Daytona: The Season Begins (Part 1)
Sprint Unlimited Pre-Race
For the last few months the teams have been working vigorously; building, modifying, and fine-tuning their racecars to bring to the track an all-new generation-6 racecar. The 2013 season kicked off with a 75-lap non-points race on Saturday night February 16 at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida. This annual event to start the season has changed over the years, but still holds the excitement of 200 MPH bumper to bumper racing.
The line-up was determined by 2012 pole winners and previous winners of the now called Sprint Unlimited, previously the Bud Shootout. This year, the starting order was determined by race fans voting on three statistics of the eligible drivers.
Choice one: Number of career wins with the most wins starting on the pole.
Choice two: 2012 point standings with the highest in points staring on the pole.
Choice three: The order of the driverâ€™s pole, 2012 pole winner for the Daytona 500 starts on the pole and the pole winner for Homestead-Miami starts last.
Another fan participation aspect of the race was they were able to choose the format of the race; the length of race segments, type of pit stops after the first segment is completed, and how many cars are eliminated after the second segment. The first choice was voted on and determined at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday when the voting closed. The other two formats the fans were able to vote on them until the drop of the green flag Saturday night.
Choice for the segments: 40 – 20 -15, 35 – 30 – 10, or 30 – 25 – 20.
Choice for pit stop: A required four tire stop, a required two tire stop, or no stop.
Choice for cars eliminated: None, two, four, or six.
The 19 eligible drivers and starting position determined by the fan vote are:
Kasey Kahne: No. 5, Hendrick Motorsportsâ€”Chevrolet
Marcos Ambrose: No. 9, Richard Petty Motorsportsâ€”Ford
Denny Hamlin: No. 11, Joe Gibbs Racingâ€”Toyota
Tony Stewart: No. 14, Stewart-Haas Racingâ€”Chevrolet
Greg Biffle: No. 16, Roush Fenway Racingâ€”Ford
Kyle Busch: No. 18, Joe Gibbs Racingâ€”Toyota
Matt Kenseth: No. 20, Joe Gibbs Racingâ€”Toyota
Joey Logano: No. 22, Penske Racingâ€”Ford
Jeff Gordon: No. 24, Hendrick Motorsportsâ€”Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick: No. 29, Richard Childress Racingâ€”Chevrolet
Ken Schrader: No. 32, FAS Lane Racingâ€”Ford
Juan Pablo Montoya: No. 42, Earnhardt Ganassi Racingâ€”Chevrolet
Aric Almirola: No. 43, Richard Petty Motorsportsâ€”Ford
Jimmie Johnson: No. 48, Hendrick Motorsportsâ€”Chevrolet
Mark Martin: No. 55, Michael Waltrip Racingâ€”Toyota
Martin Truex Jr.: No. 56, Michael Waltrip Racingâ€”Toyota
Kurt Busch: No. 78, Furniture Row Racingâ€”Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: No. 88, Hendrick Motorsportsâ€”Chevrolet
Carl Edwards: No. 99, Roush Fenway Racingâ€”Ford
Also chosen by the fans is the format of the race:
After the voting was tallied, 55 percent was for the 30 – 25 – 20 lap segments.
“By giving the fans the power to decide the length of the three segments in The Sprint Unlimited, we feel there will be an unprecedented buzz surrounding the event,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “The 30-25-20-lap format the fans voted for will create three distinctly different segments that will keep fans enthralled throughout the race.
For the pit stop, fans voted for a mandatory four tire stop after the second segment.
For the elimination of drivers after the third segment, fans voted for none.
Join me for part two, the Sprint Unlimited Race Recap.
Image Credit: Photos.com