Is it a surprise that Danica Patrick rolls out on top of the grid for the Daytona 500? Perhaps… But her position as the pole sitter says something about her adaptation to the sport despite her general lack of experience compared to many veterans who drove laps behind her. However, it was just a year ago she was on the pole for the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona. How many times has a Nationwide Daytona pole winner come back in a Sprint Cup series car to win the pole the very next year?

The real surprise is the unwelcome response from too many “NASCAR” fans about Patrick and her mere presence inside a Sprint Cup car. What is it that makes some of these “fans” so adamant in their dislike? Is it that she is a woman? Is that really the only reason? Are they really that narrow? She is certainly not the first woman to get behind the wheel… (more…)

The AARON’S 499 at Talladega set a winning scenerio for some big names to present themselves in the final laps and the finish. Brad Keselowski and A.J. Allmendinger. Big, long names…

Four laps to go at Talladega and an impulse move takes out a chunk of the top challengers. It also set up a restart scenario that left the door open for the BK/KB train to rail to the front.

Denny Hamlin was crunched into a spot on the outside and when the two lines separated enough to make hole in the middle, he went for it. A.J. Allmendinger made an impulse move to keep the 11 behind him but he went without looking and Hamlin’s FedEx #11 was already nose in. The #22 of A.J. clipped and slid in front of Hamlin’s nose and dipped into the low row. The #22 straightened with contact on the inside row but the chain was off at that point putting the field on the brakes and into the wall and each other. (more…)

Elliott Sadler. Pleasant fellow. Easy personality. NASCAR driver.

Everybody knows who he is. He has won in Sprint Cup. He has driven for a number of teams. His introductions at the track generally draw applause and welcome cheers.

His record in Cup races highlights a few wins plus top 5 and top 10 finishes placing him generally in the upper tier of drivers. This, however, has not necessarily brought him into the limelight of NASCAR stardom.

Until now…

Sadler has created momentum in the early season of the Nationwide Series. Backed by Richard Childress Racing from the shops previously run by Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler has taken the #2 OneMain Financial Chevy to Victory Lane twice in the first four races of the 2012 season. He won at Phoenix and just registered the second win at the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Bristol. (more…)

Coming away from Daytona it was difficult enough to determine who is driving what but now you have to take into account what day it is. Yes… Cup drivers have been running in the Nationwide Series for some time but it seems to be even more so. However, NASCAR has a rule about declaring which series a driver is running for a potential championship so why all the crossover? (more…)

Sunday morning – Daytona 500 Race Day! Clicking into first thing to check on updates for today and what do we see…? A big sidebar advertisement for Nationwide Insurance with Danica Patrick standing there…  Ironic…? Good timing…? After all, she has gone nose deep into concrete twice in three days and steps back into a new car. That would seem to be a good selling point for auto insurance… Right…?

But this race, this season… It’s not all about Danica Patrick. Every garage, team and driver has a story that brought them here and they all want the same thing. There are also the stories of those who are shut out of the barn for the big dance. Take Michael Waltrip, for example… Re-entering the field during Gatorade Dual Day, he attempted to leave the inner skirt of the track and get on the banking but the sudden angle change was too much at speed and the car jolted up the track and into the wall. That put him at #44 and one spot off the grid after pre-season wrangling to have a ride to qualify with. Yes, MWR still has cars on the track for the 500, but Michael isn’t in any of them. (more…)

Realistically…  None of it matters. Yes, close quarter 2×2 racing took its toll and some of the most experienced and fastest drivers were sent to the cap and out of contention. Yes, a record number of cautions and restarts kept the deck shuffled.

This is Daytona! The new surface and the racing style set in motion for the Daytona 500 created a touch and go and hook and push race that created the final scenario of a Wood Brothers Motorcraft #21 Ford victory.

Rookie Trevor Bayne, in his second Sprint Cup start and his first run at Daytona, hooked with some of the best drivers throughout the day, watched as many fell by the wayside in damaged cars, and managed to keep the historic #21 mostly clean and clear to the green-white-checker.

Was this sheer beginner’s luck? No… Not here. Not at Daytona. The 20 year old (birthday the day before the 500) kept his nose and the car clean, backing out of tight spots and driving safe. Beginner’s luck…? Driving nose to tail approaching 200mph for most of 200 laps…? No… Not here. This racing style set up by a new, smooth surface was a new deal for most of the drivers. Drafting isn’t new by any means but requiring it to run at speed lap after lap set tension and fatigue at high levels while magnifying the slightest mistake.

Keeping out of the mess took some driving. Trevor Bayne earned this win. The Wood Brothers needed this win. A team that has been running a short season for the past couple of years and has had to endure hushed whispers in the garage has won the 2011 Daytona 500.

Now we have something new to cheer for in NASCAR. “Go Dale Jr.” has a nice ring to it. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick….  Johnson…  Gordon…  Whatever hat you have on your head to show your allegiance on race day doesn’t matter when a 20 year old rookie puts some shine back onto an iconic name of NASCAR racing.

The Wood Brothers have Daytona this season and that is something every fan should be able to cheer for.