Hello, my name is Tyler Fitzgerald and I am excited to be writing my “Below The Yellow Line” blog at HeardCitizen.com. This blog will be to keep everyone updated on all the things happening in NASCAR. Recaps and previews of past and upcoming races will be posted here as well as any breaking NASCAR news that may occur over the course of this season.
I have been a NASCAR fan for a long time and I enjoy writing and talking about the sport. My favorite drivers are Kurt and Kyle Busch in the Sprint Cup Series, Parker Kligerman in the Nationwide Series, and Joey Coulter & Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
I also go to Talladega Superspeedway every year for the Aaron’s 499 and the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 races. I hope that by reading this blog you will become a fan of this amazing sport as well.
2013 Daytona Speedweeks Recap
Daytona Speedweeks is what every race fan lives for. It is the first week of the NASCAR season with many exciting races all leading up to the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Daytona Speedweeks kicked off with the Sprint Unlimited race. This race is a no points race consisting of all the pole winners of the previous seasons as well as previous Sprint Unlimited Winners.
This race is oftentimes one of the most exciting races of the season. Because of it being a no points race and because of the large amount of money given to the winner, it brings out the “win or go home” mentality in a lot of the drivers.
Also it was a big advantage for the drivers in this race because they would be able to test NASCAR’s new Generation 6 car. Due to fan votes, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle started on the front row. Three cars had to go to backup cars and start in the rear of the field due to a wreck in practice. These 3 cars were the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet of Kurt Busch, the #99 Fastenal Ford of Carl Edwards, and the #55 Aaron’s Toyota of Mark Martin.
The race was divided into one 30 lap segment, followed by a 25 lap segment, and ended with a 20 lap shootout for the win. The first segment started off pretty calmly with drivers trying to feel out the new Gen 6 cars and learn what they can and can’t do. On lap 15, the big wreck happened.
Tony Stewart was running in 2nd place when he dropped down in front of Marcos Ambrose, sending Ambrose up the track a little bit. This caused Stewart to hit the apron. This triggered a chain reaction wreck when #11 Denny Hamlin spun into the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson, sending both cars into the outside wall. This wreck also collected #78 Kurt Busch, #18 Kyle Busch, #24 Jeff Gordon, and #56 Martin Truex Jr.
Tony Stewart won segment 1. After segment 1, there was a mandatory 4 tire pit stop. #29 Kevin Harvick led the race off pit road, followed by #14 Tony Stewart. Segment 2 was relatively calm with #29 Kevin Harvick winning the segment, followed by #16 Greg Biffle and #22 Joey Logano. This all lead to the final 20 laps to determine the winner.
Kevin Harvick would lead the field to green for the final 20 laps. He led 19 of the 20 laps in the final segment. On the final lap, Kevin Harvick was on the bottom coming around the final turn to the checkered flag. Greg Biffle stormed on the high side trying to rally up enough momentum to pass Harvick and win the race. Harvick came up on the final turn to put the block on Biffle and win the 2013 Sprint Unlimited.
Daytona 500 Qualifying
The Sunday following the Sprint Unlimited was set for qualifying to determine the front row for the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 has a special way of setting the field for the Daytona 500.
In qualifying, only the 1st and 2nd qualifying positions hold up. The rest of the qualifying spots would be determined by two 125 mile races called the Budweiser Duels. Qualifying day in Daytona turned out to be a history making day with the only female in the race, #10 Danica Patrick, laying down the fastest lap and winning the pole for the Daytona 500.
Danica put down a lap of 45.817 seconds with a speed of 196.434 mph. She became the first female to ever win a pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. She was also the first rookie to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson in 2002. Qualifying 2nd was #24 Jeff Gordon. This was the fourth time Gordon would start on the front row of the Daytona 500.
Fun Fact: Danica Patrick was only 10 years old when Jeff Gordon raced his first Daytona 500.
The Budweiser Duels are two 125 mile races to determine the starting position of the rest of the field for the Daytona 500. Danica Patrick led the field to green in Duel #1 while Jeff Gordon would lead the field to green in Duel #2. Budweiser Duel #1 was won by #29 Kevin Harvick, giving him the 3rd starting spot for the Daytona 500.
Duel #2 was won by #18 Kyle Busch, giving him the 4th starting spot for the Daytona 500. Two drivers failed to qualify for the Daytona 500: #19 Mike Bliss and #52 Brian Keselowski. The starting lineup for the Daytona 500 was now set. #10 Danica Patrick and #24 Jeff Gordon would start on the front row, followed by #18 Kyle Busch and #29 Kevin Harvick on the second row.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: NextEra Energy Resources 250
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is always one of the more exciting races of SpeedWeeks. It is always held the Friday night before the Daytona 500 race weekend. The #14 Truck of Brennan Newberry won the pole for this race, followed by #6 Justin Lofton.
The race was very crazy as it usually is. The Camping World Truck Series is one of NASCAR’s lower series where many young drivers start out with dreams of one day making it to the Sprint Cup Series. Many young drivers such as Darrell Wallace Jr, Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton, and Ryan Truex participated in this race. These drivers are the future of NASCAR.
The race was won by #98 Johnny Sauter after the a big wreck on the last lap caused the race to finish under caution. Rounding out the top 5 were #51 Kyle Busch, #9 Ron Hornaday, #6 Justin Lofton, and #4 Jeb Burton.
This was Johnny Sauter’s seventh victory in 109 starts in the Camping World Truck Series, his first victory at Daytona. This also earned Toyota it’s 100th win in the Camping World Truck Series.
NASCAR Nationwide Series: DRIVE4COPD 300
The NASCAR Nationwide series kicked off their season opener on the Saturday before the Daytona 500. This is one of the most anticipated races of the season, especially this year with all the new drivers in the field.
Drivers such as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Regan Smith would participate in this race. #6 Trevor Bayne and #12 Sam Hornish Jr. started on the front row, followed by #77 Parker Kligerman and #60 Travis Pastrana in the second row.
All the excitement for this race was quickly brought to a halt when the #32 car of Kyle Larson was launched into the catchfence on the last lap of the race, causing a tire and fiery engine to fly into the grandstands. This accident caused 28 fans to be injured. All were treated and sent to local hospitals in the area.
All survived and their condition was noted as stable. #33 Tony Stewart made it through the last lap carnage to emerge victorious followed by #12 Sam Hornish Jr, #99 Alex Bowman, #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr, and #77 Parker Kligerman.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona 500
Daytona 500 day was upon us. The big day that every race fan waits for with the hope that their driver might win the coveted race and get their name placed on the Harley J Earl Trophy. Danica Patrick led the field to green although she failed to lead the first lap.
The race was relatively calm in the beginning until lap 32 when #18 Kyle Busch got into the back of #5 Kasey Kahne causing him to spin through the middle of the field collecting #14 Tony Stewart, #29 Kevin Harvick, #42 Juan Pablo Montoya, #1 Jamie McMurray, #13 Casey Mears, and damaging other cars such as #2 Brad Keselowski and #78 Kurt Busch.
On lap 90 history was made when Danica Patrick became the first female driver to ever lead a lap in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and in the Daytona 500. A late race restart placed the top 2 drivers in points from the previous year in the front row: #48 Jimmie Johnson and #2 Brad Keselowski .
Jimmie got the early jump for the lead and never looked back. Jimmie Johnson won his 2nd Daytona 500 followed by #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2nd and #55 Mark Martin in 3rd. Danica Patrick finished 8th.
I think this Daytona Speedweeks turned out to be pretty successful. I do believe that Kyle Busch would have won the truck race on the last lap had there not been the big wreck in the end. He was in position to pull out of line and use the slingshot move to fly around Johnny Sauter for the win.
As far as the Nationwide wreck goes, I feel like NASCAR does a lot for the safety of fans. It was a bad thing that happened but NASCAR does it’s absolute best to protect fans and drivers. It was just a freak accident. Fans take a risk when they go to races. When you go to watch cars race at 200 mph you have to assume that risk.
I think that Danica Patrick’s 8th place finish is good for the sport, however I believe that her true test will come on the actual driver tracks. She’s in good equipment, but Daytona is such a crapshoot race that it’s not really a good indicator of how good a driver really is. It’s really like a high speed game of chess.
I wasn’t too impressed with the overall racing of the Gen 6 cars in the 500 with most of them riding in a single file line the most of the race. Overall I think this Daytona Speedweeks was successful and entertaining for all fans. It was a good start to the season that makes me excited for the rest of this season!