Circle Track Stock Car — 18 February 2011

Courtesy of Yahoo!

By Paula Thompson,

While the debut of IndyCar star Danica Patrick in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ranks started out as the women’s story of the year in auto racing, her 2010 challenges would become just one of many female accomplishments during the season. One woman finished with the highest points position by a female in one of NASCAR’s “Big Three” series, and another female competitor not only made a successful NASCAR debut, but became only the second woman to win the prestigious Snowball Derby late model race. 2011 will be another challenging season for the women of NASCAR.

Patrick returns to the Nationwide ranks for another 13-race schedule, including the first four of the season. Joining Patrick in the series for at least the first five races of the year is Jennifer Jo Cobb, who will be racing for 2nd Chance Motorsports. In her rookie season last year, Cobb finished 17th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final standings, the highest final spot ever for a woman in the top three NASCAR series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Trucks). Cobb also competed in the 2010 season-opening ARCA race at Daytona, along with Patrick and four other women. Cobb also secured Lilly Cosmetics as a sponsor for her truck for the 2011 Daytona Truck Series race.

One of the other women in that ARCA field last year was Alli Owens, a Daytona, Florida native and veteran of Florida’s New Smyrna and Volusia Speedways. Owens announced on her website that she had the opportunity to attempt qualifying for the Truck Series race at Daytona this year, but needed to raise $35,000 to race. She began accepting donations from fans, and announced in late January that, thanks to fans, Mullinax Ford in New Smyrna, Daytona Beach chapters of the IBEW and NECA, and other local companies, she raised the funds to take her dream to the next level. Look for Owens as she attempts to qualify for Ray Hackett Racing in the Truck Series.

Another young woman with NASCAR aspirations in 2011 is Johanna Long. Not only did compete in seven Truck races in 2010, she won the prestigious Snowball Derby late model race in Pensicola, Florida – only the second woman to do so in 43 years. The 18-year-old will race for Panhandle Motorsports in the Truck Series in 2011, attempting to run for Rookie of the Year in the #20 Toyota Tundra.

While 2010 may have been a banner year for women in NASCAR, 2011 will raise that banner a little bit higher.

*Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.


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