Thursday, February 17, 2011

Duel races have everything this year

By the time the Thursday of Speedweeks rolls around, there is usual at least one, often several, burning issues that have everybody talking.

But this year might have the most issues circling the garage area as teams and NASCAR get set for the Duel races.

In the past, the week leading up to the Daytona 500 has been filled with talk of restrictor-plate sizes, teams getting busted for cheating, or back in the days when which manufacturer a team used mattered more than the motor, one car make complaining its cars were at a disadvantage aerodynamically.

This year the talk has been about a myriad of issues, including the size of the restrictor plate, the technical ins and outs of the cars’ radiators and how they work in the two-car draft, which has been the major issue of the week.

Once Daytona International Speedway repaved the track to make it as smooth as could be, the drivers were able to push each other all of the way around the track without having to lift, and they could do it for many laps at a time.

While NASCAR has made restrictions to the cars’ cooling units and shrunk the restrictor plate, the two-car draft races will likely continue even if not to the extent that we saw in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday.

All of the technical stuff led into Wednesday’s first practice session where Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed his pole-winning car and will now have to start both the Duel race and the Daytona 500 from the back of the field.

This may be a big-time bummer for Dale Jr. fans, but it will make for an even more dramatic first Duel race because the winner will lead the field to the green flag Sunday.

The Duel races are always exciting, but this year even more is at stake than usual. The pole position is up for grabs, the race will show everyone how the new rules changes have affected the style of racing from Saturday to now and two go-or-go-homers will make the field while a host of others will have their dream crushed.

So get ready. This is going to be one heck of a show.


  1. Historically speaking... Who wants to sit on the pole? How many pole sitters have actually won the 500? There have been 6 in 52 years with Dale Jarrett being the last to do it 11 years ago. So 11.5% of the pole winners have gone on to win the race... Maybe the point is moot given the driving style changes this year and the trouble these guys are having with closing speed and little experience...

    another issue that will change everything... I think it'll be a lot warmer today on the east coast of Florida. Today's racing may prove to be the closest to what they'll be confronted with on Sunday.

    Here we go!

  2. Dwindy1 - What might change the deal with the pole this year is whoever starts first will have raced his way there instead of winning it from the traditional time trials, so his car will already be better set up to race than a normal pole sitter.

    I definitely think these two races will be the best practice session for Sunday. The other regular practices will just be the two-car hookups again.