NASCAR Racing is Back!

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing is back for the 2011 Season at the Daytona International Speedway on the newly paved track. NASCAR starts the Season out with the non-points race, the Budweiser Shootout. This year the top 12 from 2010 are joined by past Daytona winners, along with Rookies Of The Year from the past ten years. 24 drivers competed in the race. Winner take all.

There is no speed qualifying for this race. Instead each driver picks a Budweiser bottle that has a position inside. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. picked the pole position, with 14 Tony Stewart beside him with his new Sponsor, Mobil 1. 48 Jimmie Johnson, 5 time deffending champion, and 78 Regan Smith brought up the rear.

The drivers had practiced with a partner during practice because you can go faster with a partner. And they did indeed go faster. The race was usually a big pack racing three wide for most of the race. Not this year. The pack was a big two-car tango, with drivers teaming up with a partner. The partners changed during the race but it was mostly two cars at a time, sometimes making it three wide between two other partners.

The Budweiser Shootout is 75 laps total, with the first segment of 25, a ten minute break for adjustments and fuel, followed by 50 laps. Pitting was necessary in the second segment as they can’t go 50 laps on a tank of fuel. There were no cautions in the first segment. 29 Kevin Harvick in his black Budweiser car pushed 31 Jeff Burton into the lead. 18 Kyle Busch and 88 pushed each other to the front, but at the end of the segment, let go of 88 and fell back into the pack. 20 Joey Logano pushed 48 to the front of the pack.

In the second segment 33 Clint Bowyer pushes 18 to the front, but lets go and 18 falls back. The first caution comes out when 78 and 99 Carl Edwards go for a spot that isn’t there and 99 gets into 88, collecting 20, 97 Kevin Conway and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya. They go Green with 41 laps to go.

The second caution comes out for 18 and 5 Mark Martin. 5 was pushing 18 and 18 got loose and was turned around, with 5 gettting into 18 while 18 was sideways. 5 goes to the garage. 18 makes repairs. For the restart 31 chooses the outside and quickly jumps in front of 29 to partner back up. 18 goes around all the two-by-two cars on the outside to take the lead by himself. But since he was by himself, he quickly falls back and heads for the garage.

1 Jamie McMurray pushes 22 Kurt Busch into the lead. 16 Greg Biffle pushes 48 past 31 and 29 and 48 takes the lead. The third caution comes out when 15 Michael Waltrip, being pushed by 14 gets into the wall, much like 18 did. 48 and 16 trade places. 29 pushes 24 Jeff Gordon in his AARP Drive To End Hunger car. 33 pushes 31 between 48 and 16 and 22 and 1 to get to the front. 33 pushes 31 back into the lead. 16 pushes 48 back into the lead.

11 Denny Hamlin pushes 39 Ryan Newman into the lead. 31 saves it. For the end, 39 and 11, with 22 and 1 battle for the  win, with 39 and 11 on the bottom and 22 and 1 on the top. When the Finish Line is near, 11 dives under 39, trying to take the lead, but goes below the double Yellow line, which has not been allowed since 2001. That gives the win to 22 Kurt Busch and drops 11 back to twelfth.

There were a record 28 lead changes, with 31 Jeff Burton leading the most laps.

Also at Daytona, the ARCA/ReMax Series had their Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 race. These guys didn’t pair off and it was single file at the end with 5 Bobby Gerhart leading the way. No one was able to get by and he won the race in his Lucas Oil Slick Mist car. Bobby has 8 wins in ARCA, seven of them at Daytona.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

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