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I have a love/hate relationship with the Daytona 500. As a long time NASCAR fan I appreciate the rich history of the track at Daytona, afterall NASCAR was born on the sandy beaches there. I love that modern Daytona 500 races retain some of the history by being the only races in the series to retain the tradition of qualifying races (the duels/twins). Hell I love Daytona for no other reason than it signals the beginning of my NASCAR season; when the “big boys” take to the pavement nearly every weekend from now until Thanksgiving- racing their hearts out, pushing themselves and their equipment to the maximum. I LOVE Daytona for the excitement and optimism of a new season…that this will be Tony Stewart’s year!

However, there are things I don’t like about Daytona. And they all hinge on the fact that I don’t like it when drivers have to rely on other drivers to get around the track and win a race. The kind of driving we see on the super speedways of Daytona and Talladega especially. That being said- I much more preferred the two-car break away drafting (I think some people have been calling it pod racing but that makes me think of Starwars) we saw this year. Cars would pair up and work around the track in little two car teams. I thought it made the racing far more exciting that they long train-style drafting of years past- where two really long trains of drafting cars would jockey back and forth around the track all day. That racing I did NOT like at all. At least the two-car breakaways made it more interesting.

Sure there were a lot of wrecks and spins and cautions but that is to be expected as this style of driving is new to the drivers. They need to learn what work sand what doesn’t work- and they only way to do this is to see how far they can push it. Afterall, isn’t that what racing is about; pushing until you can’t push any longer? You need to know how far you can go- and you can only find that threshold of too far by going over it a few times. Even experienced drivers like Tony Stewart where having occasional trouble with it. Tony said on his radio during the race “Will someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong that spins guys out?!

Speaking of Tony Stewart, it was very very encouraging to me to see both Tony and teammate Ryan Newman both up towards the front of the pack at different points during the race.  That’s definitely a marker towards a good season ahead.  Tony drafted with several different drivers during the course of the 500 mile race but my favorite was when he was listening to him and Junior draft together.   I enjoyed listening to them communicate directly back and forth with each other instead of playing a complicated game of telephone that includes two spotters like he had to do with other drivers he drafted with like Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.  Tony also seemed to be able to talk directly to Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer so I think it was a Chevy driver thing. I just wish Tony hadn’t gotten shuffled back so far during the green/white/checker attempts as everyone jockied for dancing partners all day.  Tony ended up finishing 13th and is currently 12th in series points with 31 points- which is 11 points behind points leader Carl Edwards.

Of course, the real story of the race is the win by 20 year old Trevor Bayne.  They had been poking fun at Trevor during practice- about how he was always the first person out on pit road in the mornings. How he was an eager beaver sort of driver. How he sought out his idol- Jeff Gordon after driver intros then again after the parade lap. How he worked with his idol during the Gatorade Duels.  He was obviously a quick study. That move at the end of the race- how he jumped down in front of Carl Edwards as they were coming to the checkered flag? That move was something you would see from a veteran driver. It was awesome to witness.  Congratulations to Trevor- he’s one to keep your eye on. He will be going places I am sure of it. If you didn’t see Misty’s post on Trevor’s win- it’s a great read: Fresh Bread, not Sliced Bread, is Good for NASCAR.

NOTES ABOUT DAYTONA:

  • Congratulations go out again to Tony Stewart for winning his 4th Daytona Nationwide victory in a row (not to mention he’s won 6 of the last 7 nationwide races).  I LOVED the oreo paint scheme. I think it was great! You can find the diecast to pre-order available here.
  • Okay…I SQUEALED when I saw the Transformers NASCAR cars on the warm up laps.  Those things look AMAZINGLY COOL! I hope they have them at LVMS when I go- I want to see those things up close.
  • Don’t forget to vote daily for your favorite driver at the Wheaties Fuel Most Popular Driver website (formally the Hambuger Helper Most Popular Driver).

Next Race: Phoenix!

I have had tires on the brain lately. Mostly because I think that its time to get new ones on my HHR- the current ones have just under 50k on them so it’s probably about time. Unfortunately since they are those fancy low profile suckers- I am pretty sure that they will cost me an arm and a leg. I might as well get to sawing them off now so that I can pay for the tires when the time comes.

Anyway, as most NASCAR fans know- Goodyear is the official tire of NASCAR- and every NASCAR Sprint cup series car (and NATIONWIDE series too) will take the green flag with four Goodyear Eagle racing tires underneath it.  I have been fortunate enough to have pit passes (sidebar: just the kind you can buy at the track- nothing like those fancy hot or cold garage passes that I would DIE to have…ok not die because then what would be the point since I’d be dead and wouldn’t be able to use them- but I am SURE you get the point. So if you are reading this and you can hook me up for two cold garage passes for LVMS in March check out the ABOUT tab for how to contact me or leave me a comment on this entry- sorry for the shameless act of begging. AMY) for different races on the west coast and I love walking the pits and taking pictures.  Invaribly I will end up with pictures of tires.  Tires stacked, tires laid out in rows, the specially made tire dolly the crew guys use to transport tires from the Goodyear area to their pits, the “stickers” that indicate the tires are new, and my favorite shot to get- crew members gluing lugnuts onto to tires on Sunday morning.  At one track…I believe it was Fontana- I actually ended up walking right through the area the Goodyear guys were set up in in the pit area and was fascinated to watch them setting up the tires for the race.  I could have stood there and watched longer but I was in danger of melting into a big puddle- because the Auto Club Speedway in the Fall..is almost always HOT!

Back to tires.  As we all know and will no doubt be told a bazillion times between now and Sunday- Daytona went through a historic repave.  They didn’t just resurface Daytona- they dug it up down to the sand and put down new surface all the way around that sucker.    However did you know that the tire they are using at Daytona was developed before the repave was completed? The fascinating part is that they knew the repave would most likely be similar to the Talladega repave of 2006 because it was being done by the same company.  So that’s how they were able to get a useable compound for Daytona.  Just a little fun fact for you.

Another fun thing I have for you is this little video from Goodyear. It’s got a little bit of everything for the NASCAR fan including driver commentary and some behind the scenes looks at Goodyear…I thought it was pretty interesting. I hope you will too:

You can also find more vidoes at the Goodyear channel on youtube and of course you can always visit the Goodyear website as well.

Oh and am I not on a roll with witty titles for posts lately??

Wow…I don’t know what to call the Daytona 500 today. When they were racing the racing was pretty good.  The problem with the hole though? That was sad that it seemed to ruin the momentum of a good race.  Over two and half hours split between two red flags –yowzer. That sucked for me and I was on a cushy couch inside…not sitting on a hard bleacher for all that time. I can’t imagine what that was like.  And Fox? Um- could you have managed to talk to Tony/Darian a little more during all that time? Granted maybe Tony didn’t want to talk but…you could have at least talked about what kind of problems they were having- I was left in the dark there. 

Tony didn’t have the best of runs. I don’t think the car was set up correctly- when they finally did talk to Tony he mentioned they were fighting a tight car.  And don’t ask me what they were doing to the car’s front end after each of the ends of the red flags- maybe because the track had cooled down so much between the red flag runs that it made his car undriveable? I guess we will have to wait for the official Stewart-Haas racing release that usually comes out on Monday or Tuesday.  I am not sure but he seemed to be nursing the car along somewhere between the 20th and 30th at the end of the race. He finally finished 22nd- after a caution caused by some cars getting together – including Kasey Kahne smacking into Tony fairly hard.  Ryan Newman unfortunately faired worse than Tony did- getting collected during an accident…and ended up finishing in 34th.  Unofficially Newman has 61 points and Stewart has 97 points. 

Race winner was a very emotional Jamie MacMurray- driving the #1 Tracker Bass Pro car during the second attempt at a green white checker.  This year not only has NASCAR relaxed bump drafting rules but they resolve to make three attempts at a green white checker finish.  Even though there was an accident involving Jeff Gordon among others during that second attempt the rule stipulates that if the race leader has taken the white flag under green that the race will end on that lap. 

I have to give a huge shout out to Dale Earnhardt Jr though for his amazing moves on that last lap and a half or so.  He came from 10th to 2nd by just ballsing his way through…what a great recovery for Dale Jr.  Speaking of Dale Jr…you can enter to win one of two Dale Jr. Prize packs here.

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Instead of my notes section that I usually do I wanted to share some pictures:

Race fans taking part in the pre-race Coca-Cola track walk at Daytona International Speed way this morning. (Photo provided by: Fast Horse PR)

And for our annual Daytona 500 viewing party spread I went with a Stewart-Haas Racing theme:

The Stewart-Haas racing theme spread included SHR sponsor products (purchased by me of course) of: Burger King, Coca-Cola, Oreos, Ritz, and Tornados. Other items included Tony Stewart Origianl BBQ on the ribs we ate for dinner that night, Stewart's brand soda and Cheetos cuz I love 'em. (Photo Credit: ME!)

My dad decided that just laying out one of the hash brown tots things from Burger King didn't cut it and built the leaning tower of hashbrown tots. (Photo Credit: ME!)