More on Danica in a moment. Right now, Blake Smith has this week's:


            With the 2013 Daytona 500 just three weeks away, puzzle pieces are starting to come together to form what should be an exciting and revolutionary season for the organization’s 65th anniversary season. Teams are busy preparing for Speedweeks, while drivers are busy doing photo shoots with their new cars and uniforms. While this is going on, NASCAR is making final touches on their end to make the Daytona debut.

If you are like me, you check out the weather forecast for the weekend’s race days in advance to see if Mother Nature will be cooperating for the race. Last season’s Daytona 500 was postponed for over 24 hours due to torrential rains in Daytona. A 2.5 hour track drying effort was halted by another rain shower, almost as soon as it began. During the off-season, NASCAR has developed a revolutionary track drying procedure that will eliminate the burning of expensive jet fuel and loud jet engines to dry the track. NASCAR’s new track drying technique will use compressed air to dry asphalt in a fraction of the time than its jet powered predecessor. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president for race operations, said 24 of the new NASCAR-developed dryers will be on site at Daytona next month. Robin Pemberton, the circuit’s vice president for competition, added that the new technology was tested at Daytona and Charlotte and is ready for use next month. The new technology is expected to dry a track the size of Daytona in 30 minutes and a small track like Martinsville in 15 minutes.

Speedweeks will officially kick off with the Sprint Unlimited on February 16th. Formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout, the race features pole winners and past champions of the event in a 75 lap event under the lights. Sprint is giving the fans a chance to vote on and decide aspects of this year’s event. Options to vote include the race format, the required pit stop and elimination of cars throughout the event. Fans can download the new NASCAR ’13 Mobile App for their smart phone to vote or log onto Fans can vote up until the day of the event.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air in the NASCAR garage. Danica Patrick revealed to the Associated Press that she and NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are dating. The couple waited until the end of last week’s Charlotte media tour to go public with their relationship which began as a friendship during their competition in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Both Patrick and Stenhouse will be making their full-time Sprint Cup Series debut at Daytona.

In next week’s article, I will preview NASCAR’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the 2013 NASCAR Preview in Charlotte. Keep tuned into WBKR and for all of your NASCAR news!


-- Blake Smith

Blake Smith with buddy Hank Williams, Jr.