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Duels dilemma: Bank points or protect your Daytona 500 car?
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Lineups for the Duels " How the Duels work DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The opportunity to earn points and possibly a berth in the season-ending playoffs for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins in earnest here this weekend as drivers prepare for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . The first chance for points will present itself Thursday as Daytona hosts the annual Can-Am Duels (7 p.m. ET, FS1), two 60-lap qualifying races that will set the bulk of the field for Sunday's main event. For the first time since 1971, drivers finishing in the top 10 in the Duels will receive points (10th for first through one for 10th ). Will the change alter the way teams approach the two races? Will it impact strategy in points races, now broken into three stages with points up for grabs as well? "It will make small difference; it will make a difference for David Ragan ," the Front Row Motorsports driver said Wednesday during NASCAR's annual Media Day at Daytona. "For me, points are what matter to a smaller team," Ragan, driver of the team's No. 38 Ford, said. "And every opportunity we have to gain some points we need to capitalize. "A team like Kevin Harvick 's who can lead a lot of laps, they're going to be fast, win some races, they can overcome not scoring points in a segment. They're going to be able to score a lot of points quicker but for a team that will be running in the mid-teens or low 20s, if we can score points at some segments or in the Duels … that could mean the difference in making the (playoffs) or not making (them). "So I think we will be a little more aggressive when it comes to these opportunities to gain points." RELATED: Fast facts on the race enhancements Harvick, the 2014 series champion, wins with frequency. He'll be going after career win No. 36 and a second Daytona 500 trophy this weekend at the wheel of the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing . Looming large for teams heading into the Duels is the potential for damage -- scarring up the primary entry for the Daytona 500 just to earn a handful of points is a risky proposition. "I still want to race my primary car in the 500," Ragan said, adding that some of his best finishes in the race have come in back-up entries. "So it's not the end of the world … but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks and do something stupid. But I will be looking to gain some points on Thursday." Pete Hamilton, driving the No. 6 Plymouth fielded by Spartanburg, South Carolina for car owner Cotton Owens and David Pearson, in the No. 17 Holman-Moody Mercury, won the two qualifying races in '71, the last time points were awarded in the for the events. "For the Duel, you protect the car," said Kurt Busch , driver of the No. 41 Ford for SHR. "If you find yourself in a position where it's jeopardizing the car's safety, then you want to make sure you make the right moves to protect the car. Because you want to go into the 500 with your primary car. "The backups are still strong; we put a lot of effort into all of our cars because we had to switch over to Ford. (Matt) Kenseth won in '09 in a backup car. It can be done. But you always want your best bullet to take to the 500." Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon isn't worried about protecting his car for Sunday’s 500 -- a lackluster qualifying effort has the youngster and his team searching for speed and answers. RELATED: Dillon discusses how slick the track is "I'm definitely going to do what I can to grab points in the Duel," Dillon said. Others, such as Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88) likely won't be as aggressive. They'll start 1-2, respectively, on Sunday and while the opportunity to earn a few extra points is nice, they'll be thinking big picture. "And some guys are probably pretty excited about their cars for the 500 where I'm just mediocre about my car for the 500 right now," said Dillon, who was only 26th fastest on pole day and will start 13th in Thursday night's second Duel. "I'm going to whip it like crazy the next two days to make me like it or force it to be good." Elliott and Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske , No. 2 Ford) will start 1-2 in the opening Duel, which is scheduled to go off at 7 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio); Earnhardt and Clint Bowyer (SHR, No. 14 Ford) make up the front row for the second Duel. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Get ready for the Daytona 500 with driver interviews
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " Speedweeks schedule Drivers take center stage starting at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday for the Media Day live stream presented by NAPA as excitement builds toward Sunday's Daytona 500 . Don't miss any of the stories, banter and laughs as NASCAR.com live streams the event til 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch here . Hosts Jonathan Merryman and Kim Coon will talk with drivers about the Daytona 500 and the 2017 season. Here's the event lineup (all times Eastern): 8:30 a.m.: Aric Almirola 8:40 a.m.: Austin Dillon , Matt DiBenedetto 8:45 a.m.: Chris Buescher 8:50 a.m.: Joey Gase BREAK (35 min) 9:35 a.m.: Michael McDowell , AJ Allmendinger 9:40 a.m.: David Gilliland 9:45 a.m.: Joey Logano BREAK (25 min) 10:20 a.m.: Chip Wile 10:30 a.m.: Brendan Gaughan , Darrell Wallace Jr . 10:35 a.m.: Cole Custer 10:40 a.m.: Blake Koch 10:50 a.m.: Brennan Poole 11:05 a.m.: Dale Earnhardt Jr . 11:10 a.m.: Daniel Hemric , Brandon Jones 11:20 a.m.: Spencer Gallagher , Ben Kennedy BREAK (1 hr. 40 min) 1:10 p.m.: Ryan Blaney 1:20 p.m.: Chase Elliott 1:50 p.m.: Kevin Harvick 1:55 p.m.: Justin Allgaier , Michael Annett 2 p.m.: John Hunter Nemechek , Denny Hamlin 2:10 p.m.: Ty Dillon , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch 2:20 p.m.: Landon Cassill , Kasey Kahne BREAK (15 min) 2:45 p.m.: Erik Jones BREAK (10 min) 3:05 p.m.: Ryan Reed BREAK (5 min) 3:15 p.m.: Brad Keselowski
Tweets to the Winner: Everything is Joey's fault
MORE BLOGS: Inside Groove page Joey Logano took advantage of a last-lap incident to win the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, injecting momentum into the No. 22 team's Speedweeks. While Logano and his fans were ecstatic to watch the familiar red and yellow Ford drive into Victory Lane to end the long offseason, others didn't have such nice things to say. Some folks were just flat-out mean -- and weirdly specific. #joeylagano won the race! What a weasel! — Paula Sandt Miller (@FlyDC989) February 19, 2017 @joeylogano PUKE IN DAYTONA — susieq (@kbuhurico) February 19, 2017 @NASCAR @joeylogano Joey Joey Joey is a kids name — Joe Post (@Joepost43) February 19, 2017 Other Logano haters felt it was more appropriate to dismiss the win altogether, despite the fact that the No. 22 wasn't involved in the late-race crash between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski . @NASCAR @joeylogano you only got that win because others crashed. @joeylogano the way you were driving out there. — al provost (@ambergriffin123) February 19, 2017 Way to go Logano - payback won't be fun. #NASCAR — Koreen M (@czarinakem) February 19, 2017 At least some fans had Joey's back ... @MonsterEnergy the girl who offered @joeylogano the towel, wiped herself first then offer it to him? Gross. Good thing Joey didn't take it — Bridget Reeves (@trakmom2013) February 19, 2017 Logano? More like LoWINgo — ÿøęł (@novus_discipula) February 19, 2017 ... but there always will be the people who don't like when you have a good day. Will someone please Punch Joey Lagano he is always so happy — David Kemp (@davidkemp88) February 19, 2017
Pit road contact hinders Dillon's shot for a win
Contact on pit road between Ty Dillon and David Mayhew cuts down the left-front tire on the No. 3, sending him to pit road for repairs.
Sense of rejuvenation for Ronnie Bassett Jr., team with his first K&N win
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Ronnie Bassett Jr. sat in contemplation last May, having rushed to witness first-hand the devastating fire that tore through his family-owned team's race shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While thankfully no one was injured, the material loss was heavy, with little to salvage in the way of cars, tools, equipment and the team's hauler. Sifting through cinders in the days after the blaze, Bassett said he wondered what would come next for him and his brother, Dillon, a pair of next-generation racers. "We were sitting there scratching our heads," Bassett says. "We didn't know whether we were going to be able to race again the rest of that season or what." Sunday night, nearly nine months after their loss, came victory. The 21-year-old Bassett emerged from a frantic second half of the season-opening Jet Tools 150 to score his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at New Smyrna Speedway. The win also soothed the heartbreak of last year's K&N opener, where an official scoring check after the checkered flag kept Bassett from Victory Lane. Bassett's convincing victory, which included a late-race stretch of running 1-2 with his brother, belies the adversity that his family has faced. Working with insurance to rebuild their own shop has been a gradual process, and the family racing operation is now spread over three buildings in their hometown -- a small warehouse for primary cars, a shed for parts and another space serving as a makeshift fabrication shop. "We're just trying to make it happen," said Ronnie Bassett Sr., who enjoyed a successful career in the Sportsman division at Bowman Gray Stadium. "They don't have much to work out of. It's a tight spot, I can tell you that." What has helped has been a devoted crew, and fellow racers David Calabrese and Brandon Gdovic lending a hand with equipment to help the team finish out 2016 with a part-time slate. "We just prayed to the good Lord about it to see what needed to be done," Bassett Jr. said. "It kind of worked out. We have more than what we had when we were working out of our other shop. We've been blessed with a lot of great people." Bassett Jr. led the final 42 laps, sweating through a pair of red flags for accidents, including a final stack-up near the front of the field that knocked his brother and NASCAR Next driver Tyler Dippel from contention. It marked the first laps led in a K&N East career that's spanned 40 races since 2013. Though Bassett Jr. amassed a three-second lead on the half-mile track over the closing laps, he and his father remained antsy. Intense racing behind him threatened a late caution, and then there were the reminders of the mix-up from last season. Bassett actually crossed under the checkered flag first at New Smyrna in 2016, emerging from a three-car fracas with Todd Gilliland and Spencer Davis. But race officials determined that an extra lap had been inadvertently run beyond the scheduled distance, handing the victory to Gilliland. There was no doubt Sunday night. "I had a counter in my hand tonight," Bassett Sr. said with a laugh. "We were definitely watching the flagstand, that's for sure. It's all good, though." For his son, the victory was a needed boost after a long dry spell. Bassett had two runner-up efforts sprinkled among his nine previous top-five finishes, including a third place at New Smyrna last year. After leaving the Florida half-mile with trophy in hand, Bassett said the sense of rejuvenation was real. "It's been very, very tough on myself -- I went from running good in Late Model Stocks and then coming to these things, it's like punching myself in the heart," Bassett Jr. said, adding that the family plans a full K&N East schedule in its rebuilding year. "To come back and have a good race car and lead laps tonight, it builds my confidence back to know that I can still do it."
Daytona 500 qualifying order
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! # Car Driver Team 1 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt Little Joes Autos/Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 2 51 * Timmy Hill (i) Spoonful of Music Foundation/Bubba Burger Chevrolet 3 83 * Corey LaJoie Dustless Blasting Toyota 4 96 * DJ Kennington Lordco/Castrol Toyota 5 55 * Reed Sorenson Toyota 6 23 Joey Gase (i) Best Home Furnishings Toyota 7 15 Michael Waltrip Aaron's Toyota 8 72 Cole Whitt Florida Lottery Ford 9 37 Chris Buescher Cottonelle Mega Roll Chevrolet 10 7 * Elliott Sadler (i) Golden Corral Chevrolet 11 75 * Brendan Gaughan (i) Beard Oil Distributing Chevrolet 12 38 David Ragan Camping World Ford 13 32 Matt DiBenedetto EJ Wade Construction Ford 14 34 Landon Cassill Love's Ford 15 95 Michael McDowell K-Love Radio Chevrolet 16 3 Austin Dillon DOW Chevrolet 17 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger Click List Chevrolet 18 10 Danica Patrick Aspen Dental Ford 19 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna McDonald's Chevrolet 20 78 Martin Truex Jr . Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota 21 13 Ty Dillon # GEICO Chevrolet 22 24 Chase Elliott NAPA Chevrolet 23 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Ford 24 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 25 27 Paul Menard Menards/Peak Chevrolet 26 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 27 77 Erik Jones # 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota 28 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 29 20 Matt Kenseth DeWalt Toyota 30 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 31 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford 32 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . Nationwide Chevrolet 33 14 Clint Bowyer Mobil 1 Ford 34 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 35 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Fastenal Ford 36 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 37 19 Daniel Suarez # ARRIS Toyota 38 21 Ryan Blaney Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 39 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 40 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 41 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Foods Ford 42 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Front Row obtains third charter, plans 2018 expansion
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Front Row Motorsports announced Friday afternoon that it has purchased a third charter for use in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ahead of a planned expansion for the 2018 season. The Bob Jenkins-owned organization indicated that it has acquired the charter last used by BK Racing 's No. 83 entry in the series in 2016. Front Row said it intends to lease the charter to TriStar Motorsports' No. 72 team this year in advance of fielding three full-time entries the following season. Front Row Motorsports currently has two chartered teams: The No. 34 Ford for driver Landon Cassill and the No. 38 Ford driven by David Ragan . The organization -- based in Statesville, North Carolina -- has fielded at least one full-time entry in NASCAR's top division since 2009. "I'm proud of the way this team has grown since we first joined the sport, and we're here to stay," Jenkins said in a news release provided by the team. "Now we're taking the next step that will strengthen our foundation as a team and help us build more meaningful, lasting relationships on all levels -- driver, sponsor and manufacturer." RELATED: What teams have charters? " Full list of full-time rides Front Row has campaigned as a three-car team as recently as 2015. Last season, it completed primarily as a two-car effort, with David Gilliland in a third car at restrictor-plate tracks. The move reduces BK Racing 's number of chartered teams to one -- the No. 23 Toyota which will be driven by Joey Gase in the Daytona 500 with rookie Gray Gaulding driving nearly the entire schedule. BK Racing owner Ron Devine indicated that its Nos. 83 and 93 will compete in multiple races as open teams. "I believe operating with one charter will allow this team to focus our resources in a way that will make us more competitive on the race track," Devine said in a statement released by the team. "I have the utmost confidence that we will give both Joey Gase in the No. 23 and Corey LaJoie in the No. 83 the equipment they need to give us a strong run in Daytona, and I'm eager to see Gray Gaulding do great in the No. 23 starting in Atlanta. "As previously announced, Corey LaJoie will run multiple races in the No. 83 this season. Like last year, you will likely see the No. 93 on track from time to time as well. We have excellent, young talent this year, and I plan for this to be BK Racing 's most competitive year ever." TriStar announced its return to NASCAR's premier series Thursday, planning a full-time ride for driver Cole Whitt . NASCAR introduced the charter system ahead of the 2016 season in an effort to provide a better business model for team owners. Of the 40 starting spots available in each Monster Energy Cup Series race, 36 are guaranteed to chartered teams. </p>
Logano, Ragan make charitable Super Bowl LI bet
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Joey Logano is from Connecticut and a New England Patriots fan. David Ragan is from Georgia and is an Atlanta Falcons fan. Add that with the fact that both teams are squaring off in Sunday’s Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas on FOX and the two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers agreed to a good-natured bet that will benefit charity. With the Patriots winning, Ragan will donate $2,200 to The Joey Logano Foundation. If the Falcons had won, Logano would have donated $2,200 to Shriners Hospital for Children. Founded in 2013, The Joey Logano Foundation partners with other organizations to provide comfort and relief to those in need after such unforeseen circumstances. Shriners Hospital for Children has been Ragan's official charity of choice since 2008. Shriners Hospital for Children served as the primary sponsor for Ragan in one race in 2016 and he rode on the Shriners Hospital float in last year's 127th Rose Parade. How did this bet come to fruition and how exactly was the total agreed on? Here is a look at the anatomy of that bet. Hey @joeylogano . $2K says @AtlantaFalcons win #SuperBowl Pats win = I donate 2K @JoeyLoganoFDN Falcons win = U donate 2K @shrinershosp — David Ragan (@DavidRagan) February 3, 2017 Make it $2,200 and we got a deal. https://t.co/mGFXZU5WqZ — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 4, 2017 @joeylogano I see what you did there! I feel good about Falcons. So it's a deal! See you in Houston! #RiseUp — David Ragan (@DavidRagan) February 4, 2017 Deal #Patriots #SB51 https://t.co/BPF8VgaJul — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 4, 2017 On Sunday, Logano tweeted a photo of the two drivers getting ready to attend the big game. Almost game time! #SuperBowl Go @Patriots @DavidRagan pic.twitter.com/zR6kMnqZAU — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 5, 2017 Logan and Ragan aren’t the only ones in the NASCAR world with a friendly wager on the big game. Atlanta Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway have a bet as well. The details of which you can read here .
NASCAR community makes Super Bowl LI picks
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! With Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons fast approaching, the NASCAR community is weighing on social media with their picks for the big game. This Super Bowl marks a stark contrast to last year's game when the home team for much of the NASCAR community, the Carolina Panthers played in the game, losing to the Denver Broncos, 24-10. RELATED: Who did drivers pick in Super Bowl 50? Among NASCAR drivers, Joey Logano and David Ragan have the biggest rooting interest in this matchup -- the Connecticut native Logano is a Pats fan, while Georgia native Ragan is a Falcons fan. The two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers even made a charitable bet on the game. RELATED: Logano, Ragan make charitable Super Bowl LI bet So which team is the NASCAR community picking? Here's a sampling below. Asked coach who he was going for.. I think he's still undecided pic.twitter.com/g3nRVtCBki — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 3, 2017 I predict The @AtlantaFalcons will win the super bowl Sunday, it will be "gone with the wind" for the @Patriots ! — Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) February 3, 2017 Big game today #SuperBowl after @Patriots win watch 4 video of @Tim_Dugger coming from Daytona500 weekend proclaiming Pats r the greatest — Steve Letarte (@SteveLetarte) February 5, 2017 I would prefer that neither win. https://t.co/fWkDA4eEmN — Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) February 5, 2017 We can see who @cody_coughlin is cheering for in #SB51 . @benrhodes is also #TeamPatriots & @GrantEnfinger is #TeamFalcons . Who's your pick? pic.twitter.com/1QaUZem2Ry — ThorSport Racing (@ThorSportRacing) February 5, 2017 Super Bowl Sunday! Who's everyone taking? I'm think Patriots win a close one. #SuperBowl2017 — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) February 5, 2017 My heart says Falcons my gut says Patriots.. who ya got? — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) February 5, 2017 We're counting down to #SB51 . @KevinHarvick has his pick. Do y'all agree? pic.twitter.com/MZXEihnu0r — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) February 5, 2017 So, who's your pick to win #SB51 , @DanicaPatrick ? pic.twitter.com/OIgMQqjTKh — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) February 5, 2017 #TBT to the @Patriots Super Bowl win in 2015. Ready to see another title this weekend! #SB51 #NHMSPatriots pic.twitter.com/302WoUs4xE — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 3, 2017 Logano is among several drivers in Houston, Texas for the festivities. Kyle Busch , Ryan Blaney , Darrell Wallace Jr. and David Ragan are also in town. @NASCAR at #SB51 @Blaney @BubbaWallace pic.twitter.com/KEFXsHfWZZ — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 5, 2017 Almost game time! #SuperBowl Go @Patriots @DavidRagan pic.twitter.com/zR6kMnqZAU — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 5, 2017 This was great to meet some legends. pic.twitter.com/lzzcUYCLpb — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) February 5, 2017 Had a blast at the @jakeowen concert at the @wheels_up party. Great time hanging with @guyfieri and @jjwatt #superbowl pic.twitter.com/9b9W9sF9mq — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) February 4, 2017 Patriots fan as well as former crew chief turned NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte was on site as well. Letarte group made the trip #SuperBowl2017 pic.twitter.com/GCV6uGthKH — Steve Letarte (@SteveLetarte) February 5, 2017
Mark Martin enters super late model race
RELATED: Martin relishes Hall of Fame nod Mark Martin's return to the NASCAR spotlight as a 2017 inductee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be followed by his return to the race track this summer. Martin has entered the July 15 IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body super late model race at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. "I've heard nothing but good things from my NASCAR buddies about the race, the competition and the fans," Martin said in a press release from the track. "It's always fun to get back to your roots. My career began at local short tracks and I got the opportunity to go to so many great speedways. I can't wait to check this one out, along with the competition and the fans." The IWK 250 is a three-day event starting Thursday, July 13, with the IWK 250 Tailgate Party. On July 14, it's the NAPA Sportsman Series with a 100-lap championship points event, along with the Maritime League of Legends. The super late model race is the main event on July 15. Fellow NASCAR driver Regan Smith won the IWK 250 in 2008. Other NASCAR drivers who have competed in the event are Aric Almirola , Marcos Ambrose , Matt Crafton , Ricky Craven, Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , David Reutimann and Austin Theriault . Martin will drive for Nova Racing, alongside teammates Donald Chisholm, the defending IWK 250 champion, and George Koszkulics, who has three top-10 finishes in four attempts in the race. Martin retired from NASCAR racing in 2013 with 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins in 882 starts over 31 years with 56 poles. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;