NASCAR

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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Why Rain in Daytona Could Mean Sunshine for NASCAR

A Daytona 500 run on Monday in prime time will be a good thing.

by Matt Taliaferro

For the first time in its 54-year history, the Daytona 500 has been postponed. A soggy scheduled Sunday start time of 1:00 pm EST drug into Sunday afternoon and, when the rain just kept coming, to Monday at noon.

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<p> Monday evening's running of a rain-delayed Daytona 500 could be a ratings boon for NASCAR. And a road map for the future.</p>
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Race Day Thoughts: The Daytona 500

News, Notes and Predictions for the Daytona 500

by Matt Taliaferro

The forecast isn’t great for today’s Daytona 500, with rain expected in the Daytona Beach, Fla., area, but hopefully at 1:29 pm EST the green flag will fly over NASCAR’s Great American Race as scheduled — and the race will be run the scheduled distance.

In the meantime, some thoughts, notes and predictions on race day morn.

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<p> Matt Taliaferro contemplates what's to come in Sunday's Daytona 500.</p>
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Garage Talk: NASCAR, Tweet at Your Own Risk

Twitter a double-edged sword for some NASCAR stars

by Tom Bowles

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Tom Bowles examines how the social networking site Twitter can be a double-edged sword to high-profile athletes.</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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Stewart, Kenseth win Gatorade Duel at Daytona

Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth victorious on Thursday.

by Matt Taliaferro

As is usually the case, there was one wild and crazy Gatorade Duel race at Daytona International Speedway, and one much more staid. Such was the case on Thursday, when the field was set for the 54th annual Daytona 500.

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<p> Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth won Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona.</p>

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Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Daytona

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Daytona 500.

by Jay Pennell

Sunday’s running of the 54th annual Daytona 500 begins the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and it also marks the beginning of the 2012 NASCAR fantasy racing season. Fans across the land will be preparing their teams week-in and week-out, hoping to celebrate with a championship of their own at season’s end.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell examines favorites, steady plays and dark horse picks for your fantasy NASCAR team as the season opens with the Daytona 500.</p>
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Year 20: An Exclusive Q&A with Jeff Gordon

Gordon talks about his family, an offseason well-spent and two decades in NASCAR.

by Dustin Long

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<p> Jeff Gordon sits down with Athlon Sports to talk racing, family and an offseason well-spent ... though not necessarily in that order.</p>
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Kyle Busch Wins Shootout; Carl Edwards on 500 Pole

Busch edges Stewart, while Edwards nips Biffle

by Matt Taliaferro

Kyle Busch won a crash-filled Budweiser Shootout on Saturday evening, kicking off Daytona Speedweeks in spectacular fashion.

Busch’s .013-second win over Tony Stewart (right) was the closest finish in the Shootout’s 34-year history. In route to the win, Busch found himself completely sideways on two occasions, but was able to save his Toyota — itself a backup car rolled out after an accident in practice — each time.

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<p> NASCAR's Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway kicked off over the weekend with a first-time Bud Shootout winner and a first-time Daytona 500 pole winner.</p>
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