on the circuit where he has a better shot at it than at Daytona.
Make no mistake about it -- Earnhardt knows his way to victory lane at Daytona. He's been there a dozen times, winning the 2004 Daytona 500, the 2001 Pepsi 400, two Budweiser Shootouts (2003 and 2008) and five NASCAR Nationwide Series events. Earnhardt also won his Gatorade Duel qualifying races in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Who can forget the 2001 Pepsi 400 and Earnhardt's emotional July win at the track where his famous father lost his life the previous February? And Junior's 2004 Daytona 500 win was memorable as well.
Earnhardt, like his late father before him, knows how to win at restrictor-plate races. But will this be his week?
The bottom line is that wishes don't make wins, and there will be 42 other drivers trying to win Saturday night. Whether or not Earnhardt gets his storybook ending, I can't wait to watch the action from Daytona Saturday night.
Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dispatch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.