Magic Mile Notebook – Daytona 500
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Austin Dillon and the storied No. 3 is on the pole for Sunday’s 56th running of the Daytona 500. (Getty Images)
Trucks Return to Magic Mile
Anchored by its two traditional NASCAR Sprint Cup weekends, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will welcome the return of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in September. Absent from the Magic Mile since 2011, the UNOH 175 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event will run on Saturday, Sept. 20, the day before the OSRAM SYLVANIA 300 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship event on Sunday, Sept. 21. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time driver Kyle Busch won the last three Truck Series races at the Magic Mile from 2009-11.
Border War: Northern, Southern Mods Invade Magic Mile
The debut of a new, all-star shootout event for NASCAR National and Southern Whelen Modified Series will create one of the biggest and most diverse pole days on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule on Friday, July 11 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Long known as the Super Bowl venue for the exciting NASCAR Whelen Modified Series, the Magic Mile will be the stage for the inaugural $25,000 shootout event. The special event will feature 20-24 cars, representing previous winners and champions from the national and southern touring series along with the 2013 Sunoco Rookies of the Year for both tours. The 30-minute race will pay $4,000 to win and $800 to start in the $1,000-lap shootout.
Win On Sunday, Sell on Monday: Toyota Renews with NHMS
If there’s a company that knows how to “win on Sunday and sell on Monday” at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s Toyota. Speedway officials recently announced that it has renewed its relationship with the popular manufacturer, retaining Toyota as the speedway’s “official vehicle” through 2016. Toyota has been the speedway’s partner since 2011, and has enjoyed tremendous success both on the track and throughout the Boston region marketplace. Drivers have piloted Toyota Camrys into victory lane in three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races dating back to 2012, while the manufacturer continues to be a leader in American automotive production, maintaining 10 manufacturing plants throughout the United States.
Price is Right
New for 2014 race season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be special pricing for children. Kids under the age of 12 will now be able to attend both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season for half the price of an adult ticket in any price level. For instance, a $100 adult ticket would cost $50 for a child 12 and under. The discounted ticket price is available for the Camping World RV Sales 301 on Sunday, July 13, and the OSRAM SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, Sept. 21.
The Speedway Star search is underway, as the Magic Mile will begin accepting entries for the fifth annual national anthem singing competition from all New England area singers on March 24 at 8:00 a.m. The Speedway Star competition will be held at the Mall of New Hampshire on Saturday, April 26. Prospective contestants are asked to submit a DVD, CD, .wav file or .mp3 file of them singing “The Star Spangled Banner” a cappella style (without music or other accompaniments). Submissions will be accepted until Friday, April 11 at 5:00 p.m.
This week, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season gets underway with the 56th annual running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. That means, one lucky driver will drive away with not only the biggest payday of the season, but with a secured spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship (as long as he or she finishes in the top 30 in points and attempts to qualify for each of the season’s 26 regular-season races). Here are some other NASCAR storylines to follow heading into Sunday’s race:
2013 Daytona 500 Results
Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Pole Sitter: Danica Patrick
Margin of Victory: 0.129 seconds
Lead Changes: 28 among 14 drivers
Most Laps Led: Matt Kenseth 86 of 200
Top-Five: Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman
Faces in new places
Kevin Harvick – Moved from the No. 29 for Richard Childress Racing to the No. 4 for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Kurt Busch – Moved from the No. 78 for Furniture Row Racing to the No. 41 for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Martin Truex Jr. – Moved from the No. 56 for Michael Waltrip Racing to the No. 78 for Furniture Row Racing.
Ryan Newman – Moved from the No. 39 for Stewart-Haas Racing to the No. 31 for Richard Childress Racing.
Jeff Burton – Moved from the No. 31 for Richard Childress Racing to the No. 66 (part-time) for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Three Reasons No. 3 Could Win Daytona 500
Is Austin Dillon’s Richter-scale-registering Coors Light Pole victory only the beginning? Here are three reasons to think the No. 3 could end up in Victory Lane…
1) A Daytona 500 win from the pole has happened before. Not a lot, but more than any other starting position. The eventual winner has started from the pole nine times, most recently in 2000 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett did it. The Coors Light Pole is the most prolific starting spot in Daytona 500 history. Starting positions Nos. 2 and 4 are second, with seven wins apiece. 2) Records are made to be broken – and Dillon already has snapped one. In winning the pole, Dillon became the youngest pole winner in Daytona 500 history at 23 years, 9 months, 20 days. If he wins the Daytona 500, he’d also be the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to do so. 3) Dillon’s no slouch at Daytona. In four NASCAR Nationwide Series starts there, Dillon has finished in the top five in three of them.
Swirl Of Storylines Envelope ‘Smoke’
If only “The Return” was the only detail on the mind of Tony Stewart. Stewart has won pretty much everything – 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, two Brickyard 400s, a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. There’s one hole in his brilliant career – a Daytona 500 win. He’s gone 0-for-15 in NASCAR’s biggest race, with a best finish of second in 2004. Success has eluded him, especially this decade – he has finished outside the top 10 in each of the last four Daytona 500s.
Under The Radar … For An All-Time Great, Anyway
He’s the defending champion of NASCAR’s biggest race. Last year’s victory was his second in the Daytona 500. And he’s coming off his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. One more and he ties the record for most all time, with inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Yet, Jimmie Johnson somehow comes into Daytona a bit under the radar. Buzz has surrounded Austin Dillon and Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick and an all-world rookie class. The low-key high-performance Johnson’s likely fine with that. Johnson last year added his name – again – to an illustrious list of drivers who have won multiple Daytona 500s. Ten drivers have now done it, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three) and Dale Jarrett (three). Come Sunday, Johnson hopes to join an even more exclusive group. Only three drivers have won back-to-back Daytona 500s: Petty (1973-74), Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).
Hamlin’s 2014 Rebound Has Begun
Last season was Denny Hamlin’s toughest since his rookie year in 2006. That’s a statement Hamlin readily admits – and a quick gander at the stat sheets offers all the proof anyone needs. But that was last year. It’s a brand new season, and it’s off to a blazing start. A quick rundown of Hamlin’s 2013: After missing four races in the first quarter of the season due to a back injury, Hamlin struggled to finish inside the top 10, posting a career low eight top-10 finishes. He missed the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time in his career. But, the clear highlight came in the season finale, winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hamlin called the win a confidence booster for his team; confidence they used to start off 2014 with a win in Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.
Eight Sunoco Rookies Will Battle For Daytona 500 Glory
The 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year eight-driver class is the largest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie crop in 20 years (matching the total of the 1994 class that included names such as Jeff Burton, Mike Wallace and Joe Nemechek). It’s large. And large on talent. The average age of this year’s rookie class is only 23 years old, however this is a class with experience beyond their years. These contenders join the Sprint Cup Series ranks with a combined five NASCAR championships and 20 NASCAR wins across the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Three Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders will be supported by winning Sprint Cup Series organizations. Austin Dillon will be the first Rookie of the Year contender to drive for Richard Childress Racing since Kevin Harvick; Kyle Larson will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates; and Justin Allgaier will drive for HScott Motorsports (Formerly Phoenix Racing).
Gas ‘N Go
– On Sunday, Austin Dillon created a tidal wave of news, putting the iconic No. 3 car on the Coors Light Pole. The No. 3 car last raced in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001, and hadn’t been on the track in the series since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal wreck on the final lap of that year’s Daytona 500. In winning the pole, Dillon became the fourth driver to win the pole for the Daytona 500 while driving the No. 3 car, joining Buddy Baker (1969), Ricky Rudd (1983) and Dale Earnhardt (1996).
– The pack is back – big time. Tight quarters led to a bevy of mishaps during Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway – only eight cars were running at the finish, the fewest since seven in 1981.
– If Morgan Shepherd makes the field for the Daytona 500, he’ll be the oldest starter in the race’s history at 72 years, 4 months and 11 days. The previous oldest Daytona 500 starter was Dave Marcis in 2002 (60 years, 11 months, 16 days).