Tag Archives: Daytona International Speedway

NASCAR Racing Begins with ARCA Racing in More Ways Than One

The seemingly long off season for Stock Car racing is almost over. The season actually begins with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards opening at Daytona International Speedway. The  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with open with their exhibition race The Clash at Daytona several hours later. But in some ways NASCAR Cup racing begins with ARCA racing.

In years past many future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup stars got their start in the ARCA Racing Series. Ryan Newman won this race in 2001, Kyle Busch in 2004 and James Buescher in 2009 but many others got important experience by racing this race and in this series.

In 2014, Cup driver Chase Elliott started fifth and finished ninth in this race. Daniel Suarez was also in this race started third and finished fifth. Suarez was also in the race in 2015 starting sixth and finishing second.

Last year we had some future NASCAR stars in this race; NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Cole Custer (10th) and William Byron (2nd), also NASCAR Camping World Truck driver Chase Briscoe (4th). Camping World Truck driver Grant Enfinger won this race in 2014 and 2015.

This year we have Xfinity Driver Matt Tifft in this race.  20 year old Tifft was a NASCAR Next driver in 2016.  17 year old Riley Herbst driving full time in the ARCA series for Joe Gibbs Racing will also be a rising star to watch.

John Wes Townley won this race last year and retired from all racing at the end of the season.

As always though these big money NASCAR teams will have to contend with the ARCA regulars like eight time winner of this race Bobby Gerhart in his legendary No. 5 Lucas Oil Machine.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire it will be shown on Fox Sports 1 on February 18th at 4 PM ET.

Feature Photo Credit ARCA Racing

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Unlimited Driver Breakdown, Yes it’s confusing

The NASCAR Offseason is over. OK, not quite over but there will be some NASCAR racing beginning with the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race. Here are the drivers who will be entered into the race trying to get a head start on their week in Daytona and perhaps a jump on a great Daytona 500.

This year’s race will consist of two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a competition caution coming after Lap 25.

The Sprint Unlimited consists of those drivers who have won a Coors Light Pole Award the previous season plus former Daytona 500 pole winners. Drivers who entered at least one race last year and have also won a previous Sprint Unlimited can also enter this race.

2015 Pole Winners:

AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano

Former Sprint Unlimited Winners:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (’03, ’08)
Tony Stewart (’01, ’02, ‘07)

Former Daytona 500 Pole Winners:

Austin Dillon (‘14)
Danica Patrick (’13)
Martin Truex Jr. (’09)
David Gilliland (‘07)
Greg Biffle (’04)

2014 Chase Contenders (Not Already Qualified for the Race)

Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman

In the Race via Their 2015 Points:

The Sprint Unlimited field is limited to 25 drivers. If for some reason the 25 driver field has not been filled with Pole Winners, Previous Limited Winners, Daytona 500 Pole Winners or Chase Contenders the rest of the field is filed by driver points.  This is where the rest of the entry list can get confusing.

There are 23 drivers who are eligible for the 25 driver field. That leaves two spots open for Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson.  Jeff Gordon retired and is not entering the race. That adds Casey Mears to the field on points.

Tony Stewart is injured and will not be entering the race. SHR has appealed to NASCAR that on this late date they had prepared a car and spent much money and effort on it. NASCAR has allowed them to enter the race even though the driver may or may not be otherwise eligible. The candidate for that car is Brian Vickers if he is medically cleared to race and it appears he may have.

If any other driver does not enter the race then the next driver on the bubble would be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and David Ragan who both do not have a ride. Trevor Bayne, who does have a ride, would be next.  At this point in time that driver would be David Gilliland who as of this writing does not have a ride. If he is not in the race then Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would be.

This race has been won by only nine different drivers since 2001. #14-Tony Stewart (07, 02, 01), #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (08, 03), Dale Jarrett (04), #48-Jimme Johnson (05), #11-Denny Hamlin (14, 06), #4-Kevin Harvick (13, 10, 09), #41-Kurt Busch (11), #18-Kyle Busch (12), and #20-Matt Kenseth (15).

As for the race itself and what to expect it gets much simpler. Those drivers who somehow excel at restrictor plate racing will figure prominently in this race. The odds are very good that one of those nine drivers, who have won this race since 2001, will repeat.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Unlimited it will be broadcast live on Fox, Saturday February 13th starting at 8 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 304913 Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona – NASCAR Style

Every year at this time NASCAR fans long for the new season to begin. A sure sign that the NASCAR season will be soon is the running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. It is that time again and the long cold winter with NASCAR is about over.

This is the 54th annual running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This race features some of the stars of all forms of racing. This year is no exception. We have three NASCAR drivers entered into the race.

AJ Allmendinger will share driving duties for the DP Class No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda HPD Michael Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian with  John Pew, Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Olivier Pla. This line up of drivers except Olivier Pla and team are the winners of the Daytona Prototype Class in 2014. Olivier Pla replaces Justin Wilson who died in August of last year after being struck in the head by debris from another wreck in an Indy car race.

The Rolex 24 is such a tough race to win. Every year teams show up and they have a lot of speed in their racecars. In the end, the race itself is the toughest thing. If you don’t get to the end of 24 hours, then you don’t have a shot to win so that’s the focus.”  Allmendinger added, “No matter what, it’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of cars here that have a lot of speed but I really do think we have the best line up, the best team and the best car and if we get to the end of the race we’ll have a great shot to win.

Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will share driving duties for the DP class No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. This line up of drivers and team are the winners of the Daytona Prototype Class last year. Last year Jamie McMurray etched his name into the record books by becoming the third driver to ever win both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Daytona 500. The other drivers just happen to be racing legends A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

Both of these teams have been the class of the field in recent years leading NASCAR fans to think that this race is dominated by teams that have NASCAR ties. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Most of the teams have the best drivers from all forms of racing. Click for a full entry list for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Rolex 24 is a very interesting race in that several different classes of race cars race at the same time. Imagine if NASCAR held a very long race in which there were Sprint Cup Cars, Xfinity Series Cars and Camping World Truck Series trucks on the track at the same time. It makes for some interesting racing watching those cars that are out classed get passed by those that obviously have a large advantage.

When you consider the strategy that can be played by those drivers who are not too tired by setting up passing those slower cars; the interest level gets raised a bar or two. Then those drivers who are not fresh try a similar move and disaster strikes. That in a small nut shell is what this 24 hour race is all about. I recommend watching as much as you can.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway it will be televised on a combination of the TV and the Internet. It will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) Saturday January 30th 2016 from 2-4 PM ET then on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) from 4-10 PM. At 10 PM the race moves to the internet streaming live at imsa.tv until 7 AM Sunday. FS1 will pick up the coverage again at 7 AM ET until 10:30 AM ET when the race switch back to FS2 until 1 PM. The race will finish on FS1 until 2:40 PM ET. This race is a timed event so it will finish promptly prior to 2:40 regardless of the laps run so plan accordingly to see the finish.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 304272LAT Photo USA for IMSA

2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona TV Schedule
Start End Network
Saturday January 30th.
2:00 PM 4:00 PM FS1
4:00 PM 10:00 PM FS2
10:00 PM 7:00 AM imsa.tv
Sunday January 31st.
7:00 AM 10:30 AM FS1
10:30 AM 1:00 PM FS2
1:00 PM 3:00 PM FS1
* All Times ET


NASCAR Fans You Must Get to the Track Sometime

When I started writing about NASCAR in 2011 it was all about taking my passion and excitement for NASCAR racing to a new level. It was all about becoming a member of the media and getting even more access and knowledge about the sport. I was able to accomplish those goals but somewhere along the way I lost something and I didn’t even know it.

I’ll tell you a secret, well maybe not a secret but something I didn’t know. Most of the media people, who you know and love, at most of the tracks, actually watch the race on TV in the media center. They don’t see the commercials as the cameras still roll in the media center but they do watch the coverage on TV. They do have access real time to an actually live leader board and everything available via a scanner real-time if you’re at the track.

Since I have been a member of the media I actually have not sat in the stands looking at the whole track since August of 2013. This year at seemingly the last moment I decided to visit Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, as a fan, to see the races there. It was everything I expected from the eleven years I had attended races as a fan prior to being in the media.

While doing my weekly radio show it was discussed that the Atlanta race at times wasn’t very exciting. That there was too much single file follow the leader racing. I chimed in that it was a very exciting race but in an instant it dawned on me. As I reran the race in my head it occurred to me that yes while viewing on TV one might come to a much different conclusion as to how the race progressed.

There was two and sometimes three wide racing from approximately sixth place on back through the field throughout the race at Atlanta. There was drivers moving up through the field as they made their cars better and others that were dropping through the field as the reverse happened. That is what I had been missing.

NASCAR fans if your driver doesn’t happen to be up front and on TV there is no better way to get a feel for exactly how bad it is then being at the track. Seeing your driver either pass others in similar circumstances or being passed by other drivers. It’s very telling. At one point in time I happened to see all three Roush Fenway cars racing two and three wide for about 20th. Some were moving up and others not. It was very telling. Something you just can’t get a feel for watching on TV.

I recommend every NASCAR fan get to a track to see and experience the whole picture. Some drivers results may not look so bleak as they do on the score card.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 305909 Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images

There Were Good Crowds at Daytona International Speedway

The first races of the year for all three of the NASCAR touring series is in the record books at Daytona International Speedway. Here are some observations and thoughts about the events of the long weekend.

Much has been said about reduced attendance at NASCAR races but this weekend’s races at Daytona appeared to have changed that trend. NASCAR and the tracks no longer post attendance figures but from my vantage point the races on all four days were well attended. The Daytona 500 was about as close to a sell out as they could get since the speedway is still under construction.

Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway

In the picture the stands that appear grey are under construction and do not actually have any seats installed. It will be interesting next year to see how the attendance is when all the new grandstands are done.

Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway

The Daytona Rising project is far from complete but it is a great success. I can attest that it was very nice to take an escalator up to my seats. The wide open concourse area was also well appreciated when  walking to and from the food vendors and restrooms.

Women will love the new Rest Rooms. It appears that Daytona installed twice as many facilities for women as men.

The new seats are much wider with cup holders and were a welcome change from the seats that were there and definitely better than the bleacher seats at other tracks.

The Daytona Rising project is a success even though it isn’t complete. The part that is complete provided race fans with just enough to entice them to come back and see it when it is finished. The Daytona International Speedway will be a First Class facility when it is complete.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

 Feature Photo Credit:  Brian M. Berg Jr.