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
Tuesday March 4, 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.
Countdown to Daytona Beach · Matt McLaughlin · Thursday February 1, 2007
Editor’s Note : Matt McLaughlin’s Daytona History Series continues today with part three of his look back at the Daytona 500, chronicling the racing from 1960 to 1964. Miss the first two parts of the series? Use the links below to check them out.
The inaugural Daytona 500 of 1959 had been a huge success with blistering speeds and nary a caution to mar the proceedings, so as the Grand National circuit prepared for their second visit to Bill France’s high-banked monument to speed in 1960, everyone was hoping for more of the same. Instead, the second version of the Great American Race brought with it a bit of a reality check.
Fireball Roberts, who had run so strong in 1959, took the first qualifying race in a Pontiac edging out Cotton Owens by less than a second. It was in the course of that race that Tommy Irwin spun his fleet Ford T-Bird and wound up driving into Lake Lloyd in the center of the track. Luckily, Irwin was able to swim to safety. Jack Smith, in another Pontiac, took the second qualifier, edging out Bobby Johns by two seconds. The track had lived up to its promise of high speeds and close racing.
The 1960 Daytona 500, however, was marred by numerous severe accidents. George Green was fortunate to escape injury after the gas tank ruptured on his Chevy and the car burst into flames. Tommy Herbert was not so lucky. He lost control on the backstretch on lap 118, slammed the guardrail, and rolled his T-Bird numerous times. The engine was sent tumbling down the track, while pieces of the front end were reported to have been shot 75 feet off the ground. Herbert was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries to his eye and arm. A second driver, Pappy Crane, tried to avoid Herbert’s disintegrating car and also wound up rolling his mount. Two laps from the end of the race, “Tiger Tom” Pistone, an early leader of the event, lost control in turn four, hit the guard rail and was taken to the hospital with a broken clavicle and internal injuries. Fans and racers alike got their first glimpse of just how bad a wreck could be at those high speeds.
Meanwhile, up front it had been a dog fight for the win between Junior Johnson in a Chevy and Bobby Johns in his Pontiac. Johns had the advantage and seemed to be cruising for the victory, when something unexpected happened. A gust of wind got his car a little out of shape, and as Johns struggled to regain control, the rear window of his car blew out. At that point, the aerodynamics was a black science in the automotive industry, but what Johns had happen to him that day was the same cause for NASCAR requiring roof flaps these days. In the interim, I’m sure you’ve seen those metal straps that run down the rear windows of stock cars and the tabs around the windshield. Those were added to the cars to try to remedy the same problem. With the air flowing into his race car, Johns spun into the infield and appeared to be trying to enroll in the Tommy Irwin school of Stock Car Scuba Diving as he flew at Lake Lloyd. Luckily, he stopped a few feet short of the lake and hurried back out onto the track in time to salvage second. Junior Johnson hung on to take the win, while Richard Petty, the King whose throne was set up in Daytona, drove to a third place finish, beating his dad Lee to the line for the position.
So many cars had been wrecked or suffered mechanical failures that day, NASCAR canceled the next two races on the 1960 schedule fearing there wouldn’t be enough cars to fill the fields. In those days, teams didn’t have superspeedway and short track cars; they ran the same one at Daytona or on a Â½ mile dirt track.
On a brighter note, Junior’s car owner John Masoni gave the portion of the $19,600 first prize check left over after paying Junior and other expenses to charity. He said his team was in racing for fun, not for profit. Boy, things sure have changed in racing today.
If 1960 showed the high speeds at Daytona could be dangerous, 1961 was an obscene lesson in just how bad things could get. 13 cars were totaled and 5 drivers hospitalized in the first qualifying race alone. Notable drivers involved in wrecks included Junior Johnson, who hit the wall so hard he narrowly escaped having his legs crushed when the engine of the car came through the firewall. In the course of his wreck, Junior hit Richard Petty, whose car was knocked up and over the guardrail and into the parking lot. Wes Morgan rolled his Chevy on the 7th lap and suffered spinal injuries, while Dave Mader tangled with Marshall Sargent and backed hard into the wall, injuring his neck. In the meantime, Fireball Roberts avoided all the wrecks and went on to win his qualifier for the second year in a row.
Unfortunately, The carnage continued in the second qualifying race. On the 37th lap of the event, Johnny Beauchamp and Lee Petty (ironically the two drivers involved in the disputed finish in 1959) made contact, and both vaulted the guard rail at over 150 miles per hour. Lee Petty was injured so badly he was hospitalized for months, and his active career, which included three championships, was effectively over; the crash meant no member of the Petty family competed in that year’s event for the first time in Daytona history. At least Petty was able to recover over time; Beauchamp suffered head injuries and never raced in NASCAR again. As for the racing, the finish itself was a close one. Joe Weatherly and Banjo Matthews were running side by side when the two cars hit and Matthews was sent spinning, allowing Little Joe to take the victory. That race also marked the debut of Bobby Allison, who made the field for the 500 by finishing 20th, earning a 36th place starting berth.
The Daytona 500 itself was once again run caution free in 1961. Teammates Fireball Roberts and Marvin Panch, in a stout pair of Pontiacs out of the legendary Smokey Yunick’s garage, dominated the event and treated the fans to a thrilling battle before Robert’s engine expired. Joe Weatherly inherited second and Paul Goldsmith finished third, the only three cars on the lead lap, giving Pontiac 1-2-3 finish. Fred Lorenzen, from the USAC stock car ranks, raised a lot of eyebrows coming home fourth that day.
In 1962, there was an unusual format change. Rather than running against the clock for the pole position, there was a 10 lap sprint race to determine the pole winner. Fireball Roberts won that event, then backed it up by winning his third consecutive 100-miler Thursday qualifying race after Junior Johnson, who had been dogging him, ran out of gas. A nasty six car wreck decimated the field in the second qualifier. Joe Weatherly won that event, upholding Pontiac’s dominance of Daytona.
The Daytona 500 of 1962 was once again caution free, and once again, a Pontiac won. Fireball Roberts shook off the bad luck that had plagued at him at the track and finally won the race, streaking to the checkers at a blistering 152 plus miles per hour. The win gave Roberts the trifecta for the month: he won the pole race, his qualifier, and the 500. Riding in Roberts’ slipstream was a surprising Richard Petty aboard a Plymouth, upholding the Petty family honor in the first Daytona 500 he entered as the team's lead driver. Joe Weatherly continued his string of strong finishes and came home third, while that Midwestern kid, Fred Lorenzen, continued to showing his strength on the big tracks by bringing the number 28 Ford home fifth, albeit a lap off the pace. Making his first Daytona 500 start, Cale Yarborough suffered an electrical short that relegated him to dead last in the field.
After the race, Petty family patriarch Lee filed a protest, claiming that Fireball’s car owner Jim Stephen’s crew had too many men over the wall during pit stops. NASCAR dismissed the protest, and the win was allowed to stand.
Ford must have been tired of getting Daytona Beach kicked in their face and showed up with a Charles Atlas team in 1963. Things didn’t go quite according to plan, however, at least not in the qualifiers. Once again, there was a pole qualifying race and once again, Fireball Roberts and his trusty Pontiac took the win. But come the first qualifier, it was obvious Roberts and Pontiac had a bit of a horsepower disadvantage. That year, the big teams had bought in a bunch of “ringers” from the Indy and sports car ranks, including A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, and Johnny Rutherford. Junior Johnson upheld the honors of the stock car set in the first qualifier, winning in a Chevrolet (of all things) owned by former Mopar campaigner Ray Fox. Junior’s teammate G.C. Spencer (no relation to Jimmy) appeared to have taken second place, but was penalized because his pit crew had forgotten to reinstall the gas cap; Second and third place then went to Paul Goldsmith and A.J. Foyt, both in Pontiacs. In the second qualifier, Ford had two of its big guns running, Fred Lorenzen and Ned Jarrett, the 1961 Champion, making his Daytona debut in a factory Ford after having been lured away from the Chevys he had driven. (In fact, Jarrett’s 1961 championship was the last Chevy would enjoy until 1973, when Benny Parsons won). Also competing in that event was Tiny Lund, filling in as a relief driver in the Wood Brothers’ Ford for an injured Marvin Panch. Panch had been injured when he flipped a Maserati sports car he was shaking down earlier in the month; Lund was among the onlookers who rushed to help him after the accident. The car had burst into flames, with Panch trapped beneath it; Tiny, who was anything but, managed to lift the car enough to allow the others to drag his friend to safety. While in the hospital, Marvin asked the Wood Brothers to let Lund take his place in the No. 21 car.
To everyone’s great surprise, interloper Johnny Rutherford won the second qualifying race in a Smokey Yunick Chevrolet. Compounding the factory Ford team’s headaches, Rex White also claimed second place in another Chevy. Lorenzen and Jarrett took third and fourth in their Fords, while Tiny Lund managed to bring his Ford home sixth.
The 1963 Daytona 500 was a whole different story. Ford’s team strategy involved a steady conservative pace for the first quarter of the event, waiting for the inevitable mechanical carnage to slim the field. It was a highly competitive race, with 11 drivers swapping the lead 30 times, and fortunately no serious wrecks considering the blistering pace. Towards the end of the race it came down to Jarrett, Lorenzen, and Lund swapping the lead between themselves. Both Lorenzen and Jarrett had to give up the lead for pit stops late in the going, while Lund and the Wood Brothers employed a surprising strategy, running the entire 500 miles on one set of tires. The time saved in the pits helped Lund win the Daytona 500. Lorenzen was second, and Jarrett, who was more noted as a short track campaigner, acquitted himself well that day, coming home third. In fact, Fords took the first five positions, relegating the fastest Pontiac to seventh position, driven by Bobby Johns. Sandwiched in between, Richard Petty bought his under-powered Plymouth on home sixth.
As Ford took home the Daytona trophies in ’63, the Chrysler executives were gnashing their teeth and uttering four letter words watching Ford dominate. The solution to their headaches was another four letter word; “Hemi”. The 1964 event was the coming out party for the Hemis at Daytona, and a fine celebration it turned out to be for the Chrysler camp. The Hemi had been specifically designed for the hallowed high banks and the high speed straights of Daytona, and the beast was in its element there. There was, however, a note of sadness to that year’s event. 1961 Daytona runner-up and consistent hard charger Joe Weatherly had been killed at the Riverside race prior to that year's Daytona celebration.
In the first qualifier, Chrysler products powered by the potent Hemis finished 1-2-3. Junior Johnson, who had been slated to join the Ford team but jumped ship and swam like hell when he heard about how powerful the Hemi was, took top honors in a Dodge. Behind him, Buck Baker, driving a Petty Engineering Plymouth, took second, and David Pearson finished third. Junior averaged close to 171 miles per hour in the caution free event; no question about it, the Chryslers had plenty of horsepower up their sleeve. When asked to comment on how the Mopars ran, fourth place finisher and “best in class” Ford driver Marvin Panch commented, “disgustingly well.”
The second qualifier in ’64 produced one of the closest finishes ever at Daytona. Richard Petty in a Hemi Plymouth had waved a polite “bye-bye” to everyone else at the drop of the green and looked to have the event in hand; but on the last lap, he ran out of gas and coasted for the finish line while Bobby Isaac and Jimmy Pardue, both also in Plymouth Hemis, tried to beat him there. All three crossed the line side-by-side, and the finish was too close to call. So, Bill France grinned and went to get the film from the “Photo finish” camera he had had installed after the ’59 side-by-side finish NASCAR had bungled, had the film developedâ€¦..and found it was blank. Once again, NASCAR was forced to ask the press for any photos they had, while the three drivers posed together around the trophy smiling and laughing waiting for the official decision. It was finally determined Isaac had won by a foot over Pardue, who was an equal distance ahead of Richard Petty.
But Richard Petty had his revenge in the Daytona 500 of 1964, making a mockery of the field and leading every lap from 52 until the end, even while in the pits, eventually coming around to lap the entire field. Pardue came home second and Paul Goldsmith third to give the Hemis another 1-2-3 finish. The race was not without incident, most of them caused by tire blowouts as the rubber proved unable to handle the brutal speeds. While no one was seriously hurt, Johnny Rutherford got sideways and flipped over, skidding the length of a football field on the roof of his Mercury in a shower of sparks. In what was to be, sadly, his last Daytona 500, Fireball Roberts finished a disappointing 37th in his debut as a Ford driver at the track after losing a transmission.
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