Blog Entry

Speed Read: Daytona 500

Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:38 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 3:20 am
By Pete Pistone

  Matt Kenseth, Driver Of The #17 Best Buy Ford, Poses
(Kenseth celebrated his second career Daytona 500 win to cap a wild night - Getty Images)


The 24 Hours of Daytona is annually held in January.

It only felt like it was part of this week’s stock car portion of Speedweeks in Daytona.

A first-time rain out in its 54 year history and a bizarre fire that halted the race for more than two hours were just part of wackiness in this year’s running of “The Great American Race.”

The off-season controversy of whether tandem racing or pack drafting would be the order of the day in the wake of NASCAR’s many rule changes took a back seat to a race filled with weirdness, crashes and in the end a second time winner.

Matt Kenseth held off – or some believe was pushed by – teammate Greg Biffle to score Daytona 500 victory number two, a follow-up to his 2009 rain-abbreviated trip to victory lane.

“I could get a pretty good start on the bottom and either Denny or Dale Jr. could push me for awhile and then they just couldn’t stay attached and I would get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed,” Kenseth said. “I have to thank Greg. We worked together really good all day long. He had a really fast car all day as well.” 

Kenseth had to overcome troubles of his own including a busted radio that wouldn’t allow him to communicate with his own crew.

But the dry Wisconsin native actually believes that may have been beneficial.

“We had a lot of problems and almost ended up a lap down,” he said. “I had my radio break and my tach break and we pushed all the water out and had to come in and put water in it. These guys did a great job. They never panicked and I think they enjoyed their day more because they couldn’t hear me on the radio with my radio problems.”

However when historians looks back at the 2012 Daytona 500 it won’t be Kenseth’s wit, radio problems, assistance from his teammate or adding another Harley J. Earl trophy to his collection they’ll remember.

No this year’s Daytona 500 will go down in history as the one with fire and rain, when NASCAR held its biggest race on a Monday night in prime time thanks to Mother Nature.

All that was missing was a full moon



Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kicked off his 2012 with a second place finish, a far cry from when a cut tire ruined his Daytona 500 of a year ago. Earnhardt said all week long how much more comfortable he was in the old pack style of racing at Daytona and it showed. Came within a position of finally ending his long winless drought but added to his already solid confidence level.

Denny Hamlin

His first outing with new crew chief Darian Grubb resulted in a Top 5 finish and had to provide the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with a much-needed shot of confidence. Hamlin desperately needs to put last year’s disappointing season behind as quickly as possible and his Daytona effort is a big help in that department.

Paul Menard

He was involved in two crashes this week and ripped NASCAR for manipulating the rules to bring back pack drafting. But Menard recovered from those earlier altercations to notch a solid Top 10 finish, one of three Richard Childress Racing entries to do so.


Jimmie Johnson

The quest to get back to the top of the Sprint Cup point standings and start a new championship winning streak got off to a rocky start. First the 48 car failed pre-race inspection and crew chief Chad Knaus faces a possible suspension later this week. Then Johnson crashed on only the second lap of the race sweeping up several others in the melee that has put the five-time champ in a pretty big hole with only one race in the book.

Danica Patrick

Her much-anticipated first full season in NASCAR began with three different crashes, although none of her own doing. Patrick was clipped by other cars in her Gatorade Duel accident, turned by teammate Cole Whitt in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race wreck and then clipped by Johnson in the lap two Daytona 500 pile-up. Her mettle will be tested early and it may be a relief for Patrick to simply have her Nationwide program to concentrate on for the next few weeks.

Kurt Busch

The new phase of his career ultimately ended up with a poor finish and another crash for Busch, an unfortunate similar fate experienced earlier in the week. Busch showed perseverance in finishing the race for the Phoenix Racing team despite being several laps down but one of his best chances to perform well – at a restrictor plate track – went by the wayside and the reality of the grueling Cup schedule is now about to set in.


(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)

"The thing that comes in my mind is NASCAR just can't catch a break. We've had some unfortunate things happen." – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"They're going to wreck again." – Carl Edwards

"It burned the helmet and everything." – Juan Pablo Montoya after his fiery crash with a jet dryer

“That's the Tasmanian Devil! Mr. Ambrose got him." – Crew Chief Steve Letarte pointing out who spun out Terry Labonte


On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I'll give Monday night’s Daytona 500 a three. There are things out of even NASCAR’s control with weather and fire certainly near the top of the list. Not much anyone can do when Mother Nature decides to intervene and there isn’t a person on earth who could have predicted the bizarre fire scene between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. As for the racing itself, it pretty much lived up to what was expected since Speedweeks began with a combo of tandem racing, single file competition and a mad dash to the checkered flag. Unfortunately I’m not sure any of that will erase the memory of a rain-delayed race that took more than six hours to finish on a Monday night and saw two teammates not really challenge one another for the win as they raced to the finish line.


After one of the longest and most bizarre Speedweeks in history the Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway to begin what many believe is the real season. Last fall PIR hosted its first race on the newly reconfigured and repaved one-mile speedway and produced an exciting event that has drivers anxious to get back to the desert oval. No matter what happens at PIR, it will have to go a long way to beat the Daytona opener.


Daytona Speedweeks


Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:53 am

Speed Read: Daytona 500

Since where you finish "racing" at Daytona has absolutely nothing to do with how good a car you had, and is in no way an indication of what kind of season is ahead, does it really matter?  Is there some NASCAR BCS race at the end of the season, where writers rankings matter, that I didn't hear about?

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:22 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

I wonder what ranking Pistone will put Kenseth at this week.  Going into the season, he had Kenseth ranked 13th in his pre season rankings.  Unreal.   Maybe with the Dual and 500 wins, Pete will move him up one spot????

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:19 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

Speed Read: Daytona 500

"What people fail to recognize is that Biffle has already stated that him and Jr both admitted that they couldn't keep up with Kenseth and that he (Kenseth) has much more power than they did. They callenged as best as they could but in the end Kenseth won because he was the better driver with the better team and car...It is a moot point really."

Of course Biffle is going to say that... are you kidding me? He knew he blew it and that was his excuse that Kenseth was faster. What else is he going to say? Kenseth was fast but why not give yourself a shot at the #1 Nascar race of the year, 

Fact is that Earnhardt gave him a push around the whole track and he BItC%D. No way does Earnhardt win that race. HE WAS BEHIND BIFFLE! Fact is biffle goes to the outside in turn 3 or 4 he has a GOOOOD chance to win.

Since: Sep 30, 2011
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:11 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

What people fail to recognize is that Biffle has already stated that him and Jr both admitted that they couldn't keep up with Kenseth and that he (Kenseth) has much more power than they did. They callenged as best as they could but in the end Kenseth won because he was the better driver with the better team and car...It is a moot point really.

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:21 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

@LSUdabest1  20 years! Not the last 2. I dont care that you can look this all up on the internet and talk about motors! You win. obviously you have a sore spot for Chevy. I now get it!

Since: Feb 24, 2007
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:09 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

Yes Sweetlou I have been paying attention for over 40 years...SECRET: the difference is the FR9 engine.  It was distributed to all Fords last year. Before that it was tested at the tail end of 2010 on a limited basis which promted a redesign. Ford/Rousch/Yates spent all last year fine tuning it which is directly responsible for Cuzzin Carl finiihing second to Smoke last year. GM USUALLY reponds but the fact GM is now Government Motors have made race spending not very PC. Hendrick realizes thus talks with Toyota are continuing...SHOCK!!!! 'Tis the world we live in...

Since: Jul 5, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:48 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

I must admit, I didnt start paying attention to NASCAR until I was stationed in Texas with the Air Force.  Heck, being from WA State, I didn't even know it existed...with all that said, over the years I have been a big fan.  I won't go out and buy any of their gear or anything (not that big of a fan) but I do enjoy the racing aspect of it.

I thought the Daytona 500 was awesome this year.  Bifle was being a true team player.  He knew if he would of teamed up with Junior, Junior was going to pass him as he did at the end of the race.  Junior had a fast car and Bifle sacraficed a possible win for him to get a win for his teammate and team.  Well played and it goes to show that drivers can work together to get a win for the team.  I am sure the owner appreciates the win and a third place for the first race of the year.  Its a shame that Junior didn't have someone to team up with because it would have been more interesting at the end to see who was really quicker.

Overall, this race had a little bit of everything.  Wrecks were plentiful!  I felt a little sorry for Danica because she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But then again, towards the end of the race when all the wrecks started happening...many guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She will get her moments in this race car...hopefully not many more up against the wall.

Montoya's wreck was incredible and NASCAR got very lucky when the two drivers walked away from the huge crash!  The delay was well worth the wait for the final 40 laps!  NASCAR folks did a wonderful job in making that track safe for the drivers to continue.  One thing about racing, those guys have got to be ready for anything and they were!

I look forward to next week and see what the drivers have in store for us! 

Bonus point:  I was angry with mother nature for making me watch the NBA All-Star game because of the rainout...but will say this...moving them to prime time on a Monday night could not have hurt their ratings any!  Congrats on a job well done!

Since: Jul 17, 2009
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:33 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

I would really like to comment on the lap 1 1/4 crash, but I can't get the jet dryer crash outta my mind. We'll never see anything like that again. Those folks that stayed up late were rewarded with a great finish. Wonder how many called in sick to work this morning.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:00 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

I agree, bro...I always liked Biffle, but him not challenging Kenseth on those final laps was irritating.  What better partner in Jr. do you want to have pushing you?  It's the 500, you have to go for it.  Biffle's interview afterwards was nothing but mumbo jumbo.  JMHO...

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:26 pm

Speed Read: Daytona 500

Wasn't that one race she won rain shortened? Correct me if Im wrong.

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