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.
Armstrong, Sadler Discuss Mojo Of Coca-Cola Firecracker 250
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— With three red flags and nine caution flags during the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250, finding that mojo was difficult to come by.
Once the race completed the second stage, drivers ratcheted up the intensity and made moves that were not seen during the first two stages. Dakoda Armstrong and Elliott Sadler discussed the flow of the race:
“A little bit. The race was pretty weird. With all the rain, everyone was kinda calm, for the most part. There really wasn't a big wreck until the end. Everybody was willing to ride more in the first two stages. I think the rain played a part in that. It was kinda restarting the race from the beginning every time. I feel like that was the best I’ve seen the field do as far as being aggressive and moving and not just tearing up stuff. It was kinda weird the way it played out, it probably helped everyone’s nerves. For me, we were ready to get it over with. We knew this could hurt us or help us. Luckily, we were on the good side of it,” said Armstrong.
“It just seemed short to me because you start-stop-start-stop. I think everybody was kinda calm until we knew that we got to lap 60, the next weather rain would end it because we knew we had to get everything ready for Cup. Cars started getting more aggressive. I saw bump drafting a lot more, more side drafting, more three-wide. The first half of the race was calm. Everybody knew once we got to lap 60, things had to change. You kinda saw that,” said Sadler.
Byron Scores Victory in Rain-Marred Daytona Event
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— For the second week in a row, William Byron was able to score the victory in the rain-marred Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 from Daytona International Speedway.
Byron was sent to the back of the field at the beginning of the race and then in the middle of the race due to issues with the splitter, but was able to work his way to the front to win at Daytona.
"Man it's awesome. These Daytona fans are really cool. I came here for a Daytona 500 when I was a kid ... this is so cool to win at Daytona. I can't even imagine it. These guys brought a great JRM car and hopefully Dale can get it done (tonight). This is is really cool for our team and just really proud of everybody," Byron stated to NBCSN.
This is Byron’s first victory at Daytona International Speedway. He was also the highest finishing rookie in the event.
After running up front and narrowly missing a couple wrecks, Elliott Sadler finished second. Sadler was also able to score a stage point by winning the second stage.
“The Chevrolet was fast all day. We won a stage. We finished second, ah. A 1-2 finish for JRM is a really good day for us,” Sadler stated to NBCSN after the race.
Being in the right place at the right time payed dividends as Dakota Armstrong finished third.
“We had some damage. A good day for us surviving. Two good weeks in a row for us. Good momentum for us going into the points. Everyone’s working hard, it was awesome. Good day for our whole team,” Armstrong stated to NBCSN.
Jeb Burton, David Starr, Brennan Poole, Joey Logano, Joey Gase, Brendan Gaughan, and BJ McLeod rounded out the top-five.
The Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 was delayed twice by rain and then once for cleanup on the track. The caution flew nine times for 35 laps. There were 18 lead changes amongst 10 different divers. The time of race was two hours, 13 minutes, and 56 seconds. The average speed was 116.476 mph. Blake Koch and Sadler won the first two stages.
Sadler extends his points lead to 59 points over Byron.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is a trip to Kentucky Speedway for a Friday night spectacular, the Alsco 300. The race will air on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Dakoda Armstrong Wins First Career Nationwide Series Pole as Qualifying Gets Rained Out
Making his 23rd career NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend, Dakoda Armstrong has won his first career pole, and it is the first pole for Richard Petty Motorsports in 84 starts since 2011. During group qualifying at Daytona, Armstrong and the Roush Fenway Racing cars have swept the front two rows with speeds exceeding 191.5 mph.
In his Nationwide Series career, Armstrong has never recorded a top-10 finish. Entering Daytona, the 22-year-old sits 13th in points with an average finish of 20.3. Trevor Bayne enters this event sixth in points, and he will start on the outside pole in the No. 6 car.
Only one round of qualifying was recorded as rain approached the Daytona International Speedway. As a pack of underfunded cars were roaring down the backstretch, a patch of rain was on the pavement – right near the end of the grandstands. Nine of those vehicles spun out after Mike Bliss was the first driver to go off track. The wreck caused the first session to be shortened by approximately seven minutes. After not being able to return to the track, Matt DiBenedetto, Tommy Joe Martins, Bobby Gerhart and Benny Gordon missed the event.
Points leader, Elliott Sadler, will start in the sixth position. Sadler won at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year, and he will start alongside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch. JR Motorsports teammates, Chase Elliott and Regan Smith proceed Sadler on the starting grid as each of them are looking to take advantage of their opponent’s misfortune this weekend.
Here are some notables in the starting lineup for the Subway Firecracker 250:
-Darrell Wallace Jr. will start in the ninth position in his second Nationwide Series race this year.
-Chad Boat will start 12th on Friday evening.
-Johnny Sauter qualified in the 20th position for Hattori Racing Enterprises.
-Mike Harmon will start 22nd in the No. 74 car.
-Former Daytona 500 winner, Derrike Cope, qualified 23rd in the No. 70 car.
-Dylan Kwasniewski, who won the pole to start the season at Daytona, will start 26th on Friday evening.