Wrecks could make Daytonas Duels flush with cautions
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013
(L) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver (14) Tony Stewart leaves the garage after watching members of (39) Ryan Newman's team work to repair damage caused during a wreck in practice Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Siner - email@example.com
(L-R) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver (10) Danica Patrick and (39) Ryan Newman stand in Newman's garage stall watching his team repair his car following an accident during practice on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Siner - firstname.lastname@example.org
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Thursday could be stormy at Daytona International Speedway.
There has been at least one wreck every day that Sprint Cup Series cars have been on the track in Daytona this month, including one during Saturdays Sprint Unlimited special event.
A wreck during Thursdays Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying races could send teams scurrying back to North Carolina for cars before Sundays Daytona 500.
Wednesdays incident involving Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin was just the latest.
I think theres a lot to be seen yet, said driver Matt Kenseth. Saturday pretty early, half the field got wiped out, and the smaller the pack, the tougher it is generally to make a move.
The more cars are out there, the bigger hole there is in the air. Theres a lot more opportunities and chances, I think, to make a move.
Such is life with the newest generation of cars in the series. Everyone is still trying to figure it out.
Thursdays races will set the lineup for the 500, except for the front row. Danica Patrick, the first woman to win a pole in a series race, and Jeff Gordon, who qualified second-fastest, are locked their respective spots.
And most other teams arent worried about making the field 45 cars will be competing for 43 spots.
So, whats a driver to do? Drive hard and risk being in the big wreck? Or hold back and wait for Sunday?
Thursdays races offer a chance to find out what the cars can do in the draft.
Plus, as Gordon points out, Thursdays events are races, and when you go into a race, youre racing to win.
You have to go in approaching it to learn all that you can, build momentum and confidence, he said. You do that by winning that race.
Thats the best thing you can do.
The top 15 drivers in each race not including Patrick and Gordon will qualify for the 500.
Those who finish outside the top 15 will fill the final 11 spots in the field, with the top four remaining qualifying speeds filling positions Nos. 33-36, then six spots will be filled based upon 2012 car owner points.
If there is a past champion left, he will get the final spot in the 500. If not, the 43rd spot will go to the next in line from 2012 owner points.
The drivers lowest in owner points Mike Bliss and Brian Keselowski also were the slowest during qualifying Sunday. They cant make the field without finishing among the top 15 in their respective qualifying races.
Even Patrick, with her guaranteed spot, has work to do.
Theres still a lot of things that are not answered, said Tony Gibson, Patricks crew chief. Shes going to have to get out there and let us know what we got to do to make the car comfortable for her two-wide, three-wide whatever it takes.
If we tear it up, we tear it up. We have another one on the truck.