NASCAR Fans Influence First Race of 2013

NASCAR fans are going to be able to determine the details of a NASCAR race more than ever before, by voting on crucial components of the newly renamed Sprint Unlimited occurring at Daytona International Speedway on February 16. The race will feature voting from NASCAR fans via two ways including the website and the newly updated NASCAR Mobile ’13 app. Fans will be able to vote on the race format, pit stop format, how many cars are eliminated, and which fire suit Miss. Sprint Cup will where in victory lane. The first vote will close on Feb. 13 at 11:59PM while the one a lot of people will be watching, the elimination vote, will close at the start of the second segment.

This is the first year that Sprint will be taking over the naming rights of the pre-season, invitational only event, which will not see 2012 Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski. The announcement was made today during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, which will occur over the next four days throughout North Carolina. The reason why Brad Keselowski will not be in the first race of the year, and more importantly the first race with the new Gen 6 Cup car, is because he did not win a pole in the 2012 season. Director of Sports Marketing at Sprint, Tim Considine, said that Keselowski was given plenty of notice before the end of the season and had opportunities to qualify his way into the race.

This partnership between Sprint and Daytona International Speedway, will be a multiyear deal, and will allow Sprint to interact with more fans than ever before. Sprint’s sponsorship with NASCAR started just a little over a decade ago and was extended the other month for a few more years. Sprint also sponsors the All-Star race, which is ran at Charlotte Motor Speedway the weekend prior to the season’s longest race of the year, the Coke 600. “We promised unprecedented access for race fans, and each year we challenge ourselves to honor that commitment in innovative ways,” said Steve Gaffney, Vice President of marketing for Sprint. Sprint has been making an impact for sure, in NASCAR, and are truly trying to give back to the fans by giving them more and more access each year through promotions such as the Sprint Unlimited.

Several drivers are excited to see what the race will hold as fans will determine how the race will be run. Carl Edwards said, “fans have unlimited access and unlimited input in this event… everyone in the garage [is] really [going to] drive our hearts out and make this a really great event. Everybody in the garage will be paying attention to their phones and online trying to keep up with what’s going on with those votes.” Edwards continued to go on and say that this is going to take fan involvement to the next level and “you’ll see more autographs being signed because everyone will want the fans on their side.”

In addition, a driver not new to rule changes and racing in the first race of the year, Jeff Gordon, had some points to make about how we will see a different race this year. “Fans could vote to eliminate cars toward the back of the field, which might eliminate you. So you really can’t afford to be conservative” Gordon mentioned, every driver is going to have to race hard each lap in order to stay alive and in the race this year. Fans will be able to vote up to six drivers out of the race in increments of two (0,2,4, or 6), which will be implemented before the final segment of the race. During today’s announcement it was unclear if the number of cars will be based on the total amount started, 22, or how many are running at that point. Sprint and NASCAR said they would release those specifications as we get closer to the race.

As Speedweeks at Daytona approach, NASCAR teams and drivers are preparing for the biggest unknown of the season, the Sprint Unlimited. The voting lines are now open, or the mobile app, and the deadlines for each vote are listed below. There will also be a new trophy to be unlived within the few weeks, which a fan will be able to present to the race winner. Some other ways fans are getting involved during the race include that fans will be the grand marshal, honorary starter, delivery the trophy to victory lane, or participate in driver introductions. Furthermore, fans at the track will be able to vote on the starting line-up which will either be: 2012 points, practice speeds, or by car number. As many on the tour have said, we can throw out the car number because Dale Jr. is in the 88 and would be second to last for the green flag, but we will have to wait and see. For more information on the race fans can visit:

Brad Carpenter