guest post by NetHawk
Through an odd twist of fate Linda Elam became the first female driver to ever win the Daytona Firecracker 400. Here is the post-race interview:
DW: Ms. Elam, this has been the most extraordinary week in NASCAR history. You came out of nowhere to wind up in Jimmy Johnson’s number 48 car on the pole for this race. How did all this happen?
LE: Well Darryl, I have always been a good driver and did some dirt track racing in east Tennessee. By the way, I prefer to be addressed as Mayor Elam since I have worked so hard to obtain that position.. The call came in from the Hendrick organization late Friday night, Mr. Johnson would not be able to drive due to his wife going into labor with her second child. I immediately cancelled some meetings with developers and took the red-eye to Daytona.
DW: Sorry Mayor Elam, how did you prepare yourself to lead the field and take the green flag to start such an important event?
LE: Oddly enough, we had a lot of trouble with the seat. It had to be adjusted and quite frankly the crew chief, this Knaus guy, put it off to the last minute. He stayed on the phone pleading with Jimmy trying to lure him away from the hospital to drive the car. It was most disrespectful. I had to call Rick Hendrick to get all this straight. I didn’t cancel three meetings to come drive for some unorganized crew chief wannabe. Once the new seat was fabricated things got somewhat better.
DW: You didn’t get any laps in the car since Jimmy qualified it earlier in the week. Were you surprised how many positions a car could lose in the middle with no drafting partners?
LE: Going from first to 42nd on the first lap had never been done, but I blame that on a “boys club” unwilling to draft with a woman. It certainly didn’t help to have some twenty something crew chief screaming in the headset the whole lap either.
DW: You missed your pit stall twice and lost a lap each time, I bet that caused some chatter on the headset too!
LE: No, after the first time I slung the headset out the window. That brought out a caution for debris and I made up a lap. But the best part was that I didn’t have to hear that kid screaming instructions anymore. I had a long talk with Mr. Hendrick after the victory and that Chad kid will most likely be history. He has no place in this sport.
LE: With eight laps to go I was battling Mark Martin for 42nd position. We were both seven laps down since he hit the wall earlier. He had just pulled around me on the outside and something told me to get right behind him and it happened – all I could see was smoke and fire and cars flipping everywhere. I followed Mark right through all of it.
DW: When did it occur to you that you might have a chance to win?
LE: After the red flag I knew Mark would be close on fuel so I stayed out. He went into the pits and got tires and fuel but I picked up the lead. The track position wasn’t really worth it since only two cars were on the lead lap but I didn’t know that because I didn’t have a headset. We took off and he took the lead right away. Something broke on his car and he hit the wall before the white flag had come out. It was at that point I knew.
DW: This has never happened before. Yours was the only car running at the end so you picked up the victory. How does this happen Linda, I mean Mayor Elam, how did you pull this off?
LE: Well I was obviously picked to drive for good reason. It would have been much easier if there were good people working on this car. I had to do all this myself. It was not my fault I missed the pit stall either time. The sign was not held high enough the first time and my brakes locked up the second time. It is tough when you have to do everything yourself in this sport.
DW: Chad Knaus was seen pouring fuel on himself during the race with a lighter in his hand. There seems to be a lot of friction between you two. Have you had time to resolve any of that yet?
LE: Not really. I think he should find something else to do. It is clear he is not cut out for this sort of thing. I am just thankful my schedule could allow me this opportunity to prove what I could do in this sport.
DW: Well what does the future hold for Mayor Linda Elam now?
LE: Oh, I guess I will go back to running the sleepy little town I put on the map in middle Tennessee.