Caleb Whisler

Caleb Whisler

I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch had some strong words for Goodyear following his accident on lap 129 that collected 17 cars.

Busch had a tire going down when he went towards the wall going into the third turn. There was no indication that the tire was going down:

“No. I wished I would’ve. If I would’ve, I would’ve tried to wave off as many guys behind me as I could, but it happened just as soon as we started picking up load into turn three. Just spun around and you know it actually felt like I hung onto it for a long ways and then finally it went. I don’t know if it was a left rear that went down or the right that went down but man, tore up three JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars in one hit and also Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.),” said Busch.

As Goodyear enters into the final year of their current contract as NASCAR’s Tire Supplier, Busch talked about the frustration caused by the tires.

“You know obviously Goodyear tires just aren’t very good at holding air. It’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here. Last year we had it as well too. It wrecked us in practice and tore up a car – a few cars actually were in that as well.”

In response, Goodyear was adamant that their tires do hold air. Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Racing Director, saw that there was evidence of impact on the right rear tire, which they will investigate.

"There's also damage on the left rear, which we feel could have contributed, but again, until you know exactly what it looks like inside [the tire], it's tough to say for sure," Stucker said. "But certainly, both tires were completely intact with regard to components or any obvious issues that we feel could have led to any sort of premature air loss. It was obviously an outside impact or source that created it; we just don't know exactly what yet and which tire."

Goodyear did not see any tire issues throughout Daytona Speedweeks, and believes that Busch reacted in the heat of the moment.

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— The Dawsonville Pool Room will not be sounding the siren after the 59th running of the Daytona 500. Chase Elliott was just three laps from scoring his first career victory before running out of fuel.

"It was a disappointing finish to a good day. Just one of those things you can't do anything about. I'm happy with how the NAPA team performed, and we are going to learn from it. I'm proud of how hard everyone worked all week. We're looking forward to getting back at it in Atlanta."

With 25 laps to go, Elliott was leading a single file line around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. As the run went on, crew chiefs were telling drivers to conserve fuel as they were a lap to a half lap short. Many drivers were telling spotters that as the laps wound down, Elliott was slowing down the pace. As the leader, Elliott was using a little bit more fuel than everyone.

Elliott is no stranger to being close to victory. Elliott’s frustration culminates from numerous races in 2016 of being close. Despite the loss, Elliott is excited to head to his home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—  Kurt Busch scored his first Daytona 500 victory due to the many of his fellow competitors losing fuel. This is Stewart-Haas Racings first win in a Ford. This is Busch’s first restrictor plate win since entering into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2001. Busch led the most important lap, the last lap.

 

"My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. The more unpredictability that keeps unfolding at the Daytona 500, I predicted it. It just got crazy and wild and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona’s victory lane,” said Busch in victory lane.

 

Ryan Blaney finished second, AJ Allmendinger finished third, Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five.

 

At Daytona 500 Media Day on Wednesday, Busch stated, “It owns me.  It doesn’t owe me anything, it’s just owned me over the years.” Now, he will go down in history as a Daytona 500 champion.

 

Busch started the race from the eighth position. Busch was a darkhorse throughout much of the first stage. Busch and his Stewart-Haas teammates attempted to stay together throughout much of the race. Busch and his teammates were hitting pit road during the first segment at lap 32 when Corey LaJoie wrecked coming onto pit road. However, that did not effect their performance when the race restarted. Busch went back down pit road shortly after, and was quiet until the second stage. Kyle Busch won the first stage with Kevin Harvick in second, Blaney in third, Brad Keselowski in fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five at the end of the first stage.

 

The second stage was saw a six car pileup in turn three that brought out the red flag for 17 minutes. Busch was the silent sleeper in the second stage. When the field was going back to green, Busch joined his teammates to have the top-three positions while Ford had the top-seven. The end of the segment saw Joey Logano attempt to make a pass on Harvick in the tri-oval, but was unsuccessful. Harvick won the stage, Logano was second, Ku. Busch was third, Keselowski was fourth, and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-five.

 

The third stage was wild and crazy. The field began to get ansy. The caution flew four times during the stage. The day almost ended for Ku. Busch on lap 129. Jimmie Johnson spun going into the third turn with help from Jamie McMurray. The wreck left Busch as the lone survivor of the Stewart-Haas camp to contend for the win.  Despite the damage, Ku. Busch was able to contend with the leaders. As the race began to wind down, Ku. Busch and others were being told to conserve fuel. The field ran single file for numerous laps as drivers contended to save fuel. However, drivers began to drop out of the pack because they were running out of fuel. On the final lap, Ku. Busch was running second coming off of turn two chasing Kyle Larson. Larson ran out of fuel which allowed Ku. Busch to score the victory.

 

Despite not winning the Daytona 500 as a driver, Tony Stewart was ecstatic to win the race as an owner.

 

“It’s probably the most patient race I’ve watched Kurt Busch run. He definitely deserved that one for sure. I’m really proud of everybody . Great day for Ford Performance and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. I think this finally gets Gene Haas all the crown jewels. This is awesome, man.”

 

The race saw 37 lead changes among 18 different drivers. The race was slowed eight times for 40 laps by caution.

 

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. Coverage from Atlanta will be on FOX and Performance Racing Network on March. 5 beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—  With the sport’s marquee event set for tomorrow, NASCAR has stepped up its social media game for the 59th Daytona 500. NASCAR’s Digital Media team, lead by Scott Warfield, hopes to increase their footprint in 2017, beginning this weekend.

NASACR saw a huge increase in social media numbers in 2016 over 2015. NASCAR saw 4.3 billion social impressions in 2016; 287 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, 209 million social video views. NASCAR saw a social audience of 11.4 million people, up 15 percent from 2016. On raceday, NASCAR saw 12 million people reached on Facebook and 2 million Twitter users reached. 53 percent of NASCAR Facebook followers range from 13 to 24 years old with 66 percent on Twitter of the same demographic.

NASCAR hopes to increase that social footprint even more in 2017.

NASCAR has already begun their work in partnership with FOX through the “Daytona 500 Hour Countdown” campaign. This campaign showcases original Daytona 500 content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

NASCAR will use Snapchat and its Live Story feature for the first time in 2017 for the Daytona 500. Darrell Wallace Jr. will take over the “NASCAR” Snapchat bringing to dans the sights and sounds of Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR purchased Snapchat Spectacles to be used throughout the season. NASCAR will incorporate stop motion technology to be used for the entire 2017 season.

Earlier in the week, NASCAR and Twitter launched an emoji using the colorful, waving flags in the Daytona 500 logo. The emoji will be featured when users use the hashtag, #Daytona500.

Throughout the weekend, fans will be able to go behind-the-scenes with unique content across Facebook and Instagram.

During Daytona 500 Media Day, Facebook created a presence with Riki Rachtman using Facebook Live all day. Facebook dedicated a footprint within the Daytona 500 Club.

NASCAR also launched the 2017 “Ready. Set. Race” marketing campaign using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This spot will be aired on the FOX broadcast during Sunday’s race.

NASCAR will begin a new relationship with GIPHY. Fans will be able to obtain and use NASCAR reaction-focused GIF’s to use on their personal social media accounts. Fans can access this at giphy.com/nascar.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.— Ryan Reed scored the victory at Daytona International Speedway in the Powershares QQQ 300, a race that was plagued with two red flags. This is Reed’s second career win at Daytona.

 

“I had several people come up to me today and tell me how amazing my first win was. To see what that win meant to people, it drove me to get back into victory lane,” said Reed in victory lane.

 

Reed started the race in stage one in the second position. Reed ran up front for the first stage, while being the pushee and pusher through much of the first segment. Reed was involved in the second caution of the day on the backstretch that collected 20 cars. Reed was able to continue in the race. Elliott Sadler won the stage wth Kasey Kahne in second, Brennan Poole in third, Ty Dillon in fourth, and Blake Koch rounded out the top-five.

 

In the second stage,  Reed was a silent contender working his way back to the front. Reed hooked-up with Sadler to help him get towards the lead on lap 46. Shortly after pushing Sadler to the lead, the field went single file for a few laps before Reed went to the bottom to form a second lane going into ending of the stage, but lost momentum as he was side drafted. Sadler won the second round with Austin Dillon was second, T. Dillon was third, Reed was fourth, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five.

 

In the third and final stage, Reed was silent at the beginning, but on lap 82 Reed pushed Keselowski to the lead. When Reed pushed Keselowski to the lead, Keselowski dropped to the bottom leaving Reed on the high side with Sadler pushing him. A. Dillon found a hole on lap 85 to jump in front of Reed. A. Dillon gained a huge lead from the push by Reed, but was sidelined as Reed passed him to gain the lead. Reed also received a huge push from behind, but as quickly as he gained the lead, he was split on both sides by the draft, getting shuffled towards the back of the pack. Reed moved his way back towards the front before the caution fell for an accident on the backstretch. On the restart, Reed challenged Kahne with eight laps to go for the lead.  Reed blocked Kahne from taking his position, and received drafting help from T. Dillon. With just three laps remaining, the caution flag flew sending the race into NASCAR Overtime. On the final restart of the race, Reed was able to get a jump on the field to win the race.

 

Kahne finished second, A. Dillon finished third, Keselowski finished fourth, and Brendan Gaughan finished in the fifth position.

 

The Powershares QQQ 300 from Daytona was slowed by 10 cautions for 42 laps with two red flags, resulting in the race being stopped for 46 minutes, 13 seconds.  There were 23 lead changes among seven drivers with Reed leading nine laps.

 

Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—   In an afternoon media availability with Toyota owners, Joe Gibbs was asked about the reports in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) concerning the issues within NASCAR Management. Coach Gibbs mentioned that he was interviewed for the article, but his quotes were not mentioned. 

 “I was interviewed for that article, and there wasn't one comment I made that was in that article, or there was no slant to anything in there,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs, as well as other owners on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, believe that the sport is in  a great position, despite the reports. 

 “When I look at the sport, and I go back to 2006 when I ran the Super Bowl in Detroit.  We were lucky to have 70,000 seats and to think about every weekend we have better than a Super Bowl 38 times.  People need to take that into consideration, and then as you stack the media and the social media on top of that, I think the connection is amazing and with the disruption we’re gonna have now with these three different segments, certainly when we announce a sponsorship like Shell yesterday for seven years and you see Fed Ex, I think that there’s never been more competition on the race track.  I think what we have to do as a group, the people in this room, we have to take a little different look at this,” said Penske.

Gibbs and Penske both mentioned the long-term commitments that Shell and FedEx announced this week to help validate their claims.

“We announced FedEx the other day, a new extension for them, a long‑term extension. There's three other sponsors that we also did that with our race team alone. We saw Shell come in and make a huge decision with Roger,” said Gibbs “We also have two new sponsors coming in that we can't announce right now that will probably be announced within the month, okay.’

The Wall Street Journal interviewed numerous executives within the sport, but did not include any portion of their interviews.

“My personal opinion. I just kind of felt like this thing was already going in a direction, and it was like when I was asked questions, it was, we're headed one direction, I don't care what you say. Now, maybe that's not fair and I know that, but I felt it. I felt that. I felt it personally. And I take it because this is all my family, J.D., Coy, all of us, all we do is race every day,” said Gibbs

Speedway Digest has reached out to Tripp Mickle and Valerie Baurlein, writers of the article, but have declined comment. However, The Wall Street Journal has talked to other media outlets stating they stand by the fair and accurate reporting from Mickle and Baurelin. Daytona International Speedway officials have confirmed that WSJ does not have a presence at the speedway during the weekends marquee event, the Daytona 500. 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.—   Brandon Jones will start from the pole in today’s Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway with a speed of 184.472 mph. This is the second year in a row that a Richard Childress Racing driver will start from the pole.

 

Ryan Reed qualified second at a speed of 184.253 mph. Brennan Poole qualified third at a speed of 183.984 mph. Daniel Hemric qualified fourth at 183.854 mph. Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five with a speed of 183.741 mph.

 

Drivers who did not qualify for today’s race include Mark Thompson, who did not make a lap, Stephen Leicht, Morgan Shepard, and Mike Harmon.


NASCAR confiscated the tires of Austin Dillon during the first round of qualify. Wayne Auto said NASCAR found a substance, like Armor All, on the tires. Dillon and his team will only have three sets for the race. There will be no further penalties.

 

The Powershares QQQ 300 will air on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 3:30 pm EST.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.—  The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season started out terrible for Noah Gragson and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team.

Shortly after qualifying, Gragson and his team learned that team Jeff Merritt, a team mechanic, lost his wife Stephanie after injuries sustained in an automobile accident two weeks ago.

“One of my guys back home, Jeff, we had a hard loss a couple of minutes ago,” Gragson said. “His wife passed away. They got in a car wreck over the offseason. He worked really, really hard on this truck. We’re going to go out there and drive as hard as we can today for him, for Stephanie.

Gragson was hoping to win the race for Jeff and his family

However, Gragson was involved in an accident on the third lap, where he was spun by Chase Briscoe.

“I’m fine. NASCAR does a great job with the safer barriers and making these trucks safe. I’m fine. I took a few hard hits out there. Just a bummer. I didn’t want to end the race like this, but I had a good time for the lap I got. Felt like the 29 (Chase Briscoe) hit me in the wrong part of the bumper going through the tri-oval, it just got me loose and it got pointed into the outside wall. Just very thankful for the opportunity to come out here to Daytona, racing in front of the fans” said Grayson after the accident.

Grayson would be scored in the 26th position.

Despite racing with a heavy heart, Gragson is optimistic about next weekend in Atlanta.

“We’re going to go out to Atlanta next weekend and hopefully get the W.”

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.— The 2016 ARCA Racing Series Champion, Chase Briscoe, scored his first top-five in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Briscoe finished third in Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250.

Briscoe started the race in the 16th position, but caused an accident on the second lap. Noah Grayson went high, but Briscoe already filled the hole. The accident collected 14 cars.

Despite being involved in the wreck, Briscoe quietly rallied to finish in the third position.

“It was nerve wracking to say the least. This place makes the hair on your back stand up, especially inside the driver’s seat. It’s a great way to start my career with Brad Keseloski Racing. Im really looking forward to the rest of the year and Atlanta next week,” said Briscoe.

Briscoe was not considered a contender for most of the race, but towards the end, he worked his way into position for a great finish, despite causing a wreck in the opening laps.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.— In a wild last lap at Daytona International Speedway, Kaz Grala was able to drive his way through the carnage on the backstretch to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250. Grala started from the pole position becoming the first driver to do so since Jack Sprague in 2007. Grala is the youngest winner in NASCAR competition at Daytona.

“I was going to go go, cross my fingers, and close my eyes a little bit. Luckily, it worked out for me. I can’t believe it. This is so surreal,” said Grala post-race.

The first stage for Grala saw him lead the first six laps with the caution falling on lap three. Grala lost the lead for a lap due to pit stops, but regained the lead when Moffitt went down pit road. When the race went back green, Grala had a strong restart, but was unable to hold off the momentum from Christopher Bell. Grala became a darkhorse when he lost the lead, but was able to hang with his teammate Johnny Sauter, who won the first stage, after an accident on the frontstretch coming to the end of the stage.

In the second stage, Grala started on the inside, but let Sauter get in front of him when the race restarted. Grala would remain behind Sauter, who dominated the second stage.

In the final stage, Grala was sitting quietly in the draft behind teammates. Grala and GMS Racing teammates went down pit road under the green flag before anyone else in the field. The plan almost backfired on the GMS Racing organization as Spencer Gallagher and Scott Lagasse Jr. were busted for speeding on pit road. A break came when Bell spun on the frontstretch. On the restart, Grala let Sauter in front of him. The caution flew again with six laps remaining for a spin by John Hunter Nemechek. When the race restarted with two laps to go, it was anybody’s game. Once again, Grala let Sauter in front go him, but was shuffled back. When Sauter went low, that left Matt Crafton with momentum on the high side. On the final lap, the field went three-wide, but wrecked coming off of turn two. Crafton went airborne, collecting Sauter, but Grala left unscathed to go on to his first career victory.

Grala will race for the first time on intermediate track next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Active Pest Control 200.