Sunday, July 8, 2012

Frankie G's Weekly NASCAR Pitstop: Daytona

While we here in Western Kentucky were sweating in this obnoxious heat, NASCAR was at Daytona Beach for this weekends races. The weekend featured action packed races that you would expect from Daytona International Speedway. Both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races included wrecks that will hopefully satisfy those wreck hungry fans. Let's start with the Nationwide race which took place on Friday evening.

Nationwides new star Austin Dillon initially earned the pole for the Nationwide race, however he was penalized over a disconnected coolant line and was sent to the back of the pack. This allowed for Ricky Stenhouse Jr, another rising star of Nationwide, to take over the pole position. Pole position mattered little during this race, as the race featured 42 lead changes among 16 drivers. One of those drivers happened to be Dillon who worked his way up from the back to challenge for the win. The night belonged to Kurt Busch and the Phoenix Racing team however. Busch finished the final 10 laps with his car spewing steam and appearing in no shape to win a race. On a green white checker finish however, Busch pushed Austin Dillon and eventually overtook him on the final lap to win the race.

The race was important to both Busch and Phoenix Racing who have had problems this season with Busch and the media which resulted in a weekend suspension a few weeks ago. Busch made sure to make mention of that post race by saying "I don't care about me right now, tonight is about Phoenix Racing." It may be just one win but this is a big step for both parties.

The weekend concluded yesterday with Sprint Cups Coke Zero 400, another night race at Daytona. There were problems with the qualifying for this race as well as Allmendinger failed a NASCAR random drug test and was taken out of the race to be replaced by Sam Hornish Jr. There was also a failed inspection for the #14 of Tony Stewart causing him to be moved to the back of the field just as Dillon had the night before. Like Dillon, Stewart moved up the field to be a contender for the win. Unlike Dillon, Stewart was able to pull off the comeback and take the checkered flag.

Just like on the last lap of the Nationwide race, the leader at the start of the lap would not be the winner. Stewart overtook Kenseth, who had won the first race at Daytona, on the final lap to cross the checkered flag just ahead of a huge pileup. Rounding out the top 5 were Burton, Kenseth, Logano, and Newman.

Next weeks race will take place at New Hampshire with the Nationwide race starting at 3:30 ET on Saturday and Sprint Cup at 1ET on Sunday. Check back in Thursday evening as I break down the chance of Austin Dillon bringing the number 3 back to Sprint Cup and what it would mean for NASCAR.

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