One year later, NASCAR reflects on a COVID-changed sport
Larson wasn't sure he'd race in NASCAR again until Rick Hendrick took a chance on a him. Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said the suspension would lift at the start of this year. KEEP IT COOLLast year's spring race in Phoenix was a hot one, with temperatures pushing close to 90 degrees. ... Jason Biggs, host of “Cherries Wild” on NASCAR broadcast partner Fox, is the grand marshal.
Allmendinger back at Daytona in 1st Cup race since 2018
Allmendinger will run his first Cup race since the 2018 season finale in Kaulig's first Cup race not at a superspeedway. Ad“I am pumped to be racing in the Cup Series for Kaulig Racing,” Allmendinger said. The longshot Daytona 500 win earned McDowell his first playoff berth and FRM now is positioned to build a once unthinkable cushion. This road course race was added to NASCAR's schedule in December because COVID-19 restrictions would not allow a stop at Fontana, California. Dillon missed the Cup race in August because he'd received a positive COVID-19 test.
Logano wants peace at Penske following Daytona 500 crash
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A truce has yet to be called in the Team Penske camp amid friction following the last lap Daytona 500 crash between teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. To me, the biggest heartbreak of this whole thing is that there are 400 people at Team Penske asking where their Daytona 500 bonus is and it’s up in a ball of flames up in turn three.”Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin bristled at Logano's deflection. The Daytona crash belied Roger Penske's edict that his drivers are permitted to race one another hard so long as they don't wreck. That’s a great problem to have.”It remains to be seen how Keselowski chooses to work with Logano going forward. Logano, also a Cup champion and the 2015 Daytona 500 winner, doesn't have the same job security concerns.
Wallace becomes 1st Black driver to lead lap at Daytona 500
Bubba Wallace checks his helmet before the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bubba Wallace ran into trouble early and late in his first Daytona 500 driving for Michael Jordan. He still came out of NASCAR's marquee race with another milestone, becoming the first Black driver to lead a lap in the Daytona 500. Wallace dipped to the low line late in the second stage to grab the lead on lap 129 in the No. Wallace got caught up in a fiery, chaotic last lap and finished 17th in a race won by Michael McDowell. Wallace had a solid first two-thirds of the rain-delayed race at Daytona International Speedway after a tumultuous start in Jordan's debut race.
McDowell beats 100-1 odds for upset Daytona 500 victory
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael McDowell was glued to Brad Keselowski's bumper, watching and waiting for his chance to win the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin was trying for a record third-consecutive Daytona 500 victory, and the team he started with Michael Jordan was debuting with driver Bubba Wallace. Kyle Larson was back after nearly a year in exile for using a racial slur, and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott was going for his first Daytona 500 win. And all the way at the back of the field, 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope made what he said would be his final NASCAR start. “I wanted to make the pass to win the Daytona 500 and it ended up really bad,” Keselowski said.
Michael McDowell wins rain-delayed Daytona 500 after last-lap wreck
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 14: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500 after Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked on the final lap. McDowell was running third when Keselowski got a huge run on Logano. Keselowski tried to pass Logano on the low side, but Logano tried to block him and ended up crashing both of them. Hamlin was trying to become the first in NASCAR history to win three consecutive Daytona 500s.
The Latest: Keselowski has no regrets about Daytona 500 end
Racers crash during the last lap in the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Latest on the Daytona 500 (all times local):12:35 a.m.Brad Keselowski has no regrets about the way he handled the final lap of the Daytona 500. ___12:15 a.m.Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500 after Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked on the final lap. ___3:25 p.m.Derrike Cope was knocked out after only three laps, an ignominious end for the 62-year-old driver who won the 1990 Daytona 500. ___2 p.m.Bubba Wallace’s car failed inspection twice for the Daytona 500 and will have to start at the back of the field. AdWallace drives a new entry owned by NBA great Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.
Cindric starts new season with big Xfinity win at Daytona
Austin Cindric celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Cindric launched his bid for a second consecutive Xfinity Series title with a victory in Saturday night's season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Cindric makes his Cup Series debut Sunday in the Daytona 500. “What a way to start the season,” Cindric said. Cindric won the Xfinity Series debut on Daytona’s road course last August as well as a rallycross event early in his career. The 22-year-old has this final season in Xfinity before moving next year to Cup to drive for Penske-supported Wood Brothers Racing.
Ready to retire? Kurt Busch leaves NASCAR fans guessing
“If you’re asking me if this is a retirement video, I’m leaving it open for interpretation,” Busch told The Associated Press on Saturday. Ad“Who gets to go and take a NASCAR car to Key West at 200 mph,” Busch asked. Gronkowski partied in victory lane when Busch won the 2017 Daytona 500 and the fellow Monster athlete says: “Don’t do it, man! Don’t retire!” Busch lives in South Florida near Vanilla Ice, the “Ice, Ice, Baby” rapper who pulls up next to the Chevy and gets caught up in smoke from a burnout. Whether this was a true retirement video, simply a marketing ploy for the energy drink or even a negotiating tactic for another contract remained unclear.
Rain washes out NASCAR's final practices for Daytona 500
“I think we proved as an industry last year that track time was a little overrated," said David Wilson, head of Toyota Racing Development. Heavy rain soaked the track early, though, prompting officials to shift gears before the Xfinity Series opener later Saturday. An ARCA series race also was scheduled for the middle of the day. “I'm fine without it,” said 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch. ..."Obviously, we didn’t want to go to a backup car, but I think we’re still in a really good place for the 500.
Party in a pandemic: NASCAR fans power through at Daytona
Bubba Wallace makes a pit stop during the second of two qualifying auto races for the NASCAR Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Wallace finished in second place. They came to soak in the Daytona 500 atmosphere, or whatever they found among the campers killing time with games of cornhole and flip cup. AdMark Minadeo of Boca Raton was attending his ninth Daytona 500 and bought a motorhome for Speedweeks. The mood is in stark contrast to last year when NASCAR fans were revved for then-President Donald Trump’s visit. The majority had never been to a NASCAR race.
Denny Hamlin seeks historic 3rd straight Daytona 500 victory
He instead points to a pair of Southern 500 trophies, a Bristol night race victory, three road course wins, six at Pocono and the big daddy of them all, the Daytona 500. AdWith only three practice sessions and the 150-mile Duel qualifying races, there is no clear indication who has cars capable of winning the Daytona 500. Chase Elliott is the reigning series champion but hasn't had enough time to show if he's a contender for his first Daytona 500 victory. Austin Dillon won the second duel, setting him up for a possible second Daytona 500 victory on the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death. “I felt like a mouse trying to find the cheese,” Hamlin said of trying to get to to the traditional ring ceremony for last year's Daytona 500 victory.
Hendrick hesitant to change Bowman's engine before 500
48 team will ideally use Saturday's final two practice sessions to determine if the engine can make it 500 miles on Sunday. “We think the engine is OK, but we're undecided just yet,” said Knaus, who won the NASCAR title seven times as a crew chief. AdHendrick Motorsports suffered another blow when William Byron was involved in a crash in his qualifying race that destroyed his Chevrolet. Hendrick will now have only one car at the front of the Daytona 500 field — maybe none if Bowman's engine is deemed too risky not to change. The pole-sitter has not closed out a Daytona 500 victory since Dale Jarrett in 2000.
A Daytona 500 unlike any other: the Great American Race during the pandemic
Attendance at Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be limited. So the preparation for this event versus Daytona 500. Remarkably, the organization that the folks at Daytona have leaned on the most during race preparations is just down the street. “To win one Daytona 500 is so hard. It would be incredible for him to win three consecutive Daytona five 500s on Sunday night.”
Hiccup for Hendrick Motorsports ahead of Daytona 500
Alex Bowman and William Byron were slated to lead the Daytona 500 field to green but that's in danger following Thursday night's qualifying races. Byron was collected in a crash in the second Duel and it ruined his Chevrolet. AdAustin Cindric and Kaz Grala both earned their first berths into the Daytona 500 by claiming the two available transfer positions in the Duels. He was the leader on the final lap of the second Duel until Dillon crossed to Wallace’s inside and inched ahead. “We’ve got an incredible race car and I can’t wait for the Daytona 500.”
AP Was There: Earnhardt killed in 2001 Daytona 500 crash
“I guess someone got into Dale because Dale got into me and then we went up,” Schrader said. We’ve lost Dale Earnhardt,” Helton said. The death of Earnhardt left NASCAR reeling in the wake of a 2000 season in which three of its young stars were killed in separate accidents. All three died of the same type of head injuries that apparently killed Earnhardt. “The only reason I won this race is Dale Earnhardt,” Waltrip said.
Bowman, Byron give Hendrick sweep of Daytona 500 front row
Driver Alex Bowman (48) kicks up sparks as he runs during a NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifying session Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Alex Bowman and William Byron swept the front row Wednesday night in qualifying for the Daytona 500, giving Hendrick its 14th pole and sixth in the last seven years. It's a testament to these guys and everybody back at the shop at Hendrick Motorsports,” Bowman said. The 40-car field is determined through both time trials and a pair of Thursday night qualifying races. Hamlin, who is trying to become the first driver to win three consecutive Daytona 500s, was 12th.
Bowman, Byron give Hendrick sweep of Daytona 500 front row
Alex Bowman and William Byron swept the front row Wednesday night in qualifying for the Daytona 500, giving Hendrick its 14th pole and sixth in the last seven years. “Here it really just comes down to who built the fastest race car. It’s the fourth consecutive year Bowman will start from the front row, but he's got a completely new look this time. Only the front row was set Wednesday, the first time Daytona 500 qualifying has been held at night under a condensed Speedweeks schedule. “My motto is, ‘No more excuses.’”Hamlin, who is trying to become the first driver to win three consecutive Daytona 500s, was 12th.
Wallace sends Jordan to top of scoring pylon at Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bubba Wallace sent Michael Jordan to the top of scoring pylon in the first Daytona 500 practice session for their new team and the first overall for NASCAR in more than 300 days. Wallace was selected as the driver in the first season of a new team that brought Jordan into NASCAR as a team owner. 23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, perhaps a promising sign he could be a force in the Daytona 500. NASCAR sets the front row for the Daytona 500 in Wednesday night’s qualifying session. His runner-up finish in the 2018 Daytona 500 was the best finish by a Black driver in the race.
NASCAR to hold pre-race Daytona 500 concert with Luke Combs
NASCAR will attempt some normalcy at the season-opening Daytona 500 with a live pre-race concert featuring country music star Luke Combs. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR will attempt some normalcy at the season-opening Daytona 500 with a live pre-race concert — the first big performance at a track during the pandemic — featuring country music star Luke Combs. Born in Charlotte but raised in Asheville, Combs made NASCAR races a weekly viewing staple alongside his grandfather. “If you would’ve told me back then that I’d be performing at the Daytona 500 one day, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Combs, a longtime fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Live music is a way for us to be able to disconnect from everything else, and just be there in the moment,” Combs said.
Mr. WorldWide to NASCAR: Pitbull joins Trackhouse ownership
New NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing has brought entertainer Pitbull on as an ownership partner for an organization making its debut next month at the Daytona 500. Mr. Worldwide joins NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as celebrity owners entering NASCAR this year. Pitbull has become an ownership partner in new NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing, set to make its debut next month at the Daytona 500. “NASCAR racing is about pushing boundaries; for the Trackhouse Racing team, that means more than just winning on the race track,” Marks said. “Pitbull is an iconic talent in the music industry and has tremendous passion for NASCAR racing.
The Daytona 500 will have ‘limited fan capacity’
Add the Daytona 500 to the list of major sporting events making adjustments in light of the pandemic. The Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that the 63rd annual Daytona 500 will have limited fan capacity. The 63rd Annual #DAYTONA500 will have limited fan capacity. 📰: https://t.co/9cEIKinY8Y pic.twitter.com/ZSTM13Jra3 — Daytona International Speedway (@DISupdates) December 2, 2020The annual race is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Ticket holders are encouraged to review their options for the race on the track’s website.
Kyle Larson reinstated to compete in NASCAR in 2021
FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, Kyle Larson gets ready to climb into his car to practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. NASCAR on Monday, Oct. 29, 2020, cleared Larson to return in 2021, ending his long suspension for using a racial slur while playing a video racing game. Larson was suspended in April after he used the n-word while playing an online racing game in which viewers could follow along. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)
Knocked out of Brickyard, Johnson copes at home with virus
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2020 file photo Jimmie Johnson climbs intp his car before the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. NASCAR seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will test an Indy car next week on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hes long said he is open to racing in the series but did not want to compete on ovals out of safety concerns. On Friday, July 3, 2020, he indicated recent safety improvements have softened his stance and the Indianapolis 500 is not entirely out of the picture. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Ryan Newman eager to race again after violent Daytona accident
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, file photo, Ryan Newman (6) goes airborne after crashing into Corey LaJoie (32) during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Newman, who suffered a head injury in the season opening Daytona 500, will race Sunday, May 17 when NASCAR resumes its season at Darlington Raceway. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ryan Newman says he has no memories of his harrowing accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500. The first thing Newman can recall is walking out of a Florida hospital holding hands with his two young daughters. I’m happy I’m here.”Newman will return to racing Sunday at Darlington Speedway in South Carolina exactly three months after he crashed Feb. 17 attempting to win his second Daytona 500. He was healing fast enough three weeks after the accident that Roush-Fenway Racing took Newman to NASCAR's oldest superspeedway to test.
Daytona tweaks Speedweeks, moves Clash onto road course
NASCAR will hit the road for its first race in 2021, part of a schedule shakeup that starts at Daytona International Speedway. They include running the exhibition Busch Clash on the 3.56-mile road course that winds through the Daytona infield and packing seven races as well as Daytona 500 pole qualifying into a six-day span. The tweaks eliminate two traditional “dark days” at the track during Speedweeks and should provide a better fan experience leading into NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson also have Rolex experience on the road course. “It is a very unique road course,” Wile said.
Newman suffered head injury, no internal injuries in crash
Ryan Newman (6) goes airborne after crashing into Corey LaJoie (32) during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Newman did not suffer life-threatening injuries in the incident. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Ryan Newman said he suffered a head injury in his crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 but did not disclose details in a statement from the driver read before Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I did sustain a head injury for which I’m currently being treated," Newman wrote in a statement. Newman walked out of the Daytona Beach hospital roughly 42 hours later appearing unscathed and holding hands with his two young daughters. 6 car will be waiting and ready for my return," Newman concluded in his statement.
Drivers processing the dangers of racing after Newman crash
(AP Photo/John Raoux)LAS VEGAS, Nev. – NASCAR rolled west this week, shifting from the Daytona 500 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway without Ryan Newman. I can’t wait to have Rocketman Ryan Newman back at the track racing as hard as ever.”Ross Chastain will drive the No. The not knowing was difficult for a generation of drivers who have been fortunate to avoid the inherent danger of auto racing. Dillon recalled racing a week after his 2015 crash at Daytona. It’s part of what we do as race car drivers and I think that’s why people come watch us.
Ryan Newman walking around hospital after horrific Daytona 500 crash
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Great news! Ryan Newman is walking around after his horrific crash at the Daytona 500 on Monday. A tweet by Roush Fenway said he was showing great improvement. “The veteran driver is fully alert and walking around Halifax Medical Center. Ryan Newman Continues Great Improvement: pic.twitter.com/66rToCHGsj — Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 19, 2020
Ryan Newman walks out of hospital less than 2 days after terrifying wreck
Less than two days after his car careened across the finish line on its roof at the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman walked out of a Daytona hospital, holding the hands of his daughters. Roush Fenway Racing posted the update on Twitter, saying Newman had been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center. The impact sent Newman skidding down the track, crossing the finish line on his roof with sparks flying. But Wednesday, Newman’s race team issued a statement saying Newman “continues to show great improvement” and posted a photo that showed him standing in the hospital with his two girls. Ryan Newman Continues Great Improvement pic.twitter.com/xIZRiaRApi — Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 19, 2020Hours later, he walked out of the hospital.
Blaney's attempted push of Newman led to violent crash
When Ryan Blaney pushed fellow Ford driver Ryan Newman in the final lap of the Daytona 500, it was something both men have done hundreds of times on superspeedways. Then Newman's car angled back into traffic, creating the most violent and frightening wreck at Daytona since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. “We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from (Hamlin). Newman’s car again landed on its roof and skidded past the finish line to a stop, spewing sparks and fuel that caused a fire. A car running alone in the pack without a drafting partner is often shuffled back in the field.
Johnson fails to finish following wreck in final Daytona 500
Johnson was collected in a late-race wreck at the Daytona 500, and his #OneFinalTime kickoff in the final full season of his NASCAR career ended with a 35th-place finish. Dressed in khakis and a black polo shirt, Johnson surveyed the empty track, where hours later he would make his expected final Daytona 500 start. Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker said he wanted to play the pre-race concert because it was Johnson's final Daytona 500. His daughters hugged him, whispered advice and didn't want dad to go before the finished his final ride at Daytona. "The prerace stuff, the rainout, staying occupied today, there was a lot of wait in the activities outside of the car," Johnson said.
Newman survives final lap wreck at Daytona 500 that overshadows photo finish win for Hamlin
Newman overtook Hamlin with a push from Blaney in the final lap, but Hamlin roared back around the final turn. The impact sent Newman’s car careening down the track on its roof, with sparks and flames shooting out. Here is the final lap of the Daytona 500 in which Ryan Newman's car was flipped at the line. The win was Hamlin’s third Daytona 500, joining victories in 2016 and ’19. Hamlin sneaked by Ryan Newman with three laps to go right before the second Big One wreck of the finish.
Heavy rains push Daytona 500 to Monday
The Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain for the first time since 2012, dampening NASCAR’s season opener that started with a ballyhooed visit from President Donald Trump. It’s the second time in 62 years that “The Great American Race” will finish on a Monday. Trump’s armored limousine nicknamed “The Beast” exited Daytona International Speedway, and the sky opened for a brief shower that forced drivers back to pit road. Thousands cheered as Air Force One performed a flyover and landed at Daytona International Airport a few hundred yards behind the track. Trump served as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 and gave the command for drivers to start their engines.
Daytona 500 purse in high gear, topping $23 million
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR will dole out a record $23.6 million to the 40 drivers racing in the Daytona 500. The sanctioning body released the total purse Friday, an about-face for an organization that hadn't released payouts since the 2015 season. NASCAR's charter system with teams had previously prohibited the disclosure of financial details. The Daytona 500 purse grew steadily since the race's inception in 1959. The purse topped $1 million in 1985 and rose to a little more than $18 million in 2015, the last year the figures were released.
NASCAR drivers anticipate changes to Speedweeks next year
“I’d miss it,” driver Austin Dillon said Wednesday during Daytona 500 media day. “It’d be like somebody trying to go on top of the Daytona 500. The second that we lose sight of that … we’ve got problems.”The Super Bowl is set for Feb. 7, 2021. Well, guess what, sometimes you get a Super Bowl like we had this year and sometimes you get a rout. “I don’t mind them starting a week earlier,” defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin said.