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Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:04 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:23 pm

Race Preview: Daytona 500

By Pete Pistone

(Danica Patrick hopes to have a much better day Sunday at Daytona than she did in Thursday's qualifying race)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the 54th time NASCAR begins its season with the biggest race of the year. 

For the first time since 1992 a woman will be in the field. 

Danica Patrick has that honor coming twenty years after Shawna Robinson’s start in “The Great American race.” 

But Patrick says her celebrated start in Sunday’s Daytona 500, which has already generated more attention for the race than in recent years, shouldn’t be looked upon as any type of historical significance. 

“I’ve always been geared to just try and be the best driver I can be, not the best female driver,” said Patrick, who starts 29th on Sunday afternoon. “That’s been my approach from the day I first started in go-karts and it’s how I feel today as I get ready for Daytona.” 

Patrick’s week in Daytona has been eventful with a high-speed crash in her Gatorade Duel qualifying race and a pole position for Saturday’s Nationwide Series opener.

But despite her limited experience at NASCAR’s most famous track, Patrick is relatively comfortable at Daytona. 

“Well, with Daytona, it is a big track,” Patrick said. “It’s an easy track to drive. If you have a fast car, you’re going to probably go to the front. I think my inexperience is less of an issue because the car is easy to drive. For me, at a place like Daytona, it reminds me of racing in Indy Car. It reminds me of our mile-and-a-half racing where we would always be in a pack. There was no bump drafting in Indy Car, like there is in NASCAR. That too some getting used to a little bit.” 

Patrick’s teammate Tony Stewart may have more experience at Daytona but he has the same number of Daytona 500 victories. The defending series champion has won 17 times at the track, including his Thursday Duel, but has not yet won the most prestigious race. 

The three-time champion is well aware of the stat as he enters Sunday’s race. 

“I wouldn’t trade three championship to win Daytona,” he said. “It’s not a good feeling to not have that tally in the win column. Realistically, we have two tracks we haven’t won at; and the Daytona 500 we haven’t won. 

Everything else we have pretty much accomplished in this sport that we want to accomplish. 

“It’s the biggest race of the year; everyone wants to win that race. I won’t say that it is not a complete career if you don’t win it, but there is a lot of priority on winning it. Darrell Waltrip and Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. both had to go a long time before they got it.” 

It’s been a relatively long time since Dale Earnhardt Jr. actually won a Sprint Cup race at all. June of 2008 at Michigan International Speedway to be exact was the last time Junior went to victory lane. 

He won the 2004 “Great American Race” and would like nothing more than to finally end his more than three-year winless drought with a second win at Daytona. 

“You want to win any week you can but obviously Daytona is special,” said Earnhardt. “I’ve won this race before and it meant a lot then and to win it again this year would be a great way to continue the progress we’ve shown as a team over the last year or so.”


Daytona International Speedway 

Track Size: 2.5-mile

Race Length: 200 laps/500 miles 

Banking/Corners: 31 degrees 

Banking/Straights: 3 degrees 

Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees 

Frontstretch: 1,760 feet 

Backstretch: 1,760 feet


Qualifying/Race Data 

2011 pole winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (186.089 mph, 48.364 seconds) 

2011 race winner: Trevor Bayne (130.326 mph, 2-20-11) 

Qualifying record: Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs., 2-9-87) 

Race record: Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80)


Race Facts 

There have been 129 NASCAR Sprint Cup races since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 53 have been 500 miles, 49 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races. 

Fireball Roberts won the inaugural pole at Daytona. 

Bob Welborn won the first race at Daytona, the 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500. 

Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959. 

Fireball Roberts won the first 400-mile race at Daytona, the 1963 Firecracker 400. 

53 drivers have posted poles at Daytona. 

Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with 12 poles at Daytona. 

Bill Elliott leads all active drivers with five poles at Daytona. 

54 drivers have won at Daytona. 

Richard Petty leads all drivers in victories at Daytona with 10. 

Jeff Gordon has six victories at Daytona, more than any other active driver. 

The Wood Brothers have won 15 races at Daytona, more than any other car owner. 

17 full-length races at Daytona have been won from the pole; the last to do it was Kevin Harvick in last year’s Coke Zero 400. 

A driver has swept both races at Daytona only four times, most recently by Bobby Allison in 1982.

Who’s Hot at Daytona 

Kyle Busch – Daytona is still buzzing from Busch’s scintillating performance in the Budweiser Shootout and at this point his controversial ending to the 2011 season is a distant memory. Busch has comes to the 500 with three straight top five finishes at the track and has the look of a driver determined to make 2012 his season. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The return of pack drafting has been music to Earnhardt’s ears, who is much more comfortable in the old style of restrictor plate racing than in the tandem draft of recent years. There’s a confidence in the Earnhardt camp that has carried over from last season, which could help propel Junior to a second Daytona 500 victory.

Carl Edwards – The pole sitter brings a sense of determination into 2012 after coming up just short of last year’s championship. The Ford camp has had a stellar Speedweeks from a speed perspective and Edwards will have plenty of teammates to work with in the draft. Had four straight top five finishes at Daytona until problems handed him thirty-seventh place finish last July.

Who’s Not 

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin’s already ahead of where he was at last year’s Speedweeks when his week in Daytona was marred by engine problems and a myriad of other woes. But he has a 22.1 average finish at Daytona for a reason.

Paul Menard – Has been very outspoken about NASCAR’s new restrictor plate rules package and the return of pack drafting. Not surprisingly Menard is on his third car of Speedweeks 

Brad Keselowski – Five starts at Daytona have added up to a 26.8 average finish. Has not had the best Speedweeks so far and has a learning curve ahead working with new teammate A.J. Allmendinger.



Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. 

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959. 

Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona. 

Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the July race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under the lights ever.

Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982.

518 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 306 in more than one. 

35 drivers have won a Daytona 500. 

Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 years, 0 months, 1 days) 

Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 years, 2 months, 11 days) 

Eight drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories. 

The eight drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough(four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Sterling Marlin(two) and Michael Waltrip (two). 

Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 second-place finishes with three. 

Dale Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 Daytona 500s. 

Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each had 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver. 

Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver. 

Only 13 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, six of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once. 

Clint Bowyer has a 12.2 average finish in six appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500. 

Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance. 

28 of the 35 drivers who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane. 

Dale Earnhardt competed 19 times before winning his only Daytona 500 (1998), the longest span of any of the 35 race winners. 

Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker(18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin 12). 

The most Daytona 500s all-time without a victory was Dave Marcis (33 races). 

Mark Martin (27) leads active drivers without a victory. 

Six drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti(1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) andTrevor Bayne (2011). 

Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (point-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963),Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966). 

A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95) 

Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic timing in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. 

26 of the 53 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-five starting position. 

Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started.

Nine have been won from the pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000.

16 Daytona 500s have been won from the front row.

Danica Patrick will become the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson.

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 12:33 pm

Final Daytona 500 practice led by David Gilliland

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – David Gilliland led the way in Saturday’s final tune-up for the Daytona 500.

The Front Row Motorsports driver kept Ford on top of the speed charts as the manufacturer has been in practice all week with a speed of 200.138 mph. 

Last year’s Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was second quick at 200.129 mph. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. 

The session saw 36 drivers take laps on a cool and windy afternoon with temperatures twenty degrees less than Friday’s pair of practices.

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:13 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 12:43 pm

Daytona 500 starting lineup quick takes

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Carl Edwards starts Sunday's race from the pole position for Roush Fenway Racing)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A quick look at the 43 drivers who will take the green flag in Sunday's running of "The Great American Race:"

Daytona 500 Driver Quick Takes 

Row 1

Carl Edwards – Perfect way to help recover from last season’s championship disappointment with a start from the pole. Four top 10 finishes in his last five Daytona starts. 

Greg Biffle - One of the strongest in practice during Speedweeks, will he keep it up in the race? 

Row 2

Tony Stewart – A winner in one of Thursday’s Gatorade Duel looking for his first career Daytona 500 win. 

Matt Kenseth – The 2009 race winner also took a checkered flag in the Duel, the first ever for Roush Fenway Racing. 

Row 3

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The winless drought is heading to four years but a return to pack drafting style of racing could be just what the doctor ordered for Junior. 

Regan Smith – The one car Furniture Row Racing team shocked the world with a Southern 500 victory last season. Smith has a good shot at another NASCAR crown jewel on Sunday. 

Row 4

Marcos Ambrose – Consistently fast all through Speedweeks and a driver whose comfort level has risen dramatically over the last year. 

Jimmie Johnson – Will have Chad Knaus at his side for the 500 despite the pre-inspection penalty. Motivated to bounce back into title contention and to bring Knaus his first Daytona 500 win. 

Row 5

Jeff Burton – A solid Daytona outing will go a long way in helping the veteran driver’s quest to improve over his last two seasons of mediocrity. 

Elliott Sadler – Returns to the Sprint Cup Series in a fourth Richard Childress Racing entry and a potent one at that. 

Row 6

Michael McDowell – One of Thursday’s Cinderella stories that overcame long odds to earn a spot in the 500. Will most likely hook up with pal Trevor Bayne in the draft as they did in the Duel. 

Joey Logano – Got stronger as the week went on and worked well with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Sunday is first race with new crew chief Jason Ratcliff. 

Row 7

Kevin Harvick – Reunited with former Nationwide Series crew chief Shane Wilson. Harvick is the 2007 Daytona 500 winner. 

Kyle Busch – Spectacular Budweiser Shootout performance has raised the expectation level that this is the year Busch finally breaks through and wins Daytona. However potential Toyota overheating issues will be a challenge. 

Row 8

A.J. Allmendinger – Begins his Penske Racing career with the car that was strong last year during Speedweeks when Kurt Busch was behind the wheel. 

Jeff Gordon – The four—time series champion wound up on his roof in the wild Budweiser Shootout. Starts at the rear in a back-up car that crew chief Alan Gustaffson says is potentially a better piece. 

Row 9

Robby Gordon – Got in through his Duel and immediately offered to sell the position to the highest bidder. So far no takers but the green flag has not flown just yet. 

Ryan Newman – A former winner of the event when he was with Penske Racing. Will only draft with SHR teammate Tony Stewart in an emergency as team tries not to put both cars at risk. 

Row 10

Jamie McMurray – The 2010 Daytona 500 winner needs a good start to the season as a first step of erasing last year’s miserable effort. 

Kasey Kahne – Begins his Hendrick career in a back-up after a practice accident earlier in the week. 

Row 11

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Makes his Daytona 500 debut in the Roush Fenway Racing entry that David Ragan drove to victory at Daytona last July 

Mark Martin – Still chasing the elusive Daytona 500 win and begins his career with Michael Waltrip Racing. 

Row 12

Brad Keselowski – Has had a dicey Speedweeks so far with practice crashes in the Sprint Cup Series and a big accident in Friday night’s truck series race. 

Dave Blaney – Had a guaranteed starting spot in the race until team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out a deal with Stewart-Haas Racing for Danica Patrick. But Blaney raced his way into the 500 through the Duel and has underdog written all over him. 

Row 13

David Ragan – His first career Sprint Cup win came at Daytona in July. Faces an uphill battle with the Front Row Motorsports team that did show some promise on restrictor plate tracks last year. 

Martin Truex Jr. – The leader of the Michael Waltrip Racing team in terms of tenure will try to work with new teammates Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin in the draft. 

Row 14

Aric Almirola – Richard Petty Motorsports’ newest driver would like nothing better than to follow Trevor Bayne taking the Wood Brothers to victory lane last year by bringing “The King” a win in the iconic No. 43. 

Kurt Busch – The man who wanted to bring the fun back to his career after parting ways with Penske Racing has one of his best chances at Daytona with the plate potent Phoenix Racing organization. 

Row 15

Danica Patrick – Has already made headlines this week with her huge Duel crash and a pole in the season-opening Nationwide Series race. She’ll have lots of eyeballs on her first 500 performance to say the least. 

Clint Bowyer – Race number one of his Michael Waltrip Racing career and a pre-season pick by some to finally bring the organization a Chase berth. 

Row 16

Denny Hamlin – Former Daytona 500 and Sprint Cup Series championship winning crew chief Darian Grubb will try to guide Hamlin to his first victory in “The Great American Race.” 

Bobby Labonte – The veteran driver brings a new sense of energy to Daytona thanks to some off season moves by the JTG Daugherty Racing team including new crew chief Todd Berrier. 

Row 17

David Gilliland – Surprised everyone with a third place finish in last year’s Daytona 500. Starts a back-up car Sunday after a big crash in Thursday’s Duel. 

Joe Nemechek – “Front Row Joe” starts a long way from there on Sunday but just making the race was an accomplishment for this independent driver. 

Row 18

Juan Pablo Montoya – Another driver in a back-up ride after his Duel crash on Thursday. New crew chief Chris Heroy trying to help JPM shake last year’s blues. 

Casey Mears – The switch to Ford by Germain Racing hasn’t reaped any benefits just yet. 

Row 19

Paul Menard – Has been very critical of NASCAR’s new restrictor plate rules package, not surprising since Menard in on his third car of the week. 

David Reutimann – Landed with the new BK Racing team, which bought the assets of the former Red Bull Racing operation.

Row 20

Landon Cassill – Reutimann’s teammate at BK Racing spent last year with Phoenix Racing where he was ushered aside for the Kurt Busch “Just Wants to Have Fun” tour. 

Trevor Bayne – The 2011 Cinderella winner was forced to race his way into 50 to defend his crown. He’ll have to come a long way from back in the field to get back into contention but has proven to again be worthy running in the draft this Speedweeks. 

Row 21

Tony Raines – The Indiana driver and former short track standout drove another Front Row Motorsports entry into the field and kept veterans like Michael Waltrip and Kenny Wallace out in the process. 

David Stremme – The Inception Motorsports team has eight full-time employees, the same number of people hired to polish Jimmie Johnson’s helmet at Hendrick Motorsports.

Row 22

Terry Labonte – In on a past champion’s provision which by the way was earned by his 1996 title. Nothing against “Texas Terry” but that’s a rule in need of changing.

Daytona Speedweeks

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:57 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 7:39 pm

Danica Patrick takes Daytona Nationwide pole

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick rebounded from her Gatorade Duel crash on Thursday in a big way by winning the pole for the NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Patriuck turned a lap of 182.741 mph in her JR Motorsports Chevrolet to top the 50 car field in Friday's qualifying session.

It was her first career NASCAR pole. Patrick became the first female to win a NASCAR pole since Shawna Robinson in 1994 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I am happy with Tony, Jr. (Eury, crew chief),” Patrick said. “Since the first time we came here, he has put so much effort into it and all the times he’s come here, he never had a pole at Daytona, so it was something he’s never done and I was glad to be the one to push the pedal down and turn the wheel.

"It has a lot of pressure and I'm now nervous ... everyone who sits on the pole is going to be expected to do well." 

Trevor Bayne, Elliott Sadler, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five.

Saturday's race begins Patrick's first full season in the Nationwide Series.

Start No. Driver Make Speed (mph)
1 7 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 182.741
2 60 Trevor Bayne Ford 182.715
3 2 Elliott Sadler Chevrolet 182.671
4 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 182.593
5 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 182.411
6 12 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge 182.308
7 33 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 182.249
8 88 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 182.109
9 22 Brad Keselowski Dodge 182.094
10 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 181.829
11 38 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 181.635
12 31 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 181.496
13 44 Mike Bliss Toyota 181.43
14 1 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 181.327
15 30 James Buescher Chevrolet 181.2
16 43 Michael Annett Ford 181.057
17 18 Denny Hamlin Toyota 180.966
18 36 Ryan Truex Chevrolet 180.93
19 11 Brian Scott Toyota 180.886
20 14 Eric McClure Toyota 180.737
21 70 Johanna Long Chevrolet 180.61
22 20 Joey Logano Toyota 180.578
23 27 David Ragan Ford 180.332
24 54 Kyle Busch Toyota 179.917
25 19 Tayler Malsam Toyota 179.655
26 09 Kenny Wallace Toyota 179.594
27 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 179.251
28 01 Mike Wallace Chevrolet 179.072
29 15 Timmy Hill Ford 178.816
30 97 Johnny Sauter Toyota 178.664
31 41 Blake Koch Ford 178.501
32 08 Casey Roderick Ford 178.105
33 24 Benny Gordon Toyota 178.08
34 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet 178.01
35 39 Joey Gase Ford 177.641
36 51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 177.235
37 40 Josh Wise Chevrolet 177.19
38 28 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 177.099
39 50 T.J. Bell Chevrolet Owner Points
40 81 Jason Bowles Dodge Owner Points
41 4 Danny Efland Chevrolet Owner Points
42 52 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Owner Points
43 10 Jeff Green Toyota Past Champion
Failed to Qualify
44 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 177.809
45 73 Derrike Cope Chevrolet 177.103
46 42 Erik Darnell Chevrolet 176.967
47 47 Scott Speed Chevrolet 176.208
48 74 Mike Harmon Chevrolet 175.898
49 76 Donnie Neuenberger Ford 173.742
50 46 Chase Miller Chevrolet 175.002

Daytona Speedweeks

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:11 pm

Earnhardt Jr. highest paid driver in 2011

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't won a Sprint Cup Series race in more than three years. But his lack of victories hasn't hurt his wallet at all as Junior topped last year's list of highest paid NASCAR drivers.

Forbes Magazine compiled its annual list of drivers and their salaries and the Hendrick Motorsports pilot led the way with a $28 million take in 2011.

The magazine's earnings figures include driving salaries and personal endorsements, as well as drivers’ share of race winnings and licensing income. 

Here's a look at the complete Top 10:

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  $28 million
2. Jeff Gordon  $24 million
3. Tony Stewart  $22 million
4. Jimmie Johnson  $21 million
5. Carl Edwards  $15.5 million
6. Kevin Harvick  $14 million
7. Kyle Busch  $14 million
8. Danica Patrick  $12 million [indy car]
9. Matt Kenseth  $11.5 million
10. Kasey Kahne  $11 million

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:50 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 2:34 pm

Kyle Busch tops second Friday practice

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time since Speedweeks began last week a Ford driver did not top Daytona 500 practice.

Kyle Busch put his Toyota on top of the speed chart in Friday's second session with a lap of 199.885 mph. Last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout winner was the best of the 23 drivers who took part in the session with a number of teams again electing to sit out.

Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano was second fastest with a lap of 199.885 mph, an identical mark to the No. 18 M&M's Camry as teh duo hooked up in a tandem draft.

Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.

Final Daytona 500 practice is slated for Saturday morning.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:36 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:42 pm

Crash hasn't shaken Danica Patrick

By Pete Pistone

  Danica Patrick, Driver Of The #10 Chevrolet, Speaks
(Patrick and crew chief Greg Zipadelli discuss the plan to run the No. 10 back-up car in the Daytona 500)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick's violent crash in Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying race hasn't dampened her NASCAR spirits.

Patrick was fortunate to climb uninjured from her battered Chevrolet after the hard impact she made to the backstratech inside wall in Thursday's wreck. While she'll be forced to go to a back-up car in her first Daytona 500 on Sunday, Patrick won't let the accident change her approach to what she does for a living.

“We are not average people," Patrick said during her media availability at Daytona on Friday.  "We are not average to drivers on the road.  We race, I’m not saying we crash for a living, but it is part of racing for a living.  I feel fine.  I feel good.  I’m ready to go.  We are not going to go out for the first practice in the Cup car. So the guys get a chance to make sure everything is perfect and make sure the car is ready to go because it will be the last opportunity before Sunday.

"I would be ready to go if they said we are heading out in the first green flag.  I feel good.  Do I like crashing? Of course not. I don’t think anybody likes crashing, but it’s part of the business and it’s part of big pack racing like this. So many more cars in a close quarter and while the accident started on the outside you don’t even have to take part in it, you just have to be there.  As the first car hits the second car, as the second car hits the third car and then you know I was the third car.  Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.”

Patrick has seen the replay and run the incident over in her mind in the last 24 hours but says she still can't completely comprehend what happened. She can explain the move she made just before the impact that was caught on her in-car television camera when she put her hands on top of her helmet just before the car slammed into the wall.

“I would be happy to clear that up," she said.  "In Indy cars we learn to take the hands off the wheel because the holes for your hand are even smaller and we have dashes and the wheel flips.  I’ve had plenty of times where I have bruised my thumb, my bones, on the wheel.  I was trained to, when there is no saving it and no hope, you let go.  That is what I did yesterday.  Was I covering my eyes? I honestly felt like my hands were down here (places hands near her chest) but they were higher than that I guess. 

"I did watch it.  I watched the second race and then I went back and watched the accident.  No, I wasn’t covering my eyes, but yes I did close them as I got to the wall.  I didn’t want my eyes to pop out of my head.  Obviously, I tried to save it and thought there is nothing happening here so I might as well let go.  Again, that is an IndyCar thing.  I don’t see any point in keeping my hands tangled up with anything that is going to be moving.   I was just talking to medical on the way in here actually and he was giving me some ‘at a girl’ on doing that because all kinds of things can happen the more you connect yourself with stuff."

So both mentally and physically Patrick is ready to chalk up her adventure to the nature of being an auto racer and set to put it in the rear view mirror.

"Everything feels pretty good," Patrick said.  "I hit my foot on the clutch, which is my fault because I moved the clutch pedal towards me.  I hit my arm on the side of the seat because of the angle I went in on the right front.  We are just going to trim the seat up a little bit.  I actually feel better today.  That is a really good thing because last night it was starting to get sore. My husband is a physical therapist so he’s got a lot of good tricks and we’ve got a lot of good tricks on the bus to take care of things that don’t feel right.  That is why I feel better today.”

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:08 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:24 pm

Opening Friday practice to Carl Edwards

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Teams changed engines after Thursday's Duel at Daytona qualifying races and had their first chance to hit teh track for practice Friday morning.

However only 16 drivers took advantage of the opportunity and Carl Edwards led the way.

With several teams opting to sit out the day's first of two practice sessions choosing to not risk damage to their Daytona 500 cars, Edwards continued the Ford dominance of Speedweeks with a fast lap of 198.671 mph. Ford has led all five Daytona 500 practices so far this week.

Richard Petty Motorsports teammates Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose were next on the list with Juan Pablo Montoya - in a back-up car after wrecking his primary mount in Thursday's qualifying race - and Greg Biffle rounding out the top five.

The day's final practice session is set for early Friday afternoon.

Daytona Speedweeks

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