Sunday, February 19, 2012

Drivers Applaud Return To Pack Racing

After last night’s action-packed Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR drivers are heralding the return of so-called “pack racing” to Daytona International Speedway.
Dale Jr. was a happy racer.
Long a critic of the two-car, tandem drafts that have dominated events at Daytona and Talladega in recent season, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., expressed happiness the new NASCAR rule package that seems to have abolished two-by-two racing.
“I have more of my destiny in my hands in this type of racing,” said Earnhardt last night, despite being swept-up in a late crash that left his Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet crumpled and steaming on the track apron. “I was feeling really good and really happy with the way things were going. I felt like I was doing a good job. I felt like I had control of my race and had potential to win if I made all the right moves.
Earnhardt said he is optimistic about his chances in next Sunday’s Daytona 500, as well, adding, “I know what to expect. I feel like I have got a better chance with this style than I did last year, for damn sure.”
While Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout featured a trio of multi-car crashes, former series champion Matt Kenseth downplayed fears of a crash-filled Daytona 500. With no points on the line last night, Kenseth said he and his fellow drivers felt free to race aggressively and take chances. “I think everyone will be a little more calm (in the Daytona 500),” assured Kenseth. “At least until the end.”
It got crazy in the Shootout
Four-time Sprint Cup king Jeff Gordon agreed, saying, "It was wild and I can't say what we saw out there was completely unexpected. There was a lot of aggression and a lot of wild driving out there, which is to be expected on a night like this when we have no points to deal with."
Stewart applauded NASCAR for its off-season work to abolish the two-car draft. "I actually had fun racing at Daytona again, which I haven't had for a while,” he said “I'm really, really appreciative (of) the work that NASCAR has done in the off-season… to try to make it better for us out there. I don't know what the consensus is from everybody else, but I had more fun as a driver tonight than what we've had in the past."
“We still need to keep trying to make it even better,” cautioned Earnhardt. “This is not the end, this is just the beginning of trying to put a great package out here. But it is a great improvement, really good. I’m pretty pleased with what I saw."

He also offered some unsolicited advice on how his fellow drivers might avoid a repeat of Saturday’s Bud Shootout carnage. “You don’t have to move around,” he said. “You just hold your damn car where it needs to be and not drive around like an idiot. If you want to drive your car in a straight line and be sensible, it’s possible.”


  1. Tell 'em like it is Jr!!!!

  2. Anonymous7:56 PM

    I agree with Kenseth. The 500 will be a monotonous race of two lines going in circles, punctuated by accidents taking out large numbers of racers. Pack racing is luck racing, I'll miss the tandems.

  3. "Yea don't be idiots" nice line JR.

  4. I'm a little baffled at some of the post-race comments that talk as if the tandem drafts went away in this Shootout. Drivers began hooking up in tandems as the Shootout went on and there were numerous passes accomplished via tandems - and at the end two tandems broke away from the field. The wildcard of the race was how chaotic the sidedrafts were; I figured the cars would be looser but the sidedrafts popped into the picture in a big way between the looseness of the racecars, the prevalence of sucker holes, and times when cars struggled to close up on one another.

    And Junior, stop with the "I have more control of my destiny" crap. Junior basically invented the tandem draft at Talladega in 2009 and the tandems created a lot more passing (not that this shootout lacked passing of course) and once drivers figured out its subtleties it was better than having loose racecars.

    The more the drivers get used to what the package is now, the more they'll tandem-draft.

  5. Great line by junior driving like idiots. I can say the same thing out here being on the road