Category Archives: Racing

Fast, Fast, Fast

Courtesy: NASCAR Media

It’s official – the new surface at Daytona Speedway is fast, fast, fast.

Sprint Cup teams have been testing setups and drafting at the “Birthplace of Speed,” since Thursday morning. Every driver passing through the media center is raving about how fast it is.

During the morning session on Saturday, Joe Gibbs Racing team mates Joey Logano (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota) swapped spots tailing each other and set the day’s top speeds with just over 197 mph.

“I feel like we’ve got a decent speed in the Home Depot Toyota,” said Logano, who had the morning’s fastest lap (197.516 mph, 45.566 seconds). “Usually in single-car runs we were probably a 15th-place car, but I feel like we’re a top-five car in single-car runs right now. That’s exciting to know.”

With the Daytona 500 only four weeks away, teams are feverishly getting ready for the 2011 season. This week’s testing at Daytona has sent a message through the garage summed up best by NAPA Auto Parts driver, Martin Truex Jr., when asked to give a preview of what to expect in the 500. ““It’s going to be wild. It’s going to be fun. I love racing here. Here and Talladega are some of the most fun races for us as drivers until you get in a wreck, and then you’re just pissed off, and you’re pissed off until you come back and hoping to finish the next one.”

That’s tellin’ ’em, Martin!

When defending race winner, Jamie McMurray, was asked about the new surface, he said. “The track is really good and the racing is going to be closer to what Talladega has except for the fact the track is quite a bit narrower.”

We’ve never seen racing at Daytona like we are going to see it this year.  Teams will be comfortably running three and four wide all day, and faster than ever at this speedway.

Racing at Daytona starts on February 12 with the Budweiser Shootout followed a few days later with the twin qualifiers on February 17.

When is asphalt big news?

When it’s the new surface at Daytona International Raceway.

What NASCAR fan does not remember the cracked pavement debacle at this year’s Daytona 500? From a drivers standpoint it wasn’t much different than driving in Chicago rush hour, dodging potholes, except these guys were doing it at 190 mph. A small crater developed along the low line of turn two and after at least two competitors suffered damaged race cars as a result, NASCAR officials red flagged the race (parked the competitors) so track crews could figure out how to repair the dangerous fissure along the racing surface.

After nearly a two hour delay the race resumed. Then, with only 39 laps left to finish, the patch no longer patched and the problem was worse than ever. With another red flag, another delay, a mass exodus from the grandstands, and Daytona Speedway had a full blown PR nightmare on their hands. Imagine the net coming unraveled during the last set of the last match at Wimbleton, or the green catching fire at the 18th Hole at the Masters in Augusta, or the starting gates collapsing at the Kentucky Derby — with the horses in them. That’s how bad this was. In the end it took over six hours to run a three hour race — a nightmare with a capitol NIGHT!

You have to applaud the Daytona for grabbing the tires by the asphalt and making the quick decision to repave the speedway. Work would begin immediately after the July race.  Considering the size of the job, the amount of pavement to lay down and the six months to do it, the window of opportunity was very narrow, but the contractor came in under the checkered flag.

The twenty million dollar paving job was officially christened by a host of NASCAR drivers this week to test tire compounds for Goodyear.  Based on the tests, many drivers believe the new Daytona will drive very much like Talladega. Two and three wide racing virtually anywhere on the track will be the norm. It’s been thirty-two years since the jewel of NASCAR has seen new asphalt. The dangerous bumps in turns two and four are gone.

The speedway will be fast, the racing will be close, and the fans will love it. What more can I say… It’s Daytona, baby!

The Daytona 500 runs on February 20th. 2010.

I woke up this morning, and I still don’t believe I won the Daytona 500. ~Dale Earnhardt