Daytona’s qualifying is like no other race throughout the season. Why? Every driver must run in qualifying but doesn’t get to keep their respected qualifying spot. Only two drivers will know where they will start for the 54thannual Daytona 500 next Sunday and those two drivers are teammates. Roush-Fenway drivers, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle will start from the front row when the green flag waves over NASCAR’s most famous race, the Daytona 500, next Sunday.
All the other positions for the 500 will be decided on Thursday, when the field takes a part in the Gatorade Dual 150 races. Edwards and Biffle will start on the pole for each of those races. Edward’s pole lap was 194.738 mph, 46.216 seconds. This is the fastest Daytona 500 pole since the 1999 season. In addition to the Roush-Fenway drivers, 37 other drivers know that they will at least start the Daytona 500.
The top-35 in owners points from last year all have a guaranteed start in the season opening race. Based off their qualifying speeds, Trevor Bayne, defending Daytona 500 champion, Tony Raines, David Stremme and Terry Labonte will all know that they will have a starting position next Sunday.
For Edwards, this is his very first Daytona 500 pole, it is also the very first all Roush-Fenway front row for the Daytona 500. This will be Biffle’s second Daytona 500 front row start; he won the pole for the 2004 event. Not since 2007 has a Ford sat on the pole position for the Great American Race, when David Gilliland won the pole for that year’s race. Gilliland would go on to finish eighth.
A pole winner for the Daytona 500 hasn’t won the race in over a decade, the last pole winner to win the 500 was back in 2000 when Dale Jarrett won both the pole and the race. Only eight Daytona 500’s have been won from the pole. Roush-Fenway Racing has just one Daytona 500 win, back in 2009 when Matt Kenseth took home the victory in the rain-shortened event. This is RFR’s second Daytona 500 pole.
During post-qualifying inspection, Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, was found to be too low in the left-front. Because of that, Bowyer’s qualifying time won’t count and he’ll have to start from the back of the pack in his Dual race on Thursday. He still has a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500.
The Gatorade Duals will take place on Thursday with coverage on Speed starting at 2 p.m. Eastern standard time.
Kyle Busch Wins Second NASCAR Cup Title
Kylke Busch, who is arguably the most polarizing driver in NASCAR, won his second Cup title on Sunday and took the opportunity to celebrate the victory with fans, a big change from his first win back in 2015 when Busch ruined the massive championship banner by doing smoke-filled burnouts.
“It messed up the flag and everything, and I wanted to get a good shot with the flag everywhere, make sure everybody could get a good shot of the flag because we’re the 2019 champions,” Busch said (h/t ESPN/Associated Press). “There are always your doubters. There are always your haters. You know what? This one’s for ‘Rowdy Nation’ because you guys are the best. Thank you so much.”
Busch won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to snap a 21-race losing streak, doing so as teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were slowed by pit-road issues.
Busch joined seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only active drivers with multiple titles.
“You’ve got to be perfect. One mistake probably cost us the championship,” Truex said. “I’ve never had that happen. I don’t even know what to say. It doesn’t drive good with the left front on the right front, though, I can tell you that. It’s very tight.”
“I feel like I did all I could. I don’t feel I could have done a better job. I didn’t leave anything out there,” Hamlin said. “I was thinking we got a chance, and it just didn’t work out. We got a little aggressive there, and it cost us.”
“Everybody always says you never give up. We’re no different. We just do what we can do each and every week,” Busch said. “Sometimes we may not be the best. Sometimes we may not have the right track position. We had a really good car, and I could race around and move around. That’s what’s so special about Homestead Miami Speedway is the ability to put on a show.
“I felt like we did that there racing those guys. I know it kind of dulled out toward the end. It was exciting enough from my seat. It was a lot of fun to cap off such an amazing year.”
When it comes to playing at a championship level, it takes a team effort, and just as it is for Kyle Busch, it’s the same for esports teams, gamers, streamers, and even cosplayers as well. When you’re competing with the best Twitch channels, or striving to be along side the best Mixer channels, then you need to put in a championship effort.
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Tony Stewart Punches Heckler During Race Track Fight
NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, got into a fight with a heckler at a Jackson, Minnesota racetrack on Friday night, which saw the 48-year old driver punch a heckler in the face.
Stewart, who was the center of attention as that Jackson Motorplex put on “Tony Stewart Night”, was driving in a spring car race when his engine apparently blew out after only one lap.
Following the race, Stewart was signing autographs for fans when a heckler approached Stewart and, according to eye witnesses, began cussing Stewart out for “quitting” only one lap into the race.
Stewart responded to the colorful tirade, which included calling Stewart a “piece of sh#t”, but saying that; “I blew out my engine, you f#cking asshole. Do you want to pay for it?”
The exchange continued and escalated further when Stewart hauled off and punched the heckler in the face, with it all caught on video, courtesy of TMZ Sports.
Grading 2018′s New Driver/ Team Pairings – Alex Bowman/ Hendrick Motorsports
Undeniably the apple of an entire nation’s eye for over two decades, Dale Earnhardt Jr poignantly announced in the spring of 2017 he would step away from driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season.
Once the initial shock value wore off, reality set in. Who could possibly fill the shoes of the sport’s most popular driver? Dale Jr’s lasting impression on legions of fans young and old is unparalleled. Ultimately the conundrum of the century would centre around who might fill the gargantuan shoes little E would leave behind.
Dale Jr’s departure from Hendrick Motorsports left one the sport’s most coveted rides up for grabs. Immediately the rumour mill was set ablaze with potential candidates loyal Dale Jr supporters fancied. Following three months of intense speculation, Rick Hendrick would reveal Dale Jr’s replacement in late July 2017.
Next man up for the #88 team a tall lanky fella from Tucson Arizona. Chances are y’all probably remember him as the kid that subbed for Dale Jr while he recovered from concussion-like symptoms that kept him from the seat of the Nationwide Chevrolet in the fall of 2016.
Certainly no stranger to the Monster Energy Cup Series (Made 81 Career starts from 2014-2016), Alex Bowman makes his triumphed return as a full time driver on the circuit for the first time in nearly two years. Driving the #88 car for Hendrick Motorsports axiomatically elevates Bowman from enchanting underdog to proverbial impact player. No longer a low man on the totem pole expeditious results at HMS would give credence to an emerging young star hoping for a rebirth following past failures with BK Racing & Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Thrust into a precarious position at the age of 21, Alex Bowman exhibited incredible poise in the face of adversity. Visibly Alex was not equipped for the competitive environment that cup racing bestowed upon him back in 2014. One quality season (2013 – 2 top 5’s, 6 top 10’s 2 poles, 11th in the driver standings) in the Xfinity Series cannot enumerate impending success on the other side.
Instead of licking his wounds Bowman bided his time wisely eventually earning the opportunity to sub for Dale Jr in the fall of 2016. What could have easily morphed into catastrophic gaffe #3 for Bowman positively altered his career saving him from infinite anonymity.
In the 10 races (2016) Alex piloted the #88 car he made quite an accounting for himself (3 top 10’s, 1 pole) earning the respect and confidence of both Mr. Hendrick and Dale Jr.
The simple formula for success in 2018 relies squarely on the shoulders of Alexander Bowman.
Bowman’s familiarity with crew chief Greg Ives and the entire #88 team perpetuates some of the chemistry established back in 2016. A contingent of smart fans out there including myself firmly believe Alex Bowman was on his way to capturing the checked flag at his home track(Phoenix) in November of 2016. On this day Bowman dazzled, starting the race from the pole ultimately leading 194 laps on his way to a career best 6th place finish.
Even though the former self-proclaimed bad luck Bowman left the desert without the checked flag, indisputably he walked away a winner. Bowman’s courageous showing converted the cynics into believers. Without this fine performance in the bag Bowman could have found himself easily lost in the shuffle never to be heard from again.
Perseverance spearheaded the rise of Bowman mania. The whimsical wave of momentum Bowman’s been on since that race at Phoenix spilled over into 2017. Bowman turned heads in February finishing third in the Clash at Daytona, once again piloting the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet. He would also capture his first career Xfinity Series victory at Charlotte in the fall of 2017 driving for Chip Ganassi.
Perceptibly this young buck is completely equipped for the fate that awaits him once the green flag drops on the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series at Daytona in February.
Rick Hendrick has all the confidence in the world in Bowman’s capabilities. Mr. H could have taken the high road and hired an established veteran driver, instead trusting Bowman’s youthful exuberance lets the entire racing world know he’s committed for the long haul.
Alex Bowman has the credentials to resuscitate Rick Hendrick’s anaemic #88 team from the ashes. Fresh blood can unite an entire nation of fans that are starving for a breath of fresh air.
Don’t Be Dale Jr, Be Alex Bowman. That’s paramount.
Alex Bowman has an entire nation on his side. So watcha gonna do when Bowmanmania runs wild on you?
Final grade – B
Photo courtesy of Autoweek
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