What drivers said after Daytona 500

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Here’s what drivers had to say following the 63rd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway:

Michael McDowell – Winner: “My plan was to stick to (Keselowski). I knew he would go for a race-winning move and my plan was to let him make that move and then coming off of four try to get to his outside or inside. I knew I didn’t want to make my move too early, so I was committed to (Keselowski’s) bumper and when he made the move, the hole opened up. It’s just unbelievable.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 2nd: “I don’t think it was very close. I kind of got next to him and I saw the lights come on, so I knew it was over right then. Just a huge thanks to NAPA, Chevrolet and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. I felt like we had a fast car. We weren’t as good as I thought we were on Thursday. I felt like we did a really good job executing today. Staying out of trouble – that’s not something I’ve done a very good job of here in this race, so I’m glad we could at least finish this one and have something to build on for when we come back and try to do better. … The top was just so fast. It didn’t seem to matter who got down low; you couldn’t really make anything go. We all kind of tried at certain points in time; it just didn’t work out. Close – we finished one, so I’m pretty pleased with that.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 3rd: “Yeah, you know you’ve just got to be thankful to be around at those moments at the end. I pulled out to see if the bottom would work and just didn’t get enough of a run. It was close. I’ve got to thank all my sponsors like Bass Pro Shops and everybody that helps this program. We were here all weekend scoring points and that’s all I can ask for. Our team worked hard in the off-season with ECR power. What can I say? Chevy was really close. I had fun working with my guys tonight in the Chevy camp.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 4th: “Yeah, Brad (Keselowski) laid way back there and got a run on the inside and then at that point when it scatters you hope that you get a push or you can wind up in the right spot and I just wound up in a spot that finished fourth. We had a great Busch Light Ford Mustang all night. We were able to position ourselves up front. It was kind of a weird race the way it would all single-file out and then you kind of scatter there a lap or two at the end and see where it all played out.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 5th: “We were too far out front (on the final pit stop). We got on-and-off pit road too good. I was just too far ahead of the pack. I figured the Chevys would make a move from two or three to go, because they are not going to win on the last lap from fifth or sixth. I was able to gain some positions. I think I was 12th and everybody was running single file, so it handcuffed me. I couldn’t really do anything. I hoped once I got to eighth as long as they make a move with two to go, I’m in the energy – in the area where I can make something happen. Dominant car, just a dominant car. Just one of those things that execute too good.”

Ross Chastain – Finished 7th: “A great way to kick off the year with this No. 42 car. This Clover Chevy was fast. We tore it up at the end- hit the wall a ton coming to the checkered, but still finished seventh. This was a great way to start the year. We got a few stage points. Thank you to everyone at Clover, McDonald’s, AdventHealth, Caregility – it was a good way to start. We worked well with our Chevy teammates. I still have some learning to do. I’m glad to get out of here and come back next week for the Road Course.”

Corey LaJoie – Finished 9th: “Great way to start the year with our Spire Motorsports Chevy team. You always want to be in position to contend for a win, but to finish ninth in my first race with the team is exactly what we set out to do. Good start in points and we’ll continue to get stronger over the course of the year.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 10th: “All-in-all a good day. I thought we were in an OK spot there at the end to get a top-five, if not, maybe a win if things worked out down the backstretch and through three and four. They all kind of started crashing in front of me. I almost made it through; I think I barely clipped (Brad Keselowski) and then kind of slid all the way through three and four. Thought I might save it, couldn’t save it and started spinning. Lost some spots, but it was still a top-10. … We finished top-10 in the Duel; got some points there. We were top-10 in both stages, so not a bad day for us. Would have liked to have been a little bit better, but anytime you can see the checkered flag, somewhat, at Daytona is always a good day. We’ll come back here next week and have some fun on the Road Course.”

Joey Logano – Finished 12th: “Pandemonium, I guess. Chaos struck. (Keselowski) kept trying to back up, trying to get a run. I was trying to back up to him to keep the runs from being too big and just, I guess he got to the back of (McDowell) and it ended up being a really big run coming at me and it seemed like we all just collided in one spot. It’s a real bummer that none of the Penske cars won, but at least a Ford won and I’m really happy for McDowell. I hate that we didn’t win with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. I feel like we had a great shot being where we were and leading on the last lap, but if we couldn’t win I’m really happy to see McDowell win this thing. He’s a great guy, a great person, a good leader in life and has helped me a lot in my life, so it’s very cool to see him win the Daytona 500.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 13th: “I had a big run down the backstretch and wanted to make the pass to win the Daytona 500 and it ended up really bad. I don’t feel like I made a mistake, but I can’t drive everybody else’s car, so frustrating. The Discount Tire Ford was not the fastest, but (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and the whole team did a great job of keeping us in position and right then we were in position. It’s exactly where I want to be running second on the last lap at Daytona with this package and had the run, made the move and it didn’t work out.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 14th: “I had a run down the backstretch and everybody was kind of checking up in the middle so I went high to go around the outside. I figured guys would kind of blend back to the high side and (Brad Keselowski) just landed on my hood. Came out of nowhere. Unfortunately got caught up in the wreck and banged up pretty good. Took a couple good licks, but just a matter of plate racing I guess. For as far back as we were and what was happening, I don’t think we would have won. I think we probably would have been maybe fourth or fifth so that’s about all we were going to get anyways. Just unfortunate day for the M&M’s Camry. Hate it for my guys. It seemed like every time the points were being paid, we stumbled. First stage we went from second to outside the top-10 and then the second stage, we went from third to ninth. Then there at the end obviously, I felt like we had a top-five and finished 14th looking at the board there. Just a dismal day at Daytona, as usual.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 22nd: “That was quite a finish; I just wish we could have been part of it. We had to ride around all day. Once you lose two laps, you’re pinned down. You have to stay just one lap down. Got stuck in the mud, had too much damage and never really got to race. All those boys started pushing way too hard, way too early, and we got wrapped up in it. It made for a long Speedweeks. It wasn’t the best Speedweeks I can remember. … We’ll bounce back. We have another race here at the Road Course, then we’re down in Miami and then we’re out of Florida. We’ll dig out of this hole. We’re a great team; we’re ready for this.”

William Byron – Finished 26th: “It was a long day but I’m proud of my guys for being able to fix the car as well as they did so we could finish the race. Those spots we picked up were important. It would have been nice to pick up a few more, but that’s just how things go. We’ll regroup and focus on next week’s race at the road course.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 27th: “I’m proud of my No. 8 Lenovo team for sticking with it all night long to get as much out of our race as we could. We had such a solid No. 8 Lenovo Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that my team had worked so hard on over the last couple of months. It’s really unfortunate that we got caught up in one of the big ones early after just 15 laps of the DAYTONA 500. I hate it for all our partners and fans, but it’s part of racing here. My team did a great job repairing what they could and getting me back out there after that lengthy rain delay. Every point and position matters out here, so I’m glad we were able to get back out there to grab a few more spots and finish out the night. It’s not the clean start to the season that we wanted, but we’ll regroup. I look forward to coming back down here next weekend for the road course. We had a lot of speed during the Clash that we can capitalize on to get ourselves a good finish.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 34th: “We were just getting pushed too hard too early. It’s a long, long race. Man, we were in a fine position, just sitting there riding around in the top two, three and (Christopher Bell) just came with a big run and hit me really hard in a bad spot and it turned me to the right and tore up our race car and ended our Daytona 500 way too early.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 35th: “It looks like (Aric Almirola) kind of got turned sideways there and I was the guy that got ran into. Bummer – I hate it for Ally. Obviously, we had a really fast Camaro. The Chevrolet’s were working good together; hopefully a Chevy still ends up in Victory Lane. Hats off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports; they built some really fast race cars. Hate that superspeedway racing works out that way sometimes, but that’s just part of the game.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 36th: “Sadly, we got caught in someone else’s mistake early on, and even though I made it through the wreck, my car got killed on the grass. So frustrating, such a shame. But at the same time, I’m very excited for what is coming this year. I’m so fortunate to be part of such an amazing team that gave me a very fast No. 99 iFly Chevy Camaro. We’ll bring another fast race car next weekend and go back to battle.”

David Ragan – Finished 37th: “It’s just unfortunate to have a bunch of tore up race cars that early. I’ve never met a driver that said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna start this 500-mile race and just be super-aggressive.’ We all talk about give and take and making it to the end, but it seems nobody does that once they get out there. It’s frustrating that everybody is pushing and shoving and I just saw (Alex Bowman) get turned and whenever someone wrecks in the top five or six it tears up a lot of cars.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 38th: “Somebody crashed in the outside row in front of us and we had nowhere to go and I got hit from some place. I had the wreck missed, but got hit from some place and that was the end of our day. I just feel bad for Kohler Generators jumping on board and getting wrecked out of the Daytona 500 so early, but unfortunately that’s part of racing. I just wish we could have had some better results.”

Erik Jones – Finished 39th: “Unfortunate end for the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team in the Daytona 500; it’s not what we were hoping for by any means. The No. 43 Armor All Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was fast to start. We had raced up there into the top-10 and I think we were just outside of it when the big wreck started. Bummed, but there’s 35 more races left this season to go back out and make up for it. We’ll work hard to try and make these points up here as we go and move onto the Daytona Road Course next week.”

Appeal panel gives William Byron his 25 points back

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William Byron is back in a transfer spot after the National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded his 25-point penalty Thursday for spinning Denny Hamlin at Texas.

By getting those 25 points back, Byron enters Sunday’s elimination playoff race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC) 14 points above the cutline.

Daniel Suarez is now in the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. He is 12 points ahead of Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell is 45 points behind Suarez. Alex Bowman will not race this week as he continues to recover from concussion symptoms and has been eliminated from Cup title contention.

NASCAR did not penalize Byron after his incident with Hamlin because series officials did not see the contact. Two days later, NASCAR penalized Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel stated that Byron violated the rule but amended the penalty to no loss of driver and owner points while increasing the fine to $100,000.

The panel did not give a reason for its decision. NASCAR cannot appeal the panel’s decision.

The panel consisted of Hunter Nickell, a former TV executive, Dale Pinilis, track operator of Bowman Gray Stadium and Kevin Whitaker, owner of Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Here is the updated standings heading into Sunday’s race at the Roval:

Byron’s actions took place after the caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race that the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Drivers for Drive for Diversity combine revealed

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The 13 drivers who will participate in the Advance Auto Part Drive for Diversity Combine were revealed Thursday and range in age from 13-19.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program was created in 2004 to develop and train ethnically diverse and female drivers both on and off the track. Cup drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson came through the program.

The 2020 and 2021 combines were canceled due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We are thrilled that we are in a position to return to an in-person evaluation for this year’s Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine,” Rev Racing CEO Max Seigel said in a statement. “We are energized by the high-level of participating athletes and look forward to building the best driver class for 2023. As an organization, we have never been more positioned for success and future growth.”

The youngest drivers are Quinn Davis and Nathan Lyons, who are both 13 years old.

The group includes 17-year-old Andrés Pérez de Lara, who finished seventh in his ARCA Menards Series debut in the Sept. 15 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Also among those invited to the combine is 15-year old Katie Hettinger, who will make her ARCA Menards Series West debut Oct.. 14 at the Las Vegas Bullring. She’s also scheduled to compete in the ARCA West season finale Nov. 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

 

 

Name

Age Hometown
Justin Campbell 17 Griffin, Georgia
Quinn Davis 13 Sparta, Tennessee
Eloy Sebastián

López Falcón

17 Mexico City, Mexico
Katie Hettinger 15 Dryden, MI
Caleb Johnson 15 Denver, CO
Nathan Lyons 13 Concord, NC
Andrés Pérez de Lara 17 Mexico City, Mexico
Jaiden Reyna 16 Cornelius, NC
Jordon Riddick 17 Sellersburg, IN
Paige Rogers 19 New Haven, IN
Lavar Scott 19 Carney’s Point, NJ
Regina Sirvent 19 Mexico City, Mexico
Lucas Vera 15 Charlotte, NC

 

Dr. Diandra: Crashes: Causes and complications

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Two drivers have missed races this year after hard rear-end crashes. Kurt Busch has been out since an incident in qualifying at Pocono in July. Alex Bowman backed hard into a wall at Texas and will miss Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Other drivers have noted that the hits they’ve taken in the Next Gen car are among the hardest they’ve felt in a Cup car.

“When I crashed it (at Auto Club Speedway in practice), I thought the car was destroyed, and it barely backed the bumper off. It just felt like somebody hit you with a hammer,” Kevin Harvick told NBC Sports.

The three most crucial parameters in determining the severity of a crash are:

  • How much kinetic energy the car carries
  • How long the collision takes
  • The angle at which the car hits

Angle

The last of these factors requires trigonometry to explain properly. You can probably intuit, however, that a shallower hit is preferable to a head-on — or rear-on — hit.

A graphic show shallower (low-angle) hits and deeper (high-angle) hits
Click for a larger view

When the angle between the car and the wall is small, most of the driver’s momentum starts and remains in the direction parallel to the wall. The car experiences a small change in velocity.

The larger the angle, the larger the change in perpendicular speed and the more force experienced. NASCAR has noted that more crashes this season have had greater angles than in the past.

Busch and Bowman both had pretty large-angle hits, so we’ll skip the trig.

Energy — in pounds of TNT

A car’s kinetic energy depends on how much it weighs and how fast it’s going. But the relationship between kinetic energy and speed is not linear: It’s quadratic. That means going twice as fast gives you four times more kinetic energy.

The graph shows the kinetic energies of different kinds of race cars at different speeds. To give you an idea of how much energy we’re talking about, I expressed the kinetic energy in terms of equivalent pounds of TNT.

A vertical bar graph showing kinetic energies for different types of racecars and their energies

  • A Next Gen car going 180 mph has the same kinetic energy as is stored in almost three pounds of TNT.
  • Because IndyCars are about half the weight of NASCAR’s Next Gen car, an IndyCar has about half the kinetic energy of a Next Gen car when both travel at the same speed.
  • At 330 mph, Top Fuel drag racers carry the equivalent of six pounds of TNT in kinetic energy.

All of a car’s kinetic energy must be transformed to other types of energy when the car slows or stops. NASCAR states that more crashes are occurring at higher closing speeds, which means more kinetic energy.

Longer collisions > shorter collisions

That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Who wants to be in a crash any longer than necessary?

But the longer a collision takes, the more time there is to transform kinetic energy.

A pitting car starts slowing down well below it reaches its pit box. The car’s kinetic energy is transformed into heat energy (brakes and rotors warming), light energy (glowing rotors), and even sound energy (tires squealing).

The same amount of kinetic energy must be transformed in a collision — but much faster. In addition to heat, light and sound, energy is transformed via the car spinning and parts deforming or breaking. (This video about Michael McDowell’s 2008 Texas qualifying crash goes into more detail.)

The force a collision produces depends on how long the car takes to stop. Compare the force from your seat belt when you slow down at a stop sign to what you feel if you have to suddenly slam on the brakes.

To give you an idea of how fast collisions can be, the initial wall impact in the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt Sr. lasted only eight-hundredths (0.08) of a second.

SAFER barriers use a car’s kinetic energy to move a heavy steel wall and crush pieces of energy-absorbing foam. That extracts energy from the car, plus the barrier extends the collision time.

The disadvantage is that a car with lower kinetic energy won’t move the barrier. Then it’s just like running into a solid wall.

That’s the same problem the Next Gen car seems to have.

Chassis stiffness: A Goldilocks problem

The Next Gen chassis is a five-piece, bolt-together car skeleton, as shown below.

A graphic showing the five parts of the Next Gen chassis.
Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click to enlarge.
The foam surrounding the outside of the rear bumper
The purple is energy-absorbing foam. Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click for a larger view.

That graphic doesn’t show another important safety feature: the energy absorbing foam that covers the outside of the bumpers. It’s purple in the next diagram.

All cars are designed so that the strongest part of the car surrounds the occupants. Race cars are no different.

The center section of the Next Gen chassis is made from stout steel tubing and sheet metal. Components become progressively weaker as you move away from the cockpit. The bumper, for example, is made of aluminum alloy rather than steel. The goal is transforming all the kinetic energy before it reaches the driver.

Because the Next Gen car issues are with rear impacts, I’ve expanded and highlighted the last two pieces of the chassis.

The rear clip and bumper, with the fuel cell and struts shaded

The bumper and the rear clip don’t break easily enough. The rear ends of Gen-6 cars were much more damaged than the Next Gen car after similar impacts.

If your initial thought is “Just weaken the struts,” you’ve got good instincts. However, there are two challenges.

I highlighted the first one in red: the fuel cell. About the only thing worse than a hard collision is a hard collision and a fire.

The other challenge is that a chassis is a holistic structure: It’s not like each piece does one thing independent of all the other pieces. Changing one element to help soften rear collisions might make other types of collisions harder.

Chassis are so complex that engineers must use finite-element-analysis computer programs to predict their behavior. These programs are analogous to (and just as complicated as) the computational fluid dynamics programs aerodynamicists use.

Progress takes time

An under-discussed complication was noted by John Patalak, managing director of safety engineering for NASCAR. He told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long in July that he was surprised by the rear-end crash stiffness.

The Next Gen car’s crash data looked similar to that from the Gen-6 car, but the data didn’t match the drivers’ experiences. Before addressing the car, his team had to understand the disparity in the two sets of data.

They performed a real-world crash test on a new configuration Wednesday. These tests are complex and expensive: You don’t do them until you’re pretty confident what you’ve changed will make a significant difference.

But even if the test goes exactly as predicted, they aren’t done.

Safety is a moving target.

And always will be.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

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NASCAR Cup Series drivers race on the road for the final time this season Sunday, as the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval course ends the playoffs’ Round of 12.

The 17-turn, 2.28-mile course incorporating the CMS oval and infield will determine the eight drivers who will advance to the next round of the playoffs. Chase Elliott won last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and is the only driver who has qualified for a spot in the Round of 8.

Entering Sunday’s race, Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman are below the playoff cutline. Bowman will not qualify for the next round because he is sidelined by concussion-like symptoms.

The race (2 p.m ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Cup and Xfinity)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 81 with a 6% chance of rain.

Saturday: Mixed clouds and sun. High of 67 with a 3% chance of rain.

Sunday: Sunny. High of 68 with a 3% chance of rain.

Friday, Oct. 7

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 12 – 5 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Saturday, Oct. 8

Garage open

  • 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 8:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)