Location: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval; Banking/Turns: 31°; Banking/Tri-oval: 18°; Banking/Backstretch: 3°
2011 Winners: Trevor Bayne (Feb.) and David Ragan (July)
2011 Race Length: 500 miles/200 laps (Feb.); 400 miles/160 laps (July)
Track Qualifying Record: 210.364 mph (Bill Elliott, 1987)
Race Record, 500 miles: 177.602 mph (Buddy baker, 1980)
Race Record, 400 miles: 173.473 mph (Bobby Allison, 1980)
From the Spotter’s Stand
The 2012 Daytona 500 has been pushed back to Feb. 26, as NASCAR’s governing body has shortened the Cup schedule by eliminating its traditional March off-weekend and delaying the green flag from dropping on the 54th running of “The Great American Race.”
Last year, rookie Trevor Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the race, became the youngest driver to take the checkers at Daytona — besting Jeff Gordon, who was 25 in 1997 — and the first driver since Lee Petty to win in his first try at the iconic 2.5-mile track. And Bayne did so in style, behind the wheel of the Wood Brothers’ legendary No. 21 Ford. In a classic green-white-checker finish, Bayne beat Carl Edwards to the line by .118 seconds for his first Cup win in his second career start.
David Ragan drafted to his first career Cup win in the summer edition at DIS with teammate Matt Kenseth on his bumper. Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch completed the top 5.
Crew Chief’s Take
“Daytona typically conjures images of speed, but a winning racecar is one that handles well — even with a repaved surface. Although the track won’t lose grip like it did on the old surface, it’s still a relatively narrow track, which will force drivers to mind their manners — whether they’re running in a pack or in two-car tandems. NASCAR’s rules discouraging two-car drafting may work for much of the race, but when it’s ‘money time,’ those guys will pair up, and the duo with the most momentum on the final lap will win the 500.”
Classic Moments at Daytona
Before there was Trevor Bayne, before there was Derrike Cope, there was Greg Sacks.
Sacks scored one of the most unlikely wins in NASCAR’s Modern Era when he drove DiGard Racing’s R&D car to a win in the 1985 Pepsi Firecracker 400.
The initial plan for the No. 10 team was to test new shock packages throughout the race. But when it was apparent that DiGard’s Chevy was racier than most, crew chief Gary Nelson made the decision to race for the win. And in a time and place when Bill Elliott’s No. 9 Thunderbird was all but unbeatable, that was quite a gamble.
When Elliott ducked onto pit road for fuel with nine laps remaining, Sacks inherited the lead. However, with a faulty radio, he believed he was racing the lapped car of Terry Labonte for the win. Only after he got past Labonte on the final lap and pulled into Victory Lane did he realize differently.