Preseason Thunder: The Big One Sends Many Home After Drafting During Daytona Test

481390_10151345448202422_619578988_nThis pretty much says it all.

After teams voluntarily made single car runs an exclusive in the morning practice session, a familiar sight at Daytona came back. Drafting. Teams were hesitant to form a pack during the course of the test, mostly due to a lack of components and cars needed to repair and replace mangled or damaged equipment.

The drafting started with drivers minding their manners and taking it easy. Well, as easy as you can at 199.000 mph on a super speedway. Then, about an hour into the practice session, the big one. Twelve cars tangled after Dale Earnhardt Jr. bumped Marcos Ambrose, sending Ambrose spinning and the field in chaos.

“We were going around one and two I thought Marcos was backing up to me,” Earnhardt said to Speed’s Bob Dillner. “It looked like he was laying off the leader a little bit, looking to get a run on the back straightaway. We came down off of two and I was trying to push him a little bit and had a hard time getting our bumpers to line up. There is a roll bar on the front of my car and his car. Thats the first time I had pushed him forward and his car sit up on top of that roll bar and then I was kinda wheel barreling him around a little bit and ended up getting him turned I guess. I was hoping I didn’t’ start it, I don’t know if I did.”

Earnhardt did, in fact, “start” the big one, and Marcos Ambrose agrees with Earnhardt that the shape of the cars is what really started the crash.

“I guess I just got caught on the edge of his bumper there,” Ambrose said. “The shape of the nose and the tires just spun me out. It was hardly even a bump. It was just enough at the wrong angle, wrong time and I just went for a spin.”

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski also attributes the overall change in the cars. He said that drivers need to take a look back to the way they used to race before the days of the Car of Tomorrow.

“The sport is rewinding,” said Keselowski. “That’s an important thing to say, because the sport advanced to where got to the two car tandem about three or four years ago and there were certain things you could do then that you could never do in the past without wrecking. Now the rules package has been changed back to where it was in the early 2000s. I think the fans and everyone else enjoyed the racing a little bit better [referring to racing in a pack versus tandems], so as drivers we have to rewind back to how we used drive those cars and this is how you do it. You learn and make mistakes.”

Following the crash, single car runs filled the remainder of the day and possibly will be the order of things tomorrow.

Several teams loaded up their mangled machines to return home while others are doing so without any damage at all. The Michael Watrip Racing trio of Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., and Clint Bowyer will not participate in tomorrow’s sessions. Neither will Scott Speed in the 95 car. The only teams involved in today’s accident that will return tomorrow are Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards.

Earnhardt’s car wasn’t damaged by the nudge that sparked the crash. Busch’s car received repairable damage to the left rear and Carl Edwards is driving for the only team that has a backup car to use.

Timing and Scoring from the afternoon practice session:

NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona – Day 2 – Practice Session 2 – Afternoon

 

Loopies: Quantity of Quality Award

rpm_g_brad-keselowski_mb_600This award goes to the driver who led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Quality Passes, which are passes of cars in the top 15 while under green flag conditions. The winner, who will have to clear up even more mantle space, is Brad Keselowski. Keselowski, who led the series by more than 200 quality passes, tallied 2,201 quality passes overall.

#NASCAR Number Two Sports Trend on Twitter in 2012

Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 1.31.13 PMIn 2012, NASCAR partnered with social media juggernaut Twitter, solidifying an upward trend that has seen Twitter explode across the NASCAR scene over the past two seasons. That partnership has led to the hashtag #NASCAR rating as the number two highest trending sports topics of 2012.

2011 saw the Twitter trend build momentum as motorsports journalists industry wide begin utilizing the service at the forefront of their media platforms. Before Twitter, the primary ways of electronic distribution for online media outlets was Really Simple Syndication, RSS, and email.

Jeff Gluck, Bob Pockrass, Jenna Fryer, Jim Utter, and Dustin Long have become household names with the NASCAR fan base. They have an intimate relationship with fans, providing not only links and stats, but also a bit of personal perspective, even partaking in regular meet and greets, called Tweet Ups.

While the sport’s journalists lit the fuse of the NASCAR Twitter explosion, it was driver Brad Keseloweksi that acted as the bomb. During the 2012 Daytona 500 Juan Montoya crashed into a jet dryer during a caution, causing an actual explosion. While the fires burned in turn three, Keselowski reached out to his Twitter fans, showing a side of the sport not commonly seen. A look through the driver’s eyes. By the time he climbed back into his car, Keselowski had gained thousands of additional followers and exploded the popularity of social network to the NASCAR masses.

Halfway through the season, NASCAR announced a partnership with Twitter that but added focus on the hashtag #NASCAR, featuring a special landing page for search results from the query #NASCAR as well as serving as the landing page for twitter.com/nascar.

Addionally, #NASCAR was featured in a series of television commercials from Twitter. The commercials were a hit with fans, showing clips from fringe of the sport. Like the moments just before a driver climbs in the car or a clip from within their motor coach.

Over the course of the season, NASCAR had to enforce rules that prohibit the use of electronic devices inside of the racecar during competition, but overall Twitter has been well received by NASCAR, and conversely, Twitter as accepted NASCAR.

(Image: TheSpeedzine.com Screenshot of Twitter Trends Website)

Keselowski, Penske Championships Voted Best Moments of 2012

Score one more for the underdog.

Brad Keselowski, no one’s pre-season choice to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, stumped the experts. Media members, in turn, have voted Keselowski’s title run for owner Roger Penske as NASCAR’s top story of the past season.

Keselowski’s first championship prevailed in the voting over Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s drought-busting victory in June at Michigan International Speedway.

Now that media members have had their say, it’s the fans’ turn. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET this evening, fans can vote for their favorite competition stories of 2012 on the NASCAR Facebook page,www.facebook.com/NASCAR.

1.-Brad Keselowski’s First Championship

Three races into the season and two finishes worse than 30th, Keselowski appeared a dark horse even to qualify for the postseason. But a second consecutive victory at Bristol Motor Speedway helped turn around the fortunes of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge team and by mid-September Keselowski was the No. 3 seed when the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup got underway. With two wins in the first three races, Keselowski went from underdog to favorite. He lost the points lead when five-time champion Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville but refused to fade under pressure. A top-10 finish in the penultimate race at Phoenix coupled with Johnson’s accident and mechanical failure in the finale clinched the title for Keselowski, Penske and crew chief Paul Wolfe.

2.-Dale Earnhardt Breaks 143-Race Winless Streak

Entering the 2012 season it had been nearly four years and more than 125 races since Earnhardt had won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Even some among his legions of fans openly wondered if Junior would ever grab another checkered flag. But this season the Hendrick Motorsports driver brought his “A” game, posting two seconds and a pair of thirds over the schedule’s first nine races. The breakthrough victory came at Michigan International Speedway virtually to the day and at the site of Earnhardt’s last win in June 2008. The 143-race drought was cleansed June 17 in a race on a brand-new track surface over which Junior led 95 laps and beat reigning champion Tony Stewart by more than five seconds.

3.-Matt Kenseth Wins Explosive Daytona 500

No Daytona 500 is ever quite like any other and this year’s Great American Race was no exception. Rain postponed the race for the first time in history dating to the inaugural race in 1959. And – again a first – the Daytona 500 became a Monday night affair. Matt Kenseth proved to have the winning hand as his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford led the most laps and held off Earnhardt in a green-white-checker finish to record his second Daytona 500 victory in four years. What many will most remember about 54th annual event was the Turn 3 fireball resulting from Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chevrolet, which suffered a mechanical failure, slamming into a jet dryer.

4.-Michael Waltrip Racing Makes Chase In Style

Since becoming a fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 2007, Michael Waltrip Racing had experienced the joys of winning but never the fruits of a post-season run. David Reutimann had come closest to qualifying for the Chase – 16th in 2009. Five seasons of frustration ended in 2012 as not one but two of MWR’s drivers – Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. – made the Chase. Bowyer, the organization’s first-year driver, made the most of his opportunity winning twice including Charlotte’s Chase race. Bowyer finished a career-high second in final standings. Truex ranked 11th.

5.-Hendrick Motorsports Records Milestone 200th Victory

Leave it to Jimmie Johnson to register Hendrick Motorsports’ milestone 200th victory. The organization’s driver with the most championships – five – ended a 16-race, two-season count-down for win No. 200 on May 12 at Darlington Raceway. Johnson had won No. 199 at Kansas Speedway in October 2011, drew blanks ever since. Reaching the milestone seemingly ignited the fuse for HMS, which won three consecutive races including Kasey Kahne’s Coca-Cola 600 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each of Hendrick’s drivers – Johnson, Kahne, Earnhardt and Gordon – won in 2012 as well as qualified for the Chase.

6.-Classic Rockingham Raceway Returns To NASCAR In 2012

Rockingham Raceway, in North Carolina’s sand hills, has provided many thrills during its five decades as a part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The track’s run ended after the 2004 season. Rockingham, under ownership of Andy Hillenburg, roared back to life in 2012 when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debuted under sunny skies and before full grandstands on April 15. Kasey Kahne, who finished second to Matt Kenseth in the track’s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race, drove his Chevrolet Silverado to Victory Circle posting the first series victory for Turner Motorsports.

7.-Stenhouse Goes Back To Back In The NASCAR Nationwide Series

Since the NASCAR Nationwide Series was created in 1982 only five drivers had won consecutive championships. In 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the sixth member of the series elite. Stenhouse battled Elliott Sadler – his chief rival in 2011 as well – throughout the season. The points lead changed hands five times with Stenhouse and his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford forging ahead for the final time after a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in November. Stenhouse moves to RFR’s No. 17 Ford for a NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie campaign in 2013.

8.-Patrick Makes History With Top-10 Championship Finish

Danica Patrick became a full-time NASCAR driver for the first time in 2012 and she made the most of her opportunity with JR Motorsports. Patrick, who would become the highest-finishing female driver (fourth) in a NASCAR national series a year ago, made history again. Her 10th-place NASCAR Nationwide Series championship finish set a new standard for female competitors erasing Sara Christian’s previous record of 13th in 1949 NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Patrick finished four times in the top 10 and won the Coors Light Pole for the season opening race at Daytona. She’ll move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fulltime in 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing.

9.-Ambrose Wins Second At The Glen In Wild Finish

You couldn’t have scripted a wilder finish than that of August’s Finger Lakes 366 at the Glen. Take three hungry hounds – Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose – mix in the drama of a final lap and stir with the possibility of making or missing the Chase and you’ve got a recipe for one of the year’s wildest conclusions. The final laps saw leader Busch and Keselowski collide and Keselowski on and off the track and running side-by-side with Ambrose, who finally pulled out a half-second victory off the final turn. Busch’s loss was the difference between making the Chase as a Wild Card and being a spectator in the postseason.

10.-Jeff Gordon Claims Final Wild Card Spot At Richmond  

Nail-biting intrigue sits atop the menu whenever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls to race No. 26 – the Chase cut-off race at Richmond International Raceway. And the 2012 edition ranks among the best versions since its inception in 2004. For the first time since 2009, a driver outside the Chase bubble raced his way in after the 400-lapper. That driver – four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who leap-frogged past Kyle Busch to earn the second Wild Card spot by three points. Gordon finished second in the race. Busch, thanks in part to a lug nut problem on pit road, finished 16th, missing the Chase for the first time since 2009.

(Photo Source: NASCAR Media)

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