Give Me Five: Daytona Speedweeks
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finished up 10 days at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2017 NASCAR season. Here are five takeaways from the weekend:
- Damaged Vehicle Policy: This is a step in the right direction for NASCAR. For those unfamiliar with the rule, let’s explain. If a car gets in an accident on track, they can attempt to fix the car on pit road for five minutes. If they take the car to the garage, the drivers day is done. However, time on the five-minute clock runs yellow line to yellow line on pit road. This is a great thing for NASCAR. The debate of ruining “sponsorship airtime” is ridiculous. Sunday’s Daytona 500 has ZERO debris cautions mostly in part to this policy. If you cannot fix your car in five minutes, then you probably shouldn’t be on the track. Kurt Busch was involved in accident, but his team was able to fix it in the time allotted to win the Daytona 500. The sample size is only one race weekend, gice it some time.
- Stages: Many fans have said that because of the stages, there were more wrecks all of Speedweeks. That is not the case. Every four to six years, the races in Daytona are considered a “Demolition Derby”. The last time that happened was 2012. If the stages were the cause of all the wrecks, then there would have been wrecks at stage end, but the caution never flew at stage end. So far, stages have been great, but there has only been one race weekend as a sample size. Let’s get through the West Coast Swing before we send judgment.
- Day Racing: The Advanced Auto Parts Clash was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday morning. The race saw action throughout. The track was cool to start, but as the race progressed the track warmed up causing handling issues. In my opinion, day racing provides higher quality of racing because of the challenge it provides the drivers.
- Toyota: Toyota came into the weekend with their typical game plan of working together. That game plan worked for most of Speedweeks until the Daytona 500. On the first pit stop of the day, all the Toyota drivers pitted. However, some of their drivers went a lap down due to pit road penalties. When the Toyota’s pitted all by themselves in the second stage, they were too far apart on the track when they came down pit road. When they exited pit road, it took them almost two laps to get hooked up which put many of them a lap down and involved in an accident. Toyota had the best strategy of all the manufacturers, but their execution was not the best.
- Brian France: Mr. France made an unprecedented comment about competition in the driver’s meeting before Sunday’s race. “But what I don’t normally do, and I’m going to do this today, is bring up a competition issue,” France said. “This is for the drivers. And what I want you to think about. We realize blocking is part of racing. We understand that. We accept that. Do not look for NASCAR … when you block somebody out there, and it’s going to happen today. It causes almost all the big incidents. Do not look for NASCAR … you better hope there’s a Good Samaritan behind you who is going to accept that block, because they have that lane and the right to it. And I don’t often make those statements. But I think it’s important today as we go into our most important event to make that really clear with our competitors.” This announcement scratched heads everywhere. The intent of his message was unclear, especially to Steve O’Donnell. This comes on the heels of many reports that France does whatever he pleases without consulting others.
What are your five takeaways from Daytona Speedweeks?
Busch Scores First 500 Victory In Wild Race
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.
NASCAR Ups Social Game For Daytona 500
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.
4️⃣0️⃣ HOURS: The Intimidator brings home the W in the 40th #DAYTONA500 (1998)! pic.twitter.com/i7dQ82cx6r— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 25, 2017
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.
Reed Scores Second Career Victory at Daytona
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.
NXS Race Preview: Powershares QQQ 300
The NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) kicks off their 2017 season in the Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday afternoon, there first of two trips! This is the first of 33 events in the 2017 season.
44 drivers have entered into the event to compete for 40 spots in the race. Numerous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are slated to compete in the event, including 2016 NXS Champion, Daniel Suarez.
This will be the 51st event at Daytona for the Xfinity series. There have been 37 different pole winners, and 26 different race winners. The race has been won from the pole position four times with Clint Bowyer being the last to do so in 2009. Tommy Houston set the race record in 1987 at 194.389 mph. Geoff Bodine holds the race record at 157.137 mph set back in 1985.
Drivers are excited to be back on track in 2017, especially with the new competition enhancements.
“I have been waiting to get behind the wheel of the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet since Homestead. Throughout the offseason, we have been working hard in the shop and in the simulator just getting ready for 2017. This organization is more than ready to get the season under way and I’m more than ready to get behind the wheel,” said William Byron, who moved up from Camping World Truck Series competition.
“It’s awesome to be able to say my first win was at Daytona, but I think winning here twice would mean even more to me and the team and I’m ready to get back to victory lane,” said Ryan Reed. “We’ve been working hard this offseason and I can’t wait to get the season started.”
"I am excited to work with all of the guys at JGL Racing. Daytona is always a special race for me as it is so close to home. It doesn't get much better than lots of family, friends and a fast race car at my home track. Everyone at JGL Racing has been great to work with and they have prepared a fast car for me. With Joe Gibbs Racing horsepower and a strong No. 24 Toyota - I have high expectations for this weekend in Daytona,” said Scott Lagasse Jr.
The Powershares QQQ 300 will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST on February 25th. Greg Biffle will join the Motor Racing Network booth team for the race, while Kevin Harvick will be in the booth for Fox Sports 1.