Category:Auto Racing
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:46 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:24 pm

Video: Big crash in Nationwide race

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Saturday's Nationwide Series race had been a relatively calm affair -- save for Danica Patrick's wreck -- until the "Big One" struck on Lap 105, involving 14 cars.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 3:10 pm

Johnson unsure of Daytona strategy

By Pete Pistone

  Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Driver Of The #20 The Home Depot Toyota, And Greg
(Johnson believes the No. 48 Chevrolet will be in both pack draft and tandem situations in the Daytona 500)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson is ready to begin his quest to climb back on top the Sprint Cup Series mountain but he’s not sure what to expect in the first race of the season.

Johnson knows pack racing will be back in play for Sunday’s Daytona 500 but doesn’t believe we’ve seen the end of tandem drafting either.

He’s been intently watching the races that have gone on during Speedweeks to try and gauge how Sunday’s 500 may play out.

“It’s been fun,” Johnson said Saturday at Daytona. “When I’m watching points races like I watched the Truck race last night.  You can see the range of emotions of what happens.  We will have that same type of thing in our race.

“The Shootout is fun because there aren’t any points and you can just have at it.  But, when the points are on the line the pack racing can be frustrating.  The tandem racing can be frustrating; I think it is plate racing.  We are at a plate track and tomorrow afternoon throughout the race you will see a lot of emotions that aren’t excited about plate racing.  Fans love it, it puts on a great show and that is what you have to do to win the Daytona 500.”

While his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. has publicly dismissed the idea of hanging back in the field for most of the race before hooking up with Johnson in a two-car draft to the front, the five-time champion won’t completely rule out that strategy.

“That chance is there,” Johnson said.  “The one thing about this package is that track position is important from a handling perspective and a cooling perspective.  I think on any restart you will see a lot of activity just trying to get track position and be in the right scenario for those reasons.

“Once we settle into a groove I would expect a lot of patience out of people.  We know that you can’t win the race in the first 499 miles.  That element could be there.  The one thing that does change that is the deeper in the pack you are the easier your car is going to overheat.  It can go either way I just don’t know at this time what to really expect.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:01 pm

Video: Danica Patrick Nationwide Series crash

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Danica Patrick hasn't had much luck finishing races at Daytona this year. She wrecked on the final lap in her Gatorade Duel qualifier on Thursday.

During Saturday's Nationwide race, however, she didn't even make it halfway, wrecking on Lap 50 with a bit of assistance from her JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt.

Patrick wound up finishing in position 38 after her pole-winning run and was understandably disappointed with the outing, the first of her full-time Nationwide Series schedule.

“The bummer of it is not only is it the start to the championship and I’m in the championship and every point matters, which is why we went back out there again, but there are so many other days when your car isn’t perfect, isn’t super fast and nothing happens to you,” Patrick said. “And you think why on the days when I have a really fast car it has to happen today. But it did and we’ll move on.”

As for making contact with her teammate Whitt, Patrick said she’ll talk with the young driver on how to work together better in the future.

“I don’t think it’s ever great when teammates come together,” Patrick said. “We’ll have to figure out what happened and move forward.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:02 pm

2012 Daytona 500 predictions

Daytona 500 Winner

Pete Pistone's pick

Kyle Busch -- I’ve been coming to Daytona since I was a kid and watching NASCAR racing pretty much my entire life. Never have I seen a display like the one Kyle Busch put on in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saving his car three different times when it was completely sideways and somehow coming back from that shower of sparks to win the race. Say what you want about his personality or his behavior but it’s impossible to argue that Busch is one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen. He is very determined to put the controversy of last year behind and focus on winning races and the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. That quest begins this weekend and Busch will get the year off on the highest of notes with a win in “The Great American Race.”

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Carl Edwards -- I could really name just about any driver from the Roush Fenway camp as they've been very impressive during Speedweeks. Its drivers have been at or near the top of the speed charts during most practices, Edwards and his teammate Greg Biffle were top 2 in qualifying and third teammate Kenseth won Gatorade Duel 2, an event Biffle led for a race-high 40 laps. But while championships may elude Edwards, the Daytona 500 might just land in his lap. If Edwards can pull it off, he'd be the 18th pole-sitter to win the 500 and the first since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Dark Horse

Pete Pistone's pick

Marcos Ambrose -- The entire Ford contingent has been fast at Daytona since it rolled off the haulers at the start of Speedweeks. Ambrose is among those who have stayed near the top of speed chart in practice sessions and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver also factored into both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel outcomes. The popular Australian feels at home in NASCAR after finding his way the last few seasons and many believe he’ll win his first oval track race in 2012 in addition to being a powerhouse on the road courses. That victory could come on Sunday with Ambrose giving his fans both in the U.S. as well as “down under” something to celebrate.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Trevor Bayne -- The defending Daytona 500 champion as a darkhorse? I may be stretching this a bit, but I haven't heard anybody giving him much of a chance to repeat. He's been decent during Speedweeks, but remains somewhat of an afterthought behind the Cup regulars. He's flying under the radar, but has the car to pull of the win again. At the very least, you can say he has experience winning NASCAR's biggest race. How wild would it be if Bayne were to make it 2 for 2 in the Daytona 500?

Surprise Top 10

Pete Pistone's pick

Dave Blaney -- The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion had a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to his finish inside the Top 35 last year. But after team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to transfer those points to Danica Patrick, Blaney had to race his way into the 500 in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Last season the underdog turned a lot of heads with stellar restrictor plate track performances at both Daytona and Talladega so Blaney has skills in the draft. He may also have a little extra motivation as well on Sunday after the off-season points maneuvering and despite being a David against the Goliaths of the series; a finish inside the first ten is not out of the question.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Aric Almirola -- It's easy to forget that Almirola is the newest driver of the No. 43 car, replacing A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped to Penske Racing to fill the No. 22 seat vacated by Kurt Busch. He definitely has speed as he topped the fourth practice session and was second in the fifth session. Another driver with Ford power under the hood, don't be surprised to see him running near the front on Sunday.

Quick picks

  Pistone De Los Santos
Better Busch brother finish Kyle Kurt
Will Danica finish on lead lap No No
Over/Under Caution Flags (8) Under Under
Over/Under Caution Laps (25) Over Over
Over/Under Leaders (20) Over Under
Over/Under Lead Changes (50) Under Over

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:08 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:29 pm

Photo gallery: Saturday at Daytona

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Here's a collection of photos I took from the garage during Saturday's final practice and just before the Nationwide race.

Daytona Speedweeks

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 10:24 am

Santorum to sponsor Front Row No. 26 car in 500

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Front Row Motorsports landed a Daytona 500 sponsor for it's No. 26 car in the form of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

The car, driven by Tony Raines, who was able to make the race based on his qualifying speed, will feature campaign messaging from Santorum on its hood and quarter panels.

"NASCAR and the Daytona 500 are about as American as you can get -- and it's great to have my campaign represented by one of these incredible machines," said Santorum.  "The race weekend is a wonderful tradition that we're excited to be a part of as we spread our message. I like how Tony Raines turned some heads last weekend with his qualifying run and we'd like to keep turning heads, too. I think we're both looking for a win in the end."

With the Santorum campaign coming aboard the No. 26 Ford, Front Row Motorsports will have three sponsored entries in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Daytona Speedweeks
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