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Preview: 55th Running Of The Daytona 500

February 24, 2013 1 comment

Daytona 500

In American sports, there are three single-day sporting events that take precedent over all other forms of entertainment including the Super Bowl, Indianapolis 500 and, the biggest of all today, Daytona 500.

NASCAR’s most respected venue and largest valued race in any season will take place on FOX at 1:29 p.m. as the green flag will be dropped by two-time NFL champion, and recently retired, Ray Lewis.

Headlines have been countless over the last week since Sprint Cup Series rookie Danica Patrick took pole and became the first woman to record the fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR’s premier series. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon will start outside Patrick to start The Great American Race.

The debut of the Generation 6 has been talked about in Speedweeks and has been the most important focus of all teams and media throughout the last week. With the style of the bodies looking like the cars you would see on the showroom floor, teams and manufacturers are happy to see a racy, brand identity machine that brings the stock, back in stockcar racing.

Throughout the races and practices held so far with these new cars, we still don’t know the type of racing we will see. Besides the two-car tandem now being inexistent, we know the pack racing will be back in full-force, but there seems to be new complications with the draft drivers are still trying to figure out.

kyle larsonHaving a pack of 43 cars will be something we all should look forward to in finding out what the racing environment will be like.

After a stunning race, in multiple ways, Saturday in the Nationwide Series, it left double-digits of cars wrecked crossing the finish line and 28 fans injured, some critically. All fans that were taken to the hospitals in the area of Daytona International Speedway were listed as stable this morning and some were released.

Fan safety is an area that is not talked about much when it comes to racing. The unfortunate reality that is motorsports is cars running near 200 miles per hour can become airborne leaving the possibility of flying into the catchfence where debris can become part of the grandstands.

Here is to a successful day where storylines are plentiful during the timeframe of 500 miles on a 2.5-mile high-banked oval. Speeds will be close to 200 mph and competitors will fight inches apart, sometimes three-wide, for the coveted Harley J. Earl Trophy.

danica gordonWill it be a former Daytona 500 champion, with nine of those drivers in the field, to win again? Will it be Tony Stewart to win his first 500 in his 15th try? Drivers to win their first Daytona 500 in their 15th try were Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Michael Waltrip. Will it be Danica Patrick? She will be the only female in the field, and will become the fourth woman driver to compete in the Daytona 500. Or will it be a first time winner?

The unknowns are great for the 55th running of the Daytona 500, and I know I will be glued to my TV for the entirety. Are you ready?

Keselowski and Penske Win First Sprint Cup Championship

November 18, 2012 Comments off

After 400 miles Sunday and 35 prior races during the 2012 season, Brad Keselowski won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship by 39 points over Clint Bowyer.

A final race leading by 20 points, Keselowski was the underdog of the year to beat five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson would finish 36th after a drivetrain issue with under 50 laps remaining.
Jeff Gordon would win the season finale while Bowyer would finish second.

Keselowski’s average finish at Homestead was 20.2, but he needed to finish 15th or better to clinch for his and team owner Roger Penske’s first Cup championship. The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge would finish 15th.
Dodge’s final race wins the championship before the manufacturer leaves the NASCAR as Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford will remain as the three manufacturers in 2013.

Penske Racing will make the transition to Ford next season and use Roush-Fenway engines despite using their own engine program for years. Dodge retains its championship form since Richard Petty’s title in 1975.

BAJA Sports: What’s happening in the auto racing world

March 2, 2011 Comments off

Over the past few weeks, rumors, breaking news and history have been made. So what is happening in the auto racing world today? BAJA Sports blogger Thomas Hitch talks NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, NHRA and AMA.

Jeff Gordon won the race at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday. He snapped his 66-race winless streak by leading 138 laps. Credit: AmpedUpMag.com

NASCAR:

The season is finally underway after two weeks have been completed and NASCAR has seen great results from the drivers and an improvement in television ratings.

At the Daytona 500 there could not have been a more unpredictable finish with the Wood Brothers taking their Motorcraft Ford to victory lane at Daytona for the first time in 35 years with a kid of 20 years in Trevor Bayne. Eddie Wood made a bold statement in victory lane that Bayne will be one of the greats of NASCAR’s future.

This past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeff Gordon ended his 66-race winless drought as he passed Kyle Busch in the final remaining laps to capture his first win in nearly two seasons. Gordon held of Busch and kept him from sweeping the weekend in the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series for the second time.

The IndyCar Series will race the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Homestead will no longer be a part of the series. Credit: NYtimes.com

IndyCar Series:

The first race of the season is now less than a month away and a lot has happened over the past few weeks leaving new drivers in new seats and veteran drivers left out.

Graham Rahal will be driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 38 sponsored by Service Central. Mike Conway will replace Tony Kanaan at Andretti Autosport where he will be considered the ‘second-punch’ to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Tony Kanaan will continue to look for a ride in the 2011 IndyCar season, after his latest deal fell through and was told to look for other opportunities. He has been rumored to take his veteran talent to NASCAR’s Truck Series to drive for owner Kyle Busch.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been announced as the series’ season finale. Not only is it a major announcement for the series, but another announcement was made for drivers who are not full-time drivers in the IndyCar series. To attract other drivers to race the finale, there is a $5 million prize for any driver to come from another series and win the race. This could attract the likes of former IndyCar champions Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Stewart, along with other former drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Robby Gordon and Scott Pruett.

Red Bull Racing will add sponsorship from Infiniti in 2011. Credit: thedetroitbureau.com

Formula One:

Formula One has announced they have canceled their season opener in Bahrain due to a recent political turmoil within the Kingdom of Bahrain. Formula One is hoping to reschedule the Grand Prix for a later date during the season.

Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be driving a NASCAR stock car provided by Stewart-Haas Racing in New York at the Watkins Glen road course sometime this summer as owner Tony Stewart will drive the F1 car.

Red Bull Racing announced its sponsorship with Infiniti and it has been announced a relationship through a ‘marketing and technical agreement.’ The official announcement will be provided at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday.

Larry Dixon broke the qualifying record set by Tony Schumacher with a run of 2.770. Dixon would be knocked out in the first round at Pomona (California). Credit: Tomkingaerial.wordpress.com

NHRA:

This past weekend the NHRA began their season Saturday at Pomona where Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) brought their team the victory.

Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon set a new qualifying record at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.  He ran a 3.770 at 324.98 mph where he took the top spot in qualifying beating Tony Schumacher’s previous record in time of 3.771.

Chad Reed and James Stewart collide in one of the final corners in Atlanta. Ryan Villopoto went on to win at Atlanta Motocross. Credit: Grindtv.com

 

American Motocross Association:

Last weekend the AMA began their season in Atlanta where James Stewart and Chad Reed collided on the final lap in a controversial way allowing Ryan Villopoto to steal a victory after only being 7th fastest in practice on Friday.

Stewart talked to Dave Despain from The Wind Tunnel on Speedtv.com about how he feels the AMA should take this incident into consideration in looking out for the safety of riders. He expressed his concerns on how the AMA should view this incident and distribute penalties because it was not his first run in with Reed, and Stewart has been ‘on probation for things not close to being as bad.’

NASCAR field set for 500 miles at Daytona

February 17, 2011 Comments off

Tony Stewart drives through Daytona International Speedway's garage area during practice. The Daytona 500 will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX. Credit: 4ever3blog.com

Today the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series set the field for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 during the Gatorade Duel 150s.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge, and Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, won the two 150 mile races today at Daytona International Speedway. Because Dale Earnhardt Jr. was forced to a backup car, Busch will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday with Jeff Gordon on the outside.

Drivers in the first duel will fill in the inside row (odd positions) for the start of the race, and the drivers in the second duel will fill the outside row (even positions).  Drivers who missed “The Great American Race” are Todd Bodine, Kevin Conway, Derrick Cope, Michael McDowell and Casey Mears.

Teams will have three more practice sessions to prepare for their biggest event of the year. There will be two practices on Friday and Happy Hour will take place Saturday morning before the Nationwide Series take the track for the Drive4COPD 300 being aired on ESPN2 at 1:15 p.m.

Here will be the starting lineup for the race Sunday on FOX at 1 p.m.

1. #22-Kurt Busch

2. #24-Jeff Gordon

3. #78-Regan Smith

4. #31-Jeff Burton

5. #29-Kevin Harvick

6. #33-Clint Bowyer

7. #17-Matt Kenseth

8. #15-Michael Waltrip

9. #4-Kasey Kahne

10. #18-Kyle Busch

11. #42-Juan Pablo Montoya

12. #92-Brian Keselowski

13. #43-A.J. Allmendinger

14. #1-Jamie McMurray

15. #5-Mark Martin

16. #2-Brad Keselowski

17. #27-Paul Menard

18. #11-Denny Hamlin

19. #39-Ryan Newman

20. #56-Martin Truex Jr.

21. #48-Jimmie Johnson

22. #99-Carl Edwards

23. #14-Tony Stewart

24. #00-David Reutimann

25. #83-Brian Vickers

26. #16-Greg Biffle

27. #09-Bill Elliott

28. #37-Robert Richardson Jr.

29. #47-Bobby Labonte

30. #7-Robby Gordon

31. #46-J.J. Yeley

32. #21-Trevor Bayne

33. #36-Dave Blaney

34. #6-David Ragan

35. #9-Marcos Ambrose

36. #77-Steven Wallace

37. #71-Andy Lally

38. #20-Joey Logano

39. #34-David Gilliland

40. #87-Joe Nemechek

41. #38-Travis Kvapil

42. #32-Terry Labonte

43. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.  (B)

*B – going to rear because of backup.

History is fading. NASCAR seeing the light.

November 9, 2010 Comments off

Credit: Rubbin's Racin'

Implemented in 2004, the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup is their version of end of the season playoffs, and many have criticized its intentions to help the sport.

The Chase has had only three different champions crowned over the seven years of its existence, because of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus’ dominance the past four seasons. They have won the most Chase races with 19, leading Carl Edwards and the 2005 champion Tony Stewart who have six.

The intentions to have a playoff system was to keep fan interest and raise television ratings beause the National Football League’s season begins near the end of the NASCAR season. With Johnson’s dominance and the economy taking a downturn, ratings and fan attendance drastically dropped.

Due to high ticket prices, fan attendance has declined considerably at tracks that are used to sell outs such as Bristol, Daytona, Richmond and Darlington. Auto Club Speedway lost a race due to low attendance and Pocono Raceway is under a fine microscope of losing one date as well.

For the past three seasons all fans are asked is who is going to take down Johnson? In 2007 it was Jeff Gordon but it turned out to be Clint Bowyer who showed in the picture. In 2008, it was all about Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. In 2009, it was Kyle Busch and Edwards. This year it is all about Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin said last season his team is capable of winning multiple championships, and they should be the favorite to take down the No. 48 Chevrolet in 2010. Hamlin talks a lot of trash toward other teams, but there is one difference that separates him from his teammate Busch; he produces wins when it counts.

Hamlin has won the most this season with eight while Johnson has only won six.  The surprise of the season has been Kevin Harvick who led the points coming into the Chase before the points were reset. The top three in points are separated by 53 points making this year’s Chase the closest ever with two races remaining.

Johnson is not the lead of the point anymore as Hamlin took a commanding lead leaving Texas Motor Speedway Sunday night. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will head to Phoenix International Raceway with a slim margin of 33 points over the 48 team.

Who says the Chase is boring? We saw Jeff Burton, yes, Jeff Burton, get into a shoving match with Gordon Sunday. Busch throw the middle-finger salute at officials on camera. This is what everyone has been wanting. Let’s watch Johnson and Gordon’s pit crew see history run from their dashboard into the sunset at Homestead in two weeks at the finale. That is what everyone wants to see, right?

Harvick can still steal the championship en route to his first championship at the Sprint Cup level as well as Hamlin.

There are only two more weekends of head-to-head-to-head battling left before we wait until Speedweeks. So, what will we see?

Exactly what NASCAR has wanted for seven years.

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