Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:39 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos
What had been a relatively tame Nationwide Series opener at Daytona, got rather wild over the final 20 laps.
Noted previously was a 14-car wreck on Lap 105. But it didn't end there. Another multi-car wreck ensued on Lap 115, setting up a two-lap sprint to the finish. But the icing on the cake came on the final lap when the leaders wrecked as Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler tried to draft around the outside of the tandems of Kyle Busch-Kurt Busch and Joey Logano-Trevor Bayne.
Unfortunately, the tandems got together coming around the final turn, gifting the victory to James Buescher, who collected his first win in 35 Nationwide Series starts.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:46 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:24 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos
Saturday's Nationwide Series race had been a relatively calm affair -- save for Danica Patrick's wreck -- until the "Big One" struck on Lap 105, involving 14 cars.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:08 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:29 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos
Here's a collection of photos I took from the garage during Saturday's final practice and just before the Nationwide race.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 6:49 pm
Posted By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The first official green flag of the season is set to wave Sunday in the Daytona 500. NASCAR's biggest race of the season has kicked off the year for more than three decades but this one has a much different flavor to it.
Daytona's new asphalt surface, which was installed over the winter in the wake of last year's pot hole debacle that ruined the 500 with a two and a half hour delay to repair the giant crater that developed between turns one and two, has changed racing completely on the 2.5-mile speedway.
Big packs of cars running in the draft all day long are gone replaced by two car tandem drafting as drivers search for the best partner to help run to the front of the field.
The change has the potential to turn Sunday's race into something completely different than the previous 52 editions of "The Great American Race" and also has the possibility of producing a surprise winner with so many unkowns.
But with that here's a look at the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 by the numbers:
Daytona International Speedway Data
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees
Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982.
514 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 304 in more than one.
34 drivers have won a Daytona 500.
Eight drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty, with seven victories.
The eight drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Sterling Marlin (two) and Michael Waltrip (two).
Fred Lorenzen posted a top-10 finish in eight of his nine Daytona 500s, the best percentage of drivers who have competed in more than two Daytona 500s.
Dale Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 Daytona 500s.
Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each had 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver.
Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver.
Only 12 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once.
Clint Bowyer has an 11.2 average finish in five appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500.
Other than Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, no driver has ever won in his first appearance.
28 of the 34 drivers who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane.
Dale Earnhardt competed 19 times before winning his only Daytona 500 (1998), the longest span of any of the 34 race winners.
Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12).
The most Daytona 500s all-time without a victory was Dave Marcis (33 races).
Mark Martin (26) leads active drivers without a victory.
Six drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994) and Michael Waltrip (2001).
Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (point-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966).
A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).
Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 10th-closest overall since the advent of electronic timing in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500.
26 of the 52 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-five starting position.
Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started.
Nine have been won from the pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett, in 2000.
16 Daytona 500s have been won from the front row.
Who's Hot at Daytona
Kurt Busch - Has led everything at Daytona in 2011 including January's testing, Speedweeks practices, the Bud Shootout and his Gatorade Duel. While he does not have a points win at a restrictor plate race in his career, Busch has mastered the two-car tandem that will play such an important part in determining Sunday's race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Karma points to Junior winning on the tenth year anniversary of his father's tragic death in the 2001 Daytona 500. Things seemed to be pointing in his favor early in Speedweeks when he drew the number one starting spot in the Shootout and then went on to win the pole for the 500. But a practice crash forced Earnhardt off the front row and he'll start 43rd on Sunday. However there's a potent back-up No. 88 ready to roll on Sunday and look for Earnhardt to be near the front at some point with a drafting partner.
Kevin Harvick - The Richard Childress Racing team has been a powerhouse throughout Speedweeks with all four RCR Chevrolets showing strength. While teammates Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer will be in the mix, Harvick's past Daytona success including a pair of Bud Shootout victories as well as the 2007 Daytona 500 triumph give him the edge in the experience department.
David Reutimann - Has only one top five finish in his Daytona Sprint Cup career and the non Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas haven't shown much in the days leading up to the 500.
Joey Logano - An average finish over 27th in four Daytona starts tells Logano's story which got worse last week when he crashed in his Gatorade Duel.
Brad Keselowski - The defending Nationwide Series champion hasn't finished inside the top twenty in three career Daytona Cup starts and his crash in Saturday's Nationwide race sure wasn't a harbinger that luck is on Keselowski's side this weekend.
There have been 127 NASCAR Sprint Cup races since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 52 have been 500 miles, 48 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races.
Fireball Roberts won the inaugural pole at Daytona.
Bob Welborn won the first race at Daytona, the 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500.
Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959.
Fireball Roberts won the first 400-mile race at Daytona, the 1963 Firecracker 400.
52 drivers have posted poles at Daytona.
Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with 12 poles at Daytona.
Bill Elliott leads all active drivers with five poles at Daytona.
54 drivers have won at Daytona.
Richard Petty leads all drivers in victories at Daytona with 10.
Jeff Gordon has six victories at Daytona, more than any other active driver.
The Wood Brothers have won 14 races at Daytona, more than any other car owner.
17 full-length races at Daytona have been won from the pole, the last to do it was Kevin Harvick in last year’s Coke Zero 400.
A driver has swept both races at Daytona only four times, most recently by Bobby Allison in 1982.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 5:09 pm
Posted By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - All week we've heard that once 43 cars got on track we'd see something different than the two car drafting parties that have dominated Speedweeks here in Daytona.
The Bud Shootout and both Gatorade Duel qualifying races on Thursday featured las after lap of two car drafting tandems that have turned off some fans.
We finally got a chance in Saturday's Nationwide Series opener to see exactly what would happen when a full field of 43 took the green. And guess what?
It's exactly the same as what's gone on all week.
Once the green flag flew in Saturday's season opener drivers immediately paired up in the same kind of duos that happened on the Sprint Cup side of the garage.
Even though the new Nationwide machines are smaller and a tad different aerodynamically than their Sprint Cup big brothers, hooking up with a drafting partner and coupling around the track was still the fastest way to the front.
As was the case in the Cup Series, the Noah's Ark racing created some interesting pairing. Tony Stewart found young Landon Cassill to work with in the closing laps in Saturday's race and rode his bumper until he needed to bail and make his dash to the checkered flag.
Earlier in the race Danica Patrick was getting an assist from Saturday's runner-up finisher Clint Bowyer and was cruising right along, until some spotter miscommunication screwed up the pairing and she was left to catch up on her own and find a new dancing partner. To Patrick's credit she was able to score a career NASCAR best 14th place finish.
The record book will show Saturday's race as the third closest Nationwide Series finish in history and the closest for the series at Daytona, with Stewart nipping Bowyer by .007-seconds at the line. The race also featured a record 35 lead changes, tying the mark set in both 1984 and 1986.
But I'd be lying if I told you it was a great race from start to finish. Truth be told the majority of the 300 miles was a bit of a bore as drivers paired up and made their way around the 2.5-mile track in pretty stale fashion. The event was punctuated by a couple of major accidents but fortunately nothing like the multi-car catastrophes that were the norm of the previous plate racing. So restrictor plate racing 2.0 is better for that to be sure.
The mad dash to the checkered flag was thrilling. But as it was in the Shootout and Thursday's second Duel, NASCAR racing on the newly-resurfaced Daytona International Speedway is fast becoming the NBA of auto racing. Just tune in for the last five minutes and you'll pretty much have the story.
I don't hold out much hope for Sunday's Daytona 500 to much different than Saturday's Nationwide race except for an additional 200 miles to watch the couples skate.
The good news is the odds are good we're in for a stirring finish. But you might be able to get some things done around the house for the three hours that lead up to the checkered flag flying.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 8:40 pm
Posted By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. is trying to write a storybook fable this "Speedweeks" and win the Daytona 500 on the tenth anniversary of his father's death in 2001.
A new chapter was added on Wednesday.
Earnhardt was involved in a crash during the day's rain-delayed opening Sprint Cup Series practice session and will be forced to a back-up car for Sunday's Daytona 500.
Earnhardt and Martin Truex Jr. made contact when they drafted up on Jimmie Johnson during the session and both cars suffered significant damage in the incident.
Since Earnhardt will have to move to a back-up car he will relinquish his number one starting position in the Daytona 500 and will also need to start at the rear of the field in Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying race.
"I didn't think I needed to be out there practicing," said Earnhardt. "I had a bad feeling."
Up until the incident Earnhardt had turned the fastest time in the practice session at 199.526 mph.
"You've got to pay attention out there. If you want to come out here and race you have to pay attention," Earnhardt said as he walked back to his garage area to climb into the back-up No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet.
"It was just a dicey time," said Johnson. "They kept creeping their way toward the top. I lifted and I got turned sideways from behind and there was a second pack behind us and they got into Junior. You have got to be smart....and not use up too much road."
Posted on: February 15, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 11:34 am
Posted By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - With another dark day on track at Daytona International Speedway I found myself with time to take advantage of an opportunity that's been tough to follow through on the last few years. And I'm sure glad I did.
International Speedway Corporation, the parent company of NASCAR and of course the corporation that owns Daytona and other tracks around the country, maintains an archive of historical significance just beyond the speedway property. Located in a non-descript building in the shadow of "The World Center of Racing." the archives is a vault full of treasured memories and artifacts from the sport.
Many of the items that were stored in the archives have made their way to Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame and are on display for the public to enjoy. But others are still housed in the Daytona storage facility (which is not open to the public) as a lasting memory of some of the sport's most cherished events.
Posters and trophies from past Daytona 500s, video archives from just about any race that was ever aired, books and periodicals documenting the sixty plus year history of NASCAR and a treasure trove of rare photos are only the short list of what's inside the archive's walls.
Eddie Roche is the guy who oversees the painstaking task of documenting all the items that find their way to the archives and his staff store and sometimes restore whatever treasures come into their hands. It's a somewhat thankless job since the facility is somewhat behind the scenes but an important one to help preserve the rich history of NASCAR.
My visit today included a personal touch as Eddie shared with me a few artifacts from the career of my uncle "Tiger" Tom Pistone , who competed in NASCAR for many years in the late 1950, 1960s and 1970s and has a pair of Grand National (now Sprint Cup) and Convertible Series victories to his credit.
A file of rare pictures and clippings was a walk down memory lane as I saw shots of Tiger's on track exploits in races like the first Daytona 500, the inaugural Talladega event in 1969, his victory in Martinsville and other rare shots.
And of course no history lesson involving Tiger is complete without reference to the infamous scuba tank and mask adventure from the 1959 Daytona 500. Not being a swimmer, Tiger was deathly afraid he'd somehow wind up driving into Lake Lloyd in the middle of the track and end up (like many of our fabled Chicago compadres) literally at the bottom of the lake.
So he decided to bolt an oxygen tank into his car and equipped with tubes and a mask was ready to be able to breath fresh air should he meet his watery fate in a high speed trip into the Lake.
Fortunately he stayed on dry land that February afternoon and was not forced to employ his breathing apparatus but there are pictures and in fact that actual tank and mask siting in the archives to document one of the more colorful stories from NASCAR's history.
It was a great way to spend a quiet Tuesday afternoon and my thanks to Eddie and his staff for their hospitality and the work they do.
And if I ever feel the need for a little shot of oxygen anytime in here in Daytona well, I know where to go.
Posted on: February 14, 2011 6:59 am
Posted By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After a hectic few days and the start of "Speedweeks 2011," Daytona International Speedway is dark for the next couple of days.
On track activities don't start back up again until Wednesday with a full day of practice set for the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series teams.
Wednesday will be the first day to see if NASCAR's rule changes will have any impact on the Sprint Cup teams in the quest to break up the two-car drafting tandems that were so prominent in last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. The sanctioning body's attempt to tinker with the cooling systems in an effort to stop drivers from drafting together for extended periods is still being digested by crew chiefs and team engineers.
Drivers seemed to be okay with the idea once word spread after Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying session but how much the changes will actually impact the proceedings is still a great unknown.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton told reporters on Sunday when the new procedures were unveiled that the sanctioning body will monitor things very closely and is prepared to make more modifications if necessary. Speeds in excess of 206 mph is way out of NASCAR's comfort zone and the possibility of introducing a smaller restrictor plate before next week's Daytona 500 remains very real.
Monday will be spent catching our collective breaths and taking in some of the sights and sounds of Daytona. Today after co-hosting "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio, I'll be heading over to Halifax Memorial Hospital for a visit to the "Speediatrics" care center and a chance to say hello to children who are battling the challenges of a variety of illnesses. Several other NASCAR-related personalities including media people, drivers and crew members are also scheduled to visit the facility.
We'll keep you updated if news breaks or any more reaction comes from the controversial rules changes.