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Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:10 am
 

Earnhardt Jr.: New package suits my style better

Posted by Brian De Los Santos


Dale Earnharndt Jr. passes Greg Biffle for second, but can't catch Matt Kenseth. (Getty Images)

Second-place Daytona 500 finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s post-race press conference

You saw a little bit of everything out there tonight, but what an exciting race you guys and gal put on for the fans here tonight, and congratulations on a terrific way to start the season.


Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, it was a good finish for us. I'm really pleased to be able to get good points tonight. The Roush cars are just really strong. They've shown that all week. I really didn't know just how good they were until I got up there those last 60 laps, and I could get in between them, but I couldn't get in front of them. Just didn't have enough car to get around them and get the lead.

“But I'm happy for Matt. He's going to need that for his college fund, and them kids will be in good shape now.

“But I'm happy for our team, too. We had a really good looking race car, good craftsmanship, and I was real proud of that. You know, you bring such a nice car down here, and the chances of you tearing it up is pretty high. Odds are always kind of high you get caught up in something like we saw at the end of the race. But I was really happy to be able to take the car home in one piece, and liked the way the motor ran, liked the way the car drove. It was a little bit of a bizarre week with the rain and all that. But you know, we stuck around and got it all done.”

 
Was it more of a case that you felt Greg was basically blocking you, or he wasn't going to try to help have you pass Matt (Kenseth)?

Earnhardt Jr.: “I don't think that he was worried about me. Um, this is the Daytona 500, and I don't know what it pays, but it's a lot of money. And his team, I know that they're teammates, but his group of guys that specifically work on that car or travel down here to pit the car during the race, his crew chief, Greg himself, they work way too hard to decide to run second in a scenario like that.

“I'm pretty sure that if I know Greg, and you can ask him here in a bit, if he had an opportunity to get around Matt and had a chance to win the Daytona 500, he would have took it immediately. He's trying to do what he could do. If I were him, I can't imagine what his game plan was in his head, but if I were him, I would have tried to let me push him by and then pull down in front of Matt, and force Matt to be my pusher and then leave the 88 for the dogs.

"But that didn't work out. I saw Greg try to get a move going on the back straightaway, and it looked like Matt defended that really well. And I waited for Greg to have another opportunity on the exit of Turn 4, and it did not seem to be materializing. My spotter was keeping me aware of how much distance was between Greg and Matt, so when I knew that Greg did not have a chance to pass Matt, I would try to pass Greg if I could.”


You seem like you're very frustrated or angry.

Earnhardt Jr.: “No. No, sir, not at all, just has been a long day, and it's just been a long night. I'm very happy. I'm really in a good place. I'm not frustrated at all, I promise. I'm in a great mood. I run second here a lot, though, so I know I don't feel it right now, but I know later tonight and tomorrow and the rest of the week it's going to eat at me what I could have done to win the race. So that is kind of frustrating.

“But no, I'm fine. I think that we did everything we could at the end, and I didn't mean to interrupt you, I'll let you ask your question.”


That's okay. Is there anything really you can do as just one person? It seems like all these races, even with all the rule changes, you've got to do it in pairs.

Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, pretty much. This new package really didn't come down to tandem racing at the end. I mean, me and Greg were pushing like heck and we couldn't get to Matt. So they have definitely made some strides in trying to make that not the definite way to win in a Sprint Cup level.

“I like the rule changes. I'm sure that I was riding along in the middle of that race, and I was thinking, you know, the fans probably are wondering whether this is better or not, because we weren't really there wasn't a ton of action. Like the low line really had a dominant deal going there, and the top couldn't get any action happening. But I think everybody was just calm and not everybody was fine with how things were going. It didn't really matter to point it didn't really matter after Truex took the $200,000 that was on the line, nothing else was really important until the end of the race. Everybody started racing hard at the end, and then you had your accidents that will typically happen, and then the finish was quite exciting, I thought.

“I kind of liked the package obviously. It definitely suits my style better, and I can do things on my own. Maybe not definitely going to need some help to win races, but I definitely can do more on my own like this. In the old package you needed someone else the entire race, and that's not fun.”


I know that the Daytona 500 is its own animal, but I'm guessing this is the preferred way to start the season for you. And your other three teammates had a really rough night tonight. If you could talk about the start of the year for you.


Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, that is important. You know, you do want to come in here and make sure the press knows that you wanted to win the race, because the press are going to tell the fans what you thought, and you don't want to give anyone the impression that you are fine running second, because I'm not. But I am happy with the points I got tonight, because it is a tough hole to climb out of, and this new system really makes it a little different and makes you uneasy.

“I am happy to be able to come out of here and not look back throughout the season, and look at this race as one of the ones where we give some points away, like we did last year.”


How do you parlay what happened here tonight, going to Phoenix, going to Las Vegas? You're not going to have this type of racing again until you get to Talladega, but yet it's the positive, upbeat feeling you get? And also you were concerned about how soft and wet Turn 3 was when you got it started.

Earnhardt Jr.: “Yes, sir. The track held up well. The drivers did not get an opportunity to see the track before we restarted, and I can only assume as I go through there and I hear stuff flying up into the crush panels that it's asphalt. When you're a driver and you're running on a racetrack and you hear things flying up, that's not typically normal.

“So I just assumed the track was pretty soft, but it held up well. They did a great job, whatever that deal, when we come off that turn, that was very scary and looked very tragic, and looked like something that was going to be tragic, so I was happy to hear that everybody was okay and able to go home to their families tonight.

"It was an unfortunate incident, but NASCAR did a great job to finish the show, and they took their time, and they did it right. So I was kind of happy how that all turned out.

"But yeah, we'll go to Phoenix with a good attitude, and we feel like we can go to Phoenix and run well. So we'll see how it goes.”


I know you've seen a lot of strange things in racing, but this race seemed like an appropriately bizarre capper to a very strange Speedweeks in general. Can you talk about what happened here the last week, and did you think that all the crazy, flukey stuff that was happening in the last week was maybe leading to something like what you saw tonight with all the craziness that went on?

Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, I don't really remember anything else that happened earlier than tonight. Yesterday and today really sapped my memory pretty good.

“My feeling, the thing that comes into my mind is that NASCAR can't catch a break. We're trying to deliver, and we just have some unfortunate things happen such as the rain delay, potholes in the track a couple years ago or whatever, things like that. And we're a good sport, and we're just trying to give a good product, and it's unfortunate that our biggest event was delayed, but I think everybody worked hard to put out a good product tonight, and it was good for us.”


You talked about the craziness of the Speedweeks and the day, but what about the fact of the primetime, Monday night Daytona 500. Could you ever see that in the future?

Earnhardt Jr.: “I don't know. I don't know nothing about networks and ratings, so I wouldn't that's best a question for maybe Helton or Brian France.”


But this felt like a normal night race to you then?

Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, I'll work, I'll race any night you want to race. We were talking about it on the back straightaway. That was kind of fun actually, standing around on the back straightaway. It reminded me of Hickory when we'd race over there and they'd have a funeral and you'd have to stop and talk about the race or whatever, whatever you'd want to talk about.

“But I don't know, I mean, when you're in the car you don't think about what night it is, and you could just forget, really, to be honest. But whenever they want us to race, we'll race.”


During that delay, I mean, you obviously were entertained by Brad Keselowski's Twitter account. Did you guys Twitter anybody or did you play with it at all during that time out?

Earnhardt Jr.: “Yeah, I heard he was in trouble for having a recording device in his car. But I think that's how Brad is, man. That's what he makes and what he enjoys. I thought it was pretty funny.

"We did take the phone and put it to some use and looked up the weather, because it was drizzling a little bit, so it did come in handy.”


Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:49 am
 

Kenseth: I wasn't expecting to win when I woke up

Posted by Brian De Los Santos



Post-race press conference with Daytona 500 winner Matth Kenseth and car owner Jack Roush.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THE 2012 DAYTONA 500?  

Kenseth: “It feels great. We even went overtime a little bit since we didn’t quite go the whole distance the first time we won it. We had a really fast car all day and overcame a lot of adversity and problems with the car that we figured out. We had a great pit stop at the end that put us into position. It feels great. I wasn’t expecting to win when I woke up this morning so it feels good to be sitting here.”

Roush: “It feels great. It is very fitting that Matt won the 300th victory that we have had since we started in 1988 and Jimmy Fennig has been with us for most of the time and Matt has been here most of the time as well. It is great to celebrate our 300th win here with the 54th Daytona 500. This is Matt’s second 500 win and that makes it special as well.”

AT THE VERY END OF THE RACE IT SEEMED LIKE BIFFLE MIGHT TAKE A RUN AT YOU OR EARNHARDT, BUT IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CAR THAT WAS A LITTLE BETTER THAN THEIRS. IS THAT ACCURATE OR WAS IT JUST BETTER STRATEGY?  

Kenseth: “I think the 16 had one of the strongest cars all week and ours was right there as well. Our car for some reason was a lot faster out front than it was in traffic. It took a long time to get to the front but like Thursday once we were in the front it was hard for anyone to get locked on to you. My car was one of the faster cars and it was hard for the other cars to stay locked on to me. I learned a little on Thursday at the last couple laps there of what to do and what not to do and what this car liked. We had enough speed and once we took the white I felt sort of okay about it. By the time I got to three and saw they couldn’t get enough speed mustered up to try to make it move. The car had a lot of speed and Doug Yates and those guys deserve a lot of credit. They did a great job on the engine and it really restarted good and that was the key for all those restarts at the end.”  

PROFESSIONALLY YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT SINCE YOUR LAST DAYTONA 500 WIN. DOES THAT MAKE THIS MEAN MORE HAVING TO GO THROUGH THAT?  

Kenseth: “Yeah, last year was a great year for us and I think we went almost two years without a win or something like that. Last year was a really special year and I really, still to this moment, feel like I let these guys down in the Chase. I feel we ran good enough in the Chase performance wise and as far as what the team gave me to use and what Jimmy did and the pit crew did to race for a championship. We were able to win a few races along the way and in position to win a few more that we didn’t win. Last year was a great year for us. I think it built a lot of confidence and it really made me feel good and be happy. I was hoping to come into this season strong. You never expect to come down here and win but I didn’t expect to be as strong as we were down here. I am real anxious to get to the next few tracks and see how we are.”

DID YOU EVER ANTICIPATE WITH ALL THE CHANGES IN THE OFFSEASON THAT YOU WOULD COME TO SPEED WEEKS AND HAVE THE SUCCESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING NOW?  

Roush: “The testing results over the winter were very encouraging. We brought better Ford Fusions here than we have ever had before with more power in the engine relatively speaking than we have had. Doug and the guys in the engine shop did, like Matt said, a really super job. I was more nervous about the durability of all the components that were unknown in the fuel injection than I was about whether we would be competitive. We had a fuel pressure problem we have to address in three of our cars tonight. Happily it wasn’t catastrophic and didn’t cause them to drop out. I was more worried about the unknowns than what I knew about what we were able to bring. The reduction from four teams to three was sad and we lost a lot of good people but we have got a lot of great people that remain on our programs and I was sure our three programs would be as strong as the three would have been in the other circumstance but we will look forward to finding the sponsorship to get the 6 car going again and hopefully get it on track before the end of the year.”  

WITH TWO DAYTONA 500 WINS AND A CHAMPIONSHIP, WHERE DOES THAT PUT MATT KENSETH IN YOUR TEAMS HISTORY AND IN NASCAR HISTORY?  

Roush: “Matt and Greg Biffle, they kind of duke it out trying to figure out which one has been here the longest, who has the seniority and I don’t think they are in an argument over who is the oldest but for Matt to have the success or Greg to have had the success of bringing the 300th win would have been fitting but tonight Matt had the best car and Greg was unselfish and worked with him and they pulled it off together.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEATING GREG TO THE LINE AND HAVING HIS SUPPORT WHEN IT COUNTED HERE? ALSO HOW MUCH WAS YOUR PATIENCE TESTED OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK?  

Kenseth: “My patience was tested a lot. It is almost two o’clock in the morning. We have been here almost two weeks like a lot of you guys have as well. Greg, if he could have passed me on the last lap or with two laps to go he certainly would have. We had a pretty good plan on restarts to work together to help both of us get to first and second and get in line. Our cars were strong on the bottom when we got in line like that. It was a combination of working together and helping each other and it was best for both of us to get the best position we could get.”  

CAN YOU COMPARE THIS DAYTONA 500 VICTORY WITH THE LAST ONE? WAS THERE MORE VINDICATION TO WIN THIS WAY AND PUT A STAMP ON IT?

Kenseth: “Well, yes and no. The last one, a lot was written about it and it was rain shortened and all that but we all knew it was going to rain. We did a lot that day. We charged to the front and had one of the better cars and was able to make the pass right before it rained which was good timing but I felt like we had a fast car and didn’t luck into that. I thought we worked hard for that. It is nice to go the whole distance and survive a green-white-checkered because you don’t know what is going to happen on speedway races.”  

IT SOUNDED LIKE GREG AND DALE WERE SHOCKED THEY COULDN’T GET TO YOU AT THE END. WHAT WAS THE SECRET?  

Kenseth: “If there was something do you think I would tell you? You know, our car was fast, even on the restarts when Junior tried to push me I tried to give him air and stay with him but he just couldn’t quite keep up and stay attached to us. We had to make other moves to keep my momentum up. I think when you come to plate racing a huge percentage of it is the car and how fast the car is. I think Thursday was really good for us because we learned something the last few laps that helped a little bit tonight.”

DO YOU FEEL CHEATED ABOUT DOING LESS MEDIA THIS WEEK?  DO YOU CARE ABOUT THAT?  

Kenseth: “I don’t mind doing it, but, yeah, that doesn’t bother me too much (laughing).  It’s a busy few days.  I’m sure they’ve got a lot of things planned.  The last time I had a great time, Katie and I had a great time, and got to do a lot of neat things and see a lot of cool places, so I don’t really have any idea what they have in store for me this week.”  

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRE ON THE BACKSTRETCH?  

Kenseth: “I honestly didn’t see what happened.  I heard second-hand accounts of it, but I didn’t see what happened so these guys will have to answer that or what they were working on the track early.”

Roush: “It was pretty amazing that Juan Pablo’s car broke just at the right time to create a trajectory that took him into the jet dryer.  I still don’t know what happened to his engine.  I saw the engine was missing when they loaded the car on the rollback.  I thought it would roll out on the ground or it would be leaving after they moved the dryer, but I don’t know where it went.  It was amazing that NASCAR was able to have enough Tide and to have enough oil dry and they had people trained and were really able to save the race track.  I thought surely that the race track would be damaged and impacted to the point that it wouldn’t be suitable for continuing the race, but the NASCAR crew and the management did a great job of saving the race track and having a race for the fans.  I was actually thinking that if they didn’t go back that rather than get involved in a wreck that I felt surely was gonna happen at the front that having Matt finish fifth wouldn’t have been too bad, but I’m glad they got it going.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAVE OF EMOTIONS YOU’VE GONE THROUGH THIS LAST MONTH AND HAVING IT CULMINATE IN THIS WIN?  

Kenseth: “It’s been kind of a tough winter, so it feels good to get back to the race track and be able to just get down here and race really and see the guys and get to run, but to be able to win the 150 and to win the 500 as well is certainly a lot more than I would have expected or really thought we were gonna do, so it’s always special to win races.  It’s really hard to win these races and the older you get and the more you race you realize how hard it is and you really try to enjoy all those moments.”  

IF THE TRACK HAD BEEN DAMAGED WOULD YOU HAVE FELT CHEATED BECAUSE YOU LED SO MANY LAPS?  

Kenseth: “Yeah.  I mean, sitting there you for sure want to go back racing because we just came off pit road first after all those other guys were gonna have to pit and you want to go back racing, but yet Blaney was leading and we were gonna finish fifth.  It could have been worse than that and, like Jack was saying, you go back to green and feel like you almost have as good a chance at getting in a wreck as you do having a shot at the win, so in hindsight, of course, I’m glad we went racing and did all that, but it could have been worse where we were.  We were still in a pretty nice position.”  

WAS THERE ANY TREPIDATION THE FIRST TIME YOU WENT OVER THE PATCHED AREA?  

Kenseth: “It was far enough back in the corner where it wasn’t too bad.  The bottom was totally fine.  The middle and I didn’t get up much higher than the middle, but when you drove through the middle you could hear gravel, so I was not wanting to be pushed real hard through that spot.  But I was able to run the bottom almost the whole time and there was really no issue at all on the bottom, and it was a very narrow patch as well.”  

DALE EARNHARDT HAD A BOAT CALLED ‘SUNDAY MONEY’.  WILL YOU BUY A BOAT AND CALL IT ‘MONDAY MONEY?’  

Kenseth: “I’m not a boat guy, so no, but that’s a good name.”


Daytona Speedweeks
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:14 am
 

Biffle: Maybe next time we do something different


Greg Biffle (16) couldn't run down Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth for the win.(Getty Images)


Greg Biffle post-race press conference:

TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS PLAYED OUT FOR YOUR TEAM HERE THIS EVENING.

“Well, obviously I wish we would have done a few things maybe a little bit different. We had a great speed weeks. Coming out of here with a third place finish is really exciting for us. More importantly, we didn’t wreck and we got a good finish. I still am a little blown away by the end of that race and that we weren’t able to push up to the back of the 17 car. I was kind of surprised by that. Next time maybe we will do something a little bit different.” 

THE CRAZINESS OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY, CAN YOU SUM THAT UP? 

“Well, the weather down here has been kind of unusual the entire time. One day it is 90 degrees and the next day it is high 50’s. It was up and down. You always expect a few rain showers but that was more than we have seen down here in a long time. It was unfortunate it got delayed but I think the race went pretty well and I hope that a lot of people got to see it.” 

WHY COULDN’T YOU GET TO KENSETH AT THE END? 

“That is a good question. Here is the thing, and I don’t know what it was, but all night Junior had been shoving me against the back of the 17 car at will. Granted, he had somebody pushing him, but we weren’t locked together.

"Any time you get locked together the things just go, they just take off like before when we had the tandem racing. Once he got against my bumper and I made sure he stayed against it around the corner, I was about three-quarters throttle and then once we got straight I pushed the gas down. I thought that we would drive up on the back of the 17 without a problem. It must have just pushed enough air out in front of my car that it pushed the 17 car out about five or six feet in front of me and I couldn’t get any closer. I thought I needed to get out from behind him because then we would get by him so on the back stretch I moved up a little bit but Matt is not stupid, we had no run at him. We were all going the same speed so when I moved over Matt moved over real easy and Junior is against my back bumper so I am trying not to wreck because he is shoving on me and I am doing this down the back thinking I am not going to be able to get a run at him.

"Probably the only thing that, at that point I could have done, and I didn’t know how much he had on him from behind or if the top lane was coming, but the only thing I could have done was got real straight down the back stretch and pushed the brake pedal down pretty and kept going straight and slow our cars down a fair enough and then let Junior make a run at Matt around three and four and we could have moved up beside him coming off the corner and then Junior and I would have had to dice it out to the line. That is probably what I should have done, just anchored down the brakes down the back stretch and put distance between Matt and I. I thought for sure that I didn’t need to do that, I thought he would shove me right up to his back bumper. Monday morning quarterbacking I didn’t think we needed to do that. He had been shoving me right up to his back bumper. He had all night and I had no doubt it would happen then.”  

HOW DID YOU MANAGE ALL THE DOWN TIME THE LAST FEW DAYS AND THEN IN THE RACE TODAY? 

“I have been cooped up in a motor home in the infield with my seven-and-a-half month old baby daughter. We have been cooped up for 13 days. I tell you what, the last two days sitting over there in the rain, I have had my fill. I was ready to race, you know? You get all that adrenaline and excitement and you just kind of sit around and I looked at the same walls regardless. We were down here for a long time and we were ready to get going home and get ready for the next race.” 



Daytona Speedweeks
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:38 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 3:20 am
 

Speed Read: Daytona 500

By Pete Pistone



  Matt Kenseth, Driver Of The #17 Best Buy Ford, Poses
(Kenseth celebrated his second career Daytona 500 win to cap a wild night - Getty Images)

COMPLETE DAYTONA 500 RESULTS


The 24 Hours of Daytona is annually held in January.

It only felt like it was part of this week’s stock car portion of Speedweeks in Daytona.

A first-time rain out in its 54 year history and a bizarre fire that halted the race for more than two hours were just part of wackiness in this year’s running of “The Great American Race.”

The off-season controversy of whether tandem racing or pack drafting would be the order of the day in the wake of NASCAR’s many rule changes took a back seat to a race filled with weirdness, crashes and in the end a second time winner.

Matt Kenseth held off – or some believe was pushed by – teammate Greg Biffle to score Daytona 500 victory number two, a follow-up to his 2009 rain-abbreviated trip to victory lane.

“I could get a pretty good start on the bottom and either Denny or Dale Jr. could push me for awhile and then they just couldn’t stay attached and I would get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed,” Kenseth said. “I have to thank Greg. We worked together really good all day long. He had a really fast car all day as well.” 

Kenseth had to overcome troubles of his own including a busted radio that wouldn’t allow him to communicate with his own crew.

But the dry Wisconsin native actually believes that may have been beneficial.

“We had a lot of problems and almost ended up a lap down,” he said. “I had my radio break and my tach break and we pushed all the water out and had to come in and put water in it. These guys did a great job. They never panicked and I think they enjoyed their day more because they couldn’t hear me on the radio with my radio problems.”

However when historians looks back at the 2012 Daytona 500 it won’t be Kenseth’s wit, radio problems, assistance from his teammate or adding another Harley J. Earl trophy to his collection they’ll remember.

No this year’s Daytona 500 will go down in history as the one with fire and rain, when NASCAR held its biggest race on a Monday night in prime time thanks to Mother Nature.

All that was missing was a full moon

 

RISERS

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kicked off his 2012 with a second place finish, a far cry from when a cut tire ruined his Daytona 500 of a year ago. Earnhardt said all week long how much more comfortable he was in the old pack style of racing at Daytona and it showed. Came within a position of finally ending his long winless drought but added to his already solid confidence level.

Denny Hamlin

His first outing with new crew chief Darian Grubb resulted in a Top 5 finish and had to provide the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with a much-needed shot of confidence. Hamlin desperately needs to put last year’s disappointing season behind as quickly as possible and his Daytona effort is a big help in that department.

Paul Menard

He was involved in two crashes this week and ripped NASCAR for manipulating the rules to bring back pack drafting. But Menard recovered from those earlier altercations to notch a solid Top 10 finish, one of three Richard Childress Racing entries to do so.


FALLERS

Jimmie Johnson

The quest to get back to the top of the Sprint Cup point standings and start a new championship winning streak got off to a rocky start. First the 48 car failed pre-race inspection and crew chief Chad Knaus faces a possible suspension later this week. Then Johnson crashed on only the second lap of the race sweeping up several others in the melee that has put the five-time champ in a pretty big hole with only one race in the book.

Danica Patrick

Her much-anticipated first full season in NASCAR began with three different crashes, although none of her own doing. Patrick was clipped by other cars in her Gatorade Duel accident, turned by teammate Cole Whitt in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race wreck and then clipped by Johnson in the lap two Daytona 500 pile-up. Her mettle will be tested early and it may be a relief for Patrick to simply have her Nationwide program to concentrate on for the next few weeks.

Kurt Busch

The new phase of his career ultimately ended up with a poor finish and another crash for Busch, an unfortunate similar fate experienced earlier in the week. Busch showed perseverance in finishing the race for the Phoenix Racing team despite being several laps down but one of his best chances to perform well – at a restrictor plate track – went by the wayside and the reality of the grueling Cup schedule is now about to set in.


RADIO WAVES

(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)

"The thing that comes in my mind is NASCAR just can't catch a break. We've had some unfortunate things happen." – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"They're going to wreck again." – Carl Edwards

"It burned the helmet and everything." – Juan Pablo Montoya after his fiery crash with a jet dryer

“That's the Tasmanian Devil! Mr. Ambrose got him." – Crew Chief Steve Letarte pointing out who spun out Terry Labonte

RACE RATING

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I'll give Monday night’s Daytona 500 a three. There are things out of even NASCAR’s control with weather and fire certainly near the top of the list. Not much anyone can do when Mother Nature decides to intervene and there isn’t a person on earth who could have predicted the bizarre fire scene between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. As for the racing itself, it pretty much lived up to what was expected since Speedweeks began with a combo of tandem racing, single file competition and a mad dash to the checkered flag. Unfortunately I’m not sure any of that will erase the memory of a rain-delayed race that took more than six hours to finish on a Monday night and saw two teammates not really challenge one another for the win as they raced to the finish line.

DOWN THE ROAD

After one of the longest and most bizarre Speedweeks in history the Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway to begin what many believe is the real season. Last fall PIR hosted its first race on the newly reconfigured and repaved one-mile speedway and produced an exciting event that has drivers anxious to get back to the desert oval. No matter what happens at PIR, it will have to go a long way to beat the Daytona opener.

 

Daytona Speedweeks



Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:41 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:30 am
 

NASCAR has long history of bizarre happenings

By Pete Pistone

  Safety Workers
(Montoya's wild accident Monday night in Daytona brought out a two hour red flag - Getty Images)


Juan Pablo Montoya’s
crash with a jet dryer and the blazing fire that erupted and halted the Daytona 500 for more than two hours was just the latest addition to the list of bizarre NASCAR race happenings. 

Daytona International Speedway has seen its share of weirdness over the years racing from Dale Earnhardt hitting a seagull at speed racing down the backstretch to a driver (ok I admit it, my uncle “Tiger” Tom Pistone) actually wearing a mask and bolting an oxygen tank in his car as a precaution to driving into Lake Lloyd. He couldn’t swim if you haven’t guessed by now. 

There was the infamous Daytona pot hole in 2010 that formed in turn two and brought the race – and some say NASCAR’s momentum that season – to a screeching halt. 

Sterling Marlin gave up a chance to win the 2002 Daytona 500 when under a red flag he jumped out of his car on the backstretch and pulled his damaged fender away from the tire. That move resulted in NASCAR penalizing Marlin and dropping him from first to twelfth in the field. 

"I just pulled the fender off the tire, 'cause it was rubbing," Marlin said. "I saw Dale (Earnhardt) do it at Richmond once and NASCAR let him get away with it, but I guess the rules have changed in the meantime.” 

Daytona is not alone in the weirdness department. Other tracks have had their share over the years. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway endured the tire debacle of the 2008 Brickyard 400, that saw caution flags fly every ten laps when Goodyear rubber literally fell apart after a handful of circuits. 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway ran a restrictor plate race in 2001 after the deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin and fears of high speeds. 

But Pocono Raceway may take the prize on the weirdness awards. 

The rustic track located in the Pocono Mountains has had many incidents of animals wandering onto the track including rabbits, chickens and ducks. 

But nothing can top the time Neil Bonnett once returned to the garage during practice with blood on the hood of his car and the antlers from a deer stuck in the grille.

 

Daytona Speedweeks


Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:23 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 9:30 am
 

Video: Montoya crashes into jet dryer



Juan Pablo Montoya


YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF A LIMP, ARE YOU OK?

"I'm ok. My foot hurt, but I'm ok. For as big of a hit that way; I'm pretty good to be honest."

DID YOU TALK TO THE DRIVER OF THE JET DRYER TRUCK?

"He came with me (in the ambulance). He was pretty scared, but he looked ok."

WHAT HAPPENED?

"I told them when I left the pits something wasn't right and I felt a weird vibration when we were with the pack. Every time I got on the gas, it vibrated. So, I came back in and they checked all the rear-end and they said it was ok. I was going down the back straightaway, and I was going in fourth gear, but, we weren't even going that fast. Every time I got on the gas I could feel the rear really squeezing. I got on the brakes to travel up and while I was telling the spotter to have a look on how the rear was moving, the car just turned right."

WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE ALL RIGHT

“To be honest with you, it is tough. We were running a really smart race. Everyone on the Target Chevy really did a good job today. Just move on to Phoenix."

DID YOU HEAR THE EXPLOSION?

“Oh yeah, it burned the helmet and everything. It’s not where you want to finish the Daytona 500. Everybody on the Target team, with this great Chevy car, did an amazing job today. We didn’t bump anybody, nobody bumped us, and we only had 40 laps to go. I thought we had a great car. I thought we were in the right place. Everything was working well and go through that, it sucks.”

HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

“My foot hurts. I was full on the brakes and when I hit, I hit driver’s side and my foot slipped onto the clutch and it scratched the top of my foot.”

THIS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST BIZARRE INCIDENTS WE HAVE SEEN

“I have hit a lot of things, but a jet dryer? I mean, no.”

WHAT WAS THE TRACK LIKE? DID YOU GET TO SEE THE SURFACE OF THE TRACK?

“No, I was too busy. I really got out of the car fast. I looked up and I saw the guy out of the jet dryer. I saw a little bit of fire, my car was on fire. I saw the ambulance and walked to the ambulance.”

WERE YOU PLEASED AT HOW QUICKLY YOU WERE ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR?

“I am always really quick to get out of the car. In open-wheel they always check you at the beginning of the year and you have a certain time you have to get out. You really learn to get out of the car fast.”

WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU WERE GOING TO HIT THE TRUCK?

“I didn’t think about the truck, I thought ‘I’m actually hitting the jet and it’s not going to be fun.’ Before I got there I was thinking ‘this thing is going to be on fire pretty bad’ and it was.”

COULD YOU FEEL THE HEAT IMMEDIATELY?

“I saw the flames. My helmet got a little burned and everything, but move on.”

 
Daytona Speedweeks


Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:40 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:25 am
 

Video: Jeff Gordon blows an engine


Jeff Gordon

 NOT THE WAY YOU WANTED TO START THE SEASON OR FINISH THE DAYTONA 500. WHAT HAPPENED?

"There has been so much reliability testing that if we had seen some high temps or some high water pressure, then I would have kind of expected some of this to happen. But, I was actually seeing some surprising low temps and low pressures. I don't know, maybe something was off there.

"Boy, it is a shame. Our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong. We were just biding our time and being patient and working with guys. Every once in a while we could get up there to the front. But, we weren't even really trying at that time.

"You're racing out there, but in order to actually make a big move to get to the lead, you have to push. Then you do take a risk of getting the temps up. It just wasn't time to do that. But, we were in a great position. Great pit stop there.

"I just have to thank Drive To End Hunger for everything they do for all the older Americans dealing with hunger issues. Thank DuPont. Thank Pepsi Max and Chevrolet; all of our sponsors. This is not the way we wanted to start the season or the Daytona 500. So we'll go on to Phoenix."

WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING?

"My temps were looking good. Temps are such an issue here right now at Daytona. But all the temps looked good. All the gauges looked good. Just kind of came out of nowhere. First it popped and then it went up in a big ball of flames. So, you know that is down in the bottom end, and that is never good. So, I knew our night was done for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I can't thank them enough for all they do for the older Americans dealing with hunger issues; DuPont and Pepsi Max, Quaker State, Chevrolet; all of our sponsors.

"Gosh, I am just so disappointed. It's not the way we wanted to start this season or the Daytona 500, and it is a shame to be out like this."

HOW IS THE RACING OUT THERE? IS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?

"Well, lap one got everybody's attention. I don't know what happened. Who got in the back of Jimmie (Johnson). I just saw him get turned sideways. After that everybody was using their heads. You have got guys that are racing the bottom line and trying to manage their temperatures. Then, you have got guys on the outside that are able to manage their temps a little bit better, which is where I was. But, it takes a little bit more of kind of a team effort to get that lane up to the front. Most everybody that I was around looked like they were just doing what they needed to do to get to the end of this race. I can promise you, the end of this race is going to be intense. I was really looking forward to being a part of that battle."

DID YOU FEEL ANYTHING DIFFERENT? EVERYBODY WILL TALK ABOUT EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION) BUT WE DON’T KNOW. THEY CAN REALLY TAKE A LOOK AT IT A LOT EASIER AND FIND OUT WHAT IT IS QUICKER.

“The good thing is you can go back-up your temps and everything. My gauges all looked good. I was not having any temp issues at all and no water pressure issues. If anything, it was alarmingly low. We are going to diagnosis that and we can get a lot more information with the new EFI system. Anytime you have a failure like this you want to get as much information, valuable information; that you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

DID THE LONG WAIT HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THIS RACE AT ALL? WE SAW SOME CRAZINESS ON LAP TWO.

“Yeah, that was strange. I haven’t seen it. I just saw Jimmie (Johnson) get turned and it was really unfortunate for him. I know some other people got caught up in that. From that point on, everybody was really being calm and using their heads. The race was going along really smooth. The bottom line seemed to be able to maintain a little bit faster pace, but guys had to watch their temps a lot more. The outside lane had to work together as a team a little bit more to try to get up there, but you didn’t have to watch your temps as much. We were in the perfect position as far as I am concerned. It’s calm right now. It’s going to get insane. The only way you are going to be able to win this race is to really push hard. The cars, especially if the tires have some laps on them, they don’t drive very well when you start pushing.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:07 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:26 am
 

Video: Johnson, Patrick involved in Lap 2 crash

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Well it didn't take long for the first wreck of the rain-delayed Daytona 500. On the second lap, Jimmie Johnson got loose after a tap from behind by Elliott Sadler. Johnson slammed the wall and David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch were collected in the aftermath.

Patrick was involved in a wreck in every race she was entered during Daytona Speedweeks.



Jimmie Johnson

LOOKED LIKE A HARD HIT. FIRST ARE YOU OK? WHAT HAPPENED?

"Yes, I'm ok. That side hit was hard. We were all just trying to make our lane work. A lot of energy in the lane. I was kind of pushing the No. 78 (Regan Smith) a little bit. I could feel some help from behind. Just turned me around. Sent me down to the inside lane and back up to the outside lane. When I was l sitting in the middle of the race track, I knew at some point someone was going to come along unfortunately. David Ragan had nowhere to go. I unfortunately got drilled by him pretty hard.

"I'm just really, really bummed to start the season this way. For all the hard work that has gone into getting this Lowe's Chevrolet ready for tonight; we didn't get to complete two-and-a-half miles of green flag racing. So, I’m pretty bummed."



Daytona Speedweeks
 
 
 
 
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