Archive | February, 2012

Daytona 500 Recap

28 Feb

The buzzword of the day to describe last night’s Daytona 500 was “bizarre.”

From a crash involving a jet dryer filled with 200 gallons of jet fuel that sparked a huge on-track blaze (with subsequent cleanup effort involving Tide detergent), to a driver tweeting from his car (for the first time ever during a NASCAR race)… it truly was a bizarre evening.

Here is a video of the blaze:

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Following a two-hour red flag delay during which Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) tweeted from his car, the track was cleared off and the race was able to resume. In the end, Matt Kenseth (@mattkenseth) survived 10 separate caution flags to win the Daytona 500 under an overtime green-white-checker finish.

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A few notes about last night:

  • Matt Kenseth got some pretty sweet “bling” thanks to his victory:


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Thanks to the announcers on @NASCARonFOX and some help from Twitter, I learned quite a bit last night. For example:

  • The announcers on FOX last night said the track surface at Daytona cost $20 million. Wow.
  • Once the race winner crosses the finish line, all other cars must stop racing when they finish their current lap (unlike the driver in “The Distance” by Cake):

As they speed through the finish, the flags go down.
The fans get up and they get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.

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A lot of questions came up during the race last night. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below.

  1. Besides a blown engine, what causes a driver to be out of the race for good? Irreparable body damage from a wreck?
  2. What “mirrors” were the announcers referring to last night? I know the cars don’t have external side mirrors. Do they have rear-view mirrors?
  3. Why were sparks flying under the cars when they hit pit road?
  4. How do they determine the order of teams in pit road? Is there any advantage to being located in a certain area of pit road?
  5. There’s a minimum speed in NASCAR? And if you don’t maintain it, you’re forced out of the race???
  6. How many spectators fit at the average NASCAR track? They seem really big… 100k?
  7. Do NASCAR races ultimately come down to luck? (i.e. If you pit right before a wreck, you will probably move to first place when everyone else in the field pits during the caution, right?)
  8. Before the race resumed following the red flag, I noticed Danica Patrick putting on a balaclava under her helmet. Do all drivers wear them?
  9. The website www.hockeyfights.com shows video of practically every fight in NHL history. Is there a NASCAR equivalent for wrecks??
  10. I’m guessing there is an official NASCAR rule book somewhere. Is it available online?
  11. Joey Logano is only 21 and has been racing in the Sprint Cup for five years. So he started when he was 16???

For The First Time Ever, Daytona 500 Postponed Because Of Rain

26 Feb

As the announcers kept saying during their five hours on air, the Daytona 500 had never been postponed before today. Well, there’s a first time for everything…

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I spent all afternoon looking forward to this race, but unfortunately, Mother Nature was not in favor of a race today. Now, the “Great American Race” will take place tomorrow, when everyone in the country will be at work and unable to watch it is likely to draw a much smaller audience than it would have today.

NASCAR Neophyte’s Unofficial Daytona 500 Drinking Game

26 Feb

Today is the 54th running of the Daytona 500, and because everyone needs a reason to drink more… Monster Energy Drink (support those sponsors, people)… I present to you:

NASCAR Neophyte’s Unofficial 2012 Daytona 500 Drinking Game!

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ONE DRINK

  • Someone points out that Trevor Bayne was the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in NASCAR history.
  • Someone refers to Jeff Gordon as a “three-time Daytona 500 champ.”
  • Someone points out that Tony Stewart has never won the Daytona 500.
  • A driver/crew member refers to their car as: “The [car sponsor] Chevy/Toyota/Ford” (Example: “The M&Ms Toyota”).
  • An announcer refers to a car as: “The [car sponsor] Chevy/Toyota/Ford” (Example: “The 5-HR Energy Toyota”).
  • There is a Golden Corral commercial during the race.
  • There is a Wrangler jeans commercial with Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the race.
  • Someone points out that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on a 129-race winless streak.

TWO DRINKS

  • There is a “wreck” and/or the caution flag is out.
  • Someone points out that Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch are brothers.
  • Someone points out that Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon are NOT related.

THREE DRINKS

  • A car goes airborne during a wreck.
  • Your favorite driver is knocked out of the race.
  • Darrell Waltrip says he has “fond memories” of racing at Daytona International Speedway or says he “misses NASCAR.”

CHUG

  • An ambulance is needed at the track after a wreck.
  • The announcers say something ridiculous, like:

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Note: From searching YouTube videos, it appears that this happens at the beginning of every race, but it was new to me when I watched my first NASCAR race last weekend.

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TIP

To counteract the potential ill effects of whatever you choose to drink, take a drink of water every time Danica Patrick is mentioned.

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Enjoy the race everyone!

(Ed. Note: NASCAR Neophyte in no way endorses the use or abuse of alcohol, the consumption of alcohol by anyone under the legal drinking age, or the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The above is meant for entertainment purposes ONLY.)

Daytona 500 4-1-1

25 Feb

We’re less than 24 hours away from tomorrow’s Daytona 500!

The “Great American Race” officially kicks off the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is the first race in which drivers are awarded points in the standings.

Here’s some background about the event to help get you ready for tomorrow:

  • Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Track name: Daytona International Speedway
  • Lap length: 2.5 mi.
  • Race distance: 500 mi. / 200 laps
  • Last year’s winner: Trevor Bayne (@Tbayne21)

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Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) is the only driver in the field tomorrow who has won the Great American Race more than once (he’s won it 3 times).  Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) and Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) have each won it once.  Veteran driver Tony Stewart (@tonystewart) has never won the Daytona 500.  Could tomorrow be his first?

Danica Patrick will be racing in her first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race tomorrow and will become only the third woman to race in the Daytona 500 (the first was Janet Guthrie in 1977).  Danica’s teammate, Tony Stewart, says she has the talent to win the race.  Can she win her Sprint Cup debut on NASCAR’s biggest stage???

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Once again, I’ll be tweeting my questions and comments about the race tomorrow from my Twitter account (@NASCARneophyte).  Follow along and answer my questions if you can.

Enjoy the race everyone!

Danica Patrick Wrecks In Practice, But Thankfully Avoids Breaking Her Wrists

23 Feb

During the last lap of today’s Gatorade Duel #1 (used to determine the starting order for Sunday’s Daytona 500), Danica Patrick was involved in a crash that sent her car slamming into the sidewalls at Daytona International Speedway at almost 200 mph.

Danica Patrick's car comes to a halt after hitting the sidewall at Daytona International Speedway.

Watch at the 2:35 mark of the video below as Danica takes her hands off the wheel right before she hits the sidewall:

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As the announcer points out (at the 2:55 mark), if she had kept her hands on the wheel, she could have easily broken her wrists. However, thanks to “all that open wheel experience” – in IndyCar racing – “she knew not to hold onto that steering wheel.”

It sounds like the accident could have been much worse – even life-threatening – if not for NASCAR’s SAFER barriers, also known as “soft walls.”

The soft walls are made up of a sort of foam that compresses on impact and absorbs the energy of the crash, instead of deflecting it and throwing the car back onto the track (and into traffic). All oval-shaped tracks on the Sprint Cup Series circuit had the SAFER barriers installed by 2006.

Danica tweeted afterward that she was okay, and then thanked NASCAR for using the soft walls:

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Ultimately, the crash means Danica will be driving her “backup car” in Sunday’s Daytona 500, where she’ll start from the 15th row. That doesn’t seem to bother her too much, though. As she said after the crash: “Maybe that backup car is fast. We weren’t super excited after qualifying. Maybe this is a blessing in big disguise” (Yahoo! Sports).

Kudos to her for remaining positive after a crash like that.

Danica Patrick: Don’t Call Me Sexy!

20 Feb

For those of you who didn’t hear this yet… Danica Patrick would rather be called “pretty” than “sexy.”

As a reminder, this is Danica Patrick:

Pretty, indeed.

Fast forward to the 0:30 mark of the video for the explanation:

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Look, I get why she would rather be called “pretty” than “sexy,” but let’s not forget who this is. As mentioned in the video, she definitely uses her looks to her (financial) advantage. Anyone who has seen one of her Go Daddy commercials on TV or flipped through her SI Swimsuit photos knows that. NASCAR is a male-dominated sport, and she’s just trying to gain some money attention for herself.

Kind of like she was when she made the “pretty” comment.

#NASCAR on @Twitter

20 Feb

If you’re not on Twitter yet, you are missing out.

Twitter is great for keeping up with athletes, celebrities, and, really, anything else you may be interested in. As promised in my first post, I started following all things NASCAR on Twitter, and I’ve learned a lot so far. For example:

  • This one blows my mind. The winner of next Sunday’s Daytona 500 goes home with at least $1,431,325:
  • NASCAR drivers don’t only listen to country music. Here is Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) tweeting about (some of) his favorite music:
  • Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) is pretty short, and his “model-slash-actress” (and NOT the other way around) wife Ingrid Vandebosch (@ivandebosch) is pretty attractive. Here is a picture he tweeted of them with former President Bill Clinton at a recent charity event:
  • Fantasy NASCAR exists. Here is proof:
  • NASCAR drivers give away free swag on Twitter! Here is my BFF Bobby Labonte (@Bobby_Labonte) giving away free tickets to the first “real” race of the season:
  • …and here is Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) doing a ticket giveaway of his own:

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My presence on Twitter has also raised a few questions so far. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below:

  1. How much of the race winnings does the driver keep, and how much goes to their team/owner?
  2. Is there a height limit (maximum or minimum) for NASCAR drivers?
  3. Are all NASCAR drivers married to “model-slash-actresses”?
  4. What exactly are these Miss Sprint Cup girls? And why are they all blonde?