The Daytona 500 finally got underway this evening, after a rain delay yesterday, followed by a cancellation for the day. Originally, it was rescheduled for Noon today, but after numerous complaints, it was rescheduled again for 7:00PM.
No more than 2 laps in, there was a wreck involving Jimmie Johnson, Trevor Bayne and GoDaddy girl Danica Patrick. Johnson is apparently done for the night, while Patrick and Bayne are both in the garage waiting for repairs.
This tweet points to video of the wreck:
More Twitter reaction:
A lot of people are making lame “women can’t drive” jokes.
The TV crew just checked in on Patrick, and she’s still sitting in her car waiting for repairs so she can get back in the race.
February 15, 2009 will be a very important day for most men. no, it’s not the time to get that forgotten Valentine’s Day gift. It’s the Daytona 500 It’s racing time It’s time to enjoy another chance to get Daytona 500 tickets and see the best drivers compete.
With Daytona 500 tickets in hand, spectators get to enjoy the Daytona International Speedway in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. for those who don’t know much about the event or have never enjoyed Daytona 500 tickets, it is the most-watched and most competitive auto race run.
The ’500′ printed on those coveted Daytona 500 tickets represents 500 miles. for 200 laps, the race captivates viewers on television and in person. this annual competition is the most important event on NASCAR’s annual calendar. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s first race of the year. Since 1995, ratings for the event have been television’s highest in auto racing, beating even the Indianapolis 500. most fans would agree as to why: it’s adrenaline pumping auto racing at its best.
YOU MUST HAVE TICKETS TO TRULY ENJOY THE DAYTONA 500 EXPERIENCE
The weather in Daytona Beach, Florida in February certainly helps draw the annual crowds that it does. Quite a few fans of the Daytona 500 plan almost a year in advance to make the trip. Daytona 500 tickets go on sale well in advance, and there is a reason – the fans want to plan their trip for the Daytona 500 experience well ahead of time.
Hotels, businesses and vendors wait for the second or third Sunday in February every year in anticipation of big spenders. Although packages can be expensive – to the tune of thousands per person – most include Daytona 500 tickets, pit passes, hotel accommodations and welcome gifts.
NASCAR wanted the trip to the Daytona 500 to be an all-inclusive experience, not just an event. as a result, they created the Daytona 500 Experience (formerly known as Daytona USA). In this experience which you will find outside the Speedway itself, guests will find interactive games for children and adults, a pit stop competition and three motion simulators. there is also an IMAX Theatre, of course playing a NASCAR film, as well as a gift shop, snack bar, welcome center and electronic game center.
Daytona 500 tickets also allow you to visit interactive motorsports exhibits and other series events. Now the price of the Daytona 500 tickets makes much more sense. NASCAR has taken the time and effort to bring ticket holders an entire day’s worth of fun and activities.
THE DAYTONA 500 IS MORE THAN JUST A RACE
The Daytona 500 race is arguably the most prestigious event in the sport of racing today. The Daytona 500 is an international spectacle. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s signature event and it kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup season every year. Daytona 500 tickets grant you access to be a part of that history. there is nothing quite like the energy of a Daytona 500 crowd, especially when the winning car makes that checkered flag wave.
You get to see the winner earn the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane. Not only does the winning driver get the trophy and honor of being the winner of the Daytona 500, but the winning car is displayed for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience adjacent to the Daytona International Speedway.
In 2008, the Daytona 500 celebrated its 50th year. to celebrate this golden anniversary, a year prior in March 2007, NASCAR held a competition to find the best design for the Daytona 500 tickets that year. The competition called Celebrity Tickets for Charity included submissions by celebrities. all of the proceeds were donated to the Jeff Gordon Foundation. Comedian and game show host Jeff Foxworthy won the competition and was the designer of the Daytona 500 tickets for 2007.
Indiana native Ryan Newman took the trophy home in the 2008 race, winning over $1.5 million. who will win next year? The best and most exciting way to find out is with a pair of Daytona 500 tickets. Since 1959, the Daytona 500 has been entertaining audiences. Daytona 500 tickets are always in demand, and they always sell out as fast as the race itself those Daytona 500 tickets are certainly worth more than their weight in gold when it comes to an amazing live experience.
Michael Waltrip says Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be a throwback to stock car racing’s past when drivers could pass, and cars rambled around the 2.5 mile high banked superspeedway in big packs.
That’s not a complaint, actually, and viewed by some as a necessary change.
“I think it’s going to be a way crazier race than we’ve seen in the last couple years,” says Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, who for the first time in more than 25 years failed to qualify for this year’s event. “It’s going to be a much different race than you saw in 2011 where we were paired off two-by-two and ran around that way all day.”
Waltrip’s prediction is welcome news for fans and drivers as NASCAR puts the pedal down on the 2012 season with its 54th Daytona 500 in Florida.
the race, often described as the sport’s Super Bowl, starts the season and can set the tone for what’s to come.
for NASCAR as a whole, it’s a pivotal time. after last season’s two-by-two drafting combo at Daytona, created by NASCAR rulemakers to alter the competition, the cars have changed again. Gone are fuel-feeding carburetors on the engines – a holdover from the start of the sport – replaced by high-tech fuel injection. the rear spoilers have been lowered and the back bumpers lengthened to change the driver’s ability to control the car.
also banned are radio communications between drivers, taking more strategy out of the equation.
“The cars are a little bit tougher to drive,” says Waltrip, whose team has three cars in the field driven by Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. “The cars will be in packs, there will be 10 or 12 of us in a pack. It’s drafting, and it’s cool looking. you can get out and get a run on a guy and actually pass him.”
once dubbed the “Fastest Growing Sport in America,” NASCAR has hit a few speed bumps in recent years because of the economy and the storylines on the track. Last season ended on an upnote with Tony Stewart beating Carl Edwards for the championship in the season’s final race.
Daytona is hitting the restart button. Each team spends months planning for the season opener. Upwards of 180,000 fans will jam the speedway for the race, and celebrities ranging from “Glee’s” Jane Lynch to Sports Illustrated cover model Kate Upton will be on hand.
the Daytona 500 will also mark the next major step by IndyCar sensation Danica Patrick, who left the open-wheel series to join NASCAR full-time this season.
Patrick crashed in one of the two qualifying races Thursday, and will start from the back of the pack of 43 cars Sunday.
“She’s spreading the word to a demographic that maybe we couldn’t touch before,” says Waltrip, who will be part of Fox’s broadcast Sunday. “It helps our sport. I’d like to see her mix it up (on the track.) It’s a great story to follow.”
It’s just one of the stories, though. when the sun sets on Daytona Beach Sunday evening, one driver will be hailed as the new Daytona 500 champion, while 42 others will spin it as just one race, carrying the same amount of points as every other in the NASCAR season.
Daytona is somehow different.
“I mean, there’s just something magical about Daytona,” Stewart told reporters Thursday. “When it’s the most important race of your season, especially the first one, all the drivers and all the teams and all the crews put more pressure on themselves for that one race than they do anywhere else the rest of the year.”
Or, as Waltrip, a two-time winner of the event says, “You will rarely get introduced as the two-time Pocono champion. you will certainly be introduced as the two-time Daytona 500 champion.”
SUPER STARS: Giants’ Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka will ride in the Grand Marshal pace car during pre-race festivities Sunday.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Mitt Romney loves cars.
Mr. Romney, the son of an automobile executive turned governor of Michigan, even boasted recently that “in the ’50s and ’60s if you showed me one square foot of almost any part of a car, I could tell what brand it was, and model, and so forth.”
So it was not entirely surprising that mr. Romney took a break from his busy campaign schedule in Michigan to make a stop at the Daytona 500 on Sunday morning.
And yet, somehow, mr. Romney often seems to be more of a genteel car enthusiastic rather than the type of guy who camps out on the infield at Daytona, cooler in tow, waiting for the stock cars to careen out of control.
Mr. Romney, who on Friday caused a brief uproar when he casually mentioned that his wife “drives a couple of Cadillacs,” strolled race grounds with Jennifer Carroll, the lieutenant governor of Florida. She asked mr. Romney if he had ever raced.
“I have not raced — let’s just say not on a legal racecourse,” mr. Romney said. “Back in my youth, we would drive up and down Woodward Avenue, sometimes a little fast,” he added, referring to one of Detroit’s major thoroughfares.
Mr. Romney showed up unexpectedly early at Daytona and paused to sign autographs.
When a young man offered the arm of his hooded sweatshirt for mr. Romney to sign, he asked, “Really?”
Up next was a man with a black-and-white checked Nascar seat cushion.
“Isn’t that cool,” mr. Romney said. “I wonder where my signature is going to be all day.”
The race was delayed by rain, and it was not a particularly political event for mr. Romney, who spoke briefly only twice, totaling no more than a minute, first at the morning meeting of drivers, team owners, crew members and sponsors, and then on the infield stage.
“This combines a couple of things I like best — cars and sport,” mr. Romney said in remarks that lasted less than 30 seconds. “And I appreciate the spirit of the men and women who are driving today. this is a chance to really look at some of the determination and great qualities of the human spirit. this is quintessentially American.”
Mr. Romney was not the only Republican presidential candidate with a presence at Daytona. Rick Santorum, whose strong finishes in the Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri contests this month put mr. Romney on the defensive, sponsored the no. 26 Ford car driven by Tony Raines.
On the ABC News program “This Week,” mr. Santorum told George Stephanopoulos that he had talked to mr. Raines about a race day strategy.
“I recommended he stay back in the pack, you know, hang back there until the right time, and then bolt to the front when it really counts,” mr. Santorum explained, echoing what seems to have been his own strategy on the campaign trail. “I’m hoping that for the first, you know, maybe 300, 400 miles, he’s sitting way, way back, letting all the other folks crash and burn, and then sneak up at the end and win this thing.”
Earlier, as Ms. Carroll briefed mr. Romney on what he has missed the previous day — an unexpected, come-from-behind victory by James Buescher, who was able to capitalize on an 11-car accident to pull off a first-place finish in the Nationwide Series opener — mr. Romney offered his own assessment.
“That happens now and then,” he said. “The guy that was hanging back suddenly becomes the winner.”
It sounded like a metaphor for what has happened in the Republican primary race, except that mr. Romney, who has often led in the polls, is not the come-from-behind candidate.
As mr. Romney, clad in a bright red Daytona 500 jacket, gamely strode the race grounds and shook hands on the infield, he encountered a mixed reception.
“Go Obama!” shouted a seemingly drunken man — or, in the language of race organizers, an “over-beveraged guest” — as he dashed up to mr. Romney’s entourage.
“Absolutely!” mr. Romney parried back, referring to mr. Obama: “Get rid of him.”
Down on the infield, where the scene was more of a free-for-all, mr. Romney spent more than 15 minutes in a steady rain shaking hands and posing for pictures with everyone who asked — though he also made sure the rules were enforced.
“I can’t sign currency, it’s illegal,” said mr. Romney, when a woman presented him with a dollar bill to autograph. (She rummaged through her purse and emerged with her race ticket instead).
On the infield rope line, the crowd was largely made up of well-wishers — polite if not always well versed on mr. Romney or his policies.
“I took a picture with the winner of the race last year before it started,” said Bud Meaders, 59, a Republican who said he had not decided among the presidential contenders. “Now maybe I took a picture of the next president.”
“He’s handsome, he is so handsome,” giggled Alyson Lindsey, 26, a respiratory therapist, Romney supporter and Nascar fan who carried a camera in one hand and a red plastic cup in her other.
“He’s down with the real people,” Robert Clifton, 41, a cigar business owner, nodded approving, waving around a well-gnawed cigar. Next to mr. Clifton, a young boy was being coached by his father on what to tell the reporter, should she ask for his name: “You tell her you shook the hand of the next president of the United States,” the father said. “Say that Mitt Romney is looking out for your future.” not everyone, however, was a fan.
Charlotte Carey, 44, of Cocoa, Fla., made a point of introducing mr. Romney to “my girlfriend.” mr. Romney turned to the woman, Ginger White, 48, and said hello to her, too, asking where she and Ms. Carey were from.
“He was very polite,” Ms. Carey said after mr. Romney had moved on. “He acknowledged us and walked on. That’s what he needs to do — acknowledge us. He actually carried on a conversation. It’s just a matter of being recognized.”
But the brief encounter did not change either of the women’s minds, both of whom said they would not vote for mr. Romney unless he changed his stance on same-sex marriage, which he opposes. “He treats us like we’re second-class citizens,” Ms. White said.
When mr. Romney took the stage on the infield to make his second set of brief remarks — less than 20 seconds this time around — he was met with loud boos and a smattering of applause.
“I think anyone would get booed,” said Nina, a Republican from New Jersey, who did not want her full name used because she had called in sick at work in order to attend the race. “It’s more like he doesn’t care about racing. they don’t like mixing sports and politics.”
Scott Fitzgerald, 36, who owns at R.V. company, was there with his 10-year-old son, Michael, and said he had “no opinion” of mr. Romney’s race day cameo appearance.
“He should come if he likes it,” mr. Fitzgerald said. “But I don’t see the political gain. It won’t sway my opinion if he’s a Nascar fan.”
His son was a bit more philosophical.
“He should have come,” Michael interjected. “It’s Nascar. Anybody can come.”
MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) – The Daytona 500 race was scheduled to take place Sunday in Florida, and although it was postponed until Monday, several Monticello residents were still able to experience a little piece of the fun. The Monticello NASCAR group brought not only the atmosphere to Indiana, but the speedy tire changing services as well. well, maybe not as speedy as down south where it only takes a few seconds. Maybe not as graceful either. “I got a whopping 42 seconds and a broken finger,” said tire changing participant mark Michal. despite the injury, participants like Michal were enjoying their time Sunday afternoon supporting the sport they love. Monticello NASCAR group member Kathy Lowery has been organizing the event since December. although participants like Michal weren’t having too much luck with the outside events, inside down the Street Bar & Grill, customers had something else to look forward too, and it was all for a good cause. “We’re doing raffles, drawings, giving away things,” said Lowery. “All proceeds are going to the food pantry. our motto is that no American go hungry.” Members inside the bar weren’t going hungry either. along with plenty of food and drinks, participants were bringing in several non-perishable food items. Official NASCAR club manager Nicholas David traveled all the way from Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the event. although there are about 200 NASCAR chapters throughout the United States, the Monticello NASCAR group is the only chapter in the state of Indiana. David said he is impressed. “Her chapter is really the prime example of how a chapter should be running,” said David. “Tying in a charity event for the food pantry and a race party like this is key.” Something that Indiana residents, and NASCAR club members, could be proud of. “I keep telling Kathy every time, I say I hope you’re proud of yourself and what you’ve done to help out this community and the food pantry,” said David. Due to rain, the Daytona 500 has been pushed back until Monday, February 27 at noon.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – (AP) — NASCAR has raced on the beach at Daytona, under the lights and even around a pesky pothole.
But never on a Monday — until now.
The Daytona 500 was postponed Sunday for the first time in its 54-year history after heavy rain saturated Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR officials spent more than four hours waiting for a window to dry the famed track, but it never came. when the latest storm cell passed over the speedway around 5 p.m., they had little choice but to call it a day.
The 500-mile race was rescheduled for noon Monday. It will be aired on Fox.
“This is one of the toughest things for us drivers,” pole-sitter Carl Edwards said. “It’s now who can really stay focused. That’s not just the drivers, that’s the pit crews, the crew chiefs, everyone, the officials. But I think we’ll be just fine.”
But Monday might be another test for both drivers and fans.
The forecast calls for more rain, and officials are prepared to wait all day and into the night to avoid a Tuesday race, which would strain teams that must get to Phoenix for next week’s race.
“The longer runway we have tomorrow to get in the Daytona 500, the greater the likelihood for us to start and finish the event on Monday,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. “There are certainly a lot of considerations that go into the start time decision, and we believe scheduling it for noon gives us the best opportunity for us to get the race in tomorrow.”
Eight previous Daytona 500s have endured rain delays, the latest in 2009. But never before had storms forced NASCAR’s premier event to be moved.
“I think that’s a pretty good record for NASCAR,” Edwards said. “They’ve been living right to have 53 of these and never have one postponed. That’s pretty spectacular. … I think NASCAR, they’re doing the right thing, you know, not dragging this out.”
Noontime showers sent fans scattering for cover and leaving everyone in wait-and-see mode. Puddles of water formed in parts of the infield, and many fans got drenched as they tried to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Drivers retreated to their motorhomes, relaxing while keeping an eye on developments. Edwards, Brad Keselowski and others took naps. former Daytona 500 winners Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne did in-studio interviews with Fox. another previous race winner, Ryan Newman, played with his daughter in the motorhome lot.
“I guess I’m gonna have to win the first Monday Daytona 500,” driver Greg Biffle said. “As you can tell, I’m still in my uniform because I was optimistic that this weather was gonna get out of here and we were going to get this thing going. But I’ll have to save my energy for tomorrow.
“I know a lot of race fans are disappointed and a lot of people at home on TV, but we just hope they tune in tomorrow.”
The last shortened Daytona 500 was Matt Kenseth’s victory three years ago, when rain stopped the event 48 laps from the finish. He was declared the winner while the cars were parked on pit road.
The 2010 race had more than two hours in delays as NASCAR twice stopped the event to fix a pothole in the surface. Jamie McMurray held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win that race.
This time around, drivers didn’t even get in their cars.
“I didn’t know when to eat. I didn’t know when to rest. I didn’t know what to do,” Bobby Labonte said. “I never took my uniform off. I took a nap. I think we cleaned out the refrigerator snacking on things.”
Now, NASCAR must deal with the downside of moving its biggest race. Ratings and attendance will suffer, falling short of what the series expected.
Fans surely will have complaints, too.
Daytona president Joie Chitwood said he understood fans were frustrated about the scheduling change that pushed the race back one week later than usual. NASCAR and the track made the decision to move the start of the season to address an awkward early off weekend and to avoid potential conflicts with the Super Bowl.
Had the race been run on its traditional Sunday, it would have been completed under a bright, blue sky.
“I’m sure I’m going to have some customers tell me about the date change and the challenges that we have with it,” Chitwood said. “But I think weather is unpredictable. I think based on the NASCAR schedule, the TV schedule on whole, this was the right move for the industry. We’ll continue to work with the last weekend of February.
“It’s unfortunate that this had to happen the first year after we made that change. I’m sure I’ll be talking to a number of customers in the next weeks ahead about that situation.”
Chitwood also said trying to wait out the rain any longer Sunday wasn’t an option, because the Daytona 500 deserves better than being crammed into the late evening hours.
Pointing to several intriguing story lines, NASCAR was hoping to capitalize on the success of last season’s captivating championship race.
The Daytona 500 is the first of 10 scheduled Sprint Cup Series events this season for Danica Patrick, who left IndyCar behind for a full-time move to NASCAR. she will race for the Nationwide Series championship driving for JR Motorsports.
Three-time and defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart is trying to snap an 0-for-13 losing streak in the 500. Stewart’s 17 victories at Daytona include everything but the 500, ranking him second on the all-time list behind the late Dale Earnhardt’s 34 wins. Stewart will start third when the race goes green.
Earnhardt Jr., the 2004 Daytona 500 champion, takes a 129-race losing streak into the event. His last victory was in 2008, his first season with powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. all rights reserved. this material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Coverage of the Daytona 500 is set to begin on FOX today at noon eastern time with the green flag set to drop at 1:30. Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton and Glee’s Jane Lynch are the co-grand marshals and WWE’s John Cena will be waving the green flag.
However, whether Cena will get to wave that green flag today is in some doubt. Rain is threatening to make this year’s 500 the first time the Great American race has been postponed. SBNation’s Jeff Gluck has been following the storm and doesn’t sound terribly confident.
As of now, the forecast is calling for a 50% chance of rain. however, Jimmie Johnson pointed out that the lights at Daytona mean the race can be run later if need be.
“I feel like with the Daytona 500 and the fact that we have lights here and we can run late into the evening, if we do have rain, we will be here getting all the miles in,” Johnson said. “If we don’t get on track at all, I will stay here all week to have a shot at taking that trophy home.”
Here are the top 10 starters for the 2012 Daytona 500:
1. Carl Edwards 2. Greg Biffle 3. Tony Stewart4. Matt Kenseth 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6. Regan Smith 7. Marcos Ambrose 8. Jimmie Johnson 9. Jeff Burton 10. Elliott Sadler
As for other notables: Kevin Harvick 13, Kyle Busch 14, Jeff Gordon 16, mark Martin 22, Kurt Busch 28, Danica Patrick 29 and last year’s winner Trevor Bayne in the 40th position.
Any NASCAR fan knows how important the Daytona 500 is to this sport. it is the biggest race of the year and everybody wants to win. there is a whole week dedicated to Daytona. Many fans might wonder why it is really different and why things are done differently. Everybody wonders about that until they realize how Daytona works. it kicks off the NASCAR season. The Budweiser Shootout is the first one. it kicks off the season and get ready for Daytona. The biggest aspect that is different is qualifying.
Many drivers will try to get into the Daytona 500. A lot more drivers than any other track during the season. First, they have the regular qualifying. then about the middle of the week, there will be two races. These are called the Gatorade Duel 250s. The field gets split up into two and drivers can compete to get their way into the field for the Daytona 500.
Since there are so many drivers wanting to get into Daytona, they need to qualify differently for it.
After the Duel 250s, the rest of the week is kind of the same as any other track. there is just a lot more attention. they have the Truck and Nationwide series. Many drivers that usually run in the Sprint Cup will compete in the Nationwide series to get used to the track. things are done differently during the week of the Daytona 500.
That is because there is a lot more attention toward this track because it is NASCAR’s biggest race and it has been for a long time. Every driver wants to win it. The Daytona 500 is a big deal to every driver that has ever competed and everybody will try to win Daytona. they will remember it for the rest of their lives and will be known for winning it forever.
Few outside the NASCAR world had ever heard of Bayne before he won last year’s Daytona 500 as a 20-year-old rookie. and most haven’t heard of him since, mainly because he didn’t crack the top 10 again in 2011.
While the Daytona 500 stands as NASCAR’s most prestigious race, it’s also its most unpredictable. With the engines of all 43 cars governored to run virtually the same horsepower, winning isn’t just about skill, but luck as well. It’s an ebb-and-flow event with just about everyone taking their turn at the front. Just last year, the 208-lap race featured 74 lead changes and 22 different leaders.
Danica Patrick chats with Tony Stewart in the garage at Daytona.(Getty Images)
In laymen’s terms, the Daytona 500 has become a high-speed game of musical chairs, with the winner being the one who happens to be in front when the music stops. Which is why when Tony Stewart was asked about Patrick’s chances of winning the race, he shot back, “Did anybody think Trevor Bayne could win the race last year on this day?
“Anything can happen,” he continued. “here, it is anybody’s ballgame. She did a really good job in July last year in the Nationwide race when I ran with her. I was really impressed at how smooth she was and how good a job she did in the two-car deal. Talent, there is no doubt in my mind she has the talent to do it.”
[Related Dan Wetzel: Daytona 500 wreck proves Danica Patrick’s toughness | See Danica’s crash]
Ryan Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner, puts everyone’s odds at 1 in 43 – landing on 43 because that’s how many cars will start the race – and he’ll take them.
“That is still pretty good when it comes to winning a $5-million dollar lottery,” he said.
Though they aren’t bad odds, 1 in 43 are actually the longest odds the top-tier drivers face all season. The following week in Phoenix, the number of drivers with a shot at winning will be fewer than 20. So if you’re Jimmie Johnson, Stewart or even Newman – drivers who benefit from top-notch equipment – you have a much better chance of winning a week from Sunday than you do this one.
Conversely, if you’re Bayne or David Gilliland or Danica Patrick – drivers with either little experience or mediocre equipment – you won’t do better than 1 in 43.
“take nothing against Trevor. I mean, he did what he had to do to win the race,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “he made some great moves and won that race on his own. he was very smart about how he drove his car. [But] you just don’t know who is going to come off of Turn 4 battling for this thing anymore.”
Since NASCAR implemented the use of restrictor plates to govern horsepower in 1988 – a move taken to limit speed, keep the cars on the ground and increase safety – there have been 18 different winners in 24 races. over the last 10 years, there have been 10 different winners and there hasn’t been a back-to-back winner since 1994-95.
Derrike Cope, Ward Burton and Michael Waltrip have a combined win total of 11. Four of those are Daytona 500 victories.
Stewart and Mark Martin have 84 wins between them. Neither has ever won the Daytona 500.
And famously, Dale Earnhardt Sr. needed 20 tries before he finally won a 500. That’s 19 more than Bayne, who won it in just his second career Cup start.
“I feel good, I really feel good,” Patrick said Thursday after a wreck on the final lap of the Duel 150 qualifying race sent her careening into a wall at nearly 200 mph. “I feel comfortable. I feel confident. I feel like if things fall our way and I can take the experience from today into Sunday, I think it can be a good day.”
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Updated Feb 24, 8:32 am EST
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —
Trevor Bayne won instant fame with his surprise Daytona 500 victory last year. he earned a small fortune, too.
He didn’t get what he really wanted, though: a full-time ride.
Going into Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500, the 21-year-old Bayne is as surprised as anyone that he’s only running a partial schedule for the Wood Brothers in the Sprint Cup Series this year. His situation is even more unsettled in Nationwide, where Roush Fenway Racing is committed only to run the first three races of the season and is hoping a few good runs can attract some more money.
“I figure if we can maybe be leading the points by then, then it would be hard for them to stop racing,” Bayne said. “But you would hope you could accumulate some kind of funding or some kind of sponsorship after the year that we had last year. It’s just tough right now for us, and for every team out there.”
Bayne and reigning Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are two of the most prominent up-and-coming drivers in NASCAR. In happier economic times, they might have Fortune 500 companies falling all over them.
The fact that neither driver has a full-time ride in Cup even caught the attention of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
“We’re seeing a lot of things showing that it’s turning around, and hopefully it turns soon and the young guys that are kind of in the queue now will be able to ride it out and get a chance when the time comes,” Johnson said. “But it’s crazy to think that Ricky Stenhouse, Trevor Bayne, you look through the list and they’re the first two that come to mind. They’ve had great success – and white race cars.”
Bayne’s stunning Daytona win kicked off a 2011 season that NASCAR officials believe was engaging enough to give the sport a momentum boost for 2012. It ended with an epic title fight that ended with Tony Stewart edging out Carl Edwards in the final race of the season.
NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps believes those stories will drive fan interest this year, and Phelps sees other signs that NASCAR is rebounding from the hit it took when the economy started sputtering.
“If you go back a couple of years, obviously, the economic downturn certainly affects our sport more than any other because it’s so dependent on sponsorship,” Phelps said. “When marketing dollars dry up, sponsorship dollars are part of those (deals) drying up. but you’ve seen it start to cycle back, and it’s really getting healthier and healthier.”
Phelps says NASCAR has seen an overall increase in sponsorship every year since 2009 – especially in terms of sponsorship activation, the extra advertising and events that companies do to support their sponsorship programs.
Phelps says NASCAR has plenty of stories to draw in casual fans and keep hard-core fans riveted this year. Will Johnson rebound from what was an off season by his standards? can Stewart win another title? How will Edwards rebound after coming so close to a title?
And don’t forget Danicamania, as Danica Patrick now is racing in NASCAR on a full-time basis.
“There’s so many great storylines that will help us, I think, sustain the momentum we’ve had in the sport,” Phelps said.
All that said, Phelps acknowledges that seeing Bayne and other drivers potentially not getting to race full seasons because their teams can’t find enough sponsors is cause for some concern.
“Are we perfectly pleased with how everything is? no,” Phelps said. “There’s still some teams with some sponsorship needs. … but I think they’re finding their way on that as well, and it’s getting better.”
Beyond Bayne, Roush Fenway also doesn’t have full sponsorship for its no. 6 Cup car. That’d be a logical landing place in Cup for Stenhouse, who won the Nationwide championship for Roush Fenway last year. as it stands, Stenhouse will drive the no. 6 car at Daytona – and beyond that, who knows?
Roush Fenway also has sponsorship space to sell for Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Cup series champion.
Clint Bowyer left Richard Childress Racing in the offseason; RCR won’t field the no. 33 car for a full season in 2012. Bowyer’s new team, Michael Waltrip Racing, still is looking for additional sponsors for its no. 15 team.
Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing left NASCAR entirely.
Phelps said unsettled team sponsorship situations aren’t unusual.
“The teams are so dependent on sponsor support,” Phelps said. “That revenue stream is so important to the teams. but that’s the way it’s been in NASCAR for 65 years. that part’s not different.”
What is different today, Phelps said, is the model teams are using to bankroll their racing budgets.
In the past, a team would try to nail down one company to pay an eight-figure annual fee to become the team’s primary sponsor. but there aren’t enough companies willing to do that anymore – so instead, teams are trying to tie together enough smaller sponsorships to fund their teams.
Most teams are doing OK. a few aren’t.
“There are realities,” Phelps said. “It’s expensive to run a team, so if you need to have six sponsors to make that thing work, you’re going to have six sponsors. but because of that, you have downward pressure on the other teams, `Hey, listen, I only have three sponsors, I have six races remaining, how am I going to fill the six races?’ That’s why it makes it difficult, and that’s why I think there’s so much focus on it right now.”
But Phelps believes the teams will get it figured out. and he’s confident that young stars like Bayne and Stenhouse have full-time rides in their foreseeable futures.
“Whenever you have two up and coming drivers, young drivers, who don’t have full time support, yeah, it’s concerning,” Phelps said. “It’ll get figured out. Trevor and Ricky are going to be in good shape. they are going to be drivers well into the future.”