Winning a race is always big, but some wins are just a little more special than others. Here are 10 of the best feel-good victories so far from 2017.
10. Wayne Taylor Racing - 24 Hours of Daytona
While it was a big win, it was almost inevitable that eventually this team would pick up the checkered flag at the biggest endurance race in the United States. What made it extra cool for the team is that it came in Max Angelelli’s last race in the sport, and also marked the first major sports car racing win for NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon.
LAT PhotographicMichael L. Levitt
9. Adam Cianciarulo - 250SX Eastern Regional Supercross at Daytona
Adam Cianciarulo won three races in his rookie Supercross season back in 2014. However, he was then injured in an incident that kept him out of the sport for the last two years. Back in March, Cianciarulo returned to the top step of the podium with a win in front of his home fans in Daytona.
8. Kaz Grala - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Daytona
The first race of a 2017 NASCAR national season took place on the night of Feb. 24 back at Daytona. The race ended with a multi-truck incident on the backstraight that froze the field when the caution flew on the final lap. Emerging from the wreck unscathed was 18-year-old Kaz Grala who became the youngest NASCAR national winner at the World Center of Racing.
LAT ImagesJohn K Harrelson
7. Leah Pritchett - NHRA’s Circle K Winternationals
Leah Pritchett had been struggling just to make it to the track after Bob Vandergriff Racing closed at the start of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. For this year, however, Pritchett has landed a ride at Don Schumacher Racing with Papa John’s Pizza sponsorship. Pritchett took her Top Fuel dragster to the win at the season-opener at Pomona. It was also an emotional win in Funny Car as Matt Hagan took home the Wally in the first race since the death of his brother.
6. Marvin Musquin - 450SX Supercross at Arlington
It was only a matter of time before Marvin Musquin would pick up his first 450SX Supercross win and, sure enough, he did it at the sixth round of the 2017 season. Musquin had learned the hard way last year that it was never over until the checkered flew, as he had almost won the 2016 Atlanta Supercross but made a mistake on the final lap, allowing his teammate Ryan Dungey to sneak by for the win.
5. Kurt Busch - 2017 Daytona 500
Kurt Busch entered the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 28 career wins to his name, but never at the Daytona 500. He had come close in 2008 when he had pushed his Team Penske teammate Ryan Newman to the win to give The Captain a 1-2 finish. However, this time around it was the Las Vegas native heading the field while many of his competitors ran out of fuel in the closing stages.
LAT ImagesNigel Kinrade
4. Tanner Gray - Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals
With his win in Las Vegas, 17-year-old rookie Pro Stock driver Tanner Gray became the youngest winner in NHRA pro history as he took his first career NHRA Pro Stock win in just the fourth race of the season. Gray won on a Holeshot against KB Racing driver Bo Butner in the final.
3. Sebastian Vettel - Australian Grand Prix
It’s always a big day in the F1 world when Ferrari wins and, when Sebastian Vettel switched to the team for the 2015 season, we thought we would see a lot more of them. However, Vettel took just a mere three wins with the team in 2015 and the Italian team never made it to the top step of the podium in the 2016 season. However, Vettel proved that the Prancing Horses have found their stride for 2017 with a win at the season-opening Australian GP.
LAT ImagesGlenn Dunbar
2. Ryan Newman - Monster Energy NASCAR Cup at Phoenix
Ryan Newman scored a surprise win at the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 after staying out on old tires under a late caution. While Newman was able to hold off his competition for his 18th Cup win, it was the first win for himself and for Richard Childress Racing since 2013.
LAT ImagesMatthew T. Thacker
1. James Hinchcliffe - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
James Hinchcliffe suffered a near-fatal crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice for the Indianapolis 500 in May 2015. The incident kept Hinchcliffe out for the remainder of the 2015 season, and in 2016 he finished 13th in the points, although he came within 0.0008 seconds of winning at Texas. At Long Beach in 2017, Hinchcliffe finally returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since his near-fatal crash after a three-lap shootout to the checkered.