Posts Tagged ‘Talladega’

Testing At Daytona

January 13, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. Although the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series does not officially begin until February, we NASCAR race fans are getting treated to three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway. Testing began on Thursday and will continue on Friday and Saturday.

Many changes have been put into place this year, not only for the restrictor-plate races, but now NASCAR has introduced fuel injection. Fans complained about the drivers racing two by two, instead of in big packs at Daytona and Talladega. So NASCAR has implemented several changes to keep them from driving 2×2. There will be softer springs, a smaller spoiler and a reduction in downforce. If the drivers choose to race two by two, they will not be able to do so for very long, or the engine will heat up.

The drivers are now limited to crew members to talk to on their radios. They will no longer be able to talk to team members or other drivers. This will keep them from pairing up because they will not be able to tell each other what they are doing. At Talladega, a big deal was made when Trevor Bayne agreed to pair up with Jeff Gordon and then dropped him to pair up with fellow Ford driver. If they do pair up, they will have to resort to hand signals to show their intentions.

Personally, I liked the pairing up. There were record number of lead changes using this method. And some great finishes. The fans are used to pack racing. Three wide, ten deep. Only they were limited to staying in line. Changing lanes was almost impossible as they were too close to each other to move out of line. Pairing up gave them the space to move forward. There were still three wide racing, but only two deep. Pack racing begged for “the Big One”. If one driver makes a mistake or tries for a spot that isn’t there many, many cars were involved in that mistake. Two by two racing generally involved only the two cars without involving the whole field. I like watching racing, not crashing. Perhaps tandem racing is not “edge of your seat” racing, but I find it just as exciting watching them go so fast past other pairs.

In the first test session on Thursday, Jeff Gordon was the fastest. Paul Menard and Kurt Busch also posted speeds over 192 mph. In the second test of the day, team mates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano paired up to go over 202 mph, as did team mates Brad Keselowski and A. J. Allmendinger. Apparently they drive faster while paired up.

All for now. Next test sessions are on Friday, beginning at 1 PM Eastern. You can watch the testing on SPEEDTV. But be aware, they are mostly test cars on the track and not the colorful cars we race fans are used to on race day. And the announcers are always explaining something. So you are limited on what you get to see in testing. But you get to have your “NASCAR fix”.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Race Review: Coke Zero 400

July 4, 2010

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog and the race review of the 18th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Coke Zero 400 Brought to you by Coca-Cola is the second race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, FL. This one is the night race. The carburetor restrictor plate is bigger for this race, which means more horse power and more speed. Coors Light pole qualifying was rained out on Friday and they line up according to owner points, with 29 Kevin Harvick on the pole and 48 Jimmie Johnson beside him on the front row. Harvick is the winner of the last plate race at Talladega.

Bobby Labonte is starting his 600th race and started the engines after a rain delay of more than an hour. 11 Denny Hamlin, 14 Tony Stewart, 37 Robert Richardson, Jr. and 83 Reed Sorenson are in back-up cars and will have to start from the rear, as they did not get any practice in their cars. 9 Kasey Kahne, 18 Kyle Busch and 6 David Ragan are in back-up cars also, but they did get out to practice before qualifying was rained out.

So, here we go! 48 is on the outside at the Green Flag and leads the first lap. 29 leads the second lap, when the outside line doesn’t move forward as well as the inside lane. 18 Kyle Busch gets loose in the middle and looses second place. 99 Carl Edwards gets stuck in the middle and moves backwards. 29 and 24 Jeff Gordon battle for the lead. 16 Greg Biffle pushes 29 to keep him in the lead. 18 puts 24 in the middle and 24 falls back. 16 jumps ahead of 18 and takes the lead. 18 takes the lead. The first caution on lap 16 is a competition caution because the track had to be dried before the race could start. 12 Brad Keselowski made it up to fifth from starting 26th.

29 and 16 take two tires for track position. 2 Kurt Busch pushes 16 ahead. 18 goes high from second and gets back down into third. 19 Elliott Sadler takes the lead when 29 goes high. 18 takes the lead. 19 pulls down in front of 18 to take the lead. 18 pits with a loose wheel. 2 takes the lead. 29 goes low with 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. pushing him into lead. 2 gets the lead back.  29 gets loose and falls back. 19 takes the lead and 2 falls back. 77 gets loose going for the lead. He saves it and takes the lead. 19 takes the lead back.

48 pits with a right rear tire going down. 77 takes the lead. 43 A. J. Allmendinger makes a pit stop, as does 17 Matt Kenseth and 1 Jamie McMurray. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya takes the lead. 2 pits and Green Flag Pitting is happening. 31 Jeff Burton misses his pit stall because he didn’t see his sign. He has to back up for service.

The second caution comes out because 46 J. J. Yeley has a flat tire and is putting debris on the track. 37 Robert Richardson, Jr. gets the free pass back onto the lead lap.  2 is caught speeding and has to go back in for his penalty. He gets more fuel. The race goes Green on lap 64. 24 takes the lead. 12 takes the lead.

The third caution comes out when 18 gets into the wall and into 43. The top nine cars stay out. 71 Mike Bliss gets the free pass and back onto the lead lap. 42 pushes 12 into the lead. 24 goes high and takes the lead. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets stuck in the middle. 42 takes the lead. 24 pushes 11  into the lead. 42 jumps in front of 24 for second. 11 goes low and 77 takes the lead. 11 falls back. 48 closes the door on 18. 00 David Reutimann gets 19 into the wall. 18 takes the lead. 1 pushes 48 past 77. 77 gets loose and 1 jumps out of the throttle. 31, 1 and 9 Kasey Kahne move low and move forward. 42 pushes 31 past 48. And there is more Green Flag Pitting.

The fourth caution comes out on lap 104  when 18, who is leading, goes between 11 and 42, who just made pit stops and are trying to stay on the lead lap.  18 gets loose next to 42 and goes across the nose of 42 and into the wall. 5 Mark Martin was in the pits for service when the caution came out. He stays out to lead and chooses the outside. 34 cars are on the lead lap. They go Green with 50 laps to go.

42 takes the lead. 5 takes the lead back with everyone side by side all around. 5 drops back, loose and 24 takes the lead. 42 gets stuck in the middle. 31 takes the lead. 17 gets sideways, but saves it and everyone gives him room behind. 17 pits. The fifth caution comes out on lap 117 when 6 gets loose and into the wall. He collects 1 and 56 Martin Truex, Jr. and others behind them. 11 Denny Hamlin gets back on the lead lap.

14 leads and chooses the outside for the restart. 31 pushes 14, but he goes high and 31 takes the lead on the bottom. 2 slides in front of 14 on the outside. 14 goes low past 2. They are four-wide for the lead! 14 takes the lead and they are three-wide for second. 33 takes the lead. 2 slingshots past 33 for the lead. 29 takes the lead. 31 goes low for the lead.  29 drives around 31 for the lead and 31 takes it back.

The sixth caution comes out when 26 David Stremme gets into the wall and 37 can’t avoid him and spins into the grass. 34 Kevin Conway gets the free pass back onto the lead lap.  The leaders all pit with 20 to go. 5 and 19 get together in the pits. For the restart, leader 2 picks the inside with team mate 77 behind him. That puts team mates 29, 33 and 31 on the outside. 46 gets the wave around and they restart with 19 to go.

The seventh caution comes out when 17 gets into the wall, 5 goes onto the apron and 19 can’t avoid him. So far, there were 18 different leaders and 44 lead changes! 29 chooses the outside with 31 behind him and 33 on the inside. They restart with 15 laps to go. 33 takes the lead and moves up to 29 and 31.

The eighth caution comes out when 2 tries to turn 31, goes below the yellow line (out of bounds) and gets back up into everyone. 31 gets into 77 and then into 2. 2 goes through the grass and everyone behind wreck each other. 20 Joey Logano gets into 39 Ryan Newman and 39 lands on Logano’s hood. There is a Red Flag for cleanup, lasting almost twenty minutes. Nineteen cars were involved. 5 drives away from the wreck and catches fire.

When the Yellow Flag comes back out, 33 stays out, with everyone else pitting. Twenty cars are left on the lead lap. There have now been 45 lead changes. They go Green with 8 to go. 33 with 29 finally pulls ahead of 99 and 00. 2 pulls out and gets hung up. 31 pulls low. 88 gets into the wall. 24 jumps into the lead. 29 pushes 33 into the lead. 9 moves by 24.

The ninth caution comes out before 33 takes the White Flag. 2, 77 and 19 were three-wide. 77, in the middle, gets into 2, catches it and gets into 19, spinning him. 77 and 2 end up in the wall. 2 comes in for repairs. There will be the seventh Green, White, Checker Finish of the season.

24 drives around 33 on the top and 33, with a cut tire spins into the infield. 9 pushes 29 into the lead and 29 Kevin Harvick wins the Coke Zero 400, his second win of the season, both at a plate race. The race was scheduled for 160 laps, but 166 were raced. There were 18 different leaders and 48 lead changes!

Harvick widens his points lead and Jeff Gordon jumps up three spots into second. Earnhardt, Jr. replaces Martin in the top twelve. And Kahne moves up four spots. Kyle Busch falls three spots.

Kevin Harvick wins the Coke Zero 400

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

NASCAR 2010 Season Begins

February 11, 2010

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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NASCAR’s 2009 Top 12

December 20, 2009

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. I’m reviewing the finishers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Finishing in second place is #5 Mark Martin. Mark retired several years ago. Or, so he said he was going to. He was driving for Jack Roush and decided he was going to retire at the end of the season.  He was going to retire, along with Rusty Wallace. Wallace went on to form his own Nationwide Series teams. Martin stayed another year with Roush. Then competed in a part time schedule with Dale Earnhardt Inc. At the end of last year, Rick Hendrick talked Martin into joining his organization. Martin felt this would be his best chance to drive a great car and win races, if not Championships.

With four wins going into the chase, tied with Kyle Busch for most wins, Mark starts the chase in first place. At 50 years old, Mark would be the oldest Champion. And is considered to be a serious threat for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. He has 39 career wins, four appearances in the Chase and one win in the chase. Mark has won at all the Chase tracks except the opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

So, what does Mark do in that first race? Win, of course! Followed by three top tens, two being top fours. A little trouble at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, with a 17th place finish. And a flip in the final lap at Talladega, with a 28th place finish, were his only bad races in the chase.

Again, Mark has never won at Homestead-Miami, but if he could have done it this year, he might have won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sadly, for all Mark Martin fans, he only finished 12th. He was the only driver heading into that last race who still had a chance to win the title.

Mark finished second for the fifth time in his long career, 141 points behind this year’s winner, Jimmy Johnson. Mark will be competing with Hendrick at least until 2011, so maybe he can win next year.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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NASCAR’s 2009 Top 12

December 19, 2009

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. I’m reviewing the top 12 drivers finishing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Today’s post is third place finisher, #24 Jeff Gordon. Although Jeff has four Cup Championships, they were all Winston Cup Championships. He has no Championships in this new chase format. So, Jeff is going for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. He would be going for Championship number seven if the Chase format hadn’t come along. Previously, points were accumulated over 36 races. And the driver who did the best during the last ten races, wasn’t rewarded with the Championship.

Jeff has missed the Chase only once since it was started in 2004. He has been running in the top three in points all year, and is a solid contender for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.  Having only one win (for the first time in Texas), Jeff starts the Chase in sixth.

Jeff has 82 career wins, has made five Chase appearances and has three Chase wins. The only track he has not won on is the season finale, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In my opinion, if he can get a win there, he will win the Championship. The first race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was just so-so, with a finish of 15th. But then had a streak of five top tens, four of them top fives.

But Talladega collected him, with a finish of 22nd. Jeff was still in contention at Texas Motor Speedway, but he couldn’t match his performance there earlier this year, his only win. Thirteenth wasn’t good enough. The last two races were top tens, but that was only good enough to keep him in third.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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