This segment was part of a Florida Sports Talk Radio broadcast on February 24, 2014. Tori worked in the media center for the Daytona 500 and recapped the race on the Mark McLeod & Tim Casey Show, discussing Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s post-race emotions, why the racing was better at night, and her (strong) opinion on the No. 3 being back on the track.
Speedweeks. It’s a term usually used to describe the events staged at Daytona International Speedway to rev up for the Daytona 500. For two years now, I have covered these few weeks of racing in February for ESPN Radio Ocala/Gainesville.
This year, however, my Speedweeks got a little extra speed.
Between trips to Daytona, I spent the last weekend in February pit reporting for the Amsoil USAC National Sprint Car season opener at Ocala’s Bubba Raceway Park.
Thanks to her friends at ESPN and SPEED Channel broadcaster Matt Clark, Tori had the chance to experience the Daytona 500 pre-race buzz with an inside look. She sat in on set for SPEED’s Raceday show and saw Matt & his fellow broadcasters Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace, John Roberts, & Larry McReynolds in action.
Danica Patrick went into the history books on Sunday afternoon when she won the pole position for the Daytona 500. Her 196.434 mph lap made her the first woman ever to win a pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. With her record-setting performance has come hoards of media attention and talk of what her spot on the front row means for the sport. But beyond the speculation – what exactly does it mean?
It was a night of firsts. The first time rain postponed the 500. The first time the race started under the lights on primetime TV. The first time it would run on Monday. And Tuesday. The first time a driver would post on Twitter from his car during the race. The first time a jet dryer would explode on the track. There was fire, and there was plenty of rain. But when the checkered flag flew just under 36 hours after its scheduled start time,
A cloudy and drizzly day dampened the spirits of NASCAR fans who showed up for the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday. The action-packed races all throughout Speedweeks had provided an exciting buildup to the 500, and the race was schedule to start at 1:30 PM. But after driver introductions, the ceremonial invocation and national anthem, there was nothing. Just more rain.
With more rain came more waiting. Some fans waited in the grandstands in ponchos.
Celebration for Robby Gordon and the #7 team. Heart-breaking disappointment for driver-owner Michael Waltrip. And a frustrating final lap for Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick. This was the mood at the conclusion of the Gatorade Duels at Daytona on Thursday. The game plan for every team coming in was to make it if you had to, but by all means: don’t break it.
Ten of the 49 drivers running in the twin 150’s were vying for the final four spots in the Daytona 500.
In Daytona 500 Qualifying on Sunday, 2011 Sprint Cup Runner-up Carl Edwards won the pole position in the #99 Fastenal Ford. His Roush Fenway teammate #16 Greg Biffle came in just behind him to clinch the outside pole position. Edwards posted the top lap speed of 194.738, and it is his first pole win for the 500.
Defending Daytona champion Trevor Bayne was able to secure his spot in NASCAR’s premier race by qualifying first of the drivers who were not already locked-in from last year’s top 35 owner’s points.
25 cars started the race. Only 10 crossed the finish line. The flames were high and the crashes frequent as pack racing made a comeback on the restrictor-plates at Daytona. In fact, only three drivers escaped the wreckage of the Bud Shootout untouched. But it was not the ones who survived the carnage unscathed that were the standouts in NASCAR’s all-star race. It was the one whose two wreck recoveries kept him in the race –