By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sometimes it pays to be a lightweight.
That doesn't mean, however, that a 40-pound weight advantage will help Danica Patrick significantly at Daytona International Speedway.
Yes, a lighter car is generally viewed as a better car. And, yes, the total weight of Patrick plus her race car is 40 pounds lighter than it is for almost every other driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Why? Because, for practical purposes, the NASCAR rule book assumes that every driver weighs at least 140 pounds.
By rule, a Sprint Cup car must weigh 3,300 pounds. Where the weight of the driver is concerned, for every 10-pound increment below 180 pounds, 10 pounds of weight must be added to the car. So if a driver weighs between 170 and 179 pounds, the car must weigh 3,310 pounds to compensate.
For a driver who weighs between 160 and 169 pounds, 20 pounds are added; for a driver who weighs 150 to 159 pounds, the car must weigh 3,330 pounds; and, finally, for a driver between 140 and 149 pounds, the weight of the car must be increased to 3,340 pounds.
The Sprint Cup rule book does not address weights lower than 140 pounds. As a consequence, the combined weight of Patrick and her No. 10 Chevrolet SS represents a 40-pound advantage over almost every other driver/car combination in the field.
Why almost? Because Mark Martin, a 40-time winner in Cup racing, is listed at 125 pounds on Michael Waltrip Racing's web site.