But first there is Speed Weeks. Let me catch you up on all that has happened up to Saturday night.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is different than any other race. Because the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of NASCAR. Normally they qualify based on practice, with the slowest going out first and the fastest out last. That way there is a new Pole winner almost with every car that comes out to qualify. For the Daytona 500 qualifying will be by draw, like they used to do, with the ones not locked in going out as a group last. Qualifying will be on Sunday afternoon and will only place the top two positions. The qualifying will determine the line up for the Gatorade Duels, to be run on Thursday.
The top 35 in owner points are all automatically in the Daytona 500. Those not locked in can get in on speed during qualifying. In the Duels, the top two finishers not already locked in will get in. Complicated, I know, but this is the Daytona 500, after all!
But first there is the exhibition race, the Budweiser Shootout. No one has won the Shootout and the Daytona 500 since Dale Jarrett did it in 2000! Dale is also the last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the Pole position. This race used to be past Budweiser Pole winners racing for big bucks. Since Coors Light took over the Pole award, it is now based on Daytona past winners. There were 25 drivers entered in the race. They held a Budweiser Shootout selection night. Each driver picked a bottle of Bud that had their starting position on it. Joey Logano this year was able to make his own selection because he is now 21 years old. Martin Truex, Jr. drew the Pole position. Juan Pablo Montoya will start last.
In the mean time, ARCA raced raced their Daytona race. Bobby Gerhart won the pole position, but his speed was disallowed because of an engine oil leak. That put Sean Carr on the pole for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. (Bobby’s #5 car has the Sponsor on his car.) There were five cautions, the last one coming out before the White Flag came out, signifying one lap to go. It ended in a Green, White Checker Finish, with a single file restart. The leader ran out of fuel, while Gerhart made his move to the outside, getting by those running out of fuel, and racing to the Finish Line. I like ARCA because these guys are racing instead of trying to get into each other for position. There were 24 drivers who had never been at Daytona in the race! Gerhart had to start in 42nd and raced his way to the win. This was his eighth Daytona win! (Go Bobby!) And he led only that last lap.
After the ARCA race, we fans were treated to the Budweiser Shootout. NASCAR made changes to the cars so they couldn’t race two by two. Apparently the fans like pack racing better than 2×2 racing and NASCAR listened to these fans. There will be no communication between drivers, so the one pushing doesn’t know what is going on, as he can’t see beyond the car he is pushing. There was a big crash in practice when Kurt Busch made a sudden move that Tony Stewart couldn’t know about and Tony turned Kurt. Sometimes I think we go to these restrictor-plate races just to see the big crashes.
The Budweiser Shootout is 75 laps in two segments. They race 25 laps and then there is a break where they can work on their cars. Then the final 50 laps. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. starts from the Pole. After 25 laps and one caution where 34 David Ragan got into the left rear corner of 27 Paul Menard to spin him, 1 Jamie McMurray comes away the winner of the first segment. Nineteen cars are on the lead lap.
16 Greg Biffle won both practice sessions. 1 pushing team mate 42 Juan Pablo Montoya, made their way around traffic up to the front. 42 gets stuck in the middle and 1 leads. 24 Jeff Gordon was very strong. After ten leaders and nineteen lead changes, fifteen cars are on the lead lap, with fourteen laps to go.
24 leads. 16 pushes 18 Kyle Busch to the lead and 18 drops in front of 24. 14 Tony Stewart goes to the outside and drops in front of 18 to lead. 24 bumps 18, he gets squirrelly, which makes 24 go up the track into other cars where he hits the wall and barrel rolls down the track, coming to a stop on is roof! 18 slides down where no one is and manages to not crash into anything.
At the restart 14 is leading. 9 Marcos Ambrose takes the lead with help from 2 Brad Keselowski. 18 pushes 14 into the lead, then lets go to beat 14 to the Line. Kyle Busch wins the Budweiser Shootout. We are all told how great a driver Kyle is, even though when others crashed, they ran into others, whereas when Kyle tried to crash there was no one there to crash into, so he didn’t.
Sunday afternoon will be the Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500. Remember, only the Pole sitter and second place will be locked into those positions. The rest of the field will have to race their way for positions in the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. Two races, led by the pole sitter in the first race and led by second place in the second. No matter what happens in the Duels, the Pole sitter and second place remain in first and second. The Daytona 500 will be next Sunday. As always, if you need NASCAR tickets, Vivid Seats has tickets to major sports.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.
Tags: ARCA, Budweiser Shootout, Coors Light Pole Qualifying, Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway, Gatorade Duels, Green White Checker Finish, Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, NASCAR blog, NASCAR race fans, NASCAR racing