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Daytona 500 Memories, trivia and fun facts
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NASCAR Daytona 500

 

Welcome, howdy and good day Gabbers and others to the Daytona 500. Since most of you are a little on the uneducated side, not to worry, I got you covered. There is so much fun to get into so lets do it.

Our first stop is the first Daytona 500. Actually it was called The 500 Mile NASCAR International Sweepstakes. It took place on February 3, 1959 and cost $8 for admission. A crowd of 41,921 watched for 3 hours and 41 minutes to see a photo finish. It took 3 days for Lee Petty (Richard's dad) to be announced the winner over Johnny Beauchamp. The pole speed was 143.198. Compared with Carl Edwards pole winning speed last Saturday of 194.738 and that was with a restrictor plate on. There were 59 cars in that race which is still a record today but only 31 finished due to wrecks and mechanical failures. 

In 1968 Cale Yarborough sling shot his #21 Wood Brothers Mercury past LeeRoy Yarborough  for the victory.

In 1976 Petty and Pearson were battling their way around the track on the last lap beatin' and bangin' till coming into turn 3 Pearson hit the wall hard and spun down into the grass. Petty appeared to save it only to take a 90 degree turn into the wall. Pearson kept his car running and limped to the finish line. Petty's crew tried to push start him but it never refired.

In 1979 we had our first live flag to flag race coverage on TV of the Daytona 500. Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison(one lap down due to earlier encounter with Donnie & Cale) and Donnie Allison were coming to the finish line. Darrel Waltrip, Richard Petty and AJ Foyt were a half lap behind. Cale goes low under Donnie. Donnie moves down on Cale pushing him further onto the apron and into the grass. They make contact sliding up the track and hard into the wall before spinning back down into the grass. Bobby stops to see if every body is ok. Gloves and helmets start to fly as Petty drives to victory.

In 1980 Buddy Baker wins setting an average race speed record of 177.602 mph.

In 1981 Petty brought home his Buick to a win due to crew chief Dale Inman calling for a gas and go. Everyone else took gas and right side tires. The 7 second pit stop gave him the win over Donnie Allison by 4 seconds. Petty said,"We out thunk 'em there at the end."

In 1987 Bill Elliot sets a qualifying speed record of 210.364 mph. Later that year Bobby Allison has a bad wreck at Dega and NASCAR introduces the restrictor plate to slow the cars down the following year.

In 1989 Darrel Waltrip brings it home for a win in his 17th try in the #17 Tide car. Upon getting out of the car we were treated to a delightful jig and helmet spike as he kept saying over and over...I WON THE DAYTONA 500. I WON THE DAYTONA 500.

In 2001 Micheal Waltrip wins but we lose Dale Earnhardt Sr who spins out and hits the wall head on while blocking for Micheal and his son Jr. This is the beginning of NASCAR mandated safety equipment changes.

In 2007 Kevin Harvick snags victory from Mark Martin. As they come to the line Harvick drives through a huge wreck to pass Martin for the win. Martin was wondering why no caution was called. So was I. Harvick got $1,510,469 in winnings. In 1959 Lee Petty got $19,050 for his win.

In 2011 Trevor Bayne took his #21 Wood Brothers Ford to victory lane. The youngest driver ever to do so.

DAYTONA FUN FACTS

Daytona is a 2.5 mile D shaped oval or tri-oval. It has 31 degrees of banking in the turns, 18 degrees in the tri-oval and 6 degrees in the straight aways. It seats about 168,000. Pit road speed is 55mph. Qualifying is a combination of regular qualifying laps, the Gatorade Duels results, the top 35 in owners points and champions provisionals. 

At Daytona and Talladega for safety reasons while the race is in progress there is no going below the yellow line to advance your position. If you do go below the yellow line due to a wreck avoidance or your pushed there all you do is give back the position  and you won't get a penalty. If you don't, you get a black flag. That usually means you come into the pits where you park for a lap or they let you drive through at 55 mph and you'll be separated from the pack which means either way, you're screwed. So if you find yourself racing in the Daytona 500, DON'T GO BELOW THE YELLOW LINE.

Since last years 2 car tandem draft was not to NASCAR's liking they've introduced new changes to the cars just for Daytona and Dega to end all that. The rear spoiler was shortened. Makes the car more squirrelly in traffic. Side drafts are killer as was evident in the Bud Shootout Saturday the 18th. They've also made the radiators smaller and dialed back the valve that opens it up when the engine over heats. This ensures the cars won't tandem draft for more than 3 laps before over heating becomes an issue. The grill opening was moved to keep the cars from sucking up so nicely to the one in front. Lastly driver to driver communication was banned except through the spotters. This is what I know as of today. NASCAR was talking about more modifications after watching Saturdays race. 

NASCAR has decided to give a $200,000 bonus to the driver leading at the half way lap. So I'm wondering if whoever is leading will share that with the person that helps them get there if help was required.

The cars will be running E15. The fuel injection system will be there as well. Manufacturers were asking NASCAR to get back to the "Race on Sunday,buy on Monday" mantra. So fuel injection has been brought in with body style changes more befitting of the manufacturers in 2013. So I'm sure you'll all run right out and buy a Ford Focus when you see how fast Carl Edwards goes. He did beat out his team mate Greg Biffle for the Daytona pole. 

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW LIKE SAFETY  INNOVATIONS

Since Dale Sr's passing NASCAR has put safety on the fast track. No driver has been lost since. There have been some hellacious wrecks too. At Pocono Elliot Sadler hit a concrete wall in the grass so hard his motor flew out onto the track. He crawled out on his own and was only winded. When I saw it I thought he was heading for the emergency room in a helicopter. 

The HANS devises drivers were trying out became mandatory as well as full face helmets. The drivers seat was moved towards the center of the car a few inches. Foam linings were put in the drivers door. What they call safer barriers were installed at the tracks. A barrier starts with the concrete wall then styrofoam insulation blocks placed next and then hollow steel tubing on the outside. Drivers have credited this wall for their safety and after wrecks they've thanked NASCAR for the softer wall. 

WE'VE GOT FLAGS TOO

GREEN FLAG - Track is clear....GO LIKE HELL

WHITE FLAG - One lap to go

YELLOW FLAG - It's raining or there's a wreck or competition caution to check your equipment. Whatever the reason you must slow down and get behind the pace car.

CHECKERED FLAG - Race is over....The End

RED FLAG - Track is blocked due to a wreck or  dead car or it's raining. Go to designated area, usually the pit area  if rain or stop right where the pace car is till the track is clean and green.

BLACK FLAG - If it's waved at you then you broke a rule or your car need maintenance due to a wreck or parts failure. You need to go to the pits for consultation with a NASCAR official or get your car fixed.

BLACK FLAG with WHITE STRIPE - If you ignore the black flag you get this one which means they've stopped scoring you and you best get to pit road.....NOW.

BLUE with YELLOW STRIPE - Pay attention there are faster cars coming up on your bumper. Doesn't mean you pull over just pay attention.

YELLOW & RED VERTICAL STRIPES - Used on road courses to tell a driver there is debris or slippery conditions ahead.

HOW ABOUT THOSE POINTS

--- Any driver who leads a lap gets 1 pt

--- Any driver who leads the most laps gets 1 pt

--- Race winner receives 3 pt

--- Drivers get points according to where they finish in reverse order. Example : First place gets 43 pts, 2nd gets 42 pts, 3rd gets 41pts  in descending order all the way to 43rd place getting 1 pt.

--- Maximum points for one race is 48. So that's 43 pts for winning, 1 pt for leading a lap, 1 pt for leading the most laps and 3 pts for winning. 

INTO THE CHASE

The Chase was introduced in 2004 to get more drivers into the hunt and intensify fan interest as well as the drama. It didn't work for me till last year. What Tony Stewart did was intense.

The first 26 point races of the 36 race season count towards getting into the Chase. No, the All - Star race in Charlotte doesn't count. It's a million dollars, a trophy and ring only. The guys don't care though. The top 10 drivers in the point standings are in. Then we have 2 wild cards which are determined by who has the most wins and is in 11th through 20th place in the points standing. If there's a tie then where they are in the point standings takes the wild card.

At the beginning of the Chase the points are reset to 2000 for the 12 who are in the Chase. For the top 10 drivers 3 pts are added for every regular season victory. The wild card drivers only get the 2000 points. 

The drivers outside the top 12 go on racing for wins, prize money and points as before. They're just not eligible to win the championship.

The Chas Champion is the one with the highest amount of points. Of course last year we saw Tony and Carl tied at the end in which case Tony won due to the tie breaker which was his 5 wins in the Chase to Carl's zero wins.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Winning the race doesn't mean you get the most money. The track purse is divided up according to where you place at the end of the race. With the most going to the winner and the rest less in descending order. Then there's bonus programs for manufacturer decals on your car or patches on your uniform and don't forget to drink your Coke or Gatorade during your interview. Those TV spots make the sponsors happy and you'll get some bucks for it too. Then you have the Front Runner bonus for $10,000 to the driver leading the most laps regardless if he wins or not. How about the Leader Bonus? If you win the race AND happen to be the points leader also at the end of that race you win what's in the kitty. The prize goes up by $10,000 every time nobody wins it.

DAMN RULES

Besides the no going over the yellow line to advance your position you have some others. During double file restarts you may not advance your position until you reach the start finish line. So you let the leader touch it first and then you can pass him when you clear that line. That holds true for everyone all the way back. No passing till you get over the line.

Pit road speed can be a killer to your race win hopes. Speed limit is 55 mph unless otherwise stated. A driver looks at his tachometer to tell him what speed he's at. The pace car is used to determine the rpms your at when 55mph is reached. Usually the field is split in 2 so that a more accurate reading can be reached. Timing lines are used. No radar guns. This results in some interesting pit road happenings. Guys who have a pit box on the line will jump out and speed to the next line passing 1 or more cars with that move. It's legal if you remember to whoa down at the next line. Pit box selection can be crucial. Favorite boxes are both ends, the boxes in front of the garage entrance and boxes on the timing lines.

When a pit stop is on drivers must wait to exit till all pit equipment is inside the box and tires are at the wall and under control. No running over your air hose that's attached to the air wrench and no taking equipment with you like a wrench in the back window or before the catch can man was eliminated the catch can got taken for a ride around the track on a few occasions.

Only 6 guys are aloud over the wall on a pit stop. The jackman, gasman 2 tire changers and 2 tire carriers. The catch can man used to do the wrench in the back window adjustment but now that is done by whoever is more convenient to train. With the new gas cans the stops are a little slower. It used to be the gas and tires were done at the same time. Now they wait on the gasman before dropping the jack which is usually the drivers signal to go. 

If you run out of fuel or your car stalls on pit road, your crew may only push you for 3 stalls. If you don't get it started you get pushed back and try again. Will be interesting to see how this plays out with fuel injection. I'm interested to see how long it takes.

When the caution flag flies you slow down to caution speed. NO, YOU MAY NOT USE THIS TIME TO WRECK SOMEBODY. The running order is frozen at the moment of the caution flag and determined by transponders all over the track  They used to race back to the line when the caution flag flew but when Dale Jarret's car wouldn't fire up he was a sitting duck as everyone zipped by him. 

If your in a wreck, even if it's just a fender bender you must go to the infield care center. This rule was brought about in the middle of the 80's when Ricky Rudd wrecked in the then Busch series at Daytona. He refused treatment and went on to race in the Daytona 500 the next day with the Winston Cup drivers. When he got out it was noticed his face was so swollen he taped his eyes open so he could race. I watched that wreck on You Tube recently and it was scary. I didn't remember that he came that close to hitting the end of the infield wall. He was still handsome even with a swollen face. Wish he'd come back to Cup racing.

OTHER STUFF 

Well the rumor that somebody bought the RedBull assets is not a rumor any more. It seems a group of investers got together to form BK Racing. Landon Cassil in the #83 and David Ruetimann will share the #93 with Kvapl. They will be staying with Toyota. Richard Petty announced Smithfield Foods will sponsor the #43 car.  Zest soap has signed on with Matt Kenseth as a primary sponsor. Casey Mears will drive the Geico #13 Ford for Germain Racing. Elliot Sadler is getting a chance in Cup again. RCR is letting him drive the vacated #33 sponsored by General Mills and Kroger. For those of you who remember Ward Burton (brother of Jeff Burton), he'll be racing the #27 truck for new team Hillman Racing.

So on February 26 on FOX we'll see what the cards bring. John Cena of WWE fame will be dropping the green flag. I personally believe it will be a wreckfest just like the Bud Shootout. There were only 25 drivers too. This race is a crap shoot. Plain and simple. Luck is key. If you can stay out of everybody else mess and survive to the end you have a chance. Kyle Busch proved your car doesn't have to be perfect like in years past to win it when he took his battered car and pushed Tony Stewart ahead of everyone to then sneak out and steal the win. 

Danica Patrick will be making the first of 10 race starts here at Daytona. She will be only the 3rd woman to race in the Daytona 500. Will her Indycar experience get her a win or even a top 10? I personally think this is her best chance to shine. The speeds are right up her alley. The cars are set up to skate like they're on ice. I'm thinking that's close to the Indycars and their propensity to be kites. Also right up her alley. She has Stewart as a team mate who has an Indycar championship so he'll show her the way. She just has to go there.

So hopefully I've explained a few things, delighted the trivia fans and helped a few more onto a better understanding of my most favorite sport. As always, if you have a question or just want to comment feel free to do so and have an awesome day..........

 

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