While running in the top 10, Danica Patrick slides up the track and into Jason Bowles .
Daytona Rising relocates spotters; safety vehicle bump RELATED: Chevrolet added as Daytona Rising partner " 2016 Daytona 500: Buy tickets now NASCAR team spotters will have a slightly different vantage point from which to keep up with their drivers on the track at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, but the change isn't expected to be an issue. The iconic Sprint Tower, which overlooked the 2.5-mile superspeedway for nearly three decades, previously served as the location for spotters who gathered on its roof to provide an eye-in-the-sky view of on-track action for teams. The tower came down earlier this year as part of the $400 million Daytona Rising construction project. For this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races, spotters will now be located in a dedicated seating area on the Turn 1 side of the new grandstands now in place. "Obviously, it's got a great view of the track," Jason Hedlesky, spotter for Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. "I believe it is comparable, height-wise; it might be just a little bit lower. But as we saw the new grandstands coming up in February, a lot of them were already level with us. It might not be the most ideal situation, but … as long as you're high enough to see the entire track, it will be fine." WATCH: Race fans experience Daytona Rising Keeping track of one's driver at Daytona is tricky, with cars often running nearly 200 mph and bunched in tight packs. Contesting the July race at night under the lights adds to the tension for spotters. "You're just so busy normally, then at night … you're dealing with the strobe effect from the lights going down the back straightaway when the cars fan out coming off Turn 2," he said. "It's just a different challenge than you have during the day. "You're looking straight across the track and at the side of the cars; when they fan out, especially with the strobe of the lights, it's really critical to make a good judgment. "These guys are so darn good, they use their left-side mirrors a lot there. You try to protect against big runs off Turn 2 but it's so hard to judge timing. The biggest thing you don't want to do is make a mis-call and not tell them there's somebody inside and (your driver) drives across their nose. "You know as a spotter you have to err on the side of caution. If you say clear and he's not, there's going to be a big wreck." Not-so Safety Vehicle NASCAR officials are reviewing last weekend's incident at Sonoma involving driver Matt DiBenedetto and one of the track's safety vehicles on pit road. DiBenedetto was attempting to pull into his pit stall during a caution period when his car was struck by a safety vehicle. "The vacuum truck and the safety vehicle were coming down (pit road), and we told them to stay straight and maintain their pace at that point that the teams were pitting behind them," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday. "Matt came across to go ahead and pit and was clipped by the safety vehicle. That's something we never want to see happen. "Obviously we put a lot of training into every event. I have not seen that in my time at NASCAR so we're reviewing that to make sure that never happens again and we've obviously reviewed it with the 83 team." RELATED: Driver wrecked ... by safety vehicle DiBenedetto, driving for BK Racing , was moving around the safety vehicle to enter his pit stall when he said the driver "sped up." "(He) got on the gas right when I'm coming around him and cleaned us out," DiBenedetto said. "I guess he wasn't just paying attention or didn't see us – not sure exactly why." "It didn't really hurt us much other than maybe a spot, but definitely pretty funny. I don't think I've ever seen that before." Penalties Down, and a Change Coming? For the second consecutive Sprint Cup Series race, the number of pit road infractions was down as only four teams were penalized during Sunday's Toyota/SaveMart 350. It was the fewest number of infractions in 2015 for a Sprint Cup points race. Two of the penalties were pre-race calls – the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 of Paul Menard and the HScott Motorsports No. 46 of Michael Annett dropped to the rear for engine changes. A Lap-75 penalty on the No. 24 of Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon resulted in a response the following day from NASCAR, however. Gordon was penalized when a spring rubber that had been removed was tossed across the car and over pit wall by jackman Baily Walker. Tossing equipment is prohibited on pit road. "It's really throwing anything," O'Donnell said. "So we made the call in terms of throwing any type of equipment. "That's a call we've made this year. I think it's something we may review at the end of the year in terms of ‘is that the right call?' But it's difficult with any call to say, ‘Was that a piece of equipment? What exactly was thrown back over the wall?' That's something we're going to look at for '16." RELATED: Sonoma victory 'would have been emotional' for Gordon Gordon was the fifth driver penalized this season for a similar infraction. The penalty is a pass-thru if the action occurs under green-flag conditions. Under caution, as was the case for Gordon, resulted in restarting the race at the tail end of the longest line. Lambert Returns, Parrott to No. 33 This weekend's Coke Zero 400 will mark the return of Luke Lambert, crew chief of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with driver Ryan Newman . Lambert, tire technician James Bender and engineer Philip Surgen were suspended for six points races for illegally altering air pressures in tires during this year's Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway. Veteran crew chief Todd Parrott has been serving as interim crew chief for the No. 31 team. With Lambert back in action, Parrott will move to the No. 33 Circle Sport Racing entry, being fielded for RCR driver Brian Scott this weekend at Daytona. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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