|NASCAR racing in the desert this week|
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series welcomed a new winner, Michael Waltrip, 10 years to the day he won the 2001 Daytona 500. History meets present again this weekend in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, site of the very first series race in 1995.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series opened the season with the closest Daytona finish in series history -- .007 seconds. The series also moves to Phoenix this weekend – the first trip for the new car – in Saturday’s Bashas’ Supermarkets 200.
Then, of course, there was yesterday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500. That race, too, had a first-time winner. Trevor Bayne, all of 20 years old, became the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history. Bayne’s youth, mixed with the lasting legacy of the Wood Brothers combined for a thrilling finish. The record breaking race – there were records in both leaders (22) and lead changes (74) – made for a brilliant start to the 2011 season. It continues at Phoenix this weekend, in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
A number of storylines going into this weekend…
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
|Trevor Bayne gets congrats from everyone|
The notable bullets from 20-year-old Trevor Bayne’s improbable Daytona 500 victory:
- He became the youngest Daytona 500 winner in history, by a ways (Jeff Gordon previously held that crown, winning the 500 in 1997 at the age of 25.)
- He became one of the seven drivers whose first series points-race win was the Daytona 500.
- He became the second-youngest winner in series history.
What does the fresh-faced phenom have for an encore? This will be Bayne’s first trip to Phoenix in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, he has finishes of 14th in 2009, and 32nd and 14th in last year’s two races.
Before he even lands in Phoenix, here’s his Daytona 500 champion media tour itinerary:
On Monday, he made national media hits with ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike, FOX and Friends, SPEED, SportsCenter, Sirius, Showtime among others.
Tuesday, Bayne will head to Chicago for appearances on local morning shows, before flying to California for an Ice Cream Social in Ghiradelli Square with fans and media.
On Wednesday, Bayne hits Los Angeles for fan Q&A at LA Live.
He’ll finally fly to Phoenix to try to nab win number two, again in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford.
Wood Brothers Won’t Stop Making History
Founded by two-time NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Glen Wood, the Wood Brothers’ roots in the sport extend deep.
A NASCAR mainstay, the team won its first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 1960, and has won at least one race in every decade since.
Sunday’s win was its fifth Daytona 500 victory, the last coming in 1976 with David Pearson.
The victory was the team’s 98th overall, and first since Elliott Sadler won in 2001. The Wood Brothers’ wins list features a number of legendary names: David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, Buddy Baker, Curtis Turner, Dan Gurney, Dale Jarrett, Donnie Allison, Marvin Panch, Speedy Thomas and Tiny Lund, to name a few.
New Qualifying Rules Begin This Weekend
Starting this weekend in Phoenix, if bad weather cancels qualifying, the final starting lineup will be determined by practice speeds. The same rule book procedures will be used to determine eligibility to start a race. If weather cancels practice sessions, then the starting lineup will be set by points, per the rule book. Also, the qualifying order will be set based upon slowest to fastest practice speeds.
Marquee Names Looking To Brush Off Rough Opener
|Rough start to season by some big names|
Just as odd were the names at the bottom, notably championship contenders Kevin Harvick (42nd), Jeff Burton (36th), Greg Biffle (35th), Matt Kenseth (34th), Jeff Gordon (28th) and Jimmie Johnson (27th).
But it’s way too early for any of those big guns to get worried. Take five-time reigning champion Johnson, for instance. His last four finishes in the season-opener: 35th, 31st, 27th and 29th.
Of all the above names, Johnson likely has the best shot at a quick bounce back. He has won four of the last seven Phoenix races. Look for Harvick to have a good run, as well. He scored a perfect Driver Rating at Phoenix in his win in November win of 2006.
Second’s In First
Because Trevor Bayne elected to earn championship points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Daytona 500 runner-up Carl Edwards is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader.
Edwards has held the points lead twice in his career, after the first and second Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2008.
Last Race On Old Surface
This weekend’s race will be the last on a surface that has hosted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since the inaugural race there in 1988. After Sunday’s event, workers will lay down new asphalt, and the blueprint calls for a few design wrinkles that will promote side-by-side racing.
Some of the principles:
- Widen the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet
- Reconfigure pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls
- Push the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet
- Tighten the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet
- Implement variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4
- NASCAR Media Services