DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Daytona International Speedway Races
2/12/2011 Budweiser Shootout Sat 8:00PM FOX
2011 Winner Kurt Busch
#1 2/20/2011 Daytona 500 SUN 1:00PM FOX
2011 Winner Trevor Bayne
#18 7/2/2011 Coke Zero 400 Sat 7:30PM TNT
2010 Winner Kevin Harvick
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Daytona International Speedway is a high banked, high-speed racetrack with plenty of history and tradition.
Daytona is the second largest oval on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Circuit. It is a two and a half mile monster that is so big it doesn't just have a backstretch it has a 'SuperStretch'.
The turns are banked at 31 degrees with the front stretch banked at 18 degrees. The front stretch is really a trioval shape designed with a slight bend so the fans on either side of the start/finish line can see the action without leaning forward in their seats.
Start Finish Line at Daytona by bobmarley753
To give you an idea how big the speedway is there is a forty-four acre lake (Lake Lloyd) in the infield of the speedway along the 3000-foot backstretch.... umm I mean 'Superstretch'.
Daytona also has more than 1800 lights making it the biggest lighted sports facility.
In NASCAR size equates to speed. So much speed that NASCAR slows down the cars by mandating that they use a carburetor ' restrictor plate'.
Bill Elliot's qualifying record of over 210 MPH set on February 9, 1987 will never be broken since the record was set before the use of restrictor plates.
Because the restrictor plates slow the cars down they tend to run in tight packs. These tight packs make watching racing great for the fans and nerve racking for the drivers.
is the only other track where NASCAR requires restrictor plates.
The Daytona International Speedway hosts NASCARís biggest event every February, the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is also the first official race of the season yet it is the end of a longstretch of racing called speedweeks.
is almost two weeks of racing, practice and qualifying which includes the
, the qualifying races, the Nationwide Series race and the NASCAR Truck Series race.
Recent Daytona 500 Winners:
2011 Trevor Bayne
2010 Jamie McMurray
2009 Matt Kenseth
2008 Ryan Newman
2007 Kevin Harvick
Since Lee Petty won the first race on February 22, 1959 the Daytona International Speedway is a place filled with racing history and tragedy.
Lee Petty's son Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 seven times. Richard also won his 200th career race at the speedway on July 4, 1984 as President Ronald Reagan watched.
Daytona International Speedway was also triumphant and tragic for Dale Earnhardt. In 1998 after trying for twenty years Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500 but just three years later was killed in a wreck in the final turn on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
What do I like about NASCAR racing at Daytona International Speedway? I like that the cars are going 190MPH just inches away from the other cars.
They don't just lineup three or four wide ten cars deep and just drive in line, the cars are moving and sliding around. Its similar to driving down a freeway with a big 18 wheeler pulls up to pass you and the wind from the truck just wants to push your car off the road.
But at Daytona its 43 cars going 190MPH just inches apart. One bobble and a huge pileup could happen. That huge pileup is called the BIG ONE. Sometimes half the cars could be taken out in one wreck.
The unique part of racing at the Daytona International Speedway is that the cars run in a draft. The draft is where two or more cars run together and are faster than one car by itself.
The air off the front car creates a pocket just off the rear bumper. A second car can slip into that pocket and basically push the car in front. The two cars together have less resistance and can go faster.
Bump drafting is where the car in front actually bumps into the back of the other car which pushes the first car forward. This gives the second driver 'the bumper' some options.
Depending on what the situation on the speedway is at that time the 'bumper' can follow the car he bumped or dive below them and hope to get pushed by another car to the lead.
NASCAR has put in some rules to try to discourage bump drafting since it is frequently the cause of the BIG ONE.
Drivers must work together to get to the front of the pack but in the end it is every driver for themselves. The racing becomes a high-speed chess match.
A driver who knows how to use the draft uses these 'drafting techniques' to gain one position or even several positions at a time and at the end of the race can put themselves in position to win.
The Daytona International Speedway also hosts a 400 mile night race in July. There is something about night racing that is just awesome.
I don't know whether itís the lights gleaming off the racecars or the shadows of the cars flickering off the backstretch wall but it truly is amazing to see.
Recent July Night Race Winners:
2010 Kevin Harvick
2009 Tony Stewart
2008 Kyle Busch
2007 Jamie McMurray
2006 Tony Stewart
Part of the allure of the Daytona International Speedway is that it hosts the first race of the year. Race teams put so much effort into the Daytona 500.
Daytona symbolizes a new beginning. Some drivers with new teams some cars with new paint schemes. The anticipation is almost like a new school year or the start of a new Job.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is long and grueling. By the last race in November drivers, crews and even some fans are ready for a break. But by the time February rolls around drivers, crews and fans (especially me) are ready for the green flag to drop on another season of racing.
Daytona Beach is an ideal place to visit. With an average high tempeture of 70 degrees in February itís a perfect mid winter vacation destination. And by the way thatís when they race the Daytona 500.
Of course for the July race it is a much different story with average high temps in the low 90's. But at least they run the race at night.
There is plenty to see and do in Daytona Beach. Of course for race fans Daytona USA is a must see while in town for the race. Daytona USA is racing Museum with racing simulators, racecars and collections of memorabilia on display.
At low tide the beaches can be almost 500 feet wide and cars are permitted on most of those beaches. But aspiring NASCAR drivers will have to leave the speed at the speedway since the speed limit is only 10 MPH.
Also nearby the Daytona International Speedway is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex where families can learn about space shuttles rockets and space exploration but only if there are no racing activities at the speedway.
Daytona is known as 'The World Center of Racing' and if you ever go to a race there you'll know why!
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