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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?

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From the Marbles: What to expect from Danica Patrick

January 25, 2012 Comments off

Danica Patrick talks with the media during Media Tour on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Kyle Busch was the most talked about NASCAR driver in 2011, but his crown will be swept away by Danica Patrick in 2012 as she will attempt her first full season behind the wheel in the Nationwide Series.

Driving for JR Motorsports, Patrick will be maneuvering her way, as comfortably as possible, through the ranks. Piloting the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in Nationwide, she is one of the early contenders to come out of the gates and be successful.

She will be doing double-duty weekends between Nationwide and the Sprint Cup Series, driving the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, and will be racing in the Daytona 500 in late February. They have announced she will compete in 10 Cup races in 2012, and will forgo the Indianapolis 500 to be in the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

With many tracks on the schedule she hasn’t raced competitively on, she looks for 2012 to be a season of many ups-and-downs through her course of progression.

So what is there to be expected from Patrick in 2012? Let’s take a look-see …

First, she will succeed this season. Maybe not to the degree that some would love to watch, but success can be measured in many terms. She drives for one of the top-tier organizations in the Nationwide Series in JR Motorsports, and will be more comfortable than ever behind the lead of Tony Eury, Jr.

Danica Patrick and Tony Eury, Jr. will begin their third season together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season. (All Left Turns)

One top-five and three top-10s in 25 races may not be the success people expected from Patrick over her past two seasons. Or maybe it was for some fans. However, entering her third season behind the wheel, her average finish of 17.4 in 2011 will work its way down over the course of this season.

It’ll never be expected she be a favorite at any racetrack in 2012, but there are tracks that are “winnable.” I do believe she will win a race this season in the Nationwide Series. It will not come on a track where she is competing the double-duty workload, but to count her out in the equipment she races with is hard to argue.

She will not be a title contender in 2012. There are many issues with her learning curve that will halt her chances to become a champion. The road courses, tracks she has not raced on and other racing incidents she will encounter will be too much of a deficit to overcome when it comes to other competitors such as Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson.

Experience is a word fans will hear a lot about Patrick this season. Leading laps, finishing races and capturing as many positions as possible toward the end of the race is what needs to be expected from her. Her fourth place finish at Las Vegas in 2011 was the highlight of her season where she will need to build momentum from. Having consistent finishes without issues on pit road, entering or exiting, accidents or altercations with other drivers will allow Patrick to have a successful year she can build from in 2013 and beyond.

If Patrick will “make” it in NASCAR, success will be determined by winning races.

For today, tomorrow and 2012, Patrick and Danica-mania will enjoy the life in NASCAR, looking toward the future starting at Daytona.

Trevor Bayne makes history winning the Daytona 500

February 21, 2011 1 comment

Trevor Bayne takes the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway to capture his first win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the Daytona 500. Credit: Facebook.com

In the 52 years of the Daytona 500, Lee Petty was the only driver to ever arrive at his first Daytona 500 and win, until today.

A driver of 20 years and one day from Knoxville, Tenn. made history in the Wood Brothers No. 21 as the youngest Daytona 500 winner and he goes by Trevor Bayne (website says “Official site coming soon”). Bayne scored his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway,the sport’s most prestigious track, in only his second start.

Bayne has jumped from a few teams in the Nationwide Series before meeting with the Woods to enter the first five races of the 2011 Sprint Cup Series. He drove the paint scheme formerly driven by newly inducted hall of famer David Pearson who drove to the last Woods’ Daytona victory 35 years ago.

For a driver who chose to run for a Nationwide title this season, his life will forever be changed as his name is etched into one of the most famous trophies in the sports. He joins some of the best names in racing such as Pearson, Foyt, Yarborough and Lund to drive to victory in a Woods’ Daytona 500 winning car.

It is doubtful those names could have completed the obstacles Bayne overcame and surpassed over the course of Speedweeks. Bayne worked the draft, two-car tango and other competitors the best out of every rookie and possibly veteran driver in the field. He earned the respect of Jeff Gordon in the Gatorade Duel on Thursday, but also pushed multiple cars to the front of the field in yesterday’s race.

So how can a virtually ‘unknown’ driver’s life change, so to speak, from being just another driver in the field to being a Daytona 500 champion?

An hour after Bayne’s victory, he noticed he went from 6,000 followers on Twitter to over 16,000 (now over 23,000). It is possible this victory will allow Bayne’s 17 guaranteed starts this season to increase to a possible full season opportunity with one of the most professional owners in NASCAR history.

In the end, he was the rookie looking like an upcoming veteran holding off past Daytona 500 champion and Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte, Carl Edwards and David Gilliand.

For a team owner who missed the Daytona 500 in 2008 for the first time in four decades Eddie Wood only had words for the future of Bayne.

“He reminds me of the great ones,” Wood said. “He will be a great one. I told somebody the other day that I felt like he just might be the next big deal, and I think he is.”

Trevor Bayne poses with the Daytona 500 trophy after his victory Sunday. Credit: Yahoo! Sports

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.

Dodge returns to the grounds of Robby Gordon Motorsports in 2011

February 10, 2011 Comments off

Robby Gordon will pilot the No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Charger in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series with engines supplied from Penske Racing. Credit: PlanetRobby.com

Today at NASCAR’s media day at Daytona International Speedway, owner and driver Robby Gordon announced Robby Gordon Motorsports will make a return to the manufacturer of Dodge with engine support from Penske Racing.

Gordon previously drove for Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008 when he had a technical-manufacturing-marketing alliance with, at the time, Gillette-Evernham Motorsports. He finished that season 33rd in the points standings.

When looking back at his decision to make the quick decision to switch from Ford to Dodge weeks before the 2008 season it had pros and cons.

A pro that came from the merger was he was able to support his race team with extra sponsorship that did not come from Jim Beam, Menards and Camping World. Being able to have other sponsors such as Valvoline and Charter Communications only enhanced his opportunities to race every week without spending money straight from Robby Gordon Motorsports.

Many cons came from the quick switch in manufactures, and one included a major penalty to RGM at Daytona for having an unapproved nose. A penalty that later was overturned, only set back RGM’s 2008 year further behind as an organization.

Before the NASCAR season began, Gordon’s offroad effort at the Dakar Rally was cancelled due to terrorist activity in the area. RGM as a company was struggling to find sponsorship after putting countless hours of work and resources toward a race that could have enhanced the company as a whole in the terms of marketing.

Now the company has driven for every manufacturer in NASCAR today, and will be returning to a company with an owner in Roger Penske who will keep Gordon’s company afloat through these tough times. Penske will be able to provide Gordon’s No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Charger reliable engines which will in turn provide improving results.

For fans of Gordon, the best outlook for the future could be in the hands of Penske. With Gordon’s efforts to race in many outlets outside of the NASCAR spectrum, he could race in many series including IndyCar, SCORE Off-Road, possibly the X-Games and Monster Truck rallies.

For more information, photos and live-updates about Robby Gordon, visit SPEED Energy’s website and join PlanetRobby.com. Both SPEED Energy and Planet Robby give live-updates via Twitter.

Robby starts new relationship at Talladega

October 31, 2010 Comments off

The other Gordon has been making headlines in the media this week, and he only made more as he showed up in Alabama for Halloween weekend instead of Kevin Conway.

Robby Gordon, driver and car owner of the No. 7 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, raced this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway after debuting his new sponsor Friday: SPEED Energy.

Gordon was seen doing a burnout, donuts and speeding on Highway 77 in North Carolina earlier this week, testing changes to his car going full speed. He was pulled over by North Carolina police and now he and his new sponsored Toyota are in the Talladega garage after finishing 18th.

So what happens to Monster Engery Drink? Monster sponsored Gordon earlier in the season including the Daytona 500 and at Infineon where he finished second, but pulled out of their sponsorship obligations because NASCAR does not fit their marketing campaign. Monster will no longer sponsor Gordon in his offroad program as well.

Taking a look at his bright, orange Camry, it looks like the same racecar he debuted at Indianapolis; however, this car is now fully-sponsored by SPEED Energy and was co-developed by Gordon.

Today Gordon was seen throughout the pack at the front, middle and back. He had a strong showing without leading a lap in this year’s fall race.

He and his RGM team had issues today, but once again overcame them. A poor pitstop by the team under green flag made him lose the draft and eventually lose a lap on the track. He received the lucky dog on a caution and remained in the pack for the remaining of the race. He was nearly in the wreck that involved Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton.

After escaping through the final lap wreckage, he is unofficially place in 18th. He is now safely 130 points inside the Top 35 in owner’s points, and will race again the next two weekends at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Speedway. Kevin Conway will drive the season finale at Homestead.

Robby Gordon and fans can only hope next season will be what this year was suppose to be. A new beginning of worldwide motorsports including NASCAR, Indianapolis 500, DAKAR Rally, Baja 1000 and his monster truck.

Gas on Robby!

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