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.
In the third round of qualifying, Jones posted a lap of 184.546 mph, just edging out his teammate Daniel Suarez. The No. 20 team is coming off a victory in the XFINITY Series last event in Dover two weeks ago.
With a speed of 184.470 mph, Suarez was runner-up in qualifying for the fourth time this year. This time it was just .012 seconds behind his JGR teammate.
Out of the 11 races, the No. 19 car has begun the race in the top three positions 11 times.
In his first XFINITY Series race of 2016, Denny Hamlin was over two-tenths of a second off the top time in the final round of qualifying. He recorded a lap at 183.219 mph, which improved from practice on Thursday.
Austin Dillon sat on the pole and swept both races at Charlotte last year will start from fourth on Saturday afternoon. His hot lap was over three-tenths of a second off the pole winning time at 182.636 mph.
2014 winner of this race Kyle Larson rounded out the top five at 182.451 mph.
XFINITY Series points leader, Elliott Sadler will start just outside the top five in sixth. This marks the No. 1 team second best qualifying effort of the year, just behind a fifth in California.
The highest starting rookie is Cole Custer in 11th with Brandon Jones alongside in 12th.
Jeb Burton will have to start from the rear after getting into the wall in Round 1. He had the 27th quickest lap.
TJ Bell and Morgan Shepherd are the two drivers who failed to qualify for the 40-car field.
David Ragan has been announced as the new driver of the No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota for BK Racing. The news came hours after Matt DiBenedetto officially stated that he would be returning to drive the No. 83 car for the organization in 2016.
Ragan joins BK Racing after facing many unknowns about what his future entailed throughout the off-season. Last July, his future became uncertain after becoming the full-time fill-in driver for Brian Vickers when Michael Waltrip Racing announced that it would be shutting its doors at season’s end.
Last year alone, Ragan started off the Daytona 500 with Front Row Motorsports, a team that he had been with since 2012, but was named the replacement driver for Kyle Busch starting at Atlanta after Busch was injured in the XFINITY Series race at Daytona. He competed in nine events for the No. 18 team, and then moved over to MWR to drive the No. 55 car for the remainder of the season.
Throughout the season Ragan only accumulated one top-10 finish, which came in March at Martinsville. He was in a position where, yes he had to adapt to multiple different teams and crew chiefs, but had he been successful it is possible he would have landed a ride in a top-tier car for the 2016 season.
However, after not performing up to expectations, Ragan was stuck not knowing his future for a long time. He was in the prime position of his career to prove to other teams in NASCAR that he has what it take to muscle the car around and take advantage of an incredible opportunity. Unlike his teammate at MWR, he did not have sponsorship that would follow suit. It was announced in October that his teammate Clint Bowyer would be joining HScott Motorsports in 2016 with funding from 5-Hour Energy.
The Georgia native seemed to be relieved after announcing on Monday that he would be joining BK Racing.
"I'm happy to be part of something that has so much growth potential," Ragan said in a press release. “Ron [Devine] has steadily built his program over the last five years. He's made an even greater commitment in 2016 with new cars, equipment, and additional personnel. I feel that we'll be in a position to bring the team to the next level. I'm looking forward to the season."
The 30-year-old has proven to be marketable over the years. During his career, he has had funding from big-time sponsors such as AAA, UPS and Aaron’s. The two-time Cup Series winner will bring some star power to the young team, which was created in 2012 after Devine purchased the assets of Red Bull Racing.
For the majority of his nine full-time seasons, Ragan worked with Roush Fenway Racing, where he picked up his first career win in July of 2011 at Daytona. He spent his first five full-time seasons with Roush before joining Front Row Motorsports, which he raced with for just over three seasons.
Monday’s announcement was a win for BK Racing in trying to elevate its program to the next level.
“We're very excited to have a driver of David's caliber join our team," Devine said in a team press release. "In addition to being a race winner, I feel that his input and leadership qualities will benefit the team on many levels. Our entire organization is energized to work with him."
Over the off-season, BK Racing purchased more than a dozen of MWR’s racecars. This was a step in the right direction and puts better equipment out on the racetrack for the organization compared to the equipment it has used in the past. Last season, the BK Racing owned cars finished 37th, 40th and 43rd, respectively in the owner standings.
For Ragan, BK Racing was the obvious option. In an offseason that has had plenty of late moves, he was the only big name driver to not have secured a ride through late January. Though it might be a step down from previous teams that he was on, the new driver of the No. 23 car will get the most out of the racecars each week.
This move seems to have been Ragan’s only option in the Cup Series.
There were no deals on the table in the XFINITY Series that would have put Ragan in a competitive ride. However, just last season, rookie Jeb Burton went from being a championship threat in the Camping World Truck Series to a driver who missed multiple races at the Sprint Cup level competing in BK Racing equipment.
Ragan obviously has a more wealth of knowledge than Burton due to experience. However, how much can Ragan get out of the racecar? Everyone knows that he will be competitive on the restrictor plate tracks, he always is. But what about the other 32 events?
It will be difficult for Ragan to be competitive with BK Racing. The organization is making all of the right moves in purchasing new equipment, bringing in a driver who will instantly be the leader of the team.
Jeb Burton has been through a lot over the past few months. However, all the turmoil which the 21-year-old has experienced has gotten a lot easier with the announcement which was made on Friday morning.
Burton was announced as the full-time driver of the No. 13 Estes Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing. Entering the year, he was scheduled to race his second year in the Camping World Truck Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, but his sponsor made a default on their payments, and there went his chance to race for that organization. ThorSport Racing originally picked up the son of 2002 Daytona 500 champion, Ward Burton, for the season opener at Daytona. However, after an impressive run to start off the year, the team kept finding funding to run him at each race – enabling them to have time to complete the deal with Estes for the remainder of the season.
“I kind of had the carpet ripped out from under me,” Burton said during a press conference on Friday. “Everything happens for a reason. If that wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be with these good people I’m with now.”
Locking up a deal with ThorSport means plenty to the Burton family. He is set to replace his father and his uncle, Jeff Burton, as he attempts to tame the NASCAR ranks, and looks to become the first Burton to win a championship in the top-three NASCAR divisions.
Since making his Truck Series debut in 2012, Burton has 32 starts with 14 top-10 finishes. Comparing that to his father’s first 32 starts in the Nationwide Series, Burton actually has had more success, but that’s because he didn’t experience as many mechanical issues as his father back in 1990 and 1991.
Now that he has secured a deal, his father believes he is set to win races and contend for this championship. But thanks to the experience he had trying to find funding to race, Ward says he has learned exactly what to do to interact with people.
“It is very difficult (getting funding). You have to approach it and make it a financial benefit to your company. Here you are – this is the way you are going to interact with sponsors and new customers and businesses. You can use racing to take advantage of all the three-dimensional opportunities that racing presents.”