Whisler Weekly Recap: Daytona
Two Day Shows
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series could have easily had a two day show at Daytona International Speedway.
All the series did on Thursday afternoon was have two practice sessions. On Thursday, over half the teams did not even make a lap in the second and final practice session for each series, both sessions ran for 55 minutes.
The final Cup practice saw 19 drivers make a lap while the Xfinity Series had only 16 drivers made a lap.
On Friday, teams arrived at the track for qualifying that began at 2:00 p.m. EDT. NASCAR could have easily had one practice session of 90 minutes on Friday morning to save teams some money during the race weekend. Teams could have spent an extra day at home and save costs on hotels and travel.
The sanctioning body and teams should look at ways to reduce the race weekend down to two days in an effort to save on costs.
The overtime line came into effect in the Coke Zero 400 and the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250. However, uproar from the line came during the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250.
When the green flag flew in NASCAR Overtime, the field had to reach the overtime line located towards the middle of the backstretch. Before the field reached the line in the Xfinity race, they were already wrecking. By the time the caution lights were illuminated, the field had already crossed the overtime line. That caused an uproar among fans and media about the delay.
After an explanation from NASCAR, the delay was ultimately deemed a human error. The delay was approximately two seconds. The delay was caused from recognizing the crash, calling the caution, and illuminating the caution lights.
Should the overtime line be updated? NASCAR is currently looking at overtime procedures to implement in the 2018 season.
Little Teams That Did
Racing at Daytona and Talladega are always good for the underfunded teams in NASCAR. The draft and restrictor plate racing is the cause of performance for these teams.
In the Xfinity Series, little teams that did include but are not limited to include Dakoda Armstrong (P3), Jeb Burton (P4), David Starr (P5), Ross Chastain (P6), and Joey Gase (P10).
In the Cup Series, little teams that did include, but are not limited to include Michael McDowell (P4), Brendan Gaughan (P7), Corey LaJoie (P11), and Matt DiBenedetto (P13).
For these teams, a good finish at the track does wonders to their budgets and their future.
Joey Logano And Locking Bumpers
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, teams are forced by NASCAR to not be able to lock bumpers at restrictor plate events. If two teams lock bumpers, both teams will be given the black flag and penalized with a pass-through penalty.
According to Wayne Auton, Logano is a master at riding that fine line of bumping and locking the bumpers. That difference is so small and subtle that NASCAR has a hard time determining if it is a locking of bumpers.
McDowell, LFR Score Best Finish at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— When it comes to racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, being consistent on the track is an important factor.
For Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing, the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway. A fourth place finish extended their streak of consecutive top-25 finishes to seven. McDowell and the team also earned their best finishing individually and as a team on Saturday.
McDowell qualified in the 23rd position, but reported no issues to the car at the beginning of the race. When the first caution flag flew, Todd Parrott, crew chief, brought McDowell down for tires only and then would bring him down during the competition caution for fuel only just six laps later.
With the strategy from the pit box, McDowell and Leaving Family Racing scored their first stage points, where he finished sixth.
The second stage began with McDowell being forced down pit road to avoid a wreck entering into the tri-oval. For the team, they were able to get a caution a couple laps later to assess the damage they may have received from entering pit road at a high rate of speed.
After fixing damage, McDowell worked his way to the top-10, but avoided a wreck. However, McDowell was unable to score stage points in the second stage.
When the third stage began, McDowell was able to avoid numerous wrecks. With 50 laps remaining, Parrott called McDowell pit road to fix a tire rub and to gather enough fuel to the finish. When the final caution flew and sent the race into NASCAR Overtime, McDowell restarted fifth. He worked his way up to second, but fell back to the fourth position.
"It was a great run for us. Really building off the Daytona 500 where we were in the top-five and ran out of gas. We really had a fast car. The boys did a great job. It wasn't without trouble. We were around a lot of the carnage out there. There was just a lot of hard racing out there tonight,” said McDowell after the race. “Three-wide, bumper-to-bumper all night long. It is great to have a top-five. Really excited about that. Coming to the white, I thought I might have had a shot at it. But Ricky and I were just too far out and those cars behind us had a big run. Very thankful for the opportunity. We have great people. They are relentless. They work hard. Everybody back at the shop. ECR power under the hood, that helps."
With his fourth place finish, McDowell moved up in the points standings to 25th.
What Drives Ford Performance at Restrictor-Plate Events?
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— With the win in the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford Performance has won six of the last races at either Daytona or Talladega.
For many teams, beating any of the Ford drivers at a restrictor plate event is crucial. Brad Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr., and Clint Bowyer discussed the power of Ford Performance this weekend at Daytona. That success is also attributed to the power of Roush-Yates Engines.
“I think that every year we see seem to see different cars and teams and manufacturers have strengths and weaknesses. I think we’re starting to see at this point and time in the season where the Fords have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Probably more that we’ve seen in the last four or five years with the manufacturers. The Fords right now are the best cars on the speedway tracks for a number of reasons. One of which is the power in their engines is very strong a the higher rpms. And with the current gear rules and current engine packages at Daytona and Talladega, the engines sustain higher rpm for the duration of running in the pack,” said Keselowski. “And I think with the bodies, the Ford body on the Gen 6 car lends itself to well to the restrictor plate tracks with having high-efficiencies with respect to its drag characteristics. I would agree that the Fords have some strengths right now on the restrictor plate tracks and probably behind on the other race tracks. Like anything, if your golf game is good on the greens and not good on the driving range you have to make the putts. So the Fords are doing a good job at that. I would like to see it be a little more balanced out with our strengths and weaknesses but with the current landscape that’s where it is right now.”
“Let me just say this: Those Roush Yates engines are phenomenal. Doug does such a great job, puts a lot of emphasis on this plate stuff, takes a lot of pride in it, and he should. Those things run amazing. They take a beating out there. At the end of that thing, I was overheating, blowing water, doing all the things that you know are going to happen when we get like that. I mean, I was pushing him all the way down the back straightaway all the way through 3 and 4. It was just kind of one of those deals,” said Bowyer in his post-race media availability. “We were up against the wall, and I was shoving, and the water temperature was pegged and blowing water. But it's just -- those things are phenomenal. It's amazing any of these engines make it through this stuff. I'm just blown away if you really think about it and look at the mechanics of what those on in them things each and every week, you're looking back at last week, all the rpms and everything that turns, I'm just proud to have that Roush Yates power under our hood.”
“I think it's really strong. I think obviously qualifying showed that our Ford Performance cars are really strong, and I think I kind of echo what Brad said maybe on the broadcast before the race is the high RPM tracks we feel really, really good at. I feel like that's why we run the top of the racetracks, a lot of the racetracks we go to, and the engine package, the bodies, everything is just working really well for the speedways,” said Stenhouse Jr. “And then we work well together. We all practice together, and it was nice to be able to use your Ford teammates throughout the race to keep us up front, and even -- all the Fords, David Ragan's car was fast there. He's a good speedway racer. So we feel like we've still got work to do on other racetracks, but it's nice to capitalize on -- when you have the opportunity to, and that's what it's all about. The fastest cars don't always win at speedways, but it's nice that we've been able to capitalize on that for Ford, for Roush Yates, and particularly for Roush Fenway.
With the dominance of Ford Performance at restrictor-plate tracks, can anybody stop them when Cup heads to Talladega in October? That is a question that will be interesting to watch.
Tire....Rubs Cause Problems at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Bringing a new tire to compete at Daytona International Speedway proved it’s challenges for drivers.
Goodyear brought a new tire compound that was supposed to provide more grip for drivers. The tire provided grip for stability, not speed. However, there were numerous tire issues during the weekend.
On Thursday during the opening minutes of NASCAR Xfinity Series practice, Spencer Gallagher had a tire go down in the middle of the draft, sending himself and Cole Custer to a backup up car.
In the Coke Zero 400, five drivers reported tire issues. The most vocal was Kevin Harvick, who stated over his radio that the tires were “crap.”
Tire issues were the main cause of some of the cautions on the track. However, the problem was not because of issues with the tire, but because of fender rubs.
Because of the nature of drafting, the fenders were pushed in from the beating and banging in the draft. Despite claims from driver’s about the tires, Goodyear saw no issues with the tire they brought to the track.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— David Ragan came so close to scoring the victory at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400, but was shuffled back to the sixth position on a late-race restart in NASCAR OT.
Ragan was leading the race when the race restarted on lap 162, but Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. had the dominate car and shuffled Ragan out of the lead.
His sixth place finish at Daytona was his best finish since a fifth place finish at the Martinsville Spring race in 2015.
Despite a sixth place finish, Ragan admits he didn’t have the speed when he was out front:
“Our car didn’t have speed up front. Our car drove really good which allowed me to stay in the throttle and really push cars. We had a little damage to our right front fender too. It just didn’t go as it needed to,” said Ragan.
Despite being on the front row on the final restart, Ragan estimated the run by Ty Dillon, but underestimated the charge from Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Michael McDowell.
“I really thought that if we could clear the 13 (Ty DIllon), we would be in good shape. I didn’t know the 17 and 95 had that good of a run. My car wasn’t good on the bottom either. It liked to run that middle and top. I just didn’t want to let anybody get on my outside.
Despite his recent records at Daytona, Ragan was pleased about his run:
“If it was Thursday and you said ‘Hey, we will give you a sixth place finish,’ I would probably would have took that coming to Daytona. My record hasn’t been that great the last several years. I have been caught up in wrecks. I haven’t been able to finish these races clean. To be that close its bittersweet, but I can handle it,” said Ragan.
Ragan understands defeat. In 2011, Ragan lost the Daytona 500 on a late race restart to Trevor Bayne. Ragan will think about it but believe losing this race is nothing.
“I lost the Daytona 500 down here. Losing the Coke Zero 400 that ain’t nothing. I will think about it tonight and tomorrow a little bit. I can think about it and smile.”
Ragan currently sits 28th in the Cup series points standings, 438 points behind Kyle Laron, but 41 points ahead of Aric Almirola, who sits 30th in points.