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!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Counting Down To Daytona Beach · Matt McLaughlin · Tuesday January 30, 2007
Editor’s Note: Starting today, Matt McLaughlin takes an 11-part look at the history of NASCAR Racing at Daytona Beach. From the very first NASCAR-sanctioned race in 1949 to the thrilling finish to the 2006 Daytona 500, the Great American Race has provided us with thrills, spills, and a little bit of controversy. Today’s first article focuses on all that and then some, recollecting the early races on the beach that occurred before a 2.5-mile race track was ever a thought in anyone’s head.
For ten years before the first Daytona 500 was held at Bill France’s magnificent new superspeedway, NASCAR’s Grand National Division ran on the storied old Beach and Road course in Daytona Beach in what was considered the biggest event on the tour’s calendar. While the race had run prior to NASCAR’s arrival on the scene (starting in 1936), and, in fact, Bill France, Sr. had promoted some of those races, it was with the second “Strictly Stock” (the forefather of the Grand National division) that the event grew in stature of one of the crown jewels of the circuit that helped decide the National Champion.
This old Beach and Road course used a section of state highway, A1A, as a front straight. At the end of that straightaway, the racers entered the beach rounding a big wide corner that led out onto the shoreline, which served a back straight and worked up into the sweeping North corner that led back out onto the highway. While the course varied a bit in measured length, it averaged about 4.15 miles each year.
Of course there were problems with running on the beach. Depending on the tide, the back straight could be either narrow or wide. Races had to be timed to avoid high tide. Ruts quickly formed in the sand and got deeper as the race progressed, eventually getting deep enough an out-of-shape race car could hook a rut and flip over. The only thing that kept an errant race car out of the surf was sheer good luck. The sand played havoc with engines, bearings and brakes, and the salty air destroyed electrical systems. Mist off the ocean often required running the windshield wipers down the back straight to see where you were going, and sand would pit and streak the windshields. Still, the course provided some exciting racing, as well as a lots of tourist dollars for the Daytona Beach community.
The first NASCAR sanctioned race on the Beach and Road course took place July 10th, 1949. 28 drivers showed up to have a go at the big $2,000 prize, and 5,000 fans showed up to see the action. There were three female drivers among the competitors that day, with Ethel Mobley the top finisher of the distaff gender; she came home 11th. Louise Smith had the misfortune of putting her Ford on its roof, but with the aid of some helpful spectators managed to get it back right side up and went onto to finish 20th. Gober Sosebee led the first 34 laps, but got sideways in the North turn, allowing Red Byron, who went on to be NASCAR’s first “Strictly Stock” champion, around to grab the top spot. Byron led the rest of the race in one of the hot new Oldsmobile “Rocket” 88s, leading a 1-2-3-4 finish for that brand on his way to the checkered flag. Byron had a one minute and fifty one second lead at the end, averaging almost 81 miles per hour for the distance. In fact, only 11 cars were listed as running at the end of the attrition-filled event…6 of them were Oldsmobiles. Oldsmobile was well pleased with the sudden sales surge afterwards of their factory hot rod, the “88.”
The 1950 running of the beach and road course moved to the more traditional month of February, becoming the inaugural race of the season for the first time. The “Strictly Stock” name had given way to the “Grand National” division, a name that stuck until 1971. Harold Kite, in his first NASCAR start used his experience as a military tank driver to pilot his huge ’49 Lincoln over the tough and rutted beach sections of the course. Defending champion Red Byron took the lead on lap 15, but his pit stop and a second stop for a jammed gear shifting linkage dropped him from the lead, allowing Kite to take the point again. While Kite led unmolested to cruise to a 53-second lead, Byron thrilled the spectators with a wide open sprint to overtake second place Lloyd Moore, capping off the comeback with a last lap pass to take the second position. Attendance was up to 9,500 people though the winner’s purse was down to $1,500…well, some things always seem to stay the same.
The fact 54 cars showed up for the 1951 Beach and Road course classic shows how popular NASCAR racing was becoming in a short period of time. The crowd swelled to 14,000 people, a huge number by the day’s standards and nearly triple the original crowd who came in 1949. The locals were thrilled that day by a hometown boy, Marshall Teague, who was surprisingly strong in a family owned Hudson Hornet. No one seemed to have anything for early NASCAR legend Tim Flock driving a big honking ’50 Lincoln, but a bad pit stop dropped Flock out of top spot, and the hometown hero took the lead and was never headed. Teague did have one close call, though, when a trackside press photographer decided a photo of that car taken in the middle of the track would look good on the front page. That paper almost contained the journalist’s obituary as Teague was just barely able to avoid hitting him.
20,000 folks showed up to see 61 drivers compete in the 1952 Daytona event. The vast throng proved to be a logistical nightmare, and the race had to be delayed to give everyone time to fight the traffic, find a parking space, and get to a seat. Again, some things never seem to change. The delay would prove costly as high tide was going to cause the event to have to end early. Herb Thomas, driving a team car for defending champion Marshall Teague, led the first lap, but Teague himself took the lead on lap two. As the tide came in and began narrowing the back straight, Bill France realized the back straight was going to be sub-aquatic before the race could go the distance. Word was passed around the pits on lap 27 that there would be ten more laps. Teague had built up a huge lead, so he eased out of the throttle so he could run the distance without a pit stop. Thomas came home second. Tragedy was narrowly averted when seventh-place finisher Tommy Thompson lost control racing to the stripe and hit flag man Johnny Bruner, who was thrown ten feet into the air but, miraculously enough, wasn't badly hurt.
Teague did not come back to defend his two consecutive titles in 1953, having defected to the rival AAA stock car league. Bob Pronger took the pole for that year’s event at a blistering (by standards of the day) 115.77 miles per hour, leading the field of 57 cars to the stripe. The irrepressible Pronger made a bet with outside pole man Fonty Flock as to who would lead that first lap. The bet must have been for a considerable sum, as both drivers went hells bells for that first lap. As they entered the North Corner, the two drivers were playing chicken, neither willing to lift. Finally, Flock got out of the throttle and slammed on the brakes…Pronger won the race into the corner, but was going far too fast to make the turn. The Oldsmobile crashed through the guard rail, flipped down a sand bank and sent spectators scrambling as he appeared to be heading into the grandstands. The Olds came down on four wheels and Pronger drove off, but he was soon sidelined by mechanical problems caused by the wreck. And he lost the bet, too. Meanwhile, Fonty backed off to a more manageable pace but was still turning laps kissing close to 90 MPH. He seemed to have the race well in hand… leading right up until the white flag. Crossing the line, his Delta 88 ran out of gas, but a helpful teammate, Slick Smith saw Fonty’s predicament and pushed the car back to the pits with his car. Still, that wasn’t enough; Bill Blair, who had been fully a minute and five seconds behind when Flock’s car ran dry managed to come around in time to take the win. Flock returned to the track in time to take second, while Tommy Thompson finished third and was kind enough not to run over the flag man again.
27,000 fans showed up for what was billed as the last race on the Beach and Road course in 1954. Bill France was boldly predicting that his new high banked superspeedway would be ready for the 1955 staging of the event. (As it turned, out he was a little offâ€¦about four years to be exact.) There were 62 cars on hand, the weather was perfect, and the racers put on a memorable show. Lee Petty set pole speed at 123 MPH plus in a big Hemi Chrysler and was a prerace favorite. During the race, Fonty’s brother, Tim Flock seemed to have Petty’s measure, and he did indeed beat Lee to the line by almost a minute and a half. Third place went to Buck Baker, who had overcome the minor annoyance of not having any brakes by throwing his car sideways into the corners to scrub off speed. After the race, Tim Flock was disqualified; the carb in his Olds was found to have polished bores to increase airflow, and the butterflies that were held to the throttle shaft by screws in a production car had been soldered in place to keep the screwheads from obstructing the incoming air. Flock was so disgusted with the decision he quit NASCAR after being stripped of his win. Petty was declared the winner and Baker got a break and moved up to second…no brakes and all.
There was a new face at Daytona in 1955. Car owner Carl Kiekhaefer arrived with an immaculately prepared and lightning fast Chrysler 300, but no one to drive it. Kiekhaefer had decided stock car racing would be a fine way to advertise his Mercury Outboard marine engines, and like everything he did, he went about it full bore, jumping in with both feet. Ironically the driver he ended up with was Tim Flock, the driver who had quit NASCAR after being disqualified from the previous year’s Daytona Race. Flock was making a comeback to NASCAR racing and needed a ride, and Kiekhaefer needed a top name driver. The combination was perfect. Flock turned some heads by posting a 130 mile per hour plus qualifying speed. For a brand new team, Flock and the white Chrysler seemed to do extremely well in the race, holding down second for most of the event…but nobody had anything for Fireball Roberts that day. Roberts drove a blistering pace with a ’55 Buick (complete with wide whites and a hood hold down strap that wrapped around the hood ornament) sponsored by Fish Carburetor (the mysterious device that claimed to boost horsepower and mileage to unheard of levels that supposedly the big auto and gas companies killed off). However, in a double irony Flock was later awarded the race win when Roberts was disqualified after NASCAR tech director “Cannonball” Baker found the pushrods in Robert’s car were .016 of an inch too long. Lee Petty was credited with second place aboard another Chrysler.
When Carl Kiekhaefer returned to Daytona in 1956, he was well on his way to his ultimate goal of winning every NASCAR race run. In the five races prior to Daytona that year, three had gone to Kiekhaefer-owned cars. Old Carl wasn’t about to mess around at the biggest race of the year, either; he entered six cars in the event. (As a historical footnote, one of them was driven by an African-American, Charlie Scott. Scott placed 19th in the race, the second-best finish in one of the Kiekhaefer cars.) By 1956, the cars were making huge horsepower that allowed even those overweight behemoths to run at frightening speeds. As such, the race will be recalled as “Flipper.” While the television dolphin and his pals were a long way off, the rutted track conditions and high speeds combined to send a record number of cars rolling. Russ Truelove got the award for most consecutive flips, rolling his Ford about a dozen times. While the car was destroyed, Truelove endured. In the synchronized car flipping division, the nod had to go to teammates Jim Wilson and Buddy Krebs, who rolled their identical appearing cars at the same time going into the South corner (and were probably seeing double for awhile after that.) The Harry Houdini Escape Artist Award went out to Junior Johnson, who rolled his Pontiac three times, battering the car up so badly Junior had to crawl out of the hole where the rear window once resided. However, the best flip may have occurred towards the front of the field. Ralph Moody showed how it was done, rolling his Mercury, landing on the wheels, speeding away without losing a single position and going on to finish third. Of the record 76 starters in the race, only 20 were listed as running at the end of the event, finished two laps shy of the scheduled distance due to high tide. The Big Kahuna on the beach that day was Tim Flock in a Kiekhaefer Chrysler, who led flag to flag except for the four laps after his first pit stop.
Kiekhaefer had quit NASCAR by 1957 after the fans started booing him and his team for dominating races, and for a highly questionable wreck at Shelby North Carolina, where one of the team cars took out title contender Herb Thomas in a wreck that wound up badly injuring Thomas. Kiekhaefer driver Buck Baker took the title, but it was under a dark cloud and the owner decided to back out of the series. That left the race a wide open affair, and in the most thrilling beach event to date, Cotton Owens in a Pontiac and Paul Goldsmith in a Smokey Yunick-prepped Chevy treated the crowd to a Battle Royale. The two drivers swapped the lead five times, and lightning quick pit work (by ’50s standards) seemed to give the advantage to Goldsmith, whose crew managed a 47-second stop, while Owens crew took a tick over a minute. It was all for naught, though, when Goldsmith blew an engine, giving Owens a strong cushion out front. Meanwhile, Lee Petty was involved in a spectacular wreck during the race. In those days, when a car was disabled it was pushed to the side of the track not towed away; Petty’s windshield was so dirty and sandblasted, he ran into one of those disabled cars in a corner running at over 70 miles per hour. Owens went on to take the victory by 55 seconds in front of 35,000 fans and received a check for $4,250.
1958 was the swan song for the Beach and Road course in Daytona, and it proved to be a thriller, as cars prepared by two names that would go on to be legends in the sport battled it out right down to the checkered flag. Paul Goldsmith was back in a Smokey Yunick-prepped Chevy hoping to avenge the bad luck that had cost him a win in 1957, while Curtis Turner was wheeling a Holman-Moody Ford. Goldsmith grabbed the pole position with at a blistering 140.5 MPH speed and led the race from the drop of the green… but Turner maintained Goldsmith in his sights. Lap after lap, he gave Smokey’s driver all he could handle as 35,000 fans cheered the pair on. While Turner was trying to get around Goldsmith, though, he unexpectedly came up on a lapped car and spun his big Ford trying to avoid a wreck. Turner’s Ford ended up crashing through the surf, spraying water all over, but he wheeled the car around and rejoined the fight ten seconds behind Goldsmith. Goldsmith then started having problems of his own. His windshield was pitted and his wipers had shorted; vision was so bad that on the last lap, Goldsmith literally missed the North corner and drove on up the Beach. Realizing his mistake, Goldsmith did a bootlegger turn in the sand, drove back to the race course and hooked a hard right with Turner closing hard behind him. However, Goldsmith still managed to lead Turner to the line by five car lengths to go down in the record books as the last driver to win on the Beach and Road course at Daytona.
In 1959, the new Daytona Speedway became the site of the big February race in Daytona. Of course, the beach is still there, and if you know where to look, the Concrete South Stands still exists. While you can still drive on the beach, ironically enough for a city that boasts itself as the “Birthplace of Speed” the speed limit on the beach is 15 MPH, radar enforced. But late at night, if you close your eyes and listen out there on the beach, it’s easy to believe the crashing of the surf is Curtis Turner taking an unexpected detour into the Atlantic, and some say if you listen very, very hard to the night wind you can still hear the soundâ€¦of NASCAR officials disqualifying the apparent winner of a race.
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