Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Random Thoughts From Speedweeks 2013

Patrick had a solid Speedweeks
A few more races like Sunday’s and Danica Patrick may finally succeed in being viewed as a racer, rather than a female racer.

Speedweeks 2013 produced a series of Patrick-produced firsts. She became the first woman to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, the first woman to lead the Daytona 500 and the 13th driver to lead both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. "I'm honored," said Patrick, “but these are things that just happen along the way.

“I'm on a quest to be the best driver, run up front and get to Victory Lane. These other things happen and I'm proud, but they're not the ultimate goal."
Her inexperience showed on the final lap, when Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Regan Smith all freight-trained her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet on the inside line. An eighth-place finish left her two spots short of Janet Guthrie for the best-ever finish by a woman in a Cup Series race, but Earnhardt gave her high marks after the race, saying, “"She's going to make a lot of history all year long. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress.”
Can you identify this man?
Pop Culture Central: Sunday’s Daytona 500 rivaled the front row at an LA Lakers game as the place to see and be seen for Hollywood glitterati. NASCAR President Mike Helton needed nearly 10 minutes to introduce all the movie stars, singers, rappers and politicos in attendance at the pre-race driver’s meeting; an A-List gathering of Beautiful People that included rappers 50 Cent and T.I., actor James Franco, golfer Jim Furyk and numerous others I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup if my life depended on it.
Not So Great, Or Powerful: Speaking of Franco, the “Oz, The Great and Powerful” star would have been better off staying in bed Sunday. As Grand Marshal for Sunday’s Daytona 500, Franco was apparently torn between the traditional, “Drivers, start your engines” command and the infinitely wittier, “Gentlemen, and Danica” variant.

Inexplicably, he blurted out a semi-insulting amalgam of both, commanding, "Drivers and Danica, start your engines!" The gaffe was seen as a sexist snub by some, triggering a nasty beating from the social media pundits. But hey, he's used to getting panned after his awkward turn as host of the Academy Awards a few years back.
Even poor Tony Stewart had a better day.
"I got yer practice right HERE!"
We’re Talkin’ Practice: Jimmie Johnson joined former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson on the list of professional athletes who prove that practice does not, necessarily, make perfect. While the vast majority of Sprint Cup Series teams ran endless laps of practice during Speedweeks 2013, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus blazed their own trail. They did very little practicing and absolutely no drafting, staying far removed from the pack while making a series of solo, single-lap runs. Despite having only 74 laps of drafting under his belt at the start of the Daytona 500 – all of it coming in the Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duel races – Johnson made all the right moves at the end of the Great American Race, playing traffic like a Steinway piano en route to his second career Daytona 500 victory.
“An eight- to 15-car draft does nothing for you,” said Johnson of his practice regimen. “You’re taking a risk of tearing up your racecar (under) conditions that are nothing like whatyou see in the race with 43 cars on the track. We have been in drafting practice and lost cars over the years."

Calamity Carl: Carl Edwards came to Daytona ready to put a disastrous 2012 season behind him. Instead, “Cousin Carl” demolished four different race cars in a thoroughly disastrous Speedweeks effort that left many observers wondering if he will ever recover from the karmic calamity of his lost 2011 championship. A dismal, 33rd place finish left Edwards 30th in championship points, facing a major deficit for the second time in as many years.

Kenseth's bid goes up in smoke.
Same Old Song And Dance: With 50 laps to go, Joe Gibbs Racing held the top three positions in the Daytona 500. With 48 to go, both Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were behind the wall after being sidelined by engine issues.
“I thought we did all the right things,” said Kenseth, who appeared to have the dominant car before smoke began billowing from the engine compartment of his Dollar General-sponsored Toyota. “We had a great strategy (and) our Toyota was really fast. We had all the right things -- we just didn’t make it to the end.”

“We just broke an engine for some reason,” echoed Busch, a consistent critic of JGR’s decision to farm-out its Sprint Cup engine business to Toyota Racing Development a year ago. “It’s unfortunate that this team has got to go through this stuff. I hate it for this whole team. These guys do a great job and work too hard.
“It sounds a lot like 2012 already.”
Busch won his Budweiser Duel qualifier earlier in the week, but engine malfunctions ended promising runs in both the Daytona 500 and NASCAR Nationwide Series “Drive 4 COPD 300.”
Tell Us How You REALLY Feel: Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano seemed friendly enough during their four-year run as teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. After Sunday’s Daytona 500, however, Hamlin blasted Logano on Twitter, blaming the Penske Racing driver for “messing up the inside line” and preventing him from contending for the win.
“Sorry I couldn't get close to you cuz your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time,” tweeted Hamlin to defending series champion Brad Keselowski after the race.
Logano responded quickly, tweeting, “I remember when you were MY genius teammate. #LoveYouMeanIt
Photos: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images


  1. Geosez10:12 AM

    And finally, there was an appropriate rendition of the National Anthem. Can't we start a movement on this subject? Sheesh, I'm so tired of the funeral dirge/torch songs that we hear most race days. It's a fight song, for Pete's sake!

  2. Hamlin was in the right to criticize Logano's drafting ability late in the race. Logano was almost like a chicane out there as he caused several cars following him on the inside line, including Clint Bowyer, to pass him and make it 3-wide, causing Logano to get stuck in the "sucker hole" and slow down any momentum that Jeff Gordon and a few others had in the middle lane. Heck, his own teammate bailed on the inside lane in the closing laps because Hamlin and Logano couldn't do anything for him drafting-wise.