Tag:Daytona 500
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:23 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 8:12 pm

Juan Pablo Montoya reflects on Daytona crash

By Pete Pistone

Juan Pablo Montoya has played the scary-looking incident from last Monday niight's Daytona 500 over in his head all week and understand just how lucky he is that things ended up the way they did.

Montoya's fiery crash with a jet dryer working on the track in turn three was the result of a parts failure on his Target Chevrolet as he was trying to catch up to the field under caution.

“There was a vibration; an issue or the gear box broke," Montoya explained Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "It started to feel weird because then I shifted and it depends on the rpm; it was like on or off. And I said (to the crew on the radio) look, I think there’s something wrong. We looked at everything and everything was fine. And I went out again and we had a problem with the car and that was it, you know. We move on.” 

Montoya suffered what he calls minor injuries to his feet in the accident but other than that he's no worse for wear.

“I’m feeling okay," he said. "My feet are still a little sore, but not bad. It’s kind of interesting a week later, or five days later, and you’re looking back on that. And there’s actually a shot that shows the impact, and I’m pretty lucky to be honest.” 

As Montoya's car sped down the backstretch and then went out of control heading for the jet dryer he saus all he could do is brace himself for what he knew was going to be a big hit.

“It sucks because the car spun and I’m going oh, driver’s side, that’s going to suck," Montoya said. "That’s the only thing. You don’t think oh my God I’m going to kill myself. Nah. You go oh, that’s going to hurt. It wasn’t too bad.” 

The spectacular crash became a worldwide sensation and was quickly known around the world thanks to television, social media and You Tube. Montoya says he's heard from other drivers in various forms of motorsports who all have praised the safety initiatives in NASCAR.

“I think overall, people were kind of amazed that I walked out of that one," he said. "Honestly, everybody was being pretty amazed. Everyone has been really supportive and everything. The bright side is you can joke about it.” 

Montoya's wife Connie may not yet be ready to joke about it but he says she was obviously relived to see him walk away from the crash so quickly.

She saw me get out of the car and it’s like, it’s all good," he said. "You know what I mean. As long as you get out, it’s all good, no?”

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 3:58 pm

Brad Keselowski defends cellphone in car

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Keselowski says his testing crash at Road Atlanta last year is another reason why he carries a phone)

Brad Keselowski
says he has a practical reason for having his cellphone with him when he straps into a stock car.

It's not just to have a device capable of tweeting pictures or thoughts to fans. Keselowski maintains there's a safety aspect to have the phone with him.

When Keselowski was involved in a violent crash at Auto Club Speedway a couple years ago, the cellphone was a lifeline to family and friedns concerned for his well being.

A similar scenario presented itself during his testing crash at Road Atlanta last summer and he was able to let him mother know that he was allright before news of teh accident had spread.

“That kind of put the fire out before it really got started and she really appreciated that,” Keselowski said. “It put me a lot more at ease. From that moment on, I decided I was going to keep my phone with me in the race car.

“There actually was a practical purpose for having it with me and I designed a pocket to put it inside my car to be able to keep it there. I didn’t put it in my car thinking, ‘We’re going to have a red flag at Daytona for a guy hitting a jet dryer and causing an explosion.’”

Keselowski is aware of those who have concern the smartphone could lead to some form of cheating or for teams to try to get a competitive advantage especially in the new age on electronic fuel injection.

However he's not sure how a driver or crew chief could actually use a phone in such a case.

"You could definitely make an argument that a smartphone is a mini-computer,” Keselowski said. “I could definitely see that. But it’s not like I had it plugged into anything. You have fuel injection in the cars, but I don’t know how you could use it to cheat, quite frankly.

“Unless you mounted it to something to maybe make a video.”

For now Keselowski plans to carry the phone with him and continue his heavy involvement on Twitter.

"As an athlete, entertainer, race-car driver, whatever you want to call me, the things I did on Twitter was something I would want to see,” Keselowski said. “The people that I follow on Twitter, if you were to ask me what I would want to see from them, that’s what I would want to see.

“That’s all I did. I don’t think any harder than that. I’m glad that people liked it and enjoyed it.”

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:06 pm

Video: Matt Kenseth on Inside NASCAR

Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth reflects on his victory, Danica Patrick's wild week and his forays into the Twitter universe.

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 7:05 pm

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Illegal C-Posts at Daytona were the latest infractions on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet - Getty)

Chad Knaus
is no stranger to being penalized by NASCAR. 

In fact this latest infraction and punishment would be the third time the Hendrick Motorsports crew chief got in hot water just at Daytona alone. 

Knaus was fined $25,000 and Jimmie Johnson hit with a 25 point penalty in July of 2002 when the 48 Chevy was found to have illegal rear trailing arms which dropped the back of the car lower to the ground. 

In 2006, Knaus was ejected from the track, fined $25,000 and handed a four-race suspension for installing an adjustable rear window to help the aerodynamics. 

Of course there are other examples of the Knaus ingenuity during his NASCAR career including a 2007 incident at Infineon Raceway for a body violation that resulted in a six-race suspension. 

He’s been relatively infraction free of late, at least in the suspension department, but last fall generated a lot of attention at Talladega when he was overheard instructing Johnson to “crack the back” of his car into the wall if he won the race because the rear end was too low to pass post inspection. 

So with that body of work already on his record, it’s no wonder NASCAR came down as hard as it did this time around with a six-race suspension, $100,000 fine and 25-point penalties in the driver and owner departments.

Such a repeat offender was bound to get the book thrown at him at some point.

“It certainly makes you scratch your head,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton when the Daytona inspection infractions were announced two weeks ago. “What we’ve learned over time is to, in the heat of the battle, try to accomplish what we immediately are after, which is to get all the cars inspected and get them on the race track and then sit back and kind of digest it all.

“But you do kind of scratch your head on a name that reoccurs.”

There’s a school of thought that believes Knaus is simply doing his job, trying to find that gray area where the NASCAR rulebook ends and ingenuity takes over.

NASCAR’s history is full of cheating incidents including the very first race the sanctioning body ever ran in 1949 when apparent winner Herbert Westmoreland's 1947 Ford was found to have illegal rear springs in post inspection and the victory was handed to second place Jim Roper.

But in order for the sport to have credibility there has to be a rulebook and NASCAR has to enforce said rules.

Since the advent of the “Car of Tomorrow” in 2007, NASCAR has made it clear the sanctioning body would not tolerate tampering of any kind with the Sprint Cup machine. The biggest and smallest names in the sport have all felt the wrath of NASCAR when the rules were compromised.

NASCAR has had no problem increasing those penalties over the years to get its zero tolerance point across.

"Now if this penalty won't stop it, we have no problems ramping up," Sprint Cup director John Darby said back when Knaus and fellow Hendrick crew chief were penalized in Sonoma. "We can keep going, and we will, until we get the results we're looking for."

Which is why this potential six-race time out for Knaus makes sense. A multiple time offender as he is, Knaus deserves more scrutiny.

Clearly the fines, penalties and suspensions that have come before haven’t impacted Knaus’ penchant for thinking too far outside of the box.

My guess is even this time around it won’t change that outlook.

But NASCAR is doing the right thing with this unprecedented disciplinary action.

And somewhere down the road when Knaus decides to hang up his crew chief uniform, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a job offer come his way in Daytona Beach.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:43 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 3:10 pm

NASCAR penalizes Jimmie Johnson's team

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Johnson goes to this weekend's race in Phoenix with a -23 point total in the Sprint Cup standings)

NASCAR has suspended Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus six races as part of penalties levied to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team as a result of rules infractions found at Daytona 500 pre-inspection.

Additionally, Johnson was docked 25 driver points and the team 25 owner points while Knaus was fined $100,000.

Because of his 42nd-place finish in Daytona, Johnson now goes to Phoenix this weekend with negative 23 points.

NASCAR confiscated illegal C-Posts found on the Lowe's Chevrolet during the Feb. 17 inspection.

Johnson and car chief Ron Malec were placed on probation until May 9.

Hendrick Motorsports announced it would appeal the penalty imemdiately.

"Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process.”

NASCAR has agreed to defer the suspensions until after the appeal process.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:47 pm

Jet dryer driver OK, thanks fans for concern

From Michigan International Speedway press release:
Michigan International Speedway had three jet dryers and two employees at Daytona International Speedway assisting with Monday’s Daytona 500. The jet dryer driven by Duane Barnes, 52, of Addison, Mich., was hit from behind by Juan Pablo Montoya during a caution.

Barnes was released from Halifax Medical Center after a precautionary evaluation by doctors late Monday night.

He returned to the racetrack to watch the end of the race.

Barnes has worked in the Maintenance Department at Michigan International Speedway for 24 years. He has frequently assisted other International Speedway Corporation-owned racetracks, driving jet dryers at those events. MIS supports other racetracks by sending staff and equipment to events.

Barnes is surprised at the outpouring of well wishes, and thanks everyone for their concern.

“I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am. I am OK and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Pablo Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern,” Barnes said.

Daytona Speedweeks
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:50 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 4:50 pm

Daytona 500 delivers huge television audience

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

It took 36 hours to complete from its scheduled start time but fans won’t soon forget the 2012 Daytona 500 and the dramatic events delivered for FOX Sports. For the first time in the race’s 54-year history, rain postponed Sunday's 1:00 PM ET start until 12:00 PM ET Monday with continued showers in the afternoon delaying the green flag until 7:00 PM ET.

  A total audience of over 36.5 million Americans watched last night’s race, according to fast national ratings issued today by Nielsen Media Research, making 2012 Daytona 500 the most-watched in FOX history. The 36.5 million total viewers, a measure of the audience that saw at least a portion of the race, is +22% higher than last year's total audience of 30 million and +22% better than 2010's 29.8 million. Yesterday’s total audience is the second best ever for a Daytona 500 on any network behind 37.0 million viewers in 2006 on NBC.

  FOX won the primetime night among Adults 18-49 and total audience figures, a significant achievement going up against original episodes of popular network programs like ABC’s The Bachelor, CBS’s How I Met Your Mother and NBC’s The Voice, which was -10% lower in the Adults 18-49 demographic last night than it did a week ago. The Daytona 500 on FOX posted a 4.6 and averaged 14.1 million viewers from 8:00 – 11:00 PM ET, making it FOX’s most-watched Monday night in 16 months, dating back to Game 5 of the 2010 World Series. 

  The 2012 Great American Race, which included a fiery crash caused when Juan Pablo Montoya hit a safety truck/track-drying engine and red flagged the race for over two hours, earned an 8.0/14 rating/share and averaged 13.7 million viewers. While down slightly from last year’s Sunday afternoon race that occurred without any significant delays, (-8%, 2011 Daytona 500 - 8.7/20), Monday night’s race was up +4% when compared to the 2010 event (7.7/16), which saw lengthy delays for pothole repairs to the track.

  Ratings for the 2012 Daytona 500 grew gradually through the first two and a half hours, climbing to an 8.2/12 (14.2 million viewers) in the 9:30 half-hour when the Montoya wreck occurred. Ratings grew further at 10:00 PM, peaking at an 8.8/13 (15.1 million viewers.) When the epic race concluded, Matt Kenseth emerged as the winner, capturing his second Daytona 500 victory in four years. 

  Top-rated markets for the Daytona 500 include: Greensboro (18.1/27), Jacksonville (18.1/27), Charlotte (16.7/26), Greenville (16.7/26), Dayton (16.1/25), and Orlando (16.0/26). Markets seeing the biggest growth from last year include: New Orleans (+46%, 7.3 vs. 5.0), Salt Lake City (+33%, 8.1 vs. 6.1), Ft. Myers (+30%, 15.5 vs. 11.9), San Antonio (+17%, 7.5 vs. 6.4) and Tampa (+17%, 12.5 vs. 10.7).

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:25 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 4:46 pm

NASCAR and Daytona up to the weekend's tests

By Pete Pistone

NASCAR and its host racetracks need to plan for just about anything every weekend of the racing season. 

But what was thrown at both the sanctioning body and Daytona International Speedway over the weekend had to be unimaginable for even those with the most fertile imaginations.

For the first time in its 54 year history, the Daytona 500 fell victim to Mother Nature’s wrath and was rained out. The postponement meant the biggest race on the NASCAR calendar was forced to move to the next clear day and Daytona had to be ready for the challenge. 

Getting ahead of the next day’s weather obstacles, which included another long day of rain before the skies finally cleared, and announcing the race would try for a 7 p.m. ET green flag proved to be a perfect call by NASCAR and the track. 

“The last thing we wanted to do was have our fans wait through another long day of rain delays and jet dryer activity, so we felt like this gives them some clarity so they can come up with their plans, and hopefully that means stay at home, stay at their hotel, rest, whatever it is they need to do and they can come out and enjoy the event this evening,” said speedway president Joie Chitwood III when making the announcement early Monday morning.  

But making sure the speedway was ready to accommodate whatever size crowd did show up for the rescheduled event provided another challenge for the track. 

“For us, we have to staff and be prepared that we're going to have a lot of folks show up,” Chitwood said.  “The last thing I would want to do is be understaffed, have a lot of folks show up and we can't take care of them properly.  We have to be prepared most of them are going to show up.” 

From the looks of the grandstands and infield Monday night most of those folks did show up and although some regular traffic issues were reported, overall the track passed the test with flying colors. 

But the tests didn’t end with rain and crowd control. An even more unexpected challenge arose when Juan Pablo Montoya collided with a jet dryer on track and sparked a fiery blaze that engulfed the entire third turn. 

Montoya’s impact erupted an inferno as more than 200 gallons of jet fuel burned wildly up the track surface and over the wall. 

Almost immediately safety crews were on the scene to battle the blaze and rescue both Montoya, who climbed from his car, and the jet dryer driver (Duane Barnes, a Michigan International Speedway employee brought to help with the 500) from the frightening scene. 

Track workers used heavy equipment to try to remove the burned truck without damaging the racing surface and after a two-hour red flag repairs were made and the race resumed.

And once again NASCAR and the speedway responded to another bizarre set of circumstances with flying colors.

“I'm very proud of the team in terms of what we were able to do,” said Chitwood.  “Obviously the last 48 hours were very challenging in terms of rain delays and trying to complete the 500 miles.  But what the team did today in terms of responding to a burning jet dryer on the racetrack, I think is phenomenal, and the fact that we got to finish the race under green is a heck of an accomplishment.  The team was prepared.  The expertise was there.  The training was there.  The teamwork with NASCAR was there.”

However after the parade of weird and wild events, NASCAR officials are no doubt wondering what could possibly top the happenings of Speedweeks 2012.

But they’re probably thinking hard about it.

“Well, you know, things do cross your mind, but you would think after 65 years and running all the races that NASCAR has run over the past six and a half decades that you've seen about everything, and a lot of what you've seen gives us the experience that causes us to have the safety summit and the training programs and everything,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton.

“But you do think about, oh, my gosh, if that can happen, what-else-can-happen-type thing.  That gives you pause to sit and try to figure out what might else could happen so that you can be as ready for it as you can.”

Thankfully NASCAR and Daytona were ready this weekend. 

Daytona Speedweeks

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com