February 23rd, 2013
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA- The NASCAR Nationwide Series ran their first race of the season, on one of the biggest and fastest tracks on the circuit. 120 laps were scheduled for the 300 mile race. The race was sponsored by Royal Purple. There are many changes in this year’s field. NASCAR has dropped the starting grid down from 43 cars to 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) will drive his own JR Motorsports car. He will have Regan Smith (7) and Kasey Kahne (5) as teammates. There have been 13 driver-car changes coming into this season. Kyle Busch has now locked in with Joe Gibbs Racing with his (54) car. Travis Pastrana returns full-time this season in the (60) car, for Roush Racing. Trevor Bayne (6) will be his teammate. Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth is driving for Gibbs Racing this race in the (18) car. Elliott Sadler (11) and Brian Vickers (20) will also be his teammates. Austin Dillon is one of the top picks for winning the title at year’s end. Vickers and Sadler are also strong picks. Trevor Bayne has taken the Pole spot for this race with Sam Hornish Jr. (12) starting beside him on row one. Four of the past five years, Stewart has won this race. Last year he was in contention for the win, when a ten-car wreck took it away from him. He has won all his races in the (33) car, all with Harvick’s team. He is driving for RCR this year, as Harvick sold the team to Richard Childress Racing before last year’s season. Stewart is the In-race reporter also.
Opening ceremonies began with Sonny Gallman providing the Invocation. Scarletta sang the National Anthem. The Grand Marshal for the race was John Walsh IV and Grapo.
On lap 8, the first caution flew when Scott Lagasse Jr. (8) was spun out by Trevor Bayne (60) in the tri-oval. Blake Koch (24) received a little damage. Danica Patrick (34) had just taken the lead. Only a half-dozen cars stayed out on track, while the rest made stops for gas and minor changes. Stewart came off pit road first.
The second caution came out on lap 32, after Regan Smith (7) was tagged by Elliott Sadler (11). Smith started to spin down off the track, and Blum (15) also shot off the track and into the wall. While this was happening, Danica Patrick (34) drove down pit road and into the garage. Her car began losing power and stopped running as she came off track. She reported that the car just felt like it began losing power and she started falling to the back, when it simply stopped running. Matt Kenseth (18) and Kyle Busch (54) ran away from the field after 45 laps were run. When they run together, they seem to be able to get away from the rest of the field. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) led the race at half-way.
The third caution came out on lap 65, after Mike Wallace (01) came down on Michael Annett’s (43) car. Joe Nemechek (87), Kurt Busch (1) and Reed Sorenson (40) were all involved in spins. During the pit stop, Elliott Sadler’s car began to over-heat. They had to take extra time to add water. Justin Allgaier (31) also had minor damages to his car. Near lap 80, Brain Vickers (20) started having smoke inside the car. He brought the car to pit road, and when the hood was raised, the temperatures on the oil and water dropped back into the save zone. He returned to the track, two laps down.
On lap 84, Pole Sitter Trevor Bayne had his car go up in smoke. He was running in the fourth spot when his transmission or drive-shaft broke. This was the fourth caution of the race.
The fifth caution came out on lap 100, when Kyle Busch had his engine over-heat and let go. He spent most of the race pushing other cars, and that was the downfall of his engine. During the caution, Reed Sorenson’s car had an engine fail on track.
The “Big One” happened on lap 115. The sixth caution flew when Michael Annett (43) got into the side of Austin Dillon (3), starting an eleven-car wreck. Involved in the mess were: Kasey Kahne (5), Johanna Long (70), Mike Bliss (19), Jamie Dick (55), Jason White (00), Danny Efland (4), Hal Martin (44), Matt Kenseth (18), Jeffrey Earnhardt (79).
A “Red Flag” came out on lap 116 so that NASCAR could clean up the track. The first time drivers had a very good day racing. After this wreck, there were four still in the top fifteen spots. Alex Bowman (99) finished in 6th, Travis Pastrana (60) finished in 9th, Kyle Larson (32) finished in 10th and Nelson Piquet Jr. (30) finished in 15th.
With only two laps remaining, the final green flag was thrown. As the cars were coming back for the checkered flag, another extremely bad crash occurred. First time Daytona racer Kyle Larson (32) was flipped up and into the fence. His car was ripped apart by the fencing, before it was kicked back out into the track. The front and rear of the car, was completely gone when it came to a stop. Larson was able to get out of the car quickly. Very few cars finished the race without severe damage.
Tony Stewart won his fifth race in six years, at the Daytona track. If the wreck would not have happened, he would not have won the race. The rest of the top ten were: Sam Hornish Jr. (12), Alex Bowman (99), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88), Parker Kligerman (77), Brian Scott (2), Justin Allgaier (31). 8-10 was never posted.
15 fans needed to be transferred to the local Hospital after Larson’s car broke through the fence on the front-stretch. Six were said to be serious injuries. One was serious enough to have required immediate surgery. Thoughts and Prayers were passed on for everybody hurt, by most all the drivers. All the injured were taken to Halifax Medical Center. Michael Annett was injured in the first big wreck, and will stay overnight at the Halifax Medical Center for a bruised chest.
NASCAR President Mike Helton spoke after the accident, asking everyone to give those injured their thoughts and prayers tonight.
The NASCAR Truck Series race was ran on Friday, with Johnny Sauter (98) taking the win.
The next race will be on Saturday at 4 pm est. at the Phoenix race track. The race will be sponsored by Kawasaki.