Daytona 500: Preview, Analysis and Live Reaction
It’s hard to believe the 54th annual Daytona 500 has already sprung upon us. It seems like yesterday Trevor Bayne was piloting the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford to his first career Sprint Cup victory in last year’s classic where Bayne beat Carl Edwards to the finish by 0.118 seconds. Bayne also became the youngest winner ever in the 500 by winning last year.
Last year’s race also gave us a race record for lead changes and yellow flags.
This year proves to be just as dramatic as the pack racing is back after a few-year hiatus. The pack has made things interesting against rather than watch the two-car tango put people to sleep.
Drivers are learning again how to draft in a pack with many incidents caused by guys bump drafting in the turn and hitting the driver in front’s left rear bumper which is causing some big accidents.
The finishes though have been as good as we’ve seen in Speedweeks.
It started in the ARCA race last Saturday when the top three guys ran out of fuel heading into the tri-oval on the last lap. Later that night, Kyle Busch escaped two incidents and pulled a slingshot move on Tony Stewart heading into the tri-oval to win the Bud Shootout.
Both Duel’s had great action all the way through as did yesterday’s Drive for COPD 300 and the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night.
I think the action in the 500 will be as exciting as we’ve ever seen. Almost any driver can win the race, as youngster Trevor Bayne will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner in the 500 since Sterling Marlin did the rare feat in the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet in 1994 and 1995.
If the 500 is anything like the ARCA, Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide race, any surprise driver can win, and they don't necessarily have to be running in the top five coming off of turn four on the last lap.
In the last 10 Daytona 500’s, there have been 10 different winners and the only repeat winner since 2001 has been Michael Waltrip when he won in 2001 and 2003.
Roush Fenway’s Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle will pilot the 43-car field to the green flag as both earned front row starting spot’s in last Sunday’s qualifying day.
Buckle up and enjoy the Daytona 500, as I will update this chain throughout the race with analysis and running order throughout the entire “Great American Race.”
Last Year’s Top 10 (starting spot in parenthesis)
- Trevor Bayne (32nd)
- Carl Edwards (22nd)
- David Gilliland (39th)
- Bobby Labonte (31st)
- Kurt Busch (3rd)
- Juan Pablo Montoya (13th)
- Regan Smith (5th)
- Kyle Busch (10th)
- Paul Menard (19th)
- Mark Martin (17th)
Caution Flags: Race Record 16 for 60 laps.
Lead Changes: Race Record 74 among 22 drivers.
Past Champions Since 1990
2011 - Trevor Bayne, Ford
2010 - Jamie McMurray, Chevy
2009 - Matt Kenseth, Ford
2008 - Ryan Newman, Dodge
2007 - Kevin Harvick, Chevy
2006 - Jimmie Johnson, Chevy
2005 - Jeff Gordon, Chevy
2004 - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevy
2003 - Michael Waltrip, Chevy
2002 - Ward Burton, Dodge
2001 - Michael Waltrip, Chevy
2000 - Dale Jarrett, Ford
1999 - Jeff Gordon, Chevy
1998 - Dale Earnhardt, Chevy
1997 - Jeff Gordon, Chevy
1996 - Dale Jarrett, Ford
1995 - Sterling Marlin, Chevy
1994 - Sterling Marlin, Chevy
1993 - Dale Jarrett, Chevy
1992 - Davey Allison, Ford
1991 - Ernie Irvan, Chevy
1990 - Derrike Cope, Chevy
Eric Smith is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report.
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The most bizarre sporting incident occurred in the Daytona 500 tonight. Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car under caution as something broke under his car as his No. 42 Target Chevrolet spun and hit a jet dryer in turn three.
This impact caused a huge explosion as jet fuel and exhaust blew up into huge flames from the wall down to the apron in the third turn.
The race is approaching an hour under red flag conditions with exactly 100 miles left.
Dave Blaney stayed out instead of pitting with the leaders as his No. 36 Chevrolet is atop the leaderboard right now.
Blaney has never won a race in his Sprint Cup career.
Landon Cassil is currently second, followed by Tony Raines, David Gilliland, and Matt Kenseth.
NASCAR has announced the race should be good to go back green within the next half hour and complete the final 40 laps.
Remarkably no one was injured in the bizarre scene in turn three.
A very bizarre thing occurred in the Daytona 500 with just over 100 miles to go.
Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car entering turn three under yellow and hit a jet dryer drying the track against the wall in turn three.
The jet dryer blew up in flames with jet fuel as the whole track in turn three is under flames.
This could very well end the race as the track is in dangerous conditions right now and could be damaged badly.
Dave Blaney stayed out and is leading the race right now, and if they can't get the track and fire under control, he could very well be awarded the win in a very weird circumstance.
Stay tuned for more updates.
We've raced almost 400 miles in the Daytona 500 as Casey Mears gained the lead on what could be the last pit stop of the race with 42 laps to go.
Mears used a great strategy as he beat Jamie McMurray out of the pits to lead the field to the ensing green flag.
The yellow was brought out due to David Stremme blowing his engine in turn three with a little over 100 miles left.
Stremme was running on the lead lap at the time and was having a great run so far.
The race will really heat up now as prior to the caution many of the back markers for the night are flexing their muscles as they rode around until the end.
Watch out for Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kevin Harvick as they came through the field quickly as the end of the race and threat for rain looms.
Martin Truex Jr. made a bold move in going into turn three with drafting help from fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin to pass leader Greg Biffle to lead the Daytona 500 at the midway point for the second consecutive season.
This time around though, Truex and the No. 56 Napa Toyota will get the $200,000 midway payday.
This is new to NASCAR this year as they used to give out money at the halfway point in the past. Obviously, it was never this big of a payout.
The only drawback for Truex Jr. is that there hasn't been a winner of the Daytona 500 that led at the midway point win the race in over 20 years.
Now that the race is official that means we will not see racing after tonight at Daytona until July.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Many big name contenders are out of the race as we're not quite at the halfway point in the 2012 Daytona 500.
Both Daytona winner's from last year in Trevor Bayne and David Ragan were part of a second lap crash just past the tri-oval that took out both of them and Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, and Jimmie Johnson.
Just recently, Jeff Gordon blew an engine coming off of turn two that ended his night early.
Teams now are adjusting their strategy with storms just 30-45 minutes from the Daytona International Speedway.
There's a chance they can miss the speedway, but as the race is nearing halfway, teams aren't willing to risk it.
Stay tuned as I will update throughout the second part of the race.
Due to rain in the area all morning and early this afternoon, NASCAR decided to move the start of the 54th annual Daytona 500 back to a 7 PM EST start.
This gave the track workers ample amount of time to get the track dried and run the first ever primetime race on a Monday night in NASCAR history.
As of now, the 7 PM start is still on schedule even though there is still a band of rain just west of Daytona and southeast of Ocala that could threaten the new start time.
I think even if it does rain, NASCAR will do anything in their power to run the Daytona 500 tonight no matter what time it ends. They can't take the risk of running the race tomorrow with teams having to scramble and make the long trip out west to Phoenix and be there by Thursday.
The forecast for the rest of the night looks good even if there's some brief showers affecting the 7 PM start time.
Stay tuned as I will update this blog throughout the night.
Many were thinking that today would be a first time for something as both of the other division's of NASCAR had thrilling races and first time winner's.
Many pointed to the Daytona 500 for another dramatic winner as then 20-year old rookie Trevor Bayne took the win in the big race. This year many thought it could be rookie Danica Patrick in her first Cup race.
Now, everyone will have to wait until noon EST tomorrow to know the fate of the 54th Daytona 500.
The 500 has been rain shortened four times, but in the prior 53 years, it's never been cancelled.
That throws a wrench in things as teams have to haul all the cars and equipment on a shortened week across the country to Phoenix for next Sunday's race.
Tomorrow's forecast doesn't look that much better as there's an ever worse threat for rain than there was today.
Tomorrow's high in Daytona is warmer at 75 degrees, but the chance of rain is at 80 percent.
Tuesday looks like the best day to get the race in as there's only a 20 percent chance of rain and a high of 75.
NASCAR officials just made the announcement at 4 P.M. EST that there is enough of a window to keep going with track drying efforts and start the Daytona 500 today.
There is a band that's off to the west coast of Florida right now, but NASCAR is hopeful that the band breaks up as the night goes on, or there's enough of a window to get the track dried and the race in before the rain gets to the speedway.
There has been speculation that the race would be rained out for the first time in the 54 year history and moved to Monday, but NASCAR is still hopeful that the race can be run today and not have to cancel.
Stay tuned for more updates.
We all figured the 1:29 P.M. EST start would be delayed, and now the announcement has come. The race is delayed indefinitely as track officials will wait until the rain stops before track drying efforts can come to life.
A band of showers stretches across the whole central part of Florida through the Gulf as we have to wait for the sky to clear.
Track officials said it takes at least two hours to dry the track after the rain has quit before we can get the Daytona 500 started. That means if the rain would end now, the 54th Annual Daytona 500 won't start until 3:30 at the earliest.
I think we eventually will see cars on the 2.5-mile high banked oval as they have lights at Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR doesn't want to cancel the race and run it on Monday for the first time in the races history.
The weather for all of the 2012 Daytona Speedweeks has been perfect. It's been bright sunshine for most of the days and temps above normal.
Now, with the biggest race of the speed weeks looming today, mother nature had to make her presence known.
Currently at Daytona International Speedway, a light rain or mist is falling. It's hard enough for people to have umbrellas up and ponchos on.
As of now, the 1:29 P.M. EST green flag for the Daytona 500 is still on schedule, but I have a feeling that will change. With it still raining, I don't see how the track can be dried in time for the scheduled start.
If this was the July race, I'd say we still may be good, but the temps aren't supposed to be warm enough to help dry the track as they would be in July.
I do believe the race will still at least be run at some point today due to the lights at the speedway. NASCAR doesn't want to run the race tomorrow. They will do anything in their power to run the race today or tonight and give teams and fans travel time tomorrow.
The biggest factor is the top two NASCAR divisions run in Phoenix next Sunday and the teams need the time to travel and make the long trip out west.
Only four Daytona 500's have been rain shortened including two this decade in 2003 with Michael Waltrip, and the most recent in 2009 with Matt Kenseth taking the big win.
Rain will certainly play a big factor as drivers and teams prepare for today's race.