DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Let’s be frank. Blocking will proceed at Daytona and Talladega. It should occur in Thursday’s Cup qualifying races and it’ll happen within the Daytona 500.
And sure, there might be wrecks due to it.
“Product of what happens when you get out front because you know if you can keep the lead, nobody can pass, so you just try to do what you can with all the blocks,” Kyle Busch mentioned after he was blocked by Joey Logano earlier than they made contact and crashed in Sunday’s Busch Conflict.
Blocking has change into hairier for the reason that bigger rear spoiler was added to vehicles final 12 months. That provides trailing vehicles an aerodynamic enhance to shut quicker on to the again of the main automotive.
The elevated closing velocity decreases the response time a driver has to dam. Even when they defend the spot, they typically power the automotive behind to sluggish rapidly, creating an accordion have an effect on that may result in an incident deeper within the subject.
“By the time the spotter sees (a trailing car making a move), keys the mic, says it … it’s too late,” two-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin advised NBC Sports activities after Sunday’s Conflict. “Reside to race one other lap for my part, however, hey, in the event that they wish to maintain crashing, I simply hope I’m not in it.
“There’s no guarantee that the guy is going to clear you. Let them get beside you, who cares? You’ve got a chance to stay up there, but it’s when we chop each other’s nose and stuff like that, you just continue to see it with a lot of the same guys who do the same things and they’re not successful with it.”
Brad Keselowski was lived at Logano after Keselowski was collected in the incident between Logano and Busch.
“You would think these guys would be smarter than that,” Keselowski mentioned. “We all cause wrecks. I get in wrecks all the time and I cause them. … It’s the same thing. Somebody throws a stupid block that’s never going to work and wrecks half the field and then goes ‘eh’. Maybe we need to take the helmets out of these cars and take the seat belts out. Somebody will get hurt and then we’ll stop driving like assholes.”
Busch acknowledges there’s a profit to blocking, which is why drivers will do it regardless of the dangers.
“If you can the block done enough times, then that bubble of air (between the cars) pushes you out … and that’s what (Logano) was trying to do, but I was too close,” Busch mentioned. “I was on him. You’ve got to accept the repercussions in those situations when you throw that many (blocks).”
Understandably there’s some concern about blocking after what occurred within the Conflict and up to date Daytona 500s. Thirty-six of the 40 vehicles in final 12 months’s Daytona 500 have been in accidents, in response to the NASCAR race report. Within the 2018 race, 27 of the 40 vehicles have been listed as in accidents. Within the 2017 race, 33 of the 40 vehicles have been listed as in accidents.
Put one other method, 80% of the vehicles within the final three Daytona 500s have been concerned in an accident.
The Nice American Race has change into a demolition derby.
Ignored in Erik Jones’ dramatic last-lap victory within the Busch Conflict was how teammate Denny Hamlin pushed him for many of the last lap, a la tandem racing — which was prevalent at Daytona and Talladega a decade in the past till NASCAR guidelines made it unfeasible to do.
Groups began experimenting with tandem drafting final 12 months however may solely do it for a part of a lap. A number of groups tried it in Cup follow final weekend and noticed advantages.
“I think it’s typically a straightaway or half a lap that it seems to work,” Byron mentioned of the tandem draft earlier than the Conflict. “Based mostly on the radius of the corners at Daytona, it’s type of exhausting to hold it via off the corners, particularly as quick as we’re going, however I feel there’s undoubtedly some pushing that can affect the race.
“That’s what it’s going to take for the race win, honestly. I think it’s going to be about blocking that run and forcing them to push you and hoping they push you out and you guys can race it out. I think it’s going to come down to pushing, looking at how guys are doing it in practice. It’s only going to get more aggressive in the race.”
Hamlin was a lap down within the Conflict so his solely motivation was to remain locked on the again of Jones’ automotive and push his teammate to the win within the exhibition race.
Jones mentioned the tandem is beginning to return as a result of “the vehicles simply punch such a giant gap within the air, you will get all the best way to individuals’s bumpers with fairly minimal effort from each drivers. So long as the lead man provides you somewhat little bit of a brake drag, you lock on, you keep locked on for a very long time.
“If you’re in a situation late with a restart, you could see some tandem racing.”
Daytona Worldwide Speedway made the shock announcement Monday that the 2021 Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 14.
NASCAR has not introduced the 2021 schedule and isn’t anticipated to take action till April. However with Daytona already promoting tickets for the 2021 Daytona 500, don’t anticipate the date to immediately change.
That results in a much bigger query. What occurs to the Busch Conflict?
Simple, it’s the weekend earlier than the Daytona 500. Sure, however the Tremendous Bowl might be Feb. 7 in Tampa, which is about two hours from the monitor. Perhaps it may work working the Conflict within the day and ending nicely earlier than the Tremendous Bowl begins.
Or, with the potential for daring modifications for the 2021 schedule, wouldn’t it make sense to shorten Daytona Speedweeks and have the Conflict on Wednesday night time, 4 days earlier than the 500? That leads into the qualifying races on Thursday, Truck race on Friday, Xfinity race on Saturday and the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Definitely, there might be different choices. Shortening Speedweeks has been a subject mentioned earlier than.
One other query, although, could be is the Conflict nonetheless vital? With NASCAR looking for to assist house owners get monetary savings, has the Conflict outlived its usefulness?
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Growth, was adamant in an interview Friday on “The Morning Drive” that his vehicles wouldn’t be a contender for the Daytona 500 pole.
“I wouldn’t put us at the top of the board for qualifying at Daytona,” Wilson advised SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s simply not going to occur.
“I don’t know that many people appreciate what it takes to sit on the front row of the Daytona 500. I have an immense amount of respect for what the Hendrick camp does to that end and for what (Ford engine builder) Doug Yates does. It’s a massive effort just to sit there. We’ve been very intentional to focus our time and our resources and our energy on building cars that race well and that goes for the Daytona 500 and frankly goes for the rest of the season.”
The outcome final 12 months was that Toyotas received 19 races and the championship however solely 4 poles.
Even with such a method, what occurred Sunday was attention-grabbing. Toyotas confirmed extra velocity. Toyotas have been fifth (Denny Hamlin), sixth (Kyle Busch), ninth (Christopher Bell) and 10th (Erik Jones).
It was a marked important enchancment from final 12 months. Just one Toyota was within the prime 10 in qualifying at Daytona or Talladega final 12 months.
“I think it goes back to Talladega last fall,” mentioned Chris Gayle, crew chief for Jones, concerning the enhance in velocity. “We didn’t feel like we had as good of cars as we needed as a group.”
Jones certified 11th at Talladega within the playoffs final 12 months. No different Toyota was within the prime 15 that day.
“We type of discovered one thing we thought we may tweak on within the off‑season and enhance,” Gayle mentioned. “The faster cars win, right? They may not always win, but the numbers are going to show they win. They’re going to be in better positions in the race to use runs and clear somebody when they’re faster.”
It will likely be value watching the Toyota vehicles within the qualifying races Thursday. Dealing with stays key at Daytona. The query might be did Toyota sacrifice dealing with in race visitors for single-car velocity? If not, then be careful for these vehicles this week.
Hendrick Motorsports noticed its streak of 5 consecutive Daytona 500 poles finish Sunday however the engine store’s streak continued.
Hendrick Motorsports provides engines to JTG Daugherty Racing. So when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. grabbed the pole for Daytona 500, he ended Hendrick’s streak of getting its vehicles on the pole however not the engine store’s streak.
“I want to see those guys do well but they did a little better,” Hendrick mentioned, laughing earlier than he completed his sentence.
“Being on the front row and having them all up there is a great job for our company. I’m real proud of those guys (at JTG). They work hard. They’re good friends. We’ve worked with them on chassis and motors.”
Hendrick Motorsports will nonetheless have one in every of its drivers on the entrance row for the 500, although. Alex Bowman will begin alongside Stenhouse.
After being let down within the seek for sponsorship typically, Bubba Wallace is much less liable to get enthusiastic about doable offers as Richard Petty Motorsports seems to be to fill out area on the No. 43 automotive this 12 months.
Requested how optimistic he was of these gaps being stuffed, Wallace mentioned: “I don’t carry optimism anymore. I’m just a realistic person, so we’ll get though Daytona and go on to Vegas and see how it goes.”
As for why he’s a realist as an alternative of an optimist with regard to sponsorship, Wallace mentioned: “I’ve been let down so many times in my life with sponsorship efforts, so just realistic. I told everyone at RPM, you work your tails off in the office but don’t call me with updates, call me when it’s done.”
Wallace’s runner-up end within the 2018 Daytona 500 didn’t result in the swell of sponsorships that some thought may occur. However Wallace has skilled that always.
“They told me winning a Truck race would get me sponsorship,” he mentioned. “I’m still looking for a sponsor. That was (2013). You can carry optimism for that long, it will kill you.”
Wallace says his focus is on every day.
“It’s a new day every single day,” he mentioned. “You try to give your 110% effort each and every day. Whatever happens, happens. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be.”
However Wallace does admit to having good vibes at Daytona.
“I do get excited coming to the speedway stuff just because our program has been so solid,” he mentioned. “For all the small teams, you get excited about these because anybody can win these races.”
The World Collection of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida options 9 nights of racing via Saturday, together with seven nights of Tremendous Late Fashions.
Fifteen-year-old Sammy Smith received opening night time final Friday driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Tremendous Late Mannequin staff. It was Smith’s first begin with the staff.
Busch will get to race with Smith subsequent week at Las Vegas when Busch jumps right into a Tremendous Late Mannequin and that can give a greater probability to gauge Smith.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Busch mentioned of the Tremendous Late Mannequin race in Las Vegas. “But what’s going to turn (Smith) and make him viable or successful to move on to the next level is going to be the same as it was with all the rest of the drivers. If they are running up front, if they are competitive and winning races, parts aren’t falling off the cars and cars are prepared well and they are fast, that will obviously show that they’ve got the opportunity to get to the next level.”
On Saturday night time, the Tremendous Late Mannequin winner was Jesse Love, who, like Smith, is 15 years previous and a Toyota Racing Growth driver.