Even though the track is two miles in length, many drivers say handling is just as important as horsepower. Still, it’s a smooth, new track. And when you have 500 miles of racing at full throttle, engine wear is an issue. Teams who have struggled with engines in the past or have move to new manufacturers (Richard Petty Motorsports) will get their first test to see how durable their engines are, since few are anticipating another three hours worth of delays due to potholes. Yes, I’m still going there.
This is often a strategy race. There are long green flag runs; so, fuel mileage will be on the minds of crew chiefs. Tire wear usually isn’t a concern; so, you may also see many crews change two tires as we get later in the day.
This also might be a measuring stick as to how the “Let them race” rule has resonated with fans. Daytona is always going to sell out. Auto Club Speedway has had issues with attendance in past years. Sunday, it won’t be competing against the Academy Awards; so the numbers after the race might be as important for the sport as the numbers during the race. Plus, with straightaways are long enough for side-by-side racing and speeds nearing 200 miles an hour, it’s fair to think feathers will get ruffled. Drivers aren’t dumb enough to ruin their Daytona 500 chances. The Auto Club 500…well, things could get fun.
Now some random facts to impress your friends Sunday, many of which are from the track’s website:
-The banking is 14 degrees in turns; 11 degrees on frontstretch; 3 degrees on backstretch.
-The frontstretch is 3,100 feet.
-The backstretch is: 2,500 feet.
-Matt Kenseth is the defending race champion. Kenseth has been winless since and will have a new crew chief.
-A Roush Fenway car has won this race the last five years. Kenseth won in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Carl Edwards won in 2008. Greg Biffle won in 2005. Jack Roush has yet to smile about this.
-Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have each won here three times. Gordon finished second here last year.
- Last year’s race only had five cautions. Still the race took 3 hours, 40 minutes. Bring your popcorn, nachos and other yummies.
- Mike Skinner and Steve Park have won the pole.
- Jeremy Mayfield and Elliott Sadler have won at the track. Congrats to Sadler on becoming a dad this week by the way.
-There are 23,000 concrete blocks at the track.
- 2.3 million cubic yards of earth was moved to make the track.
- The start/finish line is 1,121 feet above sea level.
-The track’s website says their timing system is Swiss. What’s wrong with American timing systems?
-There are an equal number of restrooms for men and women. There will not be an equal number of men and women at the track.
-There are 338 speakers to blare the tar out Styx, who is playing the weekend of the concert. .