Categories
Humor

Top 10 Ways The Daytona 500 Is Better Than The Super Bowl

Sure billions of people are going watch the Super Bowl. But does that mean it’s better than the Daytona 500? No, I don’t believe so.

  1. Daytona 500 held during the day, not at night when everybody is tired and just wants to go to bed.
  2. Tom Brady’s crew chief can use whatever air pressure he wants to.
  3. The Big One!
  4. When you complete a pass in the 500, the referees don’t rob you of it.
  5. Chad Knaus cheats less than Bill Belichick.*
  6. Even the really bad teams are allowed to participate in the Daytona 500. Are the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Super Bowl? No, I didn’t think so.
  7. @DanicaPatrick, baby!
  8. Referees will pick up a penalty flag and admit they made a mistake in the Super Bowl, #NASCAR officials will just make something up.
  9. Once Super Bowl is over, the season is over. Once the Daytona 500 is over, the season is just beginning!
  10. Daytona 500 doesn’t have lame, washed up musical act at halftime; they have lame, washed up musical act before the race to get it over with.

*Not really.

Categories
Editorial

Top Five Most Anticipated NASCAR Races of 2015

By Matt Weaver — The impending change of calendars is a signal that it’s time to stop looking back at 2014 and begin looking ahead to the 2015 NASCAR season. The annual NASCAR Media Tour is just a few weeks away and Daytona Speedweeks is only a few weeks after that.

The next few weeks is typically reserved for the predictions, hopes and lists that all dominate the news cycle, especially in regards for trying to predict the highlights for the upcoming season. This is one such list.

The following is a list of the most anticipated NASCAR races for the 2015 season. Share yours to our Twitter account, @PopularSpeed or in the comments section below.

Daytona 500

The Great American Race tops this list for reasons that should be obvious to everyone invested in motorsports. If the impending return of NASCAR and the Daytona 500 does not generate some sort of excitement, this post may have been discovered on accident.

Speedweeks represents a sense of renewed hope and a fresh start, any disappointment or frustrations from the previous year washed away with the arrival of spring.
The suspense is starting to build in anticipation of the next generation of Daytona 500’s — especially with the forthcoming completion of the Daytona Rising project pictured above.  With @dalejr entering the season as defending Daytona 500 champion in addition to all the reasons listed above, this year has the potential to be the most exciting 500 ever.

Mudsummer Classic at Eldora

Like a fine wine, the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway is getting better with age.
The first two years of dirt racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has produced the best action of the season for any division for two years running. A third year of understanding the dynamics of racing the Trucks on dirt should only make the 2015 event even better.

Tony Stewart and his track staff took a conservative approach to track preparation in 2013, keeping the track surface dry and dusty, not knowing how the trucks would adapt to the Ohio clay. They took the same approach in 2014 but persistent showers throughout the day made the track slicker than intended but ultimately opened the track for additional grooves and more side-by-side racing.

The Mudsummer Classic is a crown jewel on the motorsports schedule and third third-running should be no different.

Bristol Night Race

The autumn night race at Thunder Valley may be the greatest spectacle that NASCAR has to offer.

The coliseum setting, bright lights, flared tempers and Chase implications have come together in recent seasons to present the best racing of the entire year. The past three years have all maintained the trend with close finishes, helmet tosses and the most entertaining variation of NASCAR racing — short trackin’.
With a second year of the Chase Grid format and the attitudes it has evoked. the pieces are falling into place for the best Bristol Night Race of all-time.

Richmond

The 2014 season was a strange one for Richmond International Raceway. Typically it is the fall race, due to its placement near the end of the regular season, Chase implications and general short track temperment, that provides the fireworks.

Instead, the fall race was a general snoozer with the spring race resulting in a dramatic late-race battle and a fist fight between Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose. Expect the racing world to course correct itself next year, with the fall race returning the norm.

The .8-mile Richmond may be the most perfect venue on the Sprint Cup Series schedule. It has the same close competition and side-by-side action as Martinsville but the speed of a high-banked oval — representative of every facet of the sport. And lastly, the chance to make or miss the Chase for the Championship dictates this as a marquee NASCAR showcase even after what happened in September.

Sonoma Raceway

Road course racing has become the new short track in modern day NASCAR with the sport increasingly becoming a television product. As a result, the discipline has become one of the more discussed and desired forms of racing that NASCAR is comprised of — especially in regards to the summer stop at Sonoma Raceway in California.

In an era where 11 races are on intermediate speedways, Sonoma provides an alternative. There are different contenders and close quartered races not unlike Martinsville or Bristol. With that said, consider thinking outside of the oval this summer.

Categories
Development Journalists

Six Pack of Stats for the Daytona 500

By Stephanie Adair – The day has finally arrived, the drivers are eager to compete and fans are ready for more racing. The 56th annual Daytona 500 is about to take place, marking the official beginning of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. While waiting for the green flag to drop, here are six interesting stats about the “Great American Race.”

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s average finish at Daytona is 13.8, which is the best among active full time Sprint Cup Series drivers.
  • Only three drivers have won back-to-back Daytona 500s – Richard Petty (’73 – ’74), Cale Yarborough (’83 – ’84) and Sterling Marlin (’94 – ’95). Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will be looking to become the fourth driver to accomplish this feat.
  • Chevrolet holds the record for all-time manufacturer wins at 42. Half of those victories were from the Daytona 500.
  • Seven drivers have won the Daytona 500 after starting on the pole. The last time this happened was in 2000 when Dale Jarrett accomplished it. Could Austin Dillon be next?
  • No driver has ever won the Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500 in the same year. Denny Hamlin is poised to do this.
  • Despite three Sprint Unlimited victories and four Coke Zero 400 wins, three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has not won a Daytona 500. This scenario is similar to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who had won at Daytona multiple times but never the Great American Race until 1998 on his 20th attempt. Stewart will make his 16th start this year.

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist

Categories
Trucks

Top Five Story Lines for Friday’s Truck Series Daytona Debut

By Vito Pugliese – The Camping World Truck Series will be the first of NASCAR’s three national series to kick off their season this Friday night in Daytona.

Often proclaimed the best racing of the weekend, the CWTS will see many changes when the green flag falls. Here’s a list of five notable things to watch for in their first of 22 races this year.

1.  Facelift

NASCAR unveiled the new body style for the 2014 trucks on Wednesday and the result was a bit of a throwback. Not necessarily the retro redux of the Nationwide Series that features Camaros, Mustangs, and Challengers, but a profile that is reminiscent of the original Truck Series bodies back in the mid to late 1990s.

The trucks last year began to take on the cobbled and cock-eyed look the last year of the Gen-4 Cup cars back in 2007; however they look decidedly more truck-y. The new box rocks however, as brand identity extends to these beer cans as well, and one would hope the new look might help lure Chrysler and the RAM brand back into the fold.

Oh, then there’s that side benefit of punching big hole in the air with boxy air-unfriendly girth typically resulting in better racing and less whining about aero-push.

2.  First Time Winners

Daytona is the perfect place for some one-offs and fresh faces, and this weekend will be no different. Ben Kennedy may not be a household name to many, but it just may be after Friday night. The great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., the 22-year-old driver was fastest in Wednesday’s practice for the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

Kennedy will be driving the No. 31 Florida Lottery/Whelen Engineering Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports, replacing 2012 champion James Buescher. Hendrick horsepower and Turner Scott trucks are never lacking in horsepower or speed on the big tracks, making him a contender from the get go. That coupled with Daytona loving a first time winner (just ask John King), and another chapter in the France racing dynasty just might be beginning.

3.  Hired Guns, Just For Fun 

Perhaps the biggest shock to the series before the season kicked off was news that Jeb Burton was out of a full-time ride after sponsor Arrowhead did not make due on their payments for the 2014 season. After an outpouring of support and keep-your-head-up Tweets from fans and fellow drivers, Burton was announced as a late addition for this race at ThorSport Racing.

Getting a ride with the defending series and Daytona champions isn’t a bad thing, and it’s safe to say that the second-generation driver has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. And that little matter of needing to find a full-time ride the rest of the season. The team is part-time and TBD for much of the season, but winning the biggest race of the year has a way of elevating people’s thinking.

Also look for Cup Series talent Parker Kligerman in the No. 58, and 2003 Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil to make a start as well this Friday night. And speaking of hired guns, GunBroker.com drivers Brennan Newberry and 2012 Daytona winner John King, will be racing for gun safety.

Sponsor Gun Broker will be donating $24 for every lap they run in the top 10 during the race to benefit Project Child Safe http://www.projectchildsafe.org, a national gun safety program sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

4.  11th Hour Star Power     

When you’re an established and successful driver you get to a point in your career where you don’t have to just take what’s given to you – one can pick and choose their battles. Ron Hornaday is in such a position, and when the four-time series champion found himself without a ride for the 2014 season, he was content to wait out the right opportunity for Daytona.

He found that at ThorSport Racing and provides a fitting bookend to young Jeb Burton with the championship and defending Daytona winning team. The team is looking to expand their involvement and participation past Daytona should suitable sponsorship be found. The deal came together kind of late, but with a team of this caliber and Hornaday’s experience, they’re going to be a factor Friday night for sure.

5.  This Onion Won’t Make You Cry

Todd Bodine is no stranger to Daytona, winning back-to-back in 2008 and 2009 in the CWTS, and going airborne in 2011. This year however, the two-time series champion will be in the broadcast booth providing commentary with FoxSports 1. It’s always great when a driver joins the booth, particularly when it’s one who’s been behind the wheel recently. Todd’s usually not one to mince words and will provide a new perspective for the action Friday night in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

The race can be seen on FoxSports 1 starting at 7:30pm EST.

EMAIL VITO AT vito.pugliese@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @vitopugliese

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Top Five Observations From Daytona

1.  Knocking The Rust Off: Euphuism for “Remember To Remove Head From…”

First there was Matt Kenseth taking evasive action for no reason, and spinning himself across the nose of Joey Logano. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Marcos Ambrose then shared equal blame for suddenly not working together at the exact same time. Do we really need to revisit Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. going Cole Trickle (“I’m through it Harry!!! I’m outta >>crunnchhh…<<<”) by accelerating into his girlfriend’s fantastically fluorescent green  – and remarkably stopped – racecar Saturday night?

Many drivers said before the race that The Sprint Unlimited that it was a great opportunity to knock the rust off and get back to remembering how to race again after having taken a few months off. Might want to fire up the iRacing sims more often fellas…

2.  It’s Denny Time

Sure that’s a reference to perhaps one of the most creepy commercials ever, but the truth is the No. 11 team has things wired tight. The only question remains is Hamlin’s back going to be as equally sound as their game plan going into the season? Hamlin won the season finale after a season of suffering through a nagging back injury, sharing his ride with Mark Martin and Brian Vickers, and was the dominant car Saturday night, with nary a challenge to shrug off Saturday night in the closing laps. As long as he can keep his body in one piece this season, he should be able to make good on avenging that terrible disappointment from 2010.

3.  Kyle Busch is Good at Driving

For the second straight season, The Sprint Unlimited saw Kyle Busch do something rather remarkable – that is, save a car out of control coming off the banking at Daytona at around 200mph. Not even Jimmie Johnson could muster that much magic Saturday night, driving into the frontstretch wall after he lost it coming off of Turn 4. Now if only Kyle could figure out how to do that at Kansas, he’d be among my picks for the final four going into Homestead this year for the championship.

4.  The Fords are Freaking Fast

The Blue Oval bunch had that hang dog look on their faces after pre-season testing this year at Daytona. The one that says, “Yeah…we’re screwed.” All of that changed Saturday night as Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano appeared to have only two of the cars who could mount a serious challenge to Denny Hamlin’s Toyota. In the closing laps, Kyle Busch helped play defense (hey, he is an honorary member of The Legion of Boom now, right?) in the final laps by bogging down Brad’s attempt to hook up with the 22, but even after qualifying which saw Fords place five cars in the Top 11 positions, it’s clear that once was lost – now is found.

 5.  This Will Be a Daytona 500 to Remember

Maybe it’s the blind optimisim of a new year…a renewed sense of hope and belief in the sport…or delirium setting in after being trapped inside due to -10 degree weather for the past six weeks, I sincerely feel this will be one of the most important Daytona 500s ever. The cars looked a bit darty and hard to drive last night – usually makes for some interesting racing. The increased spoiler heights have seemed to aid passing quite a bit (though I’d still like to see them go a tick higher and give the cars a little more horsepower back), and should avoid last year’s fear of daring to poke ones nose out of line. Bump drafting is no longer encouraged, and it seems to slow the cars down anyway, so hopefully we’ll avoid any major incidents in the turns.
Back in the 80’s Ken Squier of CBS nicknamed Turn 4, “Calamity Corner”. After seeing how loose the cars have been getting off that corner in both the ARCA and Sprint Cup events, look for the final turn to come into play in a big way this week in the Gatorade Duels, Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide races,  as well as the Daytona 500.

It’s The Great American Race, my friends – how can’t it be a reason to smile?