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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

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.

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.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Despite not having a ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Casey Mears will join GIECO and Biagi-Denbeste Racing for a part-time, 12-race, deal in the Xfinity Series.

Mears will pilot the No. 98 GEICO Military Ford Mustang that honors and pays tribute to our nation’s military and service members.

“I’m thankful for GEICO’s continued support and I’m happy we were able to get this deal put together with Biagi-DenBeste Racing,” Mears said. “Fred Biagi and Bill and Lori DenBeste are great people and I’ve always respected them and how committed they’ve been to NASCAR and building their team over the years. I’m honored to be able to drive the #98 GEICO Military Ford and pay tribute to our military and their families. GEICO does a terrific job of supporting the military and I appreciate the opportunity to play a small role in honoring our service members.”

This deal reunites GEICO and the Biagi-Denbeste organization, a deal that ran from 2002 to 2006. During that time, the team won the Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway in 2004.

“We are excited to expand our footprint in the NASCAR community with our sponsorship of Casey Mears and Biagi-DenBeste Racing in the Xfinity Series,” said GEICO vice president of marketing, Ted Ward. “We enjoyed our relationship with the team in years past and are happy that Casey will continue to be part of the GEICO family. This program is a nice complement to our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series sponsorship of Germain Racing and will help broaden our presence during race weekends. The military is an important component of our business and we are looking forward to honoring our service members with the #98 GEICO Military Ford.”

Mears has 14 years of experience in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, including one win, 13 top-fives, 51 top-10’s, and three poles. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Mears has nine years of part-time experience in the series including one win, 16 top-fives, 32 top-10’s, and four poles.

Biagi-Denbeste Racing scored one win in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season at Daytona International Speedway in the Subway Firecracker 250.