Race Weekend Update
Kurt Busch wins the Daytona 500: #41-Kurt Busch won the 59th Annual Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway for his 1st win of the season, 1st win at Daytona and 29th career win. Busch led only the final lap after taking the lead from #42-Larson, who ran out of gas after taking the white flag.
#21-Blaney finished a career best 2nd, followed by #47-Allmendinger, #43-Almirola, #27-Menard, #22-Logano, #5-Kahne, #15-Waltrip (in his final Cup race), #32-DiBenedetto, and #6-Bayne.
The "big one" happened on lap 127 when contact between #1-McMurray, #48-Johnson, and #6-Bayne led to a 16 car accident that eliminated #48-Johnson, #14-Bowyer, #10-Patrick, #96-Kennignton, and #37-Buescher.
Another big wreck followed on lap 141. #1-McMurray tried to pull inside of #24-Elliott but caught his bumper. 11 cars were involved and #1-McMurray, #2-Keselowski, #13-TDillon and #19-Suarez were eliminated from the race.
#24-Chase Elliott, the pole sitter, led 23 laps on the day, and was leading with 3 laps to go, but had a hiccup on gas and fell back to 14th at the finish.
#88-Earnhardt, Jr., running in his first race since Kentucky last July, started 2nd and was running near the front of the field when he was caught in an accident with Kyle Busch on lap 106. The team could not make repairs and he finished 37th.
#18-Busch was the leader at the end of stage one on lap 60, but he spun out when a tire went down on lap 106 and finished 38th.
#4-Harvick won stage two on lap 120, but got damage in an accident and finished 22nd.
See unofficial race results, awards, laps led, cautions and [NOTE: money won is no longer reported] more at:
Unofficial Race Results page (pdf)
Waltrip ends racing career with 8th-place finish at Daytona
Michael Waltrip ended his racing career exactly how he hoped. The only way it could have topped his NASCAR finale, which came at the track where he earned half of his four career Cup victories, would have been to end up in victory lane. He knew that was unlikely, so he set a more realistic goal : to finish in the top 10 in his 30th and last Daytona 500.
Waltrip took the checkered flag in eighth at Daytona International Speedway, providing him the ideal conclusion to a career that began in 1985, spanned more than three decades and included 784 Cup Series starts.
"It's going to be a great memory, you know, to have a top 10," Waltrip said. "I had so many times I was in the middle of a crash and just missed it. So, you do a good job and you get lucky both. ...
A two-time Daytona 500 winner, Waltrip signed a one-race deal with Premium Motorsports to say goodbye at the famed speedway that has provided him triumph and tragedy. Waltrip won the Daytona 500 in 2001, the same day his car owner, Dale Earnhardt, was killed on the final lap, and again two years later in a rain-shortened race.
Earnhardt returns from concussion, feels fine after crash
Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed out of his wrecked race car, surveyed the damage, chatted with his team and hopped on a golf cart for a trip to the infield care center. Eight minutes after checking in with doctors, Earnhardt walked out. And he felt fine.
Earnhardt crashed out near the midway point of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, hitting the wall after Kyle Busch lost control and turned sideways in front of him. Earnhardt's team was unable to repair all the damage to his No. 88 Chevrolet, forcing him to make an early exit in NASCAR's signature race. He finished 37th in the 40-car field.
Considering it was his first race in months, he acknowledged earlier in the week that walking away from a hard hit unscathed would "add a ton of confidence" and check a box in his recovery.
"I knew I was at risk, just like I was before the last injury," Earnhardt said. "You're always at risk. It's dangerous. You can't race with fear. You can't go out there and worry about getting hurt. You have to kind of say, 'All right, man, if I'm going to get in there, I've got to be willing to accept anything — good or bad — result-wise.' I am willing to put myself out there, and I want to compete."
More AP auto racing: www.racing.ap.org
NEXT RACE: This weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway; TV Sunday on FOX at 11 a.m. PT
PRITCHETT, HAGAN AND ANDERSON WIN SUNDAY AT NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS
Leah Pritchett repeated as the Top Fuel winner at the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the second of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
For the second consecutive year Pritchett defeated Brittany Force in the finals. Pritchett's 3.705-second pass at 328.22 mph in her Papa John's Pizza dragster earned her the third victory of her career, second of the season and second at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Force raced to a 3.704 at 330.39 in her Monster Energy dragster losing to Pritchett on a holeshot.
It is the first time a Top Fuel pilot has won the first two races of the season since Gary Scelzi in 1997. Pritchett was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and set the elapsed-time national record with a 3.658 pass in qualifying.
Pritchett outran Clay Millican and Shawn Reed en route to the win while Force faced-off against Terry McMillen, three-time and reigning world champion Antron Brown and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher before falling to Pritchett in the finals.
Hagan won his second consecutive Funny Car race to remain undefeated in the 2017 season. Hagan's 3.878 at 330.88 in his Sandvik Coromat Dodge Charger R/T bettered reigning world champion Ron Capps' 3.883 at 330.88 in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
NEXT RACE: The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. March 16-19.
Mentor program highlights Schmidt Peterson Motorsports sponsorship: Lincoln Technical Institute, a national leader in specialized automotive training, announced it will be an associate sponsor of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda driven by James Hinchcliffe in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
The most significant element in Lincoln Tech's sponsorship program is the creation of its groundbreaking mentor program. Lincoln Tech will select one student and an instructor for six straight races, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend April 7-9, to be immersed within the SPM team. Lincoln Tech's auto campuses will nominate deserving students for the incredible opportunity based on the student's GPA, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians.
James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens plan for ride swap of INDYCAR, DTM race cars
Two of Canada's most successful active racing drivers will travel from Florida to Italy for a first-hand experience of how the other half lives. After years of discussing the possibility, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe - the pole sitter for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil - and current DTM touring car driver Robert Wickens will swap rides in separate test sessions in the coming weeks.
Wickens will get the first turn behind the wheel of Hinchcliffe's No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda during a private team test at Sebring International Raceway in Florida on Feb. 28. Hinchcliffe is scheduled to drive the HWA Team's factory Mercedes AMG at the Vallelunga Circuit outside of Rome on March 17. The two Canadians are excited to see the opportunity finally come to fruition.
JUNCOS RACING ANNOUNCES ENTRY FOR 101ST INDIANAPOLIS 500
Fifteen years ago, Ricardo Juncos came to the United States and started work as an unpaid go-kart mechanic. Today, Juncos announced that he will operate a team competing in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Juncos, the founder and team principal of Juncos Racing - the highly successful operation in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires developmental ladder - said his team will take the next step to the Verizon IndyCar Series on its biggest stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. While driver and manufacturer announcements await, the news signals a "dream come true" for the immigrant from Argentina.
With support and equipment from KV Racing Technology, Juncos Racing is preparing for the Indy 500 at the team's new 40,000-square-foot shop in the shadows of IMS. At the same time, it will continue to field two full-season entries in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top rung of the INDYCAR-sanctioned Mazda Road to Indy.
FIRST RACE: Streets of St. Petersburg, March 10-12
Toyota Research Institute Brings Prius Challenge to Sonoma Raceway
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) brings the Prius Challenge to the Sonoma Raceway this week for the third iteration of its ongoing Onramp series, an innovation event designed to engage the startup and tech community. This year's event, to be held on March 3, will be hosted by TRI and will feature a team competition where participants optimize their driving based on data and simulation from a connected Toyota Prius.
The Prius Challenge is a unique competition that originated at Toyota's headquarters in Japan, where participants battle it out to see who can achieve the best fuel economy and efficiency rating on a Prius within a target time range. While Toyota employees and dealers have been able to participate in the challenge, this is the first time that members of the public will have the chance to compete. TRI is furthering the concept of Onramp to incorporate a technical challenge for participants that includes data crunching and simulation.
Bracket Drags This Weekend
Sonoma Raceway will host its first Bracket Drag Racing event of 2017 this weekend, March. 4-5.