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Santos walks away from hard crash in Nationwide Series practice
Bobby Santos hits the inside wall hard after something broke in the front end of his car.
Santos captures 'biggest win' of his career
Bobby Santos looks back on the long road to his first NWMT victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
From The Vault: The last lap of the 1979 Daytona 500
Relive the last lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. A race that saw Richard Petty win his sixth Great American Race, and the fight that launched stock car racing to new heights.
What's in a Number? Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 dominance
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! The 59th annual Daytona 500 is just around the corner, so we sifted through the numbers on Racing Reference to find some interesting tidbits for you to chew on while you wait for the Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) running of The Great American Race. 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads active drivers with 10 victories on restrictor-plate tracks. That's double the amount for the next-closest competitors, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson , who have five apiece. Two of Junior's 10 restrictor-plate wins have come in the Daytona 500 , his last being in 2014. 9 Dale Earnhardt Jr . also leads active drivers with nine second-place finishes in restrictor-plate races. Tony Stewart had eight, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson all tied at six apiece. So in 19 of Junior's 67 restrictor-plate races, he has finished either in first or second place. RELATED: More restrictor-plate stats 1967 The last time the Daytona 500 was run on Feb. 26 was 1967, and the winner was Mario Andretti. It was Andretti's only win in 14 NASCAR premier series starts. He drove for Holman-Moody and beat Fred Lorenzen in a race that ended under caution. Andretti, of course, was better known for his open-wheel career. No. 11 When Andretti won the Daytona 500 he was driving the No. 11 car. That number has been on the Daytona 500 -winning car just two other times: In 1977, eventual NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough drove it to Victory Lane. Last year, Denny Hamlin won in the race's closest finish ever (.010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr .). RELATED: Stats by car number 22 The number of DNFs for Michael Waltrip in his restrictor-plate racing career, tying him with Bobby Labonte for third-most all-time. However, Waltrip has the most starts in restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega with 108 and has won four times, including twice in the Daytona 500 (2001 and '03). Waltrip will be making the final start of his career in this year's Daytona 500 .
Robert Yates 'hanging tough' in battle with cancer
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Former NASCAR championship-winning team owner Robert Yates is "hanging tough" in his battle with liver cancer and has nearly completed chemotherapy treatments, according to his son, Doug Yates. "He has two more and then hopefully they can go to surgery," Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines, said during a teleconference Monday. "But he's hanging tough. He gets excited when we start racing so he's ready for us to get to Daytona." Robert Yates, 73, was diagnosed with liver cancer late last year. As a team owner, his Robert Yates Racing organization captured the 1999 championship with driver Dale Jarrett in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . From 1989 through 2009, his organization won 57 races and scored 433 top-10 finishes in 1,155 starts. Included among the victories were three Daytona 500 wins, with Davey Allison in '92 and Jarrett in '96 and '00. Prior to his becoming a team owner, Yates built engines that helped carry numerous NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers to Victory Lane, including Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Allison's 1983 title came with Yates as engine builder. Among the teams that benefitted from his knowledge and talent under the hood were Holman-Moody, Junior Johnson & Associates and DiGard Racing. Today, Roush Yates Engines also supplies power outside of NASCAR, and most recently celebrated a Ford GT LM win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with team owner Chip Ganassi. "After the Rolex, standing there in Victory Lane with Dave (Pericak) and Raj (Nair) and the guys from Ford and Chip Ganassi, I had Chip call him up," Doug Yates said, “and that was really special to me and gave him some more encouragement. "Hopefully he'll get through this thing." Roush Yates Engines, which was formed in 2003, is the exclusive engine builder for Ford Performance and all Ford teams competing in NASCAR's three national series.
Drivers expect plenty of action with new start/finish line at Phoenix
RELATED: Drivers, teams give initial thoughts on Phoenix enhancements AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Three more Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races will take place at Phoenix Raceway before track officials move the location of the start/finish line at the 1-mile facility. That move will be one of the final steps in a $178 million renovation project that is expected to be completed in November of 2018, just before the series returns for a second time next season. Drivers say the change will make for interesting times going forward at a track that has hosted NASCAR national series events since 1988. "I think it's going to be a good thing," Joey Logano , driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Ford and a former winner here, said Jan. 30. "I think you'll see more action on restarts." The current layout sends drivers piling into a very narrow Turn 1, where passing opportunities are almost non-existent. Track position on restarts is crucial. "You can't really go three-wide in the corner (now)," Logano said. "We've seen what happens when you do. There really isn't much opportunity to pass on restarts here, that's why lane selection becomes important. … This opens it up." The new location of the line likely means that drivers will immediately fan out after taking the green flag and they work their way through the widest portion of the track. It will be "completely opposite" of the current situation, according to Logano. "It will be the most open corner entry for a restart that we will have, going into a flat corner that’s basically like a parking lot," he said. Drivers will try to spread out, some dive-bombing off the exit of Turn 2 while others hug the high side of the track. But all are headed to the same spot -- Turn 3 where the track will narrow with no change in the nine-degree banking. "Right now it's not wild in Turn 1 and 2; it's wild off 2 and into 3-4," Logano said. "And that's after half the field has spread out. Now everyone will be on top of each other. They're going to crash. We're going to crash, there's no doubt. It will be a challenge. A lot of opportunity to take advantage of that, good or bad." But dive-bombing cars all racing toward a tight turn won't be the only concern -- just getting a good restart in the middle of a corner will present its own set of problems. "I think it will be really interesting to have the restarts while we are in the turn," Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said during a break in testing the track on Jan. 31. "You are going to be coming through this corner -- imagine if you are 20th , middle of the pack trying to get a good restart while you are in a corner. "It's going to be interesting to throttle up out of the turn for a restart." WATCH: Dale Jr. takes laps around Phoenix Earnhardt, a three-time winner at Phoenix said he expects to see drivers "all over the place" going through the dogleg portion of the track just past the start/finish line for a variety of reasons. "Because on restarts you have guys that accelerate better than others," he said. "Guys in the right lane, the wrong lane; it's going to be chaos coming through the dogleg (with) guys trying to shortcut to get into the new Turn 1. "It will be some action." Two other facilities currently hosting Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races have moved the location of the start/finish line -- in 1997 Darlington Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway moved the line to the opposite side of the track as part of expansion projects. 2000 series champion Bobby Labonte won the first race on the new Atlanta configuration while four-time champion Jeff Gordon won the first race at Darlington following the swap. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Tomlinson named Honorary Starter for Daytona 500
RELATED: Buy tickets for the Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson has been named the Honorary Starter for the 59th DAYTONA 500, the opening race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season on Feb. 26 (TV: FOX, FOX Deportes; Radio: MRN Radio, SiriusXM) at Daytona International Speedway . Tomlinson, a former All-Pro running back with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, is one of 18 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2017 class. The 2017 class of inductees will be announced on Feb. 4, the day before the Super Bowl. (UPDATE: Tomlinson was selected to be part of the Class of 2017 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.) Having retired from the NFL in 2012, Tomlinson now is an analyst for the NFL Network and an Ambassador for DAV (Disabled American Veterans). He will soon make his feature-film acting debut in the movie "God Bless the Broken Road." Multi-platinum recording artist Jordin Sparks also stars in the film and will be singing the National Anthem at this year's DAYTONA 500. "God Bless The Broken Road" will be appearing in theaters later this year. "LaDainian Tomlinson will continue our tradition of popular, high-profile celebrities serving as our DAYTONA 500 Honorary Starter," said Speedway President Chip Wile. "His NFL career is legendary and he has always been the consummate professional, on and off the field. We are proud to add him to our illustrious list of Honorary Starters." Recent DAYTONA 500 Honorary Starters include NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, actor Gary Sinise and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr. Tickets for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , Pinterest , YouTube and Snapchat (username: DISupdates), and by downloading Daytona International Speedway 's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bobby Pierce making a name for himself at Eldora despite faltering in the end
RELATED: Results " Standings " Updated Chase Grid ROSSBURG, Ohio -- Kyle Larson had never heard of Bobby Pierce until last year's running of this event, when the dirt track standout earned the pole, led 39 laps and finished second. After Wednesday night's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, won by Larson, there's a good chance the Sprint Cup Series driver -- and NASCAR fans in general -- won't be forgetting his name any time soon. Pierce, in just his seventh career truck start, stomped the field to a tune of 102 of 150 laps led, sometimes approaching a full 5-second lead on the half-mile short track. But the 19-year-old had his shifter stuck in fourth gear and was unable to get it unstuck before an impending restart with less than 30 laps to go. The issue relegated him to a disappointing 25th-place finish after wrecking and slowly landing against the inside wall. "Kind of what bit me there was I couldn't get it out of fourth gear on the caution, so I was riding around there just beating it, just trying to get it out," Pierce told NASCAR.com after he was cleared and released from the infield care center. "I was restarting in second or third and I'm sure that's what Larson was doing, too, but on the restart I just couldn't get going. "I got to second (place) and I caught him there and just kind of drove it in a little too hard. Kinda hit the baby powder or whatever it was. The baby powder made it a little slick getting in, and that was all she wrote. Hit the wall, knocked the right rear off the rim." Pierce was unable to get his truck moving after hitting the wall and, despite his pleas to get pushed back on the track, was required to exit his vehicle and make a trip to the care center even though he "only hit the wall going about 1 mile per hour." Even if he'd been able to get it going again, it was unlikely that his team could've fixed the shifter, patched up any body damage and gotten him back out on the track in time to compete for the win. That's just how racing goes, sometimes. "Heck, it's always gotta be something. If you're going to win the race, you've gotta have luck and be good at the same time," said Pierce, whose best CWTS finish of the season came at Kansas (23rd). "Larson had a flat there early on and he charged back through there, but unfortunately our deal was later on so we couldn't come in and get it fixed. Even if it did, I don't think they could've gotten the tranny fixed getting it out of fourth because I tried every single trick in the book to get it out and it just would not go." Pierce said he's planning on running the event again next year, and likely has to be the odds-on favorite at this point, whether or not Larson aims to repeat his win. While no more national series events are on his schedule for the season, Pierce isn't ruling them out for the future. "Heck, the two years I've done (Eldora) have been really good so far," Pierce said. "(MB Motorsports team owner) Mike Mittler has treated me really well so far; planning on doing it again next year. As far as asphalt goes, just gotta find sponsorship if I'm going to do it. "(I'm pursuing more races) a little. Our dirt late model year and the previous years have been so good that even if I don't get sponsorship to try it a couple more times or whatever, then I'll be all right. It's good to run these deals. It's good to run pavement, too, because it makes you a better driver, going back to the late model and trying to pick up sponsorship." People noticed. Some of whom are undoubtedly sponsors. Feel free to do a quick Twitter search. Race fans knew Bobby Pierce was there, and race fans know Bobby Pierce is a driver to watch after these thrilling performances. "Well, hey. If I can't win," he said. "At least I put on a good show, I guess."
Bobby Allison on two left feet, dancing with Nancy Reagan
Before President Ronald Reagan gave the command at Daytona in 1984, he had a fan in Bobby Allison. The feeling was mutual. The NASCAR Hall of Famer professed his respect for the president in 1982 and was later invited to the White House for a state dinner with Reagan and his wife, Nancy, who died earlier this week at age 94. The story below was told by Bobby Allison to Matt Crossman. When I won Daytona in '82, Reagan was going through a political deal where guys were really hammering him about he wasn't a good enough president about something. In Victory Lane at the 1982 Daytona 500 , when they stuck the camera in my face and the microphone in my face, I said, "I love Ronald Reagan." It went out all over. Ronald Reagan happened to be watching that broadcast that day and he saw that. So then (my wife) Judy and I got invited to go to the White House for a state dinner, which was quite an affair. We were up in New York for the '83 championship banquet. Somebody under his command called and said, "The president would like to have you and Judy at the White House for a state dinner." I had to go rent a tux -- we didn't wear tuxes yet at the awards banquet. I had a regular suit. I went across the street there in New York City, got a tux, tried on the pants and shirt, bow tie, all that stuff. I told the guy I wear size 10 1/2 shoe. So he grabs a pair of shoes and sticks them in a shoe box and says, "OK, they're in there." I go to Mike Curb's apartment in Washington D.C. to get dressed. I get my tux all on and my bow tie and my studs. I put my left foot down into my left shoe. I put my right foot down -- into another left shoe. So here I am, with two left feet. Mike wasn't there. His sister was there. She called him to see if he had a pair of patent leather shoes for a tux. He said, "Yeah, they're right there. But you know I have little tiny feet." Mike Curb had size 7 1/2 shoes. So I put my size 10 1/2 feet into those 7 1/2 shoes. I was so in agony. Nancy Reagan asked me to dance, and I couldn't dance. I could barely stand up. It hurt to sit down, even.
Pursuing NASCAR's triple crown intrigues Bobby Labonte
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte quietly bowed out of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the tail end of the 2013 season. No retirement tour, no gifts. Certainly no ponies. The 2000 premier series champion has selectively dabbled in the sport since, however, with a handful of unremarkable starts at Indianapolis and the restrictor-plate tracks, knowing the pack racing may be his last remaining shot at picking up his first -- and likely final -- Cup victory in more than a decade. Labonte will run in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway , his second of a scheduled four-race slate in 2016. While not sure if this same type of deal will continue to be available to him in future years, the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte hinted at an interestingly hush-hush opportunity that could be coming down the pipeline later on this season. "I do have a couple other possibilities I am excited about that might come to fruition later on in the year that I didn't see coming around the corner but they are opportunities that might lead to something that I have been more excited about than anything I have done in my career," Labonte said Friday at Talladega. "Racing is still a big passion of mine and I know I am not going to go do a lot of things I used to do but there are still some opportunities out there that are still up on my radar that I would like to do." But what does he have left to prove? What racing goals remain? "That is a great question, too. Winning any race. It might be a bicycle race. Racing at the Sprint Cup level has gotten so intense that if you can't do it every weekend … (Talladega) is different as we all know. Last weekend and next weekend is different than here," Labonte said. "It is one of those things that I guess I kind of want to race more in a way but I don't want to race more in some ways. I don't want to do it every weekend but I know there are different series you can do that aren’t quite as strenuous as this. "My brother told me one time after about two years of retirement, 'You know, you will have a lot more friends later that you didn't know you had.' And that is true. I am enjoying that. As far as racing goes I am enjoying it and my opportunity is only four times right now through a little bit of what I want to do and a little bit from other people." One remaining goal is obvious: becoming NASCAR's first Triple Crown winner by notching a championship at each of its three national series levels. Labonte has the two arguably tougher feats down, winning the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) title by 74 points over Kenny Wallace in 1991, then taking his first and only Sprint Cup Series (then Winston Cup) title by a wide, 265-point margin over Dale Earnhardt in 2000. It's a long shot, and Labonte admits that "everything has to line up right," but he's at least considered the prospect of running for a Camping World Truck Series title. He has 10 career starts in the series, with one win (2005 at Martinsville). "It is absolutely something that we have talked about and met with some people about," Labonte said. "I couldn't just make it happen by snapping my fingers and we couldn’t quite get it all lined up. I definitely had it in my mind that it was something I really wanted to do. I would still entertain that but there is also a point where if you can chase the championship that is one thing, and you can do it in a lot of ways. "When I started racing when I was little, the passion was to race and win and that is what you want to do. You want the chance to do that. We did it back then and I think the Truck Series is very appealing to me. I loved it when I did a few of them for a couple of guys and won a race and finished in the top five quite a bit. It is definitely a different level and the garage area is a lot calmer there than it is in the Sprint Cup Series and it kind of, at this point in time, is very appealing."