Welcome to Daytona Speed Week 2009! After watching the first practice session I am going way out on a limb and say that "The Big One" will be coming out of Turn 4. I saw almost every car get sideways there today and there were a couple of VERY close calls.
God help me I love this sport! My heart gets pounding like I just ran a marathon (OK, like I ran real fast to the beerfridge and back during the commercial). Bumper to bumper, trading paint 3 wide at over 190 MPH. How can you help but feel the adrenaline rush? I should be behind the wheel!
Allen Bestwick: You've just won the Daytona 500!
Me: Allen, I can't believe it! The Daytona 500! The South40/IGA/DirecTv/Banquet Frozen Dinners/Kool- Aid/Victoria's Secret/Purina Dog Chow Ford Fusion ran great all day! My crew was unbelieveable. They got us spots coming out of the pits and my Crew Chief made that call that was turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Those Goodyear tires really dug in there at the end.
I want to thank my sponsors Bud Light, Sunoco, Burger King, DrPepper, Mrs. Baird's Bread, Microsoft, Viagra, Kleenex, Mobil 1, Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Cheerios, Sham-Wow!, Pier 1 Imports, Lucky Charms, State Farm Insurance, Bell Helicopter, Crisco, Goody's Headache Powder, Reese's Pieces and Elmer's Glue. Gosh, I hope I didn't forget anyone. They are all so important to me and this wonderful team!
See? Tell me I can't do this job... I was born for it.
I remember watching my first live Daytona 500. A huge wreck at the finish between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison battling for the win followed by a fistfight. I was hooked for life. It truly is The Great American Race.
This was long before restrictor plates, HANS devices, SAFER barriers, radio communications and the COT (Car Of Tomorrow). The men that drove them were not pretty boy TV stars. They were whiskey runnin', knuckle sandwich throwin', cross the finishline upsidedown at 200MPH with your hair on fire men. The cars they drove were by and large the very same car you could go and buy at your local dealership. True stock cars. Yeah, there was some safety modifications and under the hood, but most of the car was completely stock. That just excited the hell out of me!
Today's cars are all cookie cutter lookalikes. The only difference between them is the brand of engine. But they still have one thing in common with that first race I saw.
1 man, 1 car, 500 miles to the finish.
Here's a quick rundown of the events for Speed Week. A complete detailed look is available here.
Feb 07 - Budweiser Shootout/ ARCA 200
Feb 8 - Daytona 500 Qualifying
Feb 12 - Gatorade Duel at Daytona
Feb 13 - Daytona 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying
Feb 14 - Camping World 300
Feb 15 - 51st Annual DAYTONA 500
On a sad note, John Daly has pulled the plug on The Daly Planet. It was an oasis in a desert of NASCAR media coverage. JD,
I we all will miss your insider's view.