Race Blog

The Scoop: Jimmie Johnson wins his 2nd Daytona 500 in his 400th career Sprint Cup start, charging to the front in the closing laps and holding off teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin – who still has never won the Great American Race. Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., and Martin all made a concerted effort after the race to express their focus on the fans hurt in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, when Kyle Larson’s race car hit the fence and showered debris and a tire on the crowd at the start-finish line. The trio also spoke highly of pole sitter Danica Patrick’s historic effort in the race: 8th place (highest finish for a woman) and six laps led (first woman to lead Daytona 500 and only 13th driver all-time to lead both the Indy 500 and Daytona 500). Rain threatened, but never delayed or stopped the race. Matt Kenseth led a race-high 86 laps, but mechanical trouble sent him to the garage late and teammate Kyle Busch dropped out just moments later with an engine failure. Drivers raced single-file almost the entire race, discouraging many fans and making for a disappointing debut of NASCAR’s new Gen-6 car. The racing got exciting with about 20 laps to go, when others like Johnson took to the bottom line to pass the leaders. Patrick ran in 3rd place on the final lap, but fell back as they passed. And three multi-car crashes tore up about 20 racecars, but injured no drivers or fans.

140 Characters or Less: Johnson wins, Patrick historically leads. Toyota drivers’ rotten luck. Fans pack stands, while we remember those still hurt from Saturday.

Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: The 1st Sprint Cup version of this award goes to Danica Patrick – the irony. She did not lead a lap at the start of the race, but got to the front twice and led three laps each time. But her biggest take from t Continue...

Former Atlanta Falcons receiver Terence Mathis has found a home in NASCAR  - and that has taken a while. Just in the last month, Mathis has joined with Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 team as vice president of marketing.  After retiring from the NFL in 2002 (having played spectacularly for the Falcons from 1994 – 2001), Mathis turned his focus from football to marketing. The wide receiver did some of own marketing during his NFL career. In 2005, he tried to start a NASCAR team in conjunction with NASCAR’s then-new Drive for Diversity program. But his new team never hit the track for several reasons.

“When you’re the new guy on the block and every sponsor you go after, you know that a big team or a team that has more experience is telling them ‘he’s not experienced enough, he doesn’t know what he’s doing,’” Mathis told News/Talk WSB outside of the LVR hauler just after Daytona 500 final practice. “I’ve been sued by people that used to work with me. If think if I was never a football player and never went through the things I went through, I probably would have given up a long time ago.”

Mathis formed Victory Motorsports in 2005, but that deal fell through.

Mathis joins LVR in a good time for the small Sprint Cup Series team. Late in 2012 they announced they again would run a limited schedule, but would try to run the full races in all they ran. Scott Speed begins his 2nd year with the team and both Speed and the team start their first Daytona 500 from the 31st spot.

“It was wonderful to race in to a race like this. We have a fast car and Scott [Speed] is gonna do well.”

And despite Mathis and LVR’s short time together, Mathis, who had four 1,000-plus receiving yards seasons in the NFL, is already looking for more.

“It was synergy right away. I became the VP of marketing, with futu Continue...

Tony Stewart, love him or hate him, is often one of the most entertaining drivers in a press conference. Friday was no aberration, as the sharp-tongued veteran announced Rush Truck Centers as a new sponsor on his No. 14 Sprint Cup car. The Gene Haas-affiliated sponsor will be the primary sponsor the team for three races and carry a season-long associate sponsorship. But Stewart went straight from fielding making sponsorship quotes, to having to answer questions about Danica Patrick and, from me, about his stance on the nature of plate racing in the new Gen-6 car, in comparison to the tandem racing of recent years. 


Stewart, who has won many races at Daytona, but has been eluded by the Daytona 500, was a sharp critic of tandem racing. He highlighted his criticism of the two-car shove drafts by telling me at Talladega last season, sarcastically, that NASCAR should turn the cars backwards at the halfway point of the race or turn that race into a figure-eight race. Classic Stewart. 


Stewart did emphasize Cup Series in his saying he will never have to push a car that much again,. He will have to deal with tandem racing in the Nationwide Series Saturday, as he drives the No. 33 for Richard Childress Racing.

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Let the frenzy begin. Danica Patrick turned heads Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, scoring the pole for next Sunday’s Daytona 500. In doing so, Patrick becomes the first woman in history to win a Sprint Cup Series pole. Her speed of 196.434 mph is the quickest Daytona 500 qualifying speed since Terry Labonte in 1990. Patrick’s pole is significant not just for the historical first, but also because of Patrick’s rockstar status, but also the fact that this is the leadoff to her first full Sprint Cup season, and that NASCAR is really optimistic about the debut of the new Gen-6 car. 

The mix of history and superstardom make the spotlight on NASCAR very bright to start the season. The mainstream media mauled this story Sunday and Monday and will continue to do so through Sunday’s race. But let’s remember something: the pole at Daytona is about as significant as finishing 2nd in the Sprint Unlimited or winning a Duel race – it is prestigious, but it means little on raceday and is a bad barometer of driver ability. Yes, Patrick is beginning to stabilize as a driver. She is learning stock cars, but this pole does very little to show that. What the mainstream media does not account for is the fact that plate race qualifying involves vary little driver variability and most of the speed is in the racecar. Patrick’s slight weight in comparison to other drivers and how the wind may have helped her or hurt other drivers are also factors in her having the fastest speed. Patrick deserves props for doing everything right as a driver during her qualifying laps and for the feedback she gave her team in January testing and in the practice sessions before qualifying to gain her the pole winning speed she needed. Now is the time for her to pay it forward with a good finish.  

One other significant aspect of Patrick’s top q Continue...

Count Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark among the many in NASCAR Nation that are chomping at the bit for the 2013 season. With Saturday's Sprint Unlimited on tap and then a bustling week of practices and races leading up to next Sunday's Daytona 500, Clark and his staff at the Hampton, GA track are busy in their own right. Though the Labor Day weekend races at AMS are months away, tickets to them go on sale during Daytona's Speedweeks. 9 a.m. Monday is when fans can start purchasing seats for the AdvoCare 500 race weekend. And this list from an AMS press release shows there are plenty of deals in store and benefits to purchasing tickets early:

Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend schedule (Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2013)

Aug. 30:            NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying and United Sprint Car Series Race (50 laps / 12.5 miles)

Aug. 31:            Atlanta 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series Race (195 laps / 300 miles)

Sept. 1:             AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race (325 laps / 500 miles)

NASCAR Tickets On-Sale

 *   Tickets on sale Monday, February 18 at 9:00 AM
 *   To purchase, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com<http://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/> or call 1 877 9 AMS TIX
 *   Fans that purchase AdvoCare 500 tickets before 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 25 become members of the AMS Insiders Club, which features ticket discounts, a lanyard and entry into VIP experiences.

NEW FOR 2013: AMS Insiders Club

 *   Fans who ren Continue...

NASCAR president Mike Helton joined Clint Bowyer, three new Gen-6 racecars, and a media contingency at Downtown Atlanta’s CNN Center to educate the masses on NASCAR’s new racecar and to promote the coming races at Daytona International Speedway. After recording two segments with CNN and HLN, he and I spent a few minutes discussing the big wave of change for the coming 2013 race season. 

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Clint Bowyer, like most drivers, gets tired of answering the same questions.

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