Race Weekend Central

6 Points to Ponder: 2009 Daytona Speedweeks – Week 1 Edition

Is it time for Daytona to be repaved?

Drivers started complaining about the surface following Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saying that the current racecar is not built for this particular track and its surface. It would make sense to smooth the bumps, repave the track and let ‘em loose like at Talladega – but in a time in which NASCAR has so many cookie-cutter tracks, the rough surface at Daytona has made it unique. While it’s still mentioned in the same breath as Talladega based on sheer look, the similarities stop there, and handling has taken precedence over anything.

My take: Let’s see what happens throughout the rest of Speedweeks and determine whether or not it’s the track causing all of these crashes – or simple carelessness on the drivers’ part. If it’s carelessness, keep it the way it is.

Wait and see with Joey Logano

Let me preface this by saying that we’ve learned absolutely nothing about the upcoming season from just a few practice sessions and an exhibition race – but can we not go ahead and crown Joey Logano the future of the sport just yet? Sure, he’s got the credentials, the team, the equipment and the potential, but let him earn his stripes first. The premature hype surrounding this kid is unbelievable, especially when there are tons of talented young drivers out there – including the 18-year-old who beat him in Saturday’s ARCA event.

See also
Sprint Cup Rookie Report: 2009 NASCAR Season Preview

My take: Rick Crawford called eventual ARCA Daytona winner and new Frontstretch Driver Diary contributor James Buescher a “combination of Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon” last week. I understand there will be more media attention surrounding Logano because he’s in Sprint Cup, but don’t let the media convince you as to who’s the most talented of these kids. Figure it out yourself.

The luckiest man after Daytona 500 qualifying is…

Terry Labonte. Labonte is guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500 by virtue of being the fastest former champion who did not secure a spot in the field, despite posting the 50th fastest time out of 56 cars.

My take: He may not have the fastest car, but any time a cagey vet and past champion can start the Daytona 500, it makes the field that much more prestigious.

Exciting week ahead

For four days next week (Thursday through Sunday) NASCAR fans will be treated with four exciting races. Whether it be the pressure-filled Gatorade Duels, the action-packed Nationwide and Camping World Truck series races or the Sprint Cup opener, you can’t go wrong by tuning in.

My take: This could perhaps be the most exciting four consecutive days in racing, but if I had to pay to watch one of these, it would without a doubt be Friday night’s Truck Series event, annually the most exciting two hours of Speedweeks not enough people are watching.

So, who are the favorites?

Gatorade Duel at Daytona (NSCS): Out of drivers not locked into the 500, look for great runs from AJ Allmendinger, Regan Smith and Joe Nemechek.

NextEra Energy Resources 250 (NCWTS): The usual suspects: Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday, Johnny Benson.

Camping World 300 (NNS): Any of the Cup guys, but a sleeper could be rookie Michael Annett, who won at Daytona and Talladega in ARCA last season and drives for a strong superspeedway team out of Germain Racing.

Daytona 500 (NSCS): Anybody’s race, but Jimmie Johnson has been particularly strong early.

Front rows for locals

As a Daytona boy, I’ve got to give a shout out to a few fellow locals – Alan Gustafson and Alli Owens. Gustafson, a former Seabreeze High School grad, has his No. 5 car driven by Mark Martin (who resides in Daytona) on the front row for the Daytona 500; but I can’t help but be happy for fellow Atlantic High grad Owens, who qualified second and ran up front for the early part of the ARCA race before crashing out.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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