NASCAR Preview – Daytona, Danica and Alyssa Milano?
Red, White and BOOM!
NASCAR has reached the point in the schedule, where they race the mid-summer classic, the Coke Zero 400. This will be the third restrictor plate race of the season and the second one at Daytona. Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 with David Ragan taking the win at Talladega. In this week’s WBKR NASCAR Report, we will preview this weekend’s race and also look at some of the stories that made headlines after last week’s race in Kentucky.
After last weekend’s rains in Sparta, I would hate to be the person assigned to mowing the grass at Kentucky Speedway. Friday night rain shortened the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, giving the win to Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski. Rain played a factor again on Saturday as intermittent rain showers postponed the Quaker State 400 to Sunday afternoon. A race dominated by the #48 didn’t lead the Lowe’s team into victory lane. A late race spin brought a game changer to the race giving the win to Matt Kenseth and the #20 team.
Blake’s “rumblings” of the week:
After Sunday’s race in Kentucky, Joe Gibbs Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi made a trip north to Indianapolis for two days of testing. Drivers included in the test were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Juan Montoya, Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler.
If you were listening to WBKR’s coverage of last weekend’s race, you may have not heard a familiar name during the broadcast. The 2000 series champion, Bobby Labonte found himself without a ride in the bluegrass state last week. A.J. Allmendinger filled the seat of the #47 car at Kentucky. Allmendinger is running a limited schedule for the team this season to help set the team in the right direction with the Gen6 car. Previously, Labonte had 704 career starts. Bobby will be back behind the wheel of the #47 in Daytona. Labonte has six top-five, ten top-0 finishes and has led 70 laps at Daytona International Speedway in 41 starts.
With the pending sell of James Finch’s #51 team, rumors continue to circulate around the garage as to who will be the owner after this month’s Brickyard 400. The latest rumor involves two-time NASCAR Champion, Terry Labonte. “James been trying to sell that thing for a long time and Terry told me about it, I hope Terry can do it,” younger brother Bobby Labonte said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. “I think Terry would like to do it, but you’ve got to get money to feed the cow.” Labonte would join Harry Scott, co-owner of Nationwide Series team Turner Scott Motorsports, and an unidentified potential buyer as those interested in the #51 Chevrolet. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.
NASCAR and actress Alyssa Milano have inked a deal for a clothing line that will appeal to female NASCAR fans. It is called Touch. (Editor’s note. Guess who put THIS picture in?)
Weekend Preview: Coke Zero 400
Forty-three teams took to the track on Thursday for two practice sessions in preparation for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400. The #51 Chevrolet of A.J. Allmendinger topped the speed charts with a lap of 200.218 MPH. The second practice only saw 17 competitors on the track with BK Racing’s David Reutimann atop the charts with a speed just over 197 MPH.
As it is every year when the series comes to Daytona in July, there is a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday but only a 30% chance. The Air Titan track drying system will be on hand for this weekend’s events in Daytona. According to David Ragan the track is much different in July than it is in February. “You know the temperature, the distance is a 100 miles less”. David, whose first Cup victory was at Daytona says, “One you’ve won there you’ve got confidence going into that race knowing that you’ve been there, you’ve done that”.
During Thursday’s inspection process, 16 teams were found to have modified roof spacers on the cars. The teams found to have these parts were #1-McMurray, #2-Keselowski, #9-Ambrose, #11-Hamlin, #13-Mears, #15-Bowyer, #16-Biffle, #17-Stenhouse Jr., #18-Busch, #20-Kenseth, #21-Bayne, #22-Logano, #43-Almirola, #55-Waltrip, #56-Truex Jr. and #99-Edwards.
NASCAR confiscated the teams’ roof flaps, which are designed to keep cars on the ground during spins and wrecks at high speeds, for further inspection. Penalties could be possible. The roof-flap spacers had been illegally machined down to reduce weight. NASCAR inspectors made those Cup teams install new, unaltered roof flaps before drivers were allowed on the track for the first of two practices.
Coke Zero 400 Chassis/Paint Schemes:
#1 Jamie McMurray: Jamie will be piloting the Cessna American Salute Chevrolet.
#2 Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis for Daytona is PRS-655 which is a new brand new chassis. Brad will be driving the Miller Lite-American Salute Ford Fusion.
#5 Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-703 for the Daytona race. Most recently, Kahne drove this chassis at the Daytona test back in January. In 2012, he drove this chassis at the 2.5-mile superspeedway’s July event, and he finished seventh. Kahne will be running the reverse Hendrickcars.com paint scheme.
#9 Marcos Ambrose: The #9 Stanley team will bring superspeedway chassis No. 721 this weekend at Daytona.
#10 Danica Patrick: Danica will pilot chassis No. 10-573. This chassis spent time in the wind tunnel before debuting with Ryan Newman driving it for the #39 team in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona in February 2010, when he started fourth and finished 19th after a late-race accident. Danica will be running a patriotic GoDaddy paint scheme this weekend.
#16 Greg Biffle: Biffle and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M Ford Fusion team will bring primary chassis RK-798 which last ran at Talladega in 2012 and finished 6th.
#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr: The #17 Fifth Third Bank Racing team will be using primary chassis RK-781, which raced numerous times by the #16 team in 2012 including a third-place finish in 2012 Daytona 500 and led 35 laps in the Coke Zero 400 last year.
#22 Joey Logano: Primary Chassis for Daytona is PRS-652 which is a new chassis.
#27 Paul Menard: Menard will pilot chassis No. 406 at Daytona International Speedway. This #27 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet SS was previously run this season at Talladega Superspeedway and tested at Daytona in January and April earlier this year.
#29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick will pilot chassis No. 387 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in Saturday night’s event at Daytona International Speedway. Harvick most recently drove this Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet to Victory Lane following the Sprint Unlimited in February at Daytona.
#31 Jeff Burton: Burton will race chassis No. 337 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. This #31 Kwikset Chevrolet, built specifically for superspeedway racing, was driven by Burton earlier this season at Talladega Superspeedway.
#39 Ryan Newman: Newman will pilot Chassis 39-606 at Daytona. This chassis has 5 superspeedway races under it’s belt.
#43 Aric Almirola: The #43 U.S. Air Force team will race the chassis No. 722 this weekend. The team raced the chassis in February’s Sprint Unlimited.
#48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson will drive chassis No. 764 at Daytona, which raced in 2013 in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona and finished 15th and ran at May at Talladega and finished 5th.
#88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-773 for Saturday’s race. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a 17th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in May and to a second-place finish in February at the Daytona 500.
#99 Carl Edwards: The #99 Subway team will be bringing chassis RK829 to Daytona which was the car that wrecked in the Sprint Unlimited practice.
Blake’s and Moon’s picks:
Blake is going with Owensboro’s Michael Waltrip for this weekend’s race while Moon is sticking with old fateful…I mean faithful Danica Patrick. When it is all said and done…any driver running in the lead pack on the last lap at Daytona has a chance to win.
Tune into WBKR’s coverage of the Coke Zero 400 to find who takes the checkers and who is involved in the big one and comes back on the wrecker. Coverage begins on Saturday at 5:30 PM on WBKR and WBKR.com!