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NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net

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Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and a heckava lot of drivers left Daytona nursing bad bruises. And Penske still reviewing Allmendinger's situation

Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and a heckava lot of drivers left Daytona nursing bad bruises. And Penske still reviewing Allmendinger's situation

This is going to hurt. Thank goodness for those soft walls (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  (UPDATED)

 


     By Mike Mulhern
    mikemulhern.net


    ON THE ROAD TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Before heading up to Charleston, S.C. for a Sunday triathlon-in-the-park, Jimmie Johnson left his mark at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night.
   Specifically heavy black marks on the infield wall off the fourth turn, where he brutally smashed head-long into the thankfully-softwalls.
    It was supposed to be a routine round of pit stops midway through the Coke 400, and Johnson had dutifully waved his hand down the backstretch to indicated to those behind him what he was planning to do.
   Somebody missed the message and ran smack into the back of his car, launching him on a mean skid.
    
   "I was waving my hand out the window... and as soon as I let off the gas to come to pit road, someone got into the back of me," Johnson said after his trip to infield hospital.
   That led to a melee in his wake.
   Maybe these cars need turn signals lol.

   It wasn't the only dangerous pit road incident during the race.
   Jeff Gordon knocked Ryan Newman into Brad Keselowski, whose car was parked and whose crew was working on it. Fortunately everyone scrambled to safety.
   Fortunately it was a night that was filled with such luck....and the sense that NASCAR may be stretching its luck in some of these situations. Maybe some pit road penalties need to be handed out to get these drivers' attention.

 

    Meanwhile Roger Penske is still reviewing the AJ Allmendinger situation, following Saturday's surprising announcement by NASCAR that Allmendinger had failed a routine drug test at Kentucky last week.

    Penske will have Sam Hornish Jr. subbing again for Allmendinger this weekend at Loudon, N.H., while he and Allmendinger figure out just what's going on. Allmendinger has made no official comment yet on the situation.

 

  Great night at Daytona...but drivers complained they couldn't pass. And Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle were the class of the field...until the final miles (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

 One problem, Johnson said, was typical when some crews are doing two-tire stops while others are doing four. "You're going to have some chaos."
   Another problem, however, clearly needs some fixing: with the rules package NASCAR officials threw at the teams for this event, Johnson said pit road "is the only place to pass...especially today.
    "The cars were on the edge of overheating. There wasn't a lot of energy in the (drafting) pack, due to the limitations with the cooling of the car -- so you couldn't get in there and bump-draft someone, push them and make a pass happen.
    "And we kind of rode single-file.
    "Your lane would move, your lane would fall back...and you just sat there until you got to pit lane -- and could try and get all you could on pit road."
   That's probably not the safest way to run a pit road...

 

   Now this is the kind of action Daytona is known for...but drivers say with the engine temperature rules, they couldn't pass, just stay in line and follow the leader (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



    Bill Elliott, making a rare start in a super-strong car, out of the Hendrick fold (noticeably with Wal-Mart sponsorship, perhaps a good harbinger), has been racing at Daytona since the early 1980s, before the restrictor plates, and with every type of speed-restriction since.
    And Elliott said he wasn't very pleased with this Daytona package: "You couldn't hardly pass, man.
    "I was running third early on in the race, I ran every lap wide-open, and never came off the bottom."
       Jamie McMurray was another driver saying the Daytona rules clearly need more tweaking: "Handling is not an issue...you just can't get runs on people.
    "We need a different package so we can pass easier."

   Juan Pablo Montoya, on the hook (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    After a while some guys became desperate to make something happen....and usually that something was a huge crash.
    "To tell you the truth, what happened I don't know," one victim, Juan Pablo Montoya, said. "Somebody wrecked in front of us, I lifted, and I got spun into the fence, and then I got hit everywhere.  I mean it's Daytona."

    But I don't think it's supposed to be quite this way....

   Jeff Burton, who wound up a surprising second, escaped the last two vicious crashes. But to get there he and teammate Kevin Harvick had to play odd strategy, riding around slowly near the back to try to keep his engine cool enough to finish.
   Burton, who made a great save in the final moments, near the front, said "Anytime you can leave here with a car not torn up, you probably ought to be happy."

 

   A strange pre-race at Daytona: Sam Hornish Jr. (here) flying in quickly and just making it to the starting line seconds before the 400, to replace AJ Allmendinger. And Hornish is getting the call again this week, while team owner Roger Penske sorts things out.  (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

Firecracker Weekend Exposes Brian France's Foolishness Again

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