NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Countdown To Daytona Beach · Thomas Bowles · Thursday February 8, 2007
For Dale Earnhardt fans, the 1986 Daytona 500 is one of the "big ones that got away." Earnhardt had a strong week, but the bad luck at Daytona he shared with Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker reared its ugly head again. After the way he had dominated the 85 Daytona 500, Bill Elliott was a heavy favorite that year. He didn't disappoint anyone on pole day either, claiming the pole for the race at over 205 miles per hour for the second year in a row. "Hoo-Ray" hollered the Elliott fans. Bill clearly had a strong car in the first 125-mile qualifier, but laid back early in the going, confident in his car’s ability. Elliott stole a page from Cale Yarborough's play book and patiently waited for the last lap to slingshot by Bobby Allison. "Hoo-Ray" shouted the Elliott fans again. Terry Labonte, Kyle Petty, and Sterling Marlin rounded out the top five. Bobby's boy, Davey, had less luck than the old man. He spun the entry he was driving out of the Sadler Racing stables and once again failed to make the field for the 500. Richard Petty had returned to the Petty Enterprises stable and his sixth place finish in that first qualifier gave the King's legions of fans hope that the magic was back. In the second qualifier, Dale Earnhardt just out-muscled the field, leaving Geoff Bodine in his wake to take the win in convincing style. It looked like there was going to be an epic battle between Earnhardt and Elliott. Earnhardt was confident going into the event. He had won the Busch Clash, the 125 qualifier, and the Sportsman race on the Saturday before the 500. The man was definitely on a roll.
Right from the get go it was obvious Bill was not going to run away and hide from the field again. He gave up the lead to Geoff Bodine on the third lap, and seemed to be employing the same, "Save the car for the end" strategy that had won him the 125. Earnhardt took the lead on lap 11 and he and Bodine swapped it back and forth for most of the race. It was not a good day for the veterans. Bobby Allison finished dead last after losing an engine on the 21st lap. Richard Petty slammed the wall on lap 63, and broke his shoulder, disappointing his fans who thought the King was back. Neil Bonnett broke a wheel and lost control, setting off a thundering wreck. Joe Ruttman went into the wall hard. Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough and Harry Gant all wrecked trying to get through the mess. Bill Elliott's car was damaged as well. He lost several laps in the pits while repairs were made , and never contended for the lead again. "Boo" hollered the Elliott fans. The caution flag flew for 46 laps in that wreck marred event. That left it to Bodine and Earnhardt to decide things. Earnhardt seemed to be content late in the event to cruise in Geoff's wake to help put a little distance between the two of them and the field, while setting Bodine up for one of "them Cale Yarborough deals," a last lap slingshot pass. In light of the qualifier results, it seemed evident Earnhardt had the horsepower to do the job. What he didn't have was the gas. A pit miscalculation caused Earnhardt to run out of gas with three to go and he had to dead stick it into the pits. As he roared out of the pits in a desperate attempt to make up ground, Earnhardt popped an engine and fell to 14th in the final run down. Geoff Bodine cruised on to the win unmolested, leading Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Hillin and Benny Parsons to the stripe. It was the first Daytona 500 victory for car owner Rick Hendrick who was defying conventional wisdom by running a two car team that year. Junior Johnson was the only other team owner to field two cars that year for the full schedule, and pundits of the time liked to point out, "Rick Hendrick is no Junior Johnson."
When the Winston Cup tour returned to Daytona in February of 1987, two people felt like they had some unfinished business- Bill Elliott and Lady Luck who had smiled on Geoff Bodine the previous year. Once again defying conventional logic, Rick Hendrick showed up at Daytona with three teams. Geoff Bodine was back with Hendrick, Benny Parsons was subbing for Tim Richmond who had contracted a mysterious illness after dominating the second half of the 1986 season, and a new team had been added for Darrell Waltrip, who had split with Junior Johnson. (There was a race in 1987 where Hendrick in fact had six cars on the track.) Bill Elliott showed everyone he was on a mission after the previous year’s misfortune by taking the pole at 210.364 miles per hour. That decades old record is probably going to stand a very long time as later that season NASCAR would start requiring restrictor plates (or "pile up plates" as some folks refer to them) at Daytona and Talladega. Things didn't go as planned for Bill in the first qualifier race however. He set up Ken Schrader for the traditional last lap slingshot pass, but Schrader expertly blocked the move, and beat Elliott to the stripe by less than a foot. During that race, several wrecks showed just how bad things could get at those speeds. Phil Barkdoll flipped and hit the wall airborne and upside down. Tommy Ellis got involved in a grinding crash that sent him rolling as well and scattered debris the length of the straightaway. Darrell Waltrip finished third and Buddy Baker was fourth. Benny Parson's earned the "Tiny Lund Substitute Driver" award by winning the second qualifier race in place of the ailing Tim Richmond. He beat Bobby Allison by almost two seconds, and Geoff Bodine finished third in the other Hendrick car. All three of Rick's cars finished in the top three in the qualifiers. Davey Allison was with a new team, the Ranier-Lundy Ford with Robert Yates as a crew chief. The Ranier operation would become Yates racing when Robert purchased the team. Davey's luck improved to the point that he managed a 6th in the second qualifier, just ahead of Junior Johnson's new driver Terry Labonte.
The 1987 Daytona 500 was run without any major wrecks. The caution flag flew just four times for 15 laps total, allowing the winner to average 176.263 miles per hour. All three of Hendrick's cars led laps during the event, but it was clear that once again Bill Elliott had the strongest horse that day. In the later stages of the race, Benny Parsons, Geoff Bodine, and Dale Earnhardt all seemed to be closing the gap. Richard Petty was also looking like the King of old and the crowd roared when he took the lead with 10 laps to go while the other leaders were pitting. Parsons missed his pit stall and had to back up, losing him valuable time. Earnhardt's chances were foiled by a slow pit stop that took him out of contention. Bill and his crew on the other hand were flawless, and he was going after Bodine hell's bells. Lady Luck called in her marker on Geoff Bodine, whose crew chief Gary Nelson decided to roll the dice and try to stretch out the fuel mileage to the end. Ironically enough, Bodine ran out of gas with three laps left, on lap 197, the same lap that Earnhardt had run out of gas giving Geoff the win the previous year. Elliott regained the lead and beat Benny Parsons to the line by almost precisely the same amount of time Parsons had surrendered in the pits, 3.6 seconds. Richard Petty had his best 500 in years and finished 3rd. Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Ken Schrader, Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Cale Yarborough closed out the top ten. Talk about an all star line up, the top ten was a virtual Hall of Fame in NASCAR with those drivers now accounting for 23 championships, 631 wins, and 20 Daytona 500 victories between them. Bill Elliott won over 200,000 dollars for the first time in Daytona 500 history. It was also Richard Petty's last top five finish in the Daytona 500. Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough also share that dubious honor with the King after that year's event. The changing of the guard was underway, but the veterans were due for one last hurrah.
1988 marked the arrival of modern day restrictor plate racing in the Daytona 500. Speeds were off accordingly and Ken Schrader took the pole in Hendrick's Chevy at a tick under 194 miles per hour, more than 16 MPH off Bill Elliott's pole speed of a year before. The old "Slingshot Pass on the Last Lap" trick had to be retired as well. In the first qualifier, Bobby Allison stormed around Ricky Rudd on lap 20 to take a lead he never relinquished. Rusty Wallace and Ken Schrader finished second and third. The bumper to bumper freight train racing caused by restrictor plates helped set off a fiery third lap crash. Ralph Jones got sideways, and veteran independent driver J.D. McDuffie was unable to avoid the spinning car. McDuffie's car went up in a fireball and he was rushed to the hospital with third degree burns. Darrell Waltrip took the lead from Davey Allison on the first lap and led the rest of the crash strewn event, the first time there had been a flag to flag victory in a qualifier since 1960. Dale Earnhardt finished second, and pole sitter Davey Allison managed to salvage third.
The 1988 Daytona 500 has left fans who saw the race with two indelible memories. Richard Petty was involved in a savage crash on the 106th lap of the race. Phil Barkdoll and the King made contact, getting Petty out of shape. AJ Foyt was unable to avoid Petty's out of control Pontiac and the 43 car went airborne, hit the fence that separated the grandstands from the track, and began a violent series of rolls. Watching the wreck it was hard to believe Petty could even have survived it, but Petty suffered little worse than a sprained ankle. Also eliminated in wrecks that day were Cale Yarborough in his last Daytona 500, and Alan Kulwicki who got tangled up in the aftermath of the Petty incident. Bobby Allison and his long time nemesis Darrell Waltrip were the class of the field that day, but Darrell dropped a cylinder that also dropped him from contention for the lead. Davey Allison mounted a late race charge trying to catch his father, but the effort fell just short, with Davey finishing a scant two car lengths behind Bobby in one of the more memorable of all Daytona 500's. Certainly the obvious joy in victory lane that day was one of the most heartwarming memories this writer has of that, or any other race. The win is made more poignant in retrospect, because no one knew that would be Bobby Allison's final Daytona 500. A few months later at Pocono, Bobby was involved in a wicked crash that almost took his life and did end his career as a driver.
Gas mileage played a key factor in the 1989 Daytona 500, and a driver who had a Daytona jinx of his own finally broke through as a result. Ken Schrader seemed to have the quickest car that year, and he once again claimed the pole for the Hendrick organization. The 89 Daytona 500 was to have been the debut race for the new Goodyear Eagle radial, but things went badly amiss. Both Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt were involved in hard wrecks due to tire failures while practicing on the tires. Elliott broke his wrist and would wind up only being able to run five laps of the 500 before putting a relief driver in the car. Goodyear hastily withdrew the radials and brought in the old bias ply tires. The first qualifier was marred by an ugly 14 car wreck that decimated the field set off by a collision between Lake Speed and Rick Wilson. Neil Bonnett, Rusty Wallace, and Ricky Rudd were among the name drivers who were eliminated in the wreck. Kyle Petty, making his debut with Felix Sabates' team, received extensive damage and while he was able to work his way up to 17th, that was not good enough to earn a staring spot in the 500. Kenny Schrader dominated the event and took the win followed by Morgan Shepherd, Mark Martin, and Phil Parsons. (Benny's brother.) In the second event, Terry Labonte took the win by driving conservatively and not having to make a pit stop. Dale Earnhardt led most of the race before having to pit and turn the lead over to Geoff Bodine. When Geoff pitted as well, Labonte inherited the lead and the tortoise beat the hares. Sterling Marlin, Earnhardt, Geoff Bodine, and Harry Gant finished second through fifth respectively. A botched pit stop dropped Richard Petty two laps off the pace, relegating him to 17th position. Had it not been for a provisional starting position available to him, the King would have missed the race. Having a somewhat better day was Dale Jarrett, making his debut in Cale Yarborough's team car, and finishing a respectable 10th.
Ken Schrader had the fastest car at that year’s event and dominated most of the race, especially in the second half. Davey Allison's Daytona debut with the new Robert Yates team ran into a snag when Geoff Bodine got into the back of the 28 Ford. Allison was sent spinning, hit a dirt embankment, and rolled the car onto its roof on the 23rd lap. The car was uprighted and repaired and Allison returned to the fray, but finished 25th , seven laps off the leaders pace. After the race, Allison went after Bodine and the two had to be separated. Not as fortunate was Ernie Irvan, who lost an engine on the 8th lap and wound up 41st. Schrader and Earnhardt were having at it when both had to pit with 11 laps left to go. Kulwicki inherited the lead with Darrell Waltrip on his tail. Both drivers intended to try to stretch their fuel mileage to the end, and at least on paper Kulwicki had the advantage. Alan's chances at a win were flattened when he had a tire go down four laps from the finish. Waltrip inherited the lead and took the win, with so little fuel left in his Monte Carlo he ran out of gas on the way to victory lane. The win snapped a 17 year old jinx at the Daytona 500 for Waltrip, and he celebrated in victory lane as only the clown prince of racing could, doing a parody of a football player’s post touchdown dance he called the "Icky shuffle". Team Hendrick had reason to celebrate all around, despite Schrader's heartbreaking loss. Schrader had finished second and Geoff Bodine fourth in the other two Hendricks' cars, the best finish that team had in the 500 up until 1997. And of course it was vivid proof that the pundits had been wrong all along, and a three car operation could not only be successful, but dominate. In stark contrast to 1987, the top ten at the Daytona 500 had only one Daytona 500 victory between them (Geoff Bodine in 4th) not including Darrell's victory that day. The torch had been passed.
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