Dustin Long

The Long and Short of It: Dissecting Daytona

Dustin Long recaps Daytona's Speedweeks

by Dustin Long

For a moment, well, actually about two hours on Monday night, it appeared as if the Daytona 500 would conclude one of the greatest weekends in racing upsets.

As crews doused a jet fuel fire and then washed Turn 3 with Tide, Dave Blaney was in the lead. Rain appeared on its way. The race was past the halfway mark. If it was called, Blaney, who had to race his way into the 500, would be the winner.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long dissects the week that was at Daytona International Speedway.</p>
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The Long and Short of It: Stewart's Frustrations, Danica's Hit

Dustin Long's take on all things NASCAR

by Dustin Long

For whatever reason, Daytona International Speedway enjoys playing with some of NASCAR’s most successful drivers, making them endure years of anguish before winning the 500. Darrell Waltrip waited 17 years, Dale Earnhardt 20. Tony Stewart is at 13 and counting.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor talks all things NASCAR as Speedweeks in Daytona reach a fever pitch.</p>

ROUSH RESURGENCE Even after watching Matt Kenseth win the second qualifying race on Thursday, car owner Jack Roush admitted to being embarrassed by it.

Why?

It was the first time in 25 years a Roush car had won a qualifying race at Daytona.

Kenseth’s victory means that three of the top four starting spots in Sunday’s race will be Roush Fenway Racing entries. Carl Edwards won the pole with teammate Greg Biffle second. Kenseth will start fourth.

The resurgence goes back to last season. Hendrick Motorsports swept the pole for all four restrictor-plate races but the Wood Brothers, who are aligned with Roush, had success. Eventually that information transferred to the Roush cars and they began to qualify better at those races as the year progressed. That trend has continued.

The key now is to continue Ford’s success at Daytona. Ford won both Cup races there last year with Bayne winning the 500 and Roush’s David Ragan winning the July race.

PIT STOPS A number of drivers complained about overheating issues in the Gatorade Duel. With temperatures expected to be much cooler for Sunday’s race, it might not be as big a problem in the 500. ... Danica Patrick on her impact at the end of the first qualifying race: “You just have to brace yourself,’’ she said. “I just have to be glad that I’m a small driver and that I’ve got room.” ... Regan Smith finished second to Matt Kenseth in the second qualifying race. It marked the second year in a row Smith finished second in a Daytona qualifying race. ... Jimmie Johnson wasn’t thrilled with some cars not on the lead lap racing with the leaders on the last lap: “It was unfortunate there at the end that there were some lapped cars that were kind of mixed in with the leaders. It would have been nice if they would have let us race there; at least from the white flag on. I understand trying to get a lap back, but when the white (flag) came out I wish they would have gotten out of there and I would have had a shot at winning that thing.”

Get Dustin's thoughts weekly throughout the 2012 NASCAR season at AthlonSports.com. Follow Dustin on Twitter: @DustinLong

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