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NASCAR Cup Series

Chastain lands big opportunity with Ganassi

After a busy 2019 saw him compete in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, Ross Chastain will start of the 2020 campaign with another double-duty effort.

It was announced Thursday that Chastain will drive the No. 77 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports for the Daytona 500 in a car that will be prepared by Chip Ganassi Racing with AdventHealth serving as the primary sponsor.

The deal bears a resemblance to the deal between Spire and CGR last season when Jamie McMurray ran the Daytona 500; however, Chastain’s opportunity will span two races as they will come together again for the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

“To have the opportunity to run the DAYTONA 500 is awesome, and it’s great to do it this year with AdventHealth on board my car,” Chastain said in a press release. “I’ve only had one start in the DAYTONA 500, and can’t wait to run that race again in what I know will be a competitive car. I’m also looking forward to racing the Coca-Cola 600. That’s another iconic race that all of us want to win.”

The move also serves as a reunion of sorts of Chastain and CGR who came together during the 2018 season for three races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where Chastain captures his first win and earned himself a contract with the team.

Unfortunately, that did not include any races last season though due to lack of sponsorship with DC Solar filing for bankruptsy.

It’s no secret that Chastain made the most of a bad break though, as he captured wins in Xfinity and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, and even brought his Niece Motorsports’ truck all the way through to the Championship 4.

Now this opportunity is Chastain’s biggest yet, though.

Some people may be thrown off by the Spire Motorsports label associated with the ride, but this is without a doubt his best opportunity yet in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Rewind back to the Xfinity races at Daytona International Speedway last season, where Chastain ran strong in both races with Kaulig Racing, winning the summer race. While it may be NASCAR’s second-tier series, Chastain proved to be a quality superspeedway driver.

Now, he’ll be in even better equipment in the sport’s biggest race of the season with CGR.

Chastain himself he knows that this will be a competitive car that will give him a chance to steal a win, which could lead to bigger and better things as after all, Chip Ganassi likes winners.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

McDowell Satisfied with his DAYTONA 500 Top-Five Finish

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Michael McDowell was able to earn a top five finish at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday in the DAYTONA 500. McDowell, who started 34th, was able to survive multiple wrecks to position himself to contend for the victory.

The Arizona native only had one top 10 last season and has already matched it after Sunday afternoon’s race for this campaign. McDowell felt like he could have taken the victory but lacked speed and help.

“There’s always something you can do differently, you know we just didn’t have the outright speed to break the plane of the 18 or the 11,” McDowell told POPULAR SPEED. “We were trying like heck but so was everybody else, so when the 18 shot to the outside there he had a big run with a lot of momentum and I tried to go with him to hope that the 18 and 11 would get together so I can maybe sneak a win out of it.”

This is a boost of momentum for his team, especially since they’re not the best funded organization.

“For a small team its awesome, no doubt about it, I’d be lying to you guys if I was over the moon excited,” McDowell said. “I’ve been in the Cup series for over 10 years now, I have one goal, and that one goal is to get a win. I was close to getting their tonight, or at least had a shot at it and wasn’t able to get it done at the end so I’m happy with the finish. I’m proud of the team but that wasn’t the goal.”

Next week as we head to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the new rules package will be in place and we are still unsure on what to expect. We might see smaller teams start to come up and compete with bigger teams. This creates excitement for McDowell as we move towards Atlanta.

“Atlanta is brand new for everybody it a new rule package, who knows it could be like Daytona and Talladega and if it is I’ll do really well because these are two of my best tracks, but Atlanta will be a fresh start for everybody and we’ll see who’s got the speed and how the cars race, and we move on from there,” McDowell said.

McDowell is content with his top five at Daytona, but a win is something that he really wants to achieve soon especially since he’s been in the series for over 10 years.

“I’m really proud of everybody, the Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang was fast. We would have loved to pull into victory lane but a top five is great.”

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Ross Chastain Survives Late Daytona 500 Carnage

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway concluded with carnage and chaos. From a race with huge packs throughout the event it became a survival strategy in the closing laps.

Many thought we were going to see what we saw on Saturday with the Xfinity Series race, cars running single file against the wall. Fortunately, that was not the case. The event consisted of two-wide and sometimes three-wide racing most of the day.

The first major accident happened with less than 20 laps to go. More than 15 cars were a part of that accident, but Ross Chastain was able to overcome the madness and bring home the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet in 10th place.

“Just riding around” Chastain told reporters. “Jay Robinson working together, having a plan coming in that’s why he kept me in the car and didn’t put other people in I think because he knew we could work together and know when to go right at the end and try to get 10th that’s a big deal for us.”

Chastain pulled triple duty to start off the season. In all three races, he stayed out of trouble and his best finish came in Friday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck event where he placed in the third position.

“It’s luck for sure, definitely luck,” Chastain said. “I said it this morning, we’re going to use all our luck up this weekend and I might come back here for five years and crash. You just take it when you can get it and luckily, I had a plan in the Truck race knowing they were going to crash and, in the Xfinity race, we got lucky because we went and raced, and nobody did crash so good thing we did race.

“Tonight, we knew from the beginning to just ride and we got two laps down at one point. The car was fast enough to keep up it was just matter of timing our gaps and stay in that second pack.”

Luck played a role for most of the drivers that finished in the top-10. Some of the cars that had strong placements were already involved in prior accidents throughout the event. It shows that part of your driving skills at superspeedway tracks like Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway must be fast reflexes as drivers need to know how to avoid wrecks.

“A couple of them we got lucky to be able to stop in time,” Chastain said. “I slid my tires a couple of times trying to get slowed down but I feel like its right place at the right time. There is a bigger plan for all of this and a lot of this is out of our control as far as if you get caught up in it or not.”

After an offseason that left Chastain in wonders after losing his full-time Xfinity Series ride with Chip Ganassi Racing, Chastain started the 2019 season on the right track. As Speedweeks concludes, Chastain will put his focus on Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend, where he hopes to continue the momentum of a strong start to the season.

EMAIL BRANDON AT: brandon.rivero@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MrBrandonRivero

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

SCHULTZ: Postponed Sunday Races Should Run on Monday Night

Rain on race day is always an unwelcome sight in NASCAR. For the first time this season, a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event was postponed to Monday as rain washed out Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Rainouts mean fewer fans can attend and a smaller TV audience will tune-in as the races are typically run on the following afternoon.

Scheduling for mid-day Monday has been the long standing precedent for races unable to run on Sunday. However, the impact of an event not running in its preferred time slot is more consequential now than ever before.

During NASCAR’s prime in the early 2000s, catering to peak viewership wasn’t as critical due to a steady following. However, racing when exposure is at its greatest is crucial today to grow the sport.

The potential of a Monday night race played out unexpectedly during the 2012 DAYTONA 500. When rain postponed Sunday’s event, it was rescheduled for Monday afternoon.

However, additional rain on Monday led to a further delay, and the “Great American Race” was pushed to a 7 PM primetime start. A total of 36.5 million people tuned in at some point during the event, making it the second-most watched DAYTONA 500 in history.

While only the season-opening event could attract a Monday night audience of this magnitude, its success shows the potential for moving delayed events to Monday evening again in the future.

Even if running under the lights on Monday is still unable to match the audience of the scheduled Sunday race, it provides a better opportunity for fans who work or attend school to watch the event.

A Monday afternoon running does favor fans attending the race but as NASCAR looks to increase its following, catering to the TV audience might be the best path to take.

Rescheduling Bristol to run under the lights would have provided a perfect opportunity to showcase the best of NASCAR and short track racing to a primetime audience.

The atmosphere, beating and banging, and unpredictability of Bristol are among the characteristics NASCAR wants new fans to be exposed to, and running on Monday night would provide an ideal time to reach people interested in the sport.

Many logistical obstacles may arise trying to run on Monday evening as TV networks often have set primetime lineups and other networks are airing their regular programming. However, it’s worth taking a shot to grow the sport and seeing how it unfolds before not considering it all together.

It’s unlikely that regularly scheduled primetime events will be added to the schedule in the near future. But NASCAR can make the most out of a postponed event and test the viability of weeknight races now by running a rained out Sunday race for Monday night at a track with lights. It has shown great promise before and can again while pleasing fans and attracting new viewers.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HeyJasonSchultz

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Chevy Drivers Fall Just Short of Fuel in Closing Laps at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Many fans and members of the media pegged Ford and Toyota as the top manufacturers this week considering the recent successes of Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona International Speedway, but Chevrolet was in the mix for the win as the white flag waved on Sunday night, too.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson led the field with one lap to go. He put himself in position and flexed the horsepower of his Chevy when he slingshotted around eventual race winner Kurt Busch to move from fourth to third in the closing laps.

At the same time, Daytona 500 pole winner Chase Elliott was in the lead. But Martin Truex Jr. put a move on the Hendrick Motorsports driver with three laps remaining to take the lead temporarily before Larson overtook him.

“I knew Kurt would be aggressive, so I knew I needed to get by him first,” Larson said. “I got by him, and Chase Elliott ran out of fuel on the next straightaway and then we were coming to the white [flag] next time by.”

Elliott led 39 laps, but he has still yet to get that elusive first Cup victory.

“It was a disappointing finish to a good day,” Elliott said. “Just one of those things you can’t do anything about. I’m happy with how the team performed, and we are going to learn from it. We’re looking forward to getting back at it in Atlanta.”

His HMS teammate Kasey Kahne also had a strong showing by leading seven laps after leading none in 2016, but the 14-year veteran also ran out of fuel.

“I thought it was a great Daytona 500,” Kahne told POPULAR SPEED. “I kind of gave Kurt his push to the lead, and my car ran out of gas, so I didn’t get to see what happened. But I like the stages — I think it’s going to be a great part of NASCAR for a while.”

Although HMS had a disappointing day with Elliott and Kahne’s 14th and seventh-place results respectively and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. getting Did Not Finishes, it’s still a championship caliber organization for the Chevy staple. As for Ganassi, Larson and Jamie McMurray can hold their heads high after both made the playoffs in 2016 and led a combined 29 of 200 laps on Sunday.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Daytona, The “Land of Opportunity,” Lives Up To Its Epithet Again

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daytona International Speedway has always been called the “land of opportunity” for NASCAR’s underdogs, and the 59th annual Daytona 500 was not any different.

A.J. Allmendinger finished third, Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Paul Menard finished fifth. What do all three drivers have in common? They’re all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veterans with one career win.

Also in the top 10 was Michael Waltrip, who announced that Sunday’s race would be his final career start, and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who finished eighth and 10th, respectively.

“Typically a car that’s beat up isn’t going to do that,” Bayne told POPULAR SPEED about finishing 10th. “It’s cool to get a top 10 out of a wrecked racecar.

“We didn’t get many of the results we thought we would this week. We thought we had a car that can qualify on the front row and we thought he had a shot win the Duel. We weren’t bad, but the goal was to win.”

Menard said the event was one the wildest races he’s ever been in and noted how his Richard Childress Racing No. 27 team overcame the obstacle of going to a backup car to finish in the top five.

“On Friday during practice, I actually thought it was a little better than our primary car,” Menard said. “There’s a lot of new faces on my team, and Matt Borland is a new crew chief, and we came out of the gates swinging.”

Almirola led two laps as he and TriStar Motorsports’ Cole Whitt led the field to green with less than 50 laps remaining. Both their leads were short-lived, but captured the attention many fans, particularly those who would have wanted to see the No. 43 return to the winner’s circle for the first time since July 2014.

“We had a solid car all day,” Almirola said. “It wasn’t the car we needed to contend for the win. I’m just so proud of everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports. I’m so proud of Ford Motor Company for going to Victory Lane.”

Whitt ran out of fuel as the race concluded and wound up 18th, but he led three laps as well.

“We had a little bit of damage, but mostly, we stayed out of trouble,” Whitt told POPULAR SPEED. “It was a good day. We were running in front of the 15 [Waltrip] when we ran out of fuel coming to the white flag off of Turn 4, but all in all, we had fun.”

With this being Waltrip’s final 500, he felt “fortunate” to end his career on a high note.

“I had so many times I was in the middle of a crash and just missed it,” he said. “I’m thankful that I survived and I’m thankful for being able to run up front, and I’m happy about the finish.

“I’m ready for it to be my last [start] so it’s going to be a good one to remember it by.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Gordon to Pace Daytona 500

It was announced Friday afternoon four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Jeff Gordon, will serve as the pace car driver for the 59th running of the Great American Race behind the wheel of the new 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

“To me, you go down the list of prestigious things I have done, this is right at the top of the list,” Gordon said. “This is truly an honor to be asked to drive the pace car for the Daytona 500.”

A winner 93 times at the Cup level, Gordon won every race in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, so it’s only natural he will drive a Chevrolet at the front of the field Sunday afternoon.

He was a Daytona 500 victor three times, with wins coming in 1997, 1999, and 2005.

“Driving for Hendrick Motorsports for 23 years as a driver, to be able to lead this field in a Chevrolet Camaro but also have two Chevrolets in my rearview mirror, that makes it even more special,” he said.

One of those cars will be his old ride, the No. 24 now driven by Chase Elliott, and the other will be the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr., whom Gordon subbed for last season for a handful of races while Earnhardt dealt with lingering concussion symptoms.

After he steps out of the pace car, he will head up to the FOX broadcast booth to resume his broadcasting duties with Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip.

The Daytona 500 can be seen on FOX Sunday at 2 P.M. ET.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Timmy Hill Hoping to Make First Daytona 500 Start

Not many racers from Maryland make it to the big leagues, but Timmy Hill has done just that.  Now, the Port Tobacco, Maryland native is hoping to make the field for stock car racing’s biggest event, the Daytona 500.

Hill, 23, will attempt to make the field for the Daytona 500 and also compete in several other races for Rick Ware Racing  in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – sharing a ride with Kevin O’Connell and Cody Ware for the newly formed team.

Despite it being his first attempt, Hill is confident thanks in part to his previous success at Daytona, which includes two top-10 finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series racing for the same team.

“I was actually kind of bragging to someone about it and talking to Rick as well,” Hill said.  “The reason Rick feels so confident for me to drive the 500 because I’ve been to Daytona five times.  Out of those five times, I’ve finished top 10 twice and, out of the five races, I had an average finish of 12.5.  I raced for Rick three of those times and two of them were top-10s.  He feels confident about me going down and racing for him.  He won’t be able to find anyone who’s had the experience there I had.”

While the Rick Ware Racing team is a lower budget team, Daytona is a great equalizer and Hill hopes to use that to his advantage to make the field for The Great American Race.

“It’s always been a good racetrack for myself and I’ve done a good job for Rick there in the past,” Hill continued.  “We don’t have quite the budget with Rick’s team as the other teams like Hendrick and Gibbs.  We’ll have a lot of obstacles to hurdle to make the race.  If we have to gamble, I think we the best odds to make this thing.”

Being an unchartered team, Hill knows his best opportunity to make the field for the Daytona 500 will come in the Can-Am Duel, the preliminary races held on the Thursday before the Daytona 500 that set the field for the Great American Race.

“That’s where we are going to put most our effort, trying to race those duels,” Hill explained.  “They’re 150 miles so there will be strategy being played.  You have to position yourself.  You don’t have a lot of time to play it safe because the race will be over faster than you think.  It’s hard to make a game plan for that race, all you have to do is have your mind on which cars you have to beat and have the other uncharted cars.

“There are five or six of us going down there; there will be at least two cars going home.  It’s hard to tell.  Pressure will be on.  To have the chance to race our way in adds a little more excitement, more stuff in our control.”

Like many in the sport, racing was in Hill’s blood when he was born.  His father, Jerry, made 58 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 54 starts in the ARCA Racing Series in a career spanning over a decade.  The younger Hill began racing Go-Karts at King George Speedway in Virginia, just south of its border with Southern Maryland.

“My dad got me into racing,” Hill said.  “He did it more as a hobby but he started in the late 80s and into the 90s.  Back then, he and his buddies built some ARCA cars in Maryland out of their two-car garage and did some racing when you saw more of that.  They did it all and you just don’t see that anymore now.  I went to the tracks to cheer him on as a kid.  What finally got me going was in the early 2000s, he ran a couple truck races and we saw the other divisions come out and begged my dad to let me race.  I started out in Go Karts in King George Virginia.”

Hill graduated up to the Allison Legacy Series, where he won the national series championship in 2009, joining former Daytona 500 Champion Trevor Bayne and former Southern 500 winner Regan Smith.  From there, he moved up to ARCA and eventually into the XFINITY Series.  While competing in ARCA and NASCAR, Hill was also attending Automotive Technology classes at North Point High School, a prestigious science, technology and industry in Charles County, Maryland, where he graduated in June 2011.

“Ultimately, in 2011, we ran for rookie of the year for Rick Ware in XFINITY,” Hill remarked.  “He gave me my start in the NASCAR world.  We had a good year, think we finished 16th or 17th in points overall.  We had some really good finishes.  Think my best finish was at the road course that year.  Good runs at Daytona and Talladega.”

After having moderate success, Rick Ware Racing made its first jump to competition in NASCAR’s premier series, although Hill was ineligible to compete in the Daytona 500 that year.  He would go on to make his series debut in the third race of the 2012 season at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada after failing to qualify in his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series attempt at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona.

“It propelled us the following year; Rick made a big jump with his first try in the Cup Series in 2012,” Hill recalled.  “I wasn’t eligible to run the 500.  When I went to Phoenix, it was heartbreak, it was just repaved and it was tough for the first cars.  Missing my first attempt at a Cup race was a big heartbreak for me but it gave me extra motivation to perfect what I do as a driver.  Following week, we went to Vegas and there were two extra cars there and we made it on time.  We sent Robby Gordon and David Stremme home and Rick gave me a big hug, it was the first race he made as an owner and me as a driver.”

After making the field, Hill was sidelined early.  After that race, and continued struggles throughout the season, the Rick Ware Racing team ultimately returned to the NASCAR XFINITY Series full-time.

“We wanted to survive that race, went 45 laps, blew a right front tire and ended our day early.  That was the only car we had so we brought a backup car and missed a couple more after that and forced our hand to go back to XFINITY a couple years.  We had a couple top 10s in XFINITY that year.  I know that was tough for Rick but he’s more prepared now than ever to come to Cup and make an extra charge at it.”

Hill continued making starts as a journeyman racer for multiple different teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Hill was involved in a controversial incident at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2014 when, seconds after a caution came out when Cole Whitt spun in turn four, Hill crashed into the back of Matt Kenseth’s car.  Hill, who called it an “unflattering moment,” was lit up on social media in the hours and days following the incident.

“That was an unflattering moment,” Hill remembered.  “People don’t understand how fast that track is and how fast things happen.  You turn 15 second lap times there.  That race, we didn’t have the best car so I found myself looking in the mirror a lot watching cars lap me.  As I came off turn four, spotter said there was a wreck in turn one and it gave me maybe four seconds to slow down and I ultimately crashed into Kenseth.  I took a hit from the announcers that I should’ve slowed down more but they don’t understand how fast it happens.”

Hill felt the criticism was unfair since, after all, some of the elite competitors in NASCAR racing had also been involved in similar crashes during their careers.

“The following year, Kevin Harvick had an almost identical crash but him being a bigger star they didn’t get the coverage trashing me,” Hill remarked.  “You can’t find any other driver who has the starts that I have with few crashes.  That one happened to catch the highlight reel and it had a little bit of an impact.”

Hill’s rise to the big leagues is unusual because Maryland is not known for producing big name racing talent in the same way states like North Carolina, Virginia and California have been.  In fact, the last time a driver from Maryland won a race in any of NASCAR’s national touring divisions was when Elmo Langley won at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia.  Notably, the track closed in 2012 but was replaced in 2016 when Steve Britt opened up the Dominion Raceway motorsports complex in Thornburg, Virginia.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities for racers from the Old Line State.  Maryland, which once had multiple motorsports facilities, including Beltsville Speedway and Marlboro Motor Raceway, where Roger Penske got his start in 1958, currently only has two dirt oval racetracks — Hagerstown Speedway in the north and Potomac Speedway in the south.  Hill hopes his success can result in other drivers from the state can also break through.

“There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for people to get their feet wet in racing [in Maryland],” Hill explained.  “There are only a couple tracks and both are dirt.  Closest to our house is Potomac Speedway.  Other than that, there’s really no racetracks.  I never raced dirt but we went across the bridge to King George Speedway (kart track) in Virginia.  It was tough at the time and still is for people who are interested in racing to get their feet wet in it.  Hopefully one day, that can change.  Maybe people can see that Maryland drivers can and have made it to NASCAR and they might have the interest in building a track in Maryland and give people that chance.”

For now, Hill says traveling is the key for racers from a state not known for its racing heritage.

“True racers are going to travel,” Hill commented.  “We did a lot of traveling as far west as Indiana and up to New York and Florida.  People will travel if they want to do it.  That’s what we were forced to do.  There are more options in North Carolina.  It’s hard to ask for tracks to be made because they are expensive.  I wish for the best.  You’re forced to travel in this sport.  I hope there can be more tracks in Maryland to give people a shot at racing at a reasonable cost.”

Timmy’s younger brother, 22-year-old Tyler Hill, has also moved up into racing.  He’s competed in a handful of Late Model Stock Car races and participated in the open test held by the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards at Daytona back in January.

Timmy Hill hopes to make his Daytona 500 debut when the green flag waves on the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season on February 26th.  The race will be televised live on Fox.  The qualifying races will be held on February 23rd in primetime and will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).

“I hope we make the race,” Hill stated.  “I think we have a good shot at it so hopefully we pull it off.”

E-MAIL ANDY AT  andymarquis@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Humor

Daytona 500: By the Numbers

The checkered flag has waved, a winner has been declared, and the fans have complained! The 2015 Daytona 500 is in the books, so the only thing left to do is get behind the numbers.

9 – Tweets it took for @Justin_Allgaier to explain why he ran over @TyDillon.

2 – Days it’s taken so far for Dillon to accept this explanation.*

52 – Random number.

3,123,657- Fans pissed at that last caution.

2 – Fans okay with that last caution.**

78 – Martin Truex’s car number.

10 – Greg @Biffle‘s finishing spot.***

Every! Inches of wall around Daytona International Speedway Joie Chitwood promised to cover with SAFER barrier.

0 – Times @DanicaPatrick and @JeffGordonWeb have faced @Matt_Crafton in the Daytona 500 and beaten him.

362 – Days till next Daytona 500!

*This number is expected to rise.

**Me and @JoeyLogano

***I know. I’m as shocked as you.

EMAIL KEVIN AT kevin.alford@popularspeed.com
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @CitizenKBA

Categories
Editorial

ICYMI: The Top-Five Moments of the 2015 Daytona 500

And with that, the 2015 Sprint Cup Series is underway. Three-wide racing, bold moves and close calls made Sunday’s race an interesting one. @JoeyLogano won the big race, but there was plenty of other action to discuss.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five moments from Sunday’s Daytona 500:

1. The Big One: An ominous feeling settled over the field during the closing laps of the Daytona 500, as the Big One had not occurred yet. Drivers felt the intensity creeping up all the way through the Green-White-Checkered attempt at the end of the race, and then it hit. On the final lap of the race, a tap from @AustinDillon3 sent @JeffGordonWeb spinning. Gordon would make contact with Ricky @StenhouseJr, @KyleLarsonRacin, Paul Menard, @ReedSorenson36 and a few others. This in turn caused Joey Logano to bring home the Daytona 500 win, albeit under caution.

2. A DNF for @TonyStewart: The quest for a Daytona 500 championship continues for Tony Stewart after the driver’s day ended early on Sunday. Stewart was racing up in the top-10 for most of the early laps of the race. However, on Lap 41 Stewart got loose and slammed into the wall, collecting Ryan @Blaney, @MattKenseth and @mw55 (Michael Waltrip) in the process. Stewart went to the garage to try to fix the damage, which including a broken steering wheel. He came back out on Lap 108 in an attempt try to finish the race, but would return to the garage just a short time later. Stewart was scored in the 42nd position for the race.

“Yes, it’s not what we had planned, but we stuck with the plan from the start of the race and that was to stay up front as much as we could,” said Stewart.

“We knew the first two runs of the race we were probably going to have to adjust on the car; I just didn’t make it far enough into the second run there to get a chance to adjust on it.”

3. Jeff Gordon’s Final 500: Jeff Gordon competed in what he has said will be his final Daytona 500 on Sunday. For a while, it looked as if Gordon would pull off the win from the pole, as the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet led a total 87 laps. When he wasn’t leading, he wasn’t far from the front. Of course, his race came to a bumpy end when he got involved in the last lap wreck that relegated him to a 33rd place finish, but Gordon did not let that lower his spirits.

“For some reason I’m still smiling and enjoying every moment of it. Obviously, I enjoyed the first half a lot more than the second half. What an amazing car we had. Just out there in the front with our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet just controlling the race,” said Gordon.

“I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed the pre-race and the race; all the way up to that wreck.”

4. Substitute Drivers Shine: With the Busch brothers out of the big race, lots of eyes were on their substitute drivers, @ReganSmith and @Matt_Crafton, throughout the race. While they started in the back of the field, both drivers managed to score top-20 finishes. Smith, in @KurtBusch’s No. 41 Chevrolet, dealt with handling issues all race long but got it together in time to finish in 16th place. Crafton made his way up into the top-10 before getting shuffled back and receiving some damage in the last lap wreck. Despite that, he managed to bring home @KyleBusch’s No. 18 Crispy M&M’s Toyota in 18th place.

“It was a learning curve. The first half we just rode around and tried to learn, learn, learn. I made a mistake – I had a pretty good surge up top, and I tried the bottom and shuffled myself all the way to the back. I should have had a little better finish there at the end, but it is what it is,” Crafton said afterwards.

5. Team Penske’s Roller Coaster: It was a crazy day for Team Penske on Sunday. Brad @Keselowski blew an engine at Lap 140 while running in 13th place. Ryan Blaney, driving the Penske-backed Wood Brother’s No. 21 Ford, also blew an engine with just 25 laps to go. Under further inspection, the team found both drivers suffered a problem with their oil pans. Things then looked grim when Joey Logano reported a possible voltage issue in his car. Luckily for Penske, this turned out to be a false alarm and Logano would go on to win the Daytona 500.

“To be able to pull that car into Victory Lane, see my team there, see my family and my friends. Everyone was here. It couldn’t be any better. It’s an amazing feeling. I can’t really put it into words. It’s something that you can’t describe,” said Logano.

“Man, you have a split second after the caution came out, you think about it. Did we win? Then straight chaos after that. An amazing feeling.”

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