Newest TSHQ writer Rick Liesmann joins us to talk auto racing in a variety of formats. Here’s his debut piece on the Daytona 500 and some other racing formats with updates. Welcome him with your attention:
“Daytona, we have a problem.” That was my impression when I watched the Shootout the week before the Daytona 500. I watched in disbelief as I discovered competitive racing at Daytona required pairing up with a drafting partner. Not just drafting like the pack racing we have become accustomed to seeing, but two cars, and only two cars, became the only way to pass. Running alone you lost 20 mph. Two sets of pairs running side by side were easily overtaken by a single pair. Competitors who should be racing for position are now bumping buddies. Is this racing? Well, let’s give it a chance.
NASCAR is about entertainment and to most fans the Daytona 500 was entertaining. After a while the strategy behind pairs racing became more interesting. At first it appeared to be a game that some kids made up but after a while this form of racing was actually pretty interesting.
The story of the day was 20 year-old plus one day rookie Trevor Bayne’s victory at the Great American Race as the famed #21 Motorcraft Ford returned to victory lane. The puppet masters planned story of a Junior, Jimmie, Jeff, Jamie, Juan or even Joey victory went up in a cloud of tire smoke as Trevor lit them up in celebration. Does NASCAR have a new star (even though he made the commitment to compete in the junior Nationwide Series and won’t receive any Cup points) or was this a Derrike Cope-esque fluke? Only time will tell but on this day a soft spoken kid from Tennessee stood as an equal with Petty, Pearson, Earnhardt, Gordon, the Jarretts, the Waltrips and the other Daytona 500 icons. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 and sits atop of the NASCAR world. At least for a while.
Initially, this year’s Daytona 500 top story was the celebration of the great Dale Earnhardt’s death. What? Celebrating? Are you nuts? Well, it seemed like a celebration as I viewed a very polished marketing campaign unfold during Speed Weeks. Complete with a made for TV documentary and endless references to Dale Earnhardt and “The Day”. When Michael Waltrip won the Truck Series race 10 years to the day after his first Daytona 500 victory and the death of Dale Earnhardt, the NASCAR buzz was about Michael repeating history or Junior winning a historic 500 in his father’s honor. Immediately the conspiracy theorists began their “NASCAR is fixed” arguments. The whole production made me very, very uncomfortable.
Thank you Trevor Bayne. Thank you for a breath of fresh air
NASCAR Sprint Cup: The teams head to Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. (What? You expected me to leave out the sponsor?) We’ll see if the new front end configuration produces great racing or another new version of NASCAR racing. I hope the pairs racing we saw at Daytona was a product of plate racing and nothing more.
Next Race: Phoenix Subway Fresh Fit 500, February 27th. 3:00 pm ET on FOX
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Tony Stewart won his 4th consecutive Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona by edging out his teammate for the day, Clint Bowyer. Both drivers were in Kevin Harvick Racing’s cars. A bit of history was made last Saturday when Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a NASCAR major series race at Daytona.
Next Race: Phoenix – Bashas’ Supermarkets 200. February 26th. 5:30 pm ET on ESPN2
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Ten years to the day after Michael Waltrip’s first Daytona 500 that saw the loss of the great Dale Earnhardt, Mikey won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona. It was an emotional win for Waltrip as the history of the moment was felt by everyone who watched.
Next Race: Phoenix – Lucas Oil 150. February 25th. 8:00 PM ET on SPEED
American Le Mans: The teams have been testing in Sebring, FL as they get ready for the 2011 season. Series regulars and drivers from all over the world will come to Florida to compete in the 59th running of the prestigious 12 hours of Sebring. I will be providing a lot more information on this great American racing series. If you love technology in racing you have found a home with the ALMS.
Next Race: Twelve Hours of Sebring,
Grand Am: The greatest race on American soil is the 24 Hours of Daytona held this past
January 29th-30th. The race was won by Chip Ganassi Racing’s BMW/Riley with drivers Joey Hand, Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal and Memo Rojas receiving the coveted Rolex watch. The GT Class was won by TRG’s Porsche GT3 with drivers Andy Lally, Wolf Henzler, Spencer Pumpelly, Brendan Gaughan and Steven Bertheau receiving their Rolex watches.
Next Race: Grand Prix of Miami, March 5th. 12:00 pm ET Live on SPEED.
Indy Racing League: The Indy Car drivers are getting ready for their 2011 season to begin. Will Penske and Ganassi continue to dominate the IRL? Will Danica….? Wait, I don’t talk about Danica until she competes at the highest level.
Next Race: The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 27th. 12:30 pm ET Live on CBS
Formula 1: Due to political turmoil the Bahrain Grand Prix has been cancelled. The 2011 F1 season will now begin with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 27th.
Next Race: Quatas Australian Grand Prix