Tag:Daytona International Speedway
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

Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:41 am

Budweiser moves sponsorship to include Duel

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Duel at Daytona qualifying races will get a new name and sponsor beginning in 2013.

Budweiser has changed its sponsorship agreement with Daytona International Speedway and will now sponsor the pair of traditional 150-mile events that set the field for the Daytona 500.

The Budweiser Duel at Daytona is the new official name of the Thursday races with the brewery replacing Gatorade as sponsor of the event.

Beginning with the 2013 season, Budweiser will also become the official title sponsor of Speedweeks – the ten-day stretch of stock-car races from the Shootout to the Daytona 500.

The decision means the Shootout, which had carried Anheuser-Busch sponsorship since its inception, will have a new sponsor beginning next season.

"We've enjoyed a long relationship with Budweiser on that event and it's been great," said Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III. "But we've worked out an arrangement to enhance the company's partnership with the race track and in the process it's opened up an opportunity to bring a new sponsor to the Shootout beginning next year. We're talking to a few companies who have shown interest and the good news is after the race we had here last Saturday night, it's great timing to showcase the event to potential sponsors."

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 19, 2012 12:04 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:05 pm

Shootout returns to its roots for 2013

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR has decided to take a page from its past and bring the Budweiser Shootout eligibility rules back to a more elite field of drivers.

Beginning in 2013 drivers eligible for the annual preseason exhibition race will be limited to pole winners from this year's races as well as former Shootout winners who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the campaign.

The change brings the race back to where it began from 1979 through 2008 and NASCAR hopes will it will return more emphasis to weeky qualifying as drivers shoot for a chance to make the February Shootout.

“Fans have expressed their desire to see this event return to its original eligibility rules,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “We listened and decided it would be best to return to the eligibility rules of years past adding further meaning to pole qualifying for each NASCAR Sprint Cup race.”

The announcement comes just prior to Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying session with the pole winner becoming the first driver eligible for the 2013 Budweiser Shootout.   

Last season, 18 different drivers won a pole.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:40 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 9:26 am

Despite wrecks, drivers endorse return of packs

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The pack is back.

And so were the wrecks.

Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout saw the return of pack racing that had been the norm at restrictor plate tracks like Daytona until the advent of the two car tandem, a style NASCAR claims a majority of fans detested.

So after spending the entire off-season trying to find a solution to break up the "love bug" racing including larger restrictor plates, smaller spoilers and cooling system changes, NASCAR hoped the old school packs would return.

They got their wish but it came with a major price in a 75-lap race that saw only a handful of cars finish without damage.

The Shootout is an "all-star" race but there weren't many stars still shining when the checkered flag finally flew over Kyle Busch's electrifying win over Tony Stewart.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick were just a few of the names who saw their nights end in the garage with battered race cars.

“Yeah, I think this is pretty much exactly like it was before the two-car tandem," said Kenseth. "This is kind of like what pack racing is, except we’re going quite a bit faster.  The car has quite a bit of grip and we’re going really fast, the closing rate is really fast, so it’s about what I expected.”  

Gordon, who led late in the going, was involved in one of the night's more spectacular crashes that sent him rolling down the front straightaway several times before finally ending up on his roof.

"I think that's the first time I've ever been upside down in twenty years," said Gordon. "It was wild and I can't say what we saw out there was completely unexpected. There was a lot of aggression and a lot of wild driving out there which is to be expected on a night like this when we have no points to deal with and just the goal of winning on our minds."

But despite the multitude of accidents that punctuated the night, the consensus from the garage was a positive one from drivers.

"It was definitely a lot more fun and you felt a lot more eager to be engaged in the race this way than in the two-car deal," said Stewart. "I actually had fun racing at Daytona again which I haven't had for a while, so I'm really, really appreciative to the work that NASCAR has done in the off-season and the test session and even after the test of the changes that they made to try to make it better for us out there.

"I don't know what the consensus is from everybody else, but I had more fun as a driver tonight than what we've had in the past."

Third place finisher Marcos Ambrose was also on board with being a fan of the return to the more traditional pack racing.

"I agree with Tony, what an incredible job NASCAR has done to get back to this style of racing," he said.  "I think all the drivers appreciate it and it’s definitely a lot more fun.  It’s more entertaining for the fans and more in control for the drivers.  Even though we crashed more tonight, you just feel like you’re in control of your own destiny a little more out there."

Even those drivers who didn't have positive results like Stewart or Ambrose were upbeat about the competition and also cognizant of the fact the exhibition Shootout is far from a points race, particularly next week's Daytona 500.

"This is the Bud Shootout," said pole sitter Martin Truex Jr., a victim of the race's carnage. "So the guys are gonna take a lot more chances than they will on Sunday. The racing was fund and it was a good show. I enjoyed myself."

So the competitors are for the most part happy. But what about the fans, the same ones NASCAR says to the tune of eighty percent "extremely disliked" the two car tandem based on surveys and fan councils? 

Whether the high speed demolition derby that was a by product of Saturday night's pack racing is an accepted replacement for the two car drafting phenomenon is now the question to be answered.

NASCAR is listening…..intently. 

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 17, 2012 9:56 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:57 pm

Martin Truex Jr. draws Shootout pole position

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to green in Saturday night's running of the Budweiser Shootout.

Truex drew the number one position in the blind draw held by the 25 drivers who will compete in the annual exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway.

Kyle Busch will start outside the front row in the 75-lap event that includes an opening 25-lap segment and a 50-lap finish.


1- Martin Truex Jr.
  2- Kyle Busch
  3- Brad Keselowski
  4- Jamie McMurray
  5- David Ragan
  6- Kurt Busch
  7- Greg Biffle
  8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  9- A J Allmendinger
  10- Joey Logano
  11- Carl Edwards
  12- Jeff Burton
  13- Ryan Newman
  14- Jeff Gordon
  15- Tony Stewart
  16- Denny Hamlin
  17- Clint Bowyer
  18- Jimmie Johnson
  19- Kasey Kahne
  20- Michael Waltrip
  21- Marcos Ambrose
  22- Kevin Harvick
  23- Matt Kenseth 
  24- Paul Menard
  25- Juan Pablo Montoya

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 8:15 pm

Rain ends second Shootout practice

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Friday night's second scheduled Budweiser Shootout practice session was cut short due to rain showers.

The scheduled one hour session was derailed early when rain his the area only a few minutes into the practice. While NASCAR tried to dry the track, those efforts ended in short order and the rest of the session was aborted.

Jamie McMurray led the brief session with a speed of 197.698 miles per hour. Evening rain shortened Friday’s second practice for Sprint Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers ran only a few minutes into the scheduled one-hour practice before a heavy mist forced NASCAR to red-flag the session. Jet dryers circled the track for a while, but officials soon cancelled the rest of the session.

Jamie McMurray led the brief session with a speed of 197.698 miles per hour. Juan Pablo Montoya, McMurray’s Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate, was second at 197.694.

The practice was the last before Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, a 75-lap race that will mark the first competition of the 2012 season. 

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 6:03 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 6:18 pm

Multi-car accident mars first Shootout practice

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The opening practice session of Speedweeks didn't go very well for a number of drivers.

A multi-car accident broke out in the first Budweiser Shootout practice Friday afternoon that included reigning series champion Tony Stewart and Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and A.J. Allmendinger.

Stewart made contact with the rear end of Kurt Busch's car as the field raced through turn three setting off a chain reaction accident in its wake. Keselowski and Allmendinger both suffered heavy damage in the melee that swept up Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin before it was over.

Drivers tried both tandem drafting and pack style racing during the session as they prepared for both Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout as well as next week's Daytona 500.

Matt Kenseth topped the practice with a lap of 201.760 mph. Jeff Burton was at 201.739 and David Ragan next at 200.151.

A second practice session is slated for later Friday night.

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