This episode of The Drive for Superior Performance focuses on track engineers and what they do each week at the race track.
Region's largest hospital organization to name Turn 1 injector RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Daytona International Speedway proudly unveiled another major corporate sponsor of its Daytona Rising redevelopment on Thursday morning, welcoming Florida Hospital as a founding partner. Its brand will hold prime naming rights on Injector Number One of the speedway's $ 400 million remodeling -- "re-imagining" project. International Speedway Corporation Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy made the announcement outside the iconic track Thursday. The largest hospital organization in the Daytona Beach region -- with 23 hospitals statewide -- joins Toyota as the first two founding partners of Daytona Rising. Florida Hospital will have naming rights on the huge fan injector nearest Turn 1. It also will brand and run all of the property's first aid centers and the infield care center as the facility's exclusive healthcare provider. The company has a relationship with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NBA's Orlando Magic -- something Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood says also makes Florida Hospital a natural fit with NASCAR's most famous race track. "We're excited to welcome them to the family,'' Chitwood said. "And we are really excited about where we are. This project has truly generated the publicity we hoped for, and it's a unique project to go from race track to motorsports stadium. "We've got a lot of positive news, the fact we'll have 40,000 seats available for next year's Daytona 500 gives fans a little sneak preview. I couldn't be more pleased with where we are." The corporate interest in partnering with the speedway has been significant. The construction project is on course to be fully completed by 2016, and Chitwood says he is thrilled with the progress and what it says for the track and the sport in general. "We still have a year and three months until opening for 2016, and we've announced two partners for injectors (Toyota was announced in February.) We've done our topping out ceremony. I do believe in the next month or so we'll have an announcement for maybe a new event we'll add for 2016. "I am really pleased with where we are and what we have in front of us. It reinforces that NASCAR is a great spot for partners like Toyota and Florida Hospital. We're planting our flag. We're not going anywhere, we're setting up this property for the next 50 plus years, and the fact we're seeing great interest on the corporate side just reinforces this is the right thing to be doing at the right time." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
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Panel of experts debate the hot topics in NASCAR RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. Before we put last week's race in the rear-view, which win was bigger for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this year -- the Daytona 500 or Sunday’s victory at Martinsville? Kenny Bruce: From an appearance standpoint, it certainly seemed as if the Martinsville win meant a lot to Dale Jr. He's one of a very few folks in the sport today who understands and values the history of the sport, and there's no denying Martinsville's place. It's the only track still on the schedule since the very beginning. Had he still been in Chase contention, the importance of that win would have been even bigger. But ... Daytona 500 wins are still cherished, and by the way, that track has a bit of history as well. And when Hall of Fame talk comes up, a win or wins in the D500 carry a lot of weight. Holly Cain: While Junior seemed nearly as emotional for the grandfather clock on Sunday, I think becoming a rare multi-winner of the Daytona 500 always be the highlight of his career. .... until and unless he gets a championship trophy, that is. Zack Albert: Maybe I'm speaking as someone still full of Martinsville hot dogs, but it was quite the reaction that Junior had coming across the finish line and in the infield media center afterward. Crowd reaction was super-loud, too. Cain: Seems like I recall a pretty loud reaction in Daytona too, though. I just feel that second Daytona 500 victory is what will elevate him as a driver. Bruce: Were they cheering in the press box, Zack? Not to dismiss the importance of his other wins this year, but were the Pocono wins as memorable? As monumental? I think you're right Holly, a multi-time winner of the D500 carries a lot of clout. But singling out this year's win ... he already had one win in the 500. He had never won at Martinsville. For him personally, it seemed like this last win was the bigger deal. Albert: Our media corps cheering in the press box? Heresy! Honestly, the Pocono wins, to me, are what elevated crew chief Steve Letarte as a savvy pit strategist. Dale Jr. can't do it alone and he's had a crew chief on top of his game as well this year. Plus, he got a clock. They also gave him two hot dogs after he got out of Victory Lane on Sunday. When he saw they were plain, he left them in the media center. I haven't seen them show up on eBay just yet ... Cain: Are you kidding Zack, two hot dogs unattended in the media center were definitely eaten by a reporter at some point. Bruce: Give 'em time, Zack. Albert: Here again, you know our media corps. 2. At least two drivers are guaranteed to advance into the season-finale at Homestead based on points earned. Could we see a return to "points racing" in the final two races of the Eliminator Round? Albert: Not if your name is Harvick or Keselowski. Maybe the drivers ahead of them in the Chase standings will lean toward being more conservative in these next two, but those two will be going for it. Cain: Maybe it's just me but it feels like points racing is a scary and uncertain proposition. These guys are getting crashed out up front and in back. However, I agree with Zack and think that will be an easier tactic for those higher in the standings this week. Albert: Is it like football? Will a prevent defense prevent you from winning? Bruce: I don't know that we will. Maybe when the Chase began and there were 16 "Nations" involved, a team could look a little more at the points situation. But now, with wins being guaranteed tickets to advance, I think those left are more focused on winning that ever, if that's possible. In reality, they might end up with a "good points day" but that's just the result of a day spent trying to get to the front. Not a goal. Cain: And certainly these two tracks -- Texas and Phoenix -- can be tough on the best of "points" strategies. Bruce: Right, Holly. And how many times have we seen drivers try to play it safe only to have it wind up biting them? Albert: Plus, I still think these guys still set the goal to win every week. If that's not in the cards, we may see more risk-takers than usual, depending on the standings. I should've "points raced" when it came to hot dogs last weekend. Cain: Let's face it, there are only so many times a season when you have THE winning car and you typically know that pretty early on in a race, so making the best of a situation -- points racing -- is always Plan B. But especially at these tracks, you are easily the victim of others mistakes, Zack. Bruce: You were going for the win, Zack. Giving 100 percent. Cain: Glad I DNQ'ed on that one. 3. Both Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth remain winless yet also remain very much in the title picture. How realistic are their chances at advancing and perhaps even winning the series title without winning a race? Cain: I didn't think I'd be saying this a few weeks ago, but I could totally see either Newman or Kenseth advancing on points. But that Homestead race is going to be crazy aggressive so I'm not ready to give them a trophy yet. Albert: There is something to be said for keeping fenders on the car, isn't there? I know that a win comes with all kind of incentives, glitz and extras, but there's still a reward for being consistent. Bruce: I don't think they've over-achieved, or been more fortunate than most. It's more just the way the system is set up. You don't have to win to advance, but it certainly helps. And with at least two spots in the final race now based on points, their chances look even better. I don't see them all of a sudden going out and dominating a race and winning, they've had 30-plus races to accomplish that and it hasn't happened. But advance? Sure. Cain: It's been amazing … just when you think Kenseth is out of if, he crosses the line just where he needs to be. Homestead is just going to be unlike anything we've ever seen. Albert: Kenseth is as good a pick as any to win Texas, but as Kenny says, I think it's going to be tough to make too many inroads into converting so-far-elusive victories this late in the season. Bruce: Kenseth's Texas stats? Two wins and the best average finish in the field. So maybe this is his week after all. But I wouldn't wager two Martinsville hot dogs on it, Zack. Cain: Kevin Harvick only said Kenseth wouldn't win a championship. He didn't say anything about winning races! Albert: If they continue to mess with each other, perhaps neither will be in the final four -- wins or not. And there it all comes full circle. Enjoy a Texas sirloin while you're down in the Lone Star State. Bruce: Everything's bigger in Texas, Zack. Including the sirloins. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation