Category:Auto Racing
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 24, 2012 11:16 am

Travis Pastrana announces NASCAR schedule

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It took a little longer than he had hoped but Travis Pastrana has his 2012 NASCAR schedule in place.

The 11-time X-Games gold medalist and action sports star plans to run seven Nationwide Series races as well as 11 K&N Pro Series races in 2012. He’ll make his K&N debut in the season-opening race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17 with his Nationwide Series premier comes at Richmond International in April.

“The wait has been grueling,” said Pastrana, who was sidlined last summer when he broke his right foot and ankle in an X Games competition. “This is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. But we’re ready to go now. We have seven Nationwide races planned but if we can secure some additional sponsorship we’ll run more. If it were up to me we’d run every race after Richmond. I’m ready to get this thing going.”

The injury and surgeries forced him to miss his entire 2012 Nationwide schedule and he has been chomping at the bit to get his stock car career back on track.

“I was pretty much unable to do anything for a couple months, but as soon as they let me I was back behind the wheel testing and preparing for this upcoming season. I have to thank Boost Mobile for its patience and understanding – they didn’t have to stick with me through all this, but they did and I really appreciate it. I really hope to reward their commitment once I get back behind the wheel at Richmond.”

Pastrana will race under the Pastrana199 Racing banner in 2012. The team will have a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing supplying personnel and equipment. Boost Mobile will sponsor each of the seven Nationwide races while iRacing will serve as the primary sponsor in four K&N races.

Daytona Speedweeks

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:40 pm

Paul Menard critical of pack drafting rules

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Paul Menard has been in two races so far this Speedweeks and involved in crashes both times.

The Richard Childress Racing driver followed up his Budweiser Shootout accident with getting swept up in another big wreck Thursday in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona and thinks the new rules to encourage pack drafting are the culprit.

"Just a product of this hybrid tandem-pack racing," Menard said after Thursday's incident with David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya. "All the rule changes are just making a big mess of what was a pretty good race. I’m hoping to survive on Sunday.

If I say my mind right now; NASCAR is trying to dictate physics. Physics says two cars are going to push and they’re trying to make rule changes to keep us from doing it, so it is kind of a hybrid of pack racing and tandem racing. It is causing a pretty unsafe situation.”

Menard is obviosuly frustrated by the circumstances and having two cars destroyed in the span of a week.

“Yes, for sure," he said. "We tore up two really good race cars not of our doing, and they’re going to tear up a hell of a lot more. They are probably going to blow up a few the way things are right now. I’m concerned we’re not going to finish. It is going to make for us, I think, riding around in the back, and trying to be there at the end. Wait for everybody else to wreck.”

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:05 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 7:37 am

Matt Kenseth and team post Duel comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Jimmy, talk about the 17 car, certainly what a super move there at the end of that race to overcome your teammate Greg Biffle.

JIMMY FENNIG:  Yeah, I mean, it was a good move by Matt, and Jimmie Johnson kind of set Greg up.  Little bit of a sitting duck there.  Them guys got hooked up and he took it to Victory Lane from there.  Good move.  Very good move.

KERRY THARP:  Jack, you're sitting on the pole.  You have Matt that's going to be up near the front, Greg Biffle.  All your cars are going to be right up at the front for the Daytona 500.  Congratulations.  Great performance today for the 17 Best Buy Ford.

JACK ROUSH:  Thanks, Kerry.  Painfully it's been brought to my attention this is this the first Duel we've won in 25 years.  I'm certainly embarrassed about that.

We had really strong Fords today.  Doug and the guys, Tom Ghent did a great job with the engines.  The engines qualified well.  Of course, they draft well.  They do at least average in keeping water in the cooling system.

But Matt did a super job.  Matt likes to hang around the front of these fields, not everybody agrees with that.  But Matt likes to be hanging around the front of the field.  It paid a dividend today.

He did a great job.  Wouldn't have won the race unless somebody helped him.  Jimmie Johnson decided he'd rather be close to Matt than get shuffled back.  Whatever the reason was, the win was primarily attributable to the fact he had somebody helping him because the difference in the speed of the cars is not as great as the difference in the cars being hooked upped and not going hooked up.

Matt always does a good job.  The guys worked hard all winter and Jimmy is the man.

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions, please.

Q.  Jack, could you speak to the engine temperatures you saw in your cars today and any suggestions you might give to NASCAR to alleviate it.

JACK ROUSH:  I hoped to have the engines that have the most tolerance for temperature in the field.  Doesn't matter what the temperature.  The FR-9 engine has proven to be at least average.  I've heard reports of 270 degrees.  I don't know if that's real or if it was sustained.  I haven't looked at the data yet.  When we get back to the engineering center, we'll be able to look our data over now that we have our data acquisition up with the fuel injection.

I think that 270 degrees was probably a real number and that some people were able to hold their water at 270 and some aren't.

Q.  Jack, after going through the Shootout and the Duels, has NASCAR's decision to eliminate in-car communications had any practical effect on the racing?

JACK ROUSH:  If you're not in pairs of two-by-two for most of the race, I think it doesn't matter.  If you're able to set up a partnership, as a driver, with another driver, I think there's a great benefit to it 'cause once you have that done, you can have one spotter coordinating things and the drivers can communicate with each other when they need to.

I think you'll see in the 500 -- I don't think you'll see as much two-car drafting as we saw in the previous race or two, but I think there will be some when it comes time to close the deal at the end of the race.

KERRY THARP:  Joining us now is our winning driver, who won the No. 17 Best Buy Ford, Matt Kenseth.

Certainly a terrific finish, quite the move you put on there at the end of the race.  Talk about that performance and then also talk about your mindset as you look to try to get your second Daytona 500 victory.

MATT KENSETH:  Thanks.  I feel a lot better today than we did Sunday morning I guess or after Saturday night.  We had a lot of speed in our car when we got out front early.  I could tell we had a really fast car.  I had to figure out where to put it, who to be with, how to try to get people to help you, all that.

Early on, Jimmie, I saw him on the outside, he was able to push us up to the front.  We were able to stay up there for quite a while in the beginning together, then he got around me.  When I saw him on the outside of the end, I decided that was my best shot for the win.  I tried to get under one of the guys in front of me, still have one in front of me.  Just kind of backed up to his bumper and he stayed right with me, kept shoving me all the way in there.

KERRY THARP:  We'll go back to questions.

Q. Jack, did you figure you were going to be in here with Biffle or were you worried because he was in front that you weren't coming in here at all?

JACK ROUSH:  To be leading the race as much as Greg did kind of sets you up to be a sitting duck.  I had a sense of foreboding that he probably wouldn't be there.  But I had hoped that he would.

Certainly the fact that the thing strung out a little bit gave me hope.  It would have been unusual for there not to be a challenge from two cars.  I'm just happy that Matt was in front of Jimmie instead of Jimmie in front of Matt.

Q.  Matt, that was a great move on the swing to the inside on Biffle.  Were you surprised that Biffle went up high like he did?

MATT KENSETH:  Well, we were going so much faster that we were going to go by him regardless.  I think that was his only hope, is to try to get up the track, try to line my front bumper up where I had to push him.  The problem was, I was going too fast.  Even if I wanted to slow down, which I didn't want to on the last lap, I couldn't have.

Jimmie was pushing me so hard.  We were locked together.  I know Jimmie can't see what's going on up there.  I had no other choice.  Wherever he went I was just going to go the opposite way.

Just thankful that when he did do that block, that Jimmie was able to be clear, because when I turned down to the bottom, if Jimmie couldn't have squeezed up through there in the middle, I would have lost the seal right there, we would have been history.  But luckily we were able to stay together and get clear of them guys.

Q.  Matt, a relatively calm race.  Do you expect that to be the norm for Sunday or do you expect the nerves to get into people?

MATT KENSETH:  I think you'll see a little mixture of everything.  Hopefully we'll see more like we saw in the second race.  It was warm out there.  There was a little bit of handling that came into play.  It was a lot harder to get from the back to the front than I expected.  When I was able to get up to Greg to the lead there, he worked his way to the bottom.  I was the only one on the top.  We dropped back quite a ways.  I think that was before the pit stop.  We came in, Jimmy made a great call of no tires.  Otherwise I don't think we would have got back to the front.  It was tough to work your way all the way back to the front.

There's going to be more cars out there obviously in the 500.  There will be bigger hole.  The rear cars will have bigger runs and going faster and that will create more passing.  I think you're going to kind of see a mixture.  Hopefully we see more of what we saw today, at least from my standpoint.

Q.  Matt, you've raced now in two different races.  Essentially Saturday seemed to be a lot more chaotic than today.  Was there anything you took away from one race or the other that will help you?  You were talking about cutting through the air.  Since you have raced in two different forms of racing, what have you taken away from it and how are you going to plan it on Sunday?

MATT KENSETH:  I think the biggest difference from Saturday to today, there's a couple things, the track conditions are fairly different.  It was cool on Saturday, it was dark.  The engines ran cooler, you could push longer.  It was the first race of the season, the first race with these rules.  I think a lot of people were feeling different things out.  I think even the guys that weren't in the race that got to watch on TV learned a lot.  When you get on somebody's left rear, you're going to spin them out.

I think you learned where the big run was, where you can push people, where you can't, what information you want from your spotter.  I think a lot of people watched that race, and the people that were in it that wrecked probably learned a lot it from as well.  I think that probably played a little bit into today.

Q.  What kind of engine temperatures did you see?  Did it affect the way you were able to race?

MATT KENSETH:  210.  I'm just kidding (smiling).  I thought Jack was going to punch me if I said how hot it was.

I didn't watch the gauge.  I watched if water was coming out.  So you really watch that more than anything.  Like at the end, I'm sure Jimmie's car was hot pushing me.  After you take the white, the race isn't going to be restarted.  It doesn't matter from a driver's perspective, you're going to get all the speed you can out of it.

Probably was warmer and lost a little more water than what I would have liked.  I think it's going to be a little cooler Sunday.

The only other a little bit of concern from my standpoint, especially being in the back, if you get a little bit of trash on the grill, there's not a lot of room for error there.  But it was okay.

Q.  It's hard probably to rank victories, but can you put this one in perspective?  Could you also expound on what happened when you pushed Greg to the front and then dropped to 13th.

MATT KENSETH:  It's always really fun to win, no matter what kind of race it is.  Obviously half the field, it's not a points race, so it's not like winning the Daytona 500 or Phoenix or something.  But it's still a big win for us.  We've never been able to win one of these races down here, Shootouts or 150s.  We've been trying for a long time so it feels good to have everything go right, have everything line up and be able to win that race.  It feels good.  You feel a lot more confident than what you do after having a bad race like Saturday where you get wrecked.

With Greg, he got back there and I started pushing him.  We got locked together real good.  I was going to push him all the way to the lead.  I was going to get too hot.  The guy who was leading kind of pulled me off of Greg a little bit.  Greg had the momentum.  He just pulled to the bottom.  I think he thinks we were probably going to go to the back.  We needed to stay sealed up pushing each other for another 15 feet so we could have both cleared.

As soon as he got clear, he separated, pulled in line.  Kind of left me by myself.  I had a slow journey from second to 13th.  Took the day to get back in there.

Even if he would have stayed out there, I don't know that we would have got 'em.  That's your job as a driver.  Got up to the lead, had a chance to get down in there and win the race.  That's what you're supposed to do, take that spot.

Q.  Matt, after Tony Stewart won the first qualifier, he said he liked showing strength during this race because it's important to show that you have a strong car.  Do you agree with that?  Do you feel you and Greg and the Fords showed a lot today that maybe you'll have people working with you Sunday?

MATT KENSETH:  I agree with him, it is important.  I also think you want to try to -- you always want to do your best, but you want to try to do your best in this race, be loyal to a guy that's helping you, not make anybody mad, be erratic, hang somebody out too bad. Also for the people watching, I don't want to do that, I'm going to push him to that spot, he's going to leave me sitting.

Obviously, having a fast car makes my job a lot easier.  I thought from working with Jimmie early in the race, helping him get up there, him helping me get up there, probably helped us there a little bit hopefully.

Q.  Matt, certainly you guys will have Tony surrounded, Roush Fenway drivers will occupy three of the top four starting spots.  Does that loyalty extend to your teammates when it comes down to push to shove?  Will you link up and try to pull away early?

MATT KENSETH:  I don't know that you're going to be able to do that.  You're not going to want to do a lot of pushing early in the race, push water out of the car, get hot.  At least there probably won't be for me.

Certainly I think you race all day.  You just race to try to have yourself in the best position.  Like always, you're going to try the best you can to take care of your teammates as good as you can.  Obviously, if it's multiple choice at the end, you're going to get the same answer for yourself.  Obviously you're going to go with a teammate instead of going somewhere else when it comes down to the end of the race.

I think the first 480 miles is going to be about trying to get in the best position you can, try to hold the best track position you can, hopefully find a safe spot where you can keep your car cool and be away from any trouble.

Q.  Jack, after a day like today, do you have any words of advice or encouragement for Greg?

JACK ROUSH:  Greg did it right today.  He was just in a situation where he couldn't stop a run that was coming at him.  By being out front, he kept himself out of harm's way all day.  That was certainly a good strategy.

Just see what happens at the end.  If things had broken a little bit differently, it could have been more of a foot race than it was between Greg and Matt.  But, you know, you're going to lead this thing if you can.  You're not going to fall back to fifth and sixth and take a chance on getting caught in the middle or getting shuffled.  Take what you get.

Q.  Matt, was the fact that Johnson went with you just coincidence?  You seem to have a history of racing each other hard but racing each other with a lot of respect.  Did that have anything to do with it or was it a split-second deal?

MATT KENSETH:  I mean, it's not like we made a deal before the race or anything like that.

But I think, you know, first you're going to try to do whatever you can to get the best finish for yourself.  Early in the race, when we pushed each other, got me to the front, ended up passing me, got in good position, stayed there the whole time.  He moved out to the outside, didn't really have a run.  I was guessing that's what he wanted.  If you're the first one in that row, you're going to be the first one to pass the leader in you're in front of him.

I really thought we'd stay attached and he'd push me to the front and probably pass me off of four like Kyle did Saturday.  Somehow I think when Greg went up to block, we went underneath him, somewhere shortly after that, we came unattached.  I'm not sure what happened to everybody without watching it.  It looked like they were at least three-wide behind me.  I was way out there.  Thankfully then to get the team back up and run me back down.  But I don't know.  Somehow we came out attached there.  But that's what I expected to happen after watching Saturday's race.

Q.  Jack, several other drivers in here said the water temperatures were enough to make them concerned, they wanted a bigger grill opening, more this, more that.  I get the impressions you are satisfied you have that particular area covered.  If Mike Helton comes to you and said, We're thinking about doing this, what are you going to suggest to him?

JACK ROUSH:  The reason they went to the lower pressure cap and smaller openings is because they said they didn't want the cars to stay together.  As anxious as I am to be on NASCAR's good side, I don't want to be the guy that raises my hand and says, We're going stick these guys together by increasing the pressure cap or opening the radiator up or shortening the tail, whatever they made changes to.

Whatever they do is fine.  It's the same for everybody.  I hope it's not a lot different than what we had today.  Today was a good dry run for what we had on Sunday.  I'd like for the things that we learned today, that Matt, Greg and Ricky learned today, I would hope that those things - and Carl - I would hope that those things come into play on Sunday and we don't have a huge change in rules.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:57 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 7:36 am

Tony Stewart, Steve Addington post Duel comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Tony, you looked strong in the last part of that race.  That has to make you feel good about trying to capture your first Daytona 500. 

TONY STEWART:  Yeah, it really does.  We just had a great race car.  We had a great race car since we got here, especially when I messed up the car for Shootout, all three teams dug in together and got us a car put back together that almost won the Shootout the other night was a testimony to how hard this organization has worked. 

Have a great group at Stewart-Haas Racing that got this car ready, good horsepower from Hendrick Engines.  Really proud of this group and this guy next to us.  He hasn't been with us very long.  He just has done an awesome job of getting acclimated to a whole new organization, whole new group of guys, bringing two new racecars down here this week. 

KERRY THARP:  Steve Addington, congratulations.  Victory number one for you with Stewart-Haas Racing.  How does that feel? 

STEVE ADDINGTON:  It feels great.  Like Tony said, everybody in the organization has welcomed me with open arms, has got in there and done everything that I've asked of them.  Just told me whatever they need, they'd get it done for me.  The reason I came here is because there's a bunch of racers there.  We just want to go win races.  I'm pretty happy about my decision.  

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions.  

Q.  Tony, did you see Danica's crash behind you?  What were your impressions of the way she raced today in the draft? 

TONY STEWART:  I mean, I got to see a replay of it, but I didn't see how it started.  I saw in the mirror on the last lap, saw her car making a hard left there.  Didn't know what's start of that was. 

Kept looking in my mirror to see what was going on behind me, see where she was at.  The good thing, with a fluorescent green car, she's easy to pick out.  Impressive to see how she kept picking her way through the field.  I think she got up to sixth at one point the way I saw it. 

I thought she did a pretty good job.  I think I'll get a better shot to understanding exactly how her race went when I get to see a replay of the race. The little bit I could see, I thought she did a good job.  There wasn't any doubt in my mind she would do that. 

It's hard for her now because she's trying to gain the confidence of the guys around her that she's solid and is going to make good decisions, not just going to pull the pin every time she gets the opportunity to break out a line. 

I think there's more aggression and confidence in her than what she showed here today.  It shows her poise and what she's trying to do to gain the other drivers' confidence. 

Q.  On the restart at the end of the race when you lost the lead briefly, how much confidence did you have when you got it back so easily on the backstretch? 

TONY STEWART:  Felt like being on the bottom was probably the better spot to be in, to be honest.  Kevin Harvick was an awesome teammate for me today.  Having a Team Chevy driver behind us was a big key. 

Kevin and I have always worked well together, especially at the restrictor plate tracks.  Having him with us was kind of a good, comforting feeling knowing he was with us on the inside there. 

But, I mean, it was hard.  They got a pretty good run on the outside.  He was able to get caught back up to us.  Once he got there, we drove on from the pack there.  Felt good we had two good Chevys there.  

Q.  Tony, you have 17 wins at this track, but no Daytona 500.  You have now a first and a second this week at this track.  How much momentum is that going to give you for Sunday?  What are your biggest challenges going into Sunday? 

TONY STEWART:  Well, I mean, obviously the fact that we've won 17 times here and not won on the right day is proof it's good momentum, but it's no guarantee obviously.  It's nice to come here, especially for Steve and I, being our first race together, to be able to come out and have two really good strong and solid races back-to-back is an awesome start for us. 

It's good momentum for the crew, everybody at Stewart Haas Racing, to carry that momentum from last year.  It gives you confidence going into Sunday.  We only raced against half the field in this qualifier.  We got the other half going off now.  Just trying to see how strong those guys are. 

It's a long race on Sunday and a lot can happen.  Even though we had success today, it's no guarantee that can happen Sunday. 

I think we showed the rest of the field that we have a car that has good speed.  That's a really strong point, just like Trevor Bayne showed last year he had a strong car, so people wanted to go with him.  Hopefully that will work for us on Sunday, too.  

Q.  Were you at all nervous?  You said after the Shootout you knew you were a sitting duck in front of Kyle Busch.  Did you have any nervous moments being out front on that last lap?

TONY STEWART:  Well, the hard part was I got a really good push from Kevin that got us back in the lead there from third.  The hard part is when it got us up there, they separated us.  That easily could have got us freight trained to the back. 

Where Kevin was, he ended up just being two wide with Dale Jr., that pulled both of their momentum.  My spotter told me to get hooked back up with Kevin.  To me, I felt it was better to keep the momentum going. 

I felt like unless they just got a really big run, we were going to be able to pick which line got going and be able to hopefully protect and stay leading that line. 

So felt like we were better off trying to keep the momentum than trying to break it, get hooked up with Kevin again, take a chance of getting passed by a bunch of guys not having that opportunity again.  

Q.  Tony, very strong Saturday night, very strong today.  How hard is it not to show everything you got before Sunday?  Maybe Steve wants to talk about that. 

TONY STEWART:  Like we said, at least from my side, I mean, I want those guys to see that we've got strength.  I mean, I think that's why, you know, Jeff Gordon stayed with Trevor Bayne, that's why everybody wanted to run with Trevor last year during the 500, because he showed a lot of strength. 

I think it's an advantage to do that at this point of the game, showing that guys around you are going to hopefully want to be around you and know that you got a car that can stay up there, so they want to stay with you. 

I think it's a plus.  From Steve's side it might be different. 

STEVE ADDINGTON:  I think the speed that we saw in practice yesterday, I think everybody paid attention to that.  He made comment of it.  He said, Maybe everybody was looking at that and seeing how fast we were pulling the pack in practice. 

Felt good.  Felt like if we got in that situation, that we was going to have people that were going to go with us. 

Q.  Steve, everybody was saying on the radio afterwards, Don't put anything on the car.  Keep the car clean.  What do you do and not do with this thing over the next few days? 

STEVE ADDINGTON:  We're going to put our Daytona 500 race engine in it, a couple of freshened up parts and pieces, run a few laps, make sure we don't have any leaks or vibrations or anything.  We're going to put it on jack stands.  Our focus is on Sunday. 

We talked about it when he got in the car, just fill it out, we'll do what we need to do, but we needed to have this piece for Sunday to have a chance to win the race on Sunday.  That's our game plan, to take care of this thing till Sunday.  

Q.  Tony, what was your temperature gauge showing you throughout the race and how did it fluctuate depending on the configuration you were running?

TONY STEWART:  The needle kept moving all day back and forth.  Let's just say I was watching it a lot today (laughter).  

Q.  Tony, as a fellow driver/owner, do you feel for Michael Waltrip when you see him wreck?  He started 25 straight here.  Pretty impressive streak that would come to an end. 

TONY STEWART:  And Michael is very passionate about restrictor plate racing.  There's a lot of us that like it when we get back to normal racing. This is Michael's specialty.  This is what he eats, lives and breathes, is Daytona and Talladega.  It would be a shame if he doesn't make it. 

He's put a great effort with great teams out here and he's got some good full time teams.  He takes that pressure on himself of having to race his way in.  It shows what kind of car owner he really is.  It would be a shame if he misses it.  

Q.  Tony, the pack racing seemed much more tame today than it did on Saturday night.  What did you learn about the racing today and what do you expect on Sunday?  Do you expect it to be a bit calmer?

TONY STEWART:  I think it will be similar to what you're seeing today.  You know, you got to make this thing    you got to get these cars to 500 miles.  It doesn't matter what you do at 150.  It's a long day.  You're going to have to take care of the engine.  You're going to have to take care of the nose and the tail on these cars and not get yourself in compromising positions. 

I think the guys that get impatient are the guys that will get in trouble, and the guys that are smart will race smart.  I think that's typically what it comes down to here anyway. 

500 miles at a superspeedway is a long, long, long race.  You just got to race the race, you know, be careful of who you're around, knowing when to push, knowing when to ride, and take care of it.  

Q.  Tony, there's a list of drivers over the years that have been the best of the time, certainly leading drivers.  If history was written right now, you would be on it, who haven't won this race.  What is the problem here?  Is it just because we focus on just this place, and if we looked at other tracks, the same situation would exist? 

TONY STEWART:  I don't know.  I mean, there's just something magical about Daytona.  Just like IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 are the same way.  When it's the most important race of your season, especially the first one, all the drivers and all the teams and all the crews put more pressure on themselves for that one race than they do anywhere else the rest of the year. 

Especially at a place where the draft is so important, you don't get away from each other.  It really brings everybody into the fold and everybody has a shot at winning this race. 

It just leads for no mistakes.  You have to get every little ounce of performance that you can get out of these cars.  So, you know, it puts a lot of pressure into what it takes to win this race.  

Q.  Steve, talking about momentum.  When you came into the situation, you took over a team with momentum, did you make any changes?  Talk a little bit about how that was, how your personality may have affected this. 

STEVE ADDINGTON:  I didn't make any major changes.  It was just moving a couple of people around or whatever.  But they had a good baseline.  I just went in there, and we've talked about it, and we're not going to change baselines.  We got racetracks that the 14 and 39 both struggled on that I've had success at that we're going to implement some of the things that I do different than what they did. 

We're just going to build on it.  We did a Texas tire test.  We just implemented a couple little things.  Trying to build on it to make it better.  You'd be an idiot to go in there and blow the thing out of the water. 

Just to be smart about it, look at the baseline, build on it to go out and win races all year long. 

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:26 pm

2012 Daytona 500 starting lineup

Here's your starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500 after Thursday's Gatorade Duels.

1. Carl Edwards
2. Greg Biffle
3. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Regan Smith
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Jeff Burton
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Michael McDowell
12. Joey Logano
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Kyle Busch
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Jeff Gordon
17. Robby Gordon
18. Ryan Newman
19. Jamie McMurray
20. Kasey Kahne
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Mark Martin
23. Brad Keselowski
24. Dave Blaney
25. David Ragan
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Aric Almirola
28. Kurt Busch
29. Danica Patrick
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Denny Hamlin
32. Bobby Labonte
33. David Gilliland
34. Joe Nemechek
35. Juan Pablo Montoya
36. Casey Mears
37. Paul Menard
38. David Reutimann
39. Landon Cassill
40. Trevor Bayne
41. Tony Raines
42. David Stremme
43. Terry Labonte

Daytona Speedweeks
Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Daytona 500
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:47 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:27 pm

VIDEO: Danica Patrick crashes on last lap of Duel

Posted by Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick's first appearance in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona ended violently with a hard crash into the backstretch inside wall.

Patrick climbed from her car uninjured in the vicious crash and gave her view of what took place after she made on track contact with Aric Almirola.

“It happened really quickly," Patrick explained.  "I guess you can always imagine when you get down to the end of the race everyone is on each other’s doors really close.  It’s just kind of what happens at the end of the race.  Unfortunately, I was part of it.  I felt like I was having at least a solid race.  I worked my way up there at the beginning a little bit; hung around in the front group for a while.  I felt like it kind of slowed down I was dragging the brake a little bit just to keep with the pack and not run up to them too quickly.  I don’t know if that had any affect.  We were just looking to finish to be honest; unfortunately that was not the case.”

Patrick ran inside the top ten for some of Thursday's first 60-lap qualifying race but wasn't really a challenger for the lead or win. Still she feels the day was part of her learning process and she'll try to take something away from the experience including the crash.

“I’m betting that everybody that was watching on TV probably had the best look," Patrick said. "From my perspective it was obviously the last lap and the bottom lane started moving well so that is where I was.  We were just getting our run down the back and all of a sudden I got hit.  I’m betting that somebody also got hit outside of me, is what I’m betting.

"I’m going to have to look.  It was just a chain reaction every person that gets hit, next and next and next.  It gets bigger and bigger.  It felt like a pretty big hit so I don’t know what it looked like.  I’m really just bummed out that we didn’t finish the last two corners.  Instead we have a Go Daddy car in the wall and lots of damage and I’m sure a back-up.  But, what I said was maybe the back-up car will be faster.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:28 pm

Gatorade Duel at Daytona: Winners and Losers

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time since 1972 there will not be a Waltrip in the Daytona 500.

Unfortunately for Michael Waltrip he was one of the big losers in Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona qualifying races and failed to qualify for Sunday's "Great American Race."

Waltrip, who crashed in the day's first 150-mile race, wasn't alone in the disappointment department with the likes of Kenny and Mike Wallace, Bill Elliott, J.J. Yeley and Robert Richardson Jr. also missing out on gaining a spot in the biggest race of the season.

"I just went the wrong way and lost the car," said Waltrip, who after hitting pit road for fuel lost control of his Hillman Racing Toyotya while racing through turns one and two. "I feel like I let everybody down. I raced my way to the front and then I let them down. It’s just really hard. I don’t know what to say -- it’s just sad. Thankful to my team and Aaron’s for giving me the opportunity and hate that I let everybody down.” 

Kenny Wallace was trying to drive the underfunded RAB Racing Toyota into Sunday's race and was the victim of a fuel pick-up problem that mired him deep in the field unable to challenge for the spot he needed to transfer to the 500.

"It's a tough pill to swallow for sure," said Wallace. "This team tried so hard and it just wasn't meant to be. But I'm so proud of the effort put forth to try and get into the Daytona 500 and that's what I'll take away from today's experience."

On the other side of the coin were the stories of drivers that survived Thursday with what they needed to move on to Sunday.

Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon transfered from the day's opening race and both drivers were thankful for the turn of events that led to their starts in the 500.

"It's amazing," said McDowell, who got a push from his friend and defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne to help secure the sixth place finish. "I've been here once before and made the race. I had to qualify in and I've been on the outside looking in too, so just know that this is extremely special not just for me and my family, but for our whole team. Phil Parsons Racing is a small team. We've got six guys back at the shop that worked really hard in the off-season to give us a fast car..."

Gordon had an early race scare when smoke started to billow from his Dodge but was able to nurse his car through that issue and notch the ninth place finish he needed to make the 500.

"It's big for us," said Gordon, who ran a partial schedule last season in his independent entry. "We were in a position last year, it sounds kind of crazy, we've won Indy Car races, I've won NASCAR races and we were in position we didn't have the funding to run all of the races so we found ourselves outside the Top 35.

"I'm proud of my guys. I'm proud of my team and I'm proud of the Daytona 500."

Two other David vs.Goliath stories played out in the day's second race when Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney punched their tickets to the 500.

For the journeyman Nemechek, a former Nationwide Series champion who made every Sprint Cup race last year with his small operation, making Daytona was a key to his entire 2012 effort.

"We're not sure what we can do this year," Nemechek said. "But now just getting into this race is such a huge shot in the arm for this team and will go a long way in helping us this year to say the least. This is so hard but we just keep plugging away and this was a great day for this race.

Blaney, who saw his guaranteed Daytona starting spot go to Danica Patrick when Tommy Baldwin Racing createda "collaborative partnership" with Stewart-Haas Racing, was forced to race his way into the big event with a twelfth place finish Thursday.

"Nah I don't feel any satisfaction or redemption," Blaney said. "Just happy to be able to start in the Daytona 500."

Daytona Speedweeks
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