Lackluster racing dampens expectations for Daytona 500

  • In Sports
  • 2019-02-15 20:50:23Z
  • By JENNA FRYER (AP Auto Racing Writer)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The Daytona 500 is shaping up to be a snoozer of a showcase.

Three exhibition races produced lackluster racing and little excitement beyond a pair of crashes Jimmie Johnson triggered. Now expectations are sinking in anticipation of Sunday's season-opening race and NASCAR has no plans to tweak the rules package, either.

Richard Petty, winner of a record seven Daytona 500s, was blunt Friday when asked if he thought Speedweeks had produced good racing.

''No, I don't,'' said The King.

The first race of the year was a 20-car, all-star event that ran single file until Johnson made an aggressive move for the win. His pass of Paul Menard for the lead collected 16 other cars in the lone highlight of the race.

Johnson erred again in a Thursday qualifying race when he made contact with Kyle Busch to cause Busch to spin. That was the extent of the action all the way through the second 150-mile race, another single-file parade until the last lap when Joey Logano pulled out of line from fourth place to drive to the win.

Denny Hamlin said his peers raced conservatively in the exhibitions.

''Guys just don't want to race until the end,'' Hamlin said. ''There's just nothing rewarding until the end. Short of giving us points every 10 laps, this is going to be a lot of what you see on superspeedway races simply because guys just want to get to the end. Knowing it's 500 miles, there is no reward for running the first 150 miles aggressively.''

NASCAR could have made adjustments to the rules package designed to tighten the racing for the 500, but any changes likely would have been needed prior to a pair of Friday practice sessions. Jay Fabian, the new director of the Cup Series, said NASCAR has had ''zero discussions'' about changing any rules.

Car owner Richard Childress was hopeful the action will be improved with the full, 40-car field Sunday. Team owner Rick Hendrick dismissed the complacency so far, saying drivers are merely protecting their Daytona 500 cars.

Roger Penske held out hope the Daytona 500 will be a better show.

''The racing will be certainly better on race day,'' said Penske, who has two of the favorites to win the Daytona 500 in Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

Tony Stewart, co-owner of four strong Ford entries, didn't want to link the early Speedweeks racing to the Daytona 500.

''The goal at the end of the day is to win the Daytona 500,'' Stewart said. ''I don't think we put a lot of emphasis on winning the qualifying races. If you can win it, great. In no way do you want to jeopardize your primary car to do so.''


More AP auto racing: and


More Related News

The Latest: Byron leads field for NASCAR
The Latest: Byron leads field for NASCAR's 600

Charlotte native William Byron leads the field at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as a busy racing weekend continues. The 21-year-old Byron became the youngest driver to win the pole for the NASCAR's crown jewel event and is looking for his first career Cup Series win. Joey Logano

Jeffrey Earnhardt earns first NASCAR top five in stubborn fashion
Jeffrey Earnhardt earns first NASCAR top five in stubborn fashion

Jeffrey Earnhardt's first top five came in his 71st Xfinity Series start.

Most drivers want NASCAR
Most drivers want NASCAR's longest race to remain 600 miles

With a furrowed brow NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip scoffed at the notion that the Coca-Cola 600 race is too long and should be shortened by, say, maybe a hundred miles or so. ''Is that what some thirty-something said?'' the 72-year-old Waltrip said to The Associated Press. It was 38

Indianapolis 500 could chart course of more IndyCar-NASCAR crossover
Indianapolis 500 could chart course of more IndyCar-NASCAR crossover

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be leading the field to green as chatter grows about more collaboration and potentially race weekend doubleheaders with the series.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Sports

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.