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Voda nears finish line for this season of NASCAR coverage

Fox pit road reporter will continue hosting racing programs before heading off to give birth to her first child this summer.

Krista Voda will work the pits for Fox' coverage of Sunday's race at Dover.
Krista Voda will work the pits for Fox' coverage of Sunday's race at Dover.Read more

DOVER, Del. - Career has been a top priority for Krista Voda as she has evolved into one of auto racing's top television reporters.

Voda will work in the pits during tomorrow's Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. The FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks race is Fox' last racing NASCAR telecast of the season.

Voda will continue hosting the Speed Channel's pre-Camping World Truck Series shows and occasional "Trackside" shows, then she will have a good reason to take time off: She is due to give birth to her first child in late August.

"It's another wrinkle in our jobs, being on the road [as part of] a travelling circus," Voda said this week. "On a normal weekend, that can be difficult from a physicality standpoint, then you add some extra weight to your midsection and you have a whole new list of symptoms. I have a newfound respect for all working mothers.

"My husband and I have always put careers first. Then you wake up one day and think you don't want to sacrifice other parts of your life. As women in today's society, we kind of want it all, like we think men do."

Voda, in her "late 30s," and her husband, Phil Kelley, live in Pittsburgh. Kelley works on the production side of racing telecasts.

"What makes it a little more difficult for us than some of the other NASCAR wives is, we don't live in Charlotte," Voda said. "Every week when we're jumping on an airplane, it's usually a further distance to get to our 'office.' "

Voda said her job obligations have baffled her maternity doctors.

"It's the only lifestyle we know; to us, it seems normal," she said. "Then, when we go to my group of doctors, they say, 'What do you mean you travel every week?' I was on the road for 3 straight weeks [recently] and the doctors said, 'What do you mean you can't come in for 3 weeks?' I'm learning about their world, and they're learning about mine."

Voda has received tremendous support from NASCAR people.

"Yes, we're a business and a sport, but NASCAR is different, because the same people travel each week, so we do become like a family," she said. "When I was in the garage [area] carrying my clipboard over my stomach because this is something new to me, crew chiefs and drivers said, 'Let it show, it's a beautiful thing.'

"There was a big baby boom the last couple of years in NASCAR. A lot of the drivers were having children for the first time. Everyone's been fantastic offering advice."

Voda grew up in Clinton, Iowa, as a stick-and-ball fan. She played volleyball and ran track. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, she worked as a weekend TV sports anchor in Lexington, Ky., before launching her NASCAR career.

When she was informed that some people, hearing her name on TV for the first time, think she is "Kris Tavoda," she smiled.

"I've asked my parents 'Didn't you try out that name?' " she said. "Growing up, everyone called me Voda. I never used my full name until college. Then I realized, 'This name runs together.' "

Voda and her husband plan to bring their child with them when she returns to her TV work.

Hamlin wins Cup pole

Denny Hamlin is the fastest qualifier for the second consecutive Sprint Cup race. He was clocked at 157.978 mph yesterday at Dover in his No. 11 Toyota.

Hamlin edged Martin Truex (157.798 mph), Kyle Busch (157.756), Matt Kenseth (157.736) and Ryan Newman (157.715). Truex, Busch and Kenseth also drive Toyotas; Newman pilots a Chevrolet.

After recovering from a compressed vertebra fracture suffered in a racing crash March 24 at Fontana, Calif., Hamlin has finished second and fourth in the season's previous two Cup races.

Seven-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson temporarily lost control of his Chevrolet in Turn 4 and qualified 24th (155.206).

Truck results

Kyle Busch led 50 laps to win yesterday's Lucas Oil 200 Camping World Truck Series race. Busch collected his 114th career victory in NASCAR's top three series.

Darrell Wallace Jr., 19, became the youngest polesitter in the truck series, with a 156.617 mph clocking. The graduate of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program finished 10th.