The first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2010 season is on Sunday, Valentine’s Day. The Daytona 500. The Super Bowl of NASCAR. And there have been a lot of changes since the season ended in November 2009. New drivers in new cars with new sponsorship. New rules changes. So, NASCAR race fans, let’s get started!
The first event in Daytona is the non-points race, the Budweiser Shootout. Positions are set by having the eligible drivers pick a bottle of Budweiser that has a position inside. Drivers eligible this year are different this year. Last year they had the top 6 cars of each of the different Manufacturers. This year they used Daytona and the Shootout as qualifications. Any driver who has ever won the Shootout is in if they can find a ride. Ken Schrader and Derrike Cope found rides. The top 12 of 2009 are in. And anyone who has won at Daytona, either the Daytona 500 or the Pepsi 400, are eligible. And any past Champions. I like the eligibility rules. This is Daytona, after all!
99 Carl Edwards picked the pole position and 29 Kevin Harvick is in the front row. There were five cautions, the last one, ended the race under caution, even though the White Flag hadn’t been thrown. Edwards led the most laps. The other leaders were 14 Tony Stewart, 16 Greg Biffle and 1 Jamie McMurray (in a new car with a new team).
Since the shootout ended under caution without getting to the White Flag, everyone made noise about it. NASCAR listened and made a new rule. They will make every attempt to have the race end under Green. If the caution comes out before the White Flag, they will get three tries to finish under Green. So, if they don’t get to the White Flag and a caution comes out, they will restart with another Green, White, Checker. But if the caution comes out again before the White Flag on the third attempt, it will end in caution.
Danika Patrick came to NASCAR this year. She made her debut in the ARCA race at Daytona and finished sixth. She will be racing in 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2010, starting with the Nationwide race in Daytona. The rest of the year she will be racing in the Cart Series, where she has one win.
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 25 trucks are locked into the races. (It was 30 last year.) And they are letting more team members go over the wall so that they can take fuel and change tires on the same stop. They came up with a new self-venting gas can (optional) so there is no need for a catch can.
Qualifying was on Saturday after the Bud Shootout. 5 Mark Martin is on the pole with a speed of 191.188 and 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. starts second. They are the only drivers locked into the Daytona 500. The rest of the field will be set by racing in the Gatorade Duels, being held today (Thursday). The drivers qualifying in odd positions will line up behind Martin. The drivers qualifying in even positions will line up behind Junior.
21 Bill Elliott, 82 Scott Speed and 87 Joe Nemechek are locked in on speed from qualifying. 71 Bobby Labonte is locked in as the latest Champion not already locked in. The top 35 in owner points from 2009 are locked in.
I’m excited about this year. With double-file restarts, the racing is more exciting. And now they will make 3 attempts to end each race under Green. NASCAR is encouraging bumping and banging. And they will be allowed to bump-draft in the restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega). Less rules and more hard racing. I just hope this doesn’t lead to too many cautions. And I also hope that the driver causing the Caution also gets taken out. I see no reason to turn racing into a demolition derby. That’s just my personal opinion.
There is also sad news, at least in my opinion. NASCAR Scene Magazine has shut down. I won’t be getting a weekly review of the race and news. At least not in print. And my favorite Publication, NASCAR Official Preview and Press Guide is no longer being published. (That was my Bible!) I liked having stats on hand and easy to look up. Now I have to do it all by myself!
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley
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