Daytona Nights and an Arizona Drive – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heads for Phoenix
Our NASCAR expert, Blake Smith is back with a look at this week’s activity and Sunday’s race.
After 2 rain postponements and an unexpected fire, Matt Kenseth and the Best Buy team found themselves in victory lane hoisting the Harley J. Earl trophy, just after 1 AM on Tuesday morning. For the first time in its 54 year history, the Great American Race was postponed due to Mother Nature. Drivers and teams waited for a day and half to get the green flag. If you ask most team owners, they agree they could have spent that in the shop preparing for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500.
After the cars were loaded into the haulers following Monday night’s Daytona 500, hauler drivers had a 9 hour trip ahead of them to get back to the Charlotte area. A heavy fog that had moved in shortly after the conclusion of the race delayed most teams in departing the sunshine state. Most of the larger teams such as Hendrick, Roush and Gibbs had their “boys back at the shop” preparing the race cars for the West coast trip. The smaller one-car operations did not have that luxury as their “boys back at the shop” double as the crew pitting and working on the cars at the track.
Five-Time Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson will be heading into Phoenix without a familiar face atop his pit box. Chad Knaus was suspended by NASCAR for 6 races for having c-posts on the Daytona car that did not pass pre-race inspection. Twenty five owner and driver points were also deducted from the #48 Lowe’s team, as well as a $100,000.00 fine. Team owner, Rick Hendrick is expected to appeal the penalty.
After the teams prepared their cars for the 2 week west coast trip, they had a long 36 hour drive to Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The teams will be on the track for practice this afternoon. After practice, the cars will be impounded until qualifying on Saturday. All 43 teams will be hoping to ride off into the Phoenix sunset and bring back a trophy, but only one will succeed. It also doesn’t hurt to have a little extra spending money in your pocket for the following race weekend in Las Vegas. Coverage of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 begins at 1PM on WBKR and WBKR.com
– Blake Smith