Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 14, 2013

NASCAR: Earnhardt Jr. causes 'The Big One', ends Daytona testing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — New cars, same results at Daytona International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started a 12-car accident at Daytona on Friday that essentially shut down a three-day test session designed to hone NASCAR's redesigned cars.

Stock-car racing's most popular driver was trying to bump draft with Marcos Ambrose on the back straightaway when he lifted Ambrose "like a forklift" and turned him into the wall. Ambrose's Ford bounced back across the track and triggered a pileup that collected a host of others.

"It was a big mess and tore up a lot of cars down here trying to work on their stuff," Earnhardt said. "Definitely the drafting is not like it used to be. You can't really tandem certain cars; certain cars don't match up well."

Two of Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, also were involved. So were defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, new teammate Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Regan Smith.

There were no injuries, but the wreck caused several teams to leave Daytona. At least 10 teams, including Michael Waltrip Racing, Penske Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports, packed up their haulers and headed back to North Carolina.

"It is unfortunate, but sometimes you have to wreck them to learn," Keselowski said. "The sport is rewinding. That is the important thing to say. The sport advanced to the two-car tandem three or four years ago, and there were certain things you could do then that you couldn't do in the past without wrecking.

"Now the rules package is back to where we were in the early 2000's when the fans enjoyed the racing better. We as drivers have to rewind to how we used to drive these cars. This is how you do it. You make mistakes and learn and that is part of it. I might be the guy who makes the mistake next time, so I can't be mad about it."

Manufacturers Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota are using new cars in 2013, ones that have unique front ends that make race cars more closely resemble those on the streets and in the showroom.

The new cars have considerably less downforce than their predecessors and perform differently on the track. The previous models had identical designs that made it easier for bump drafting because the front and rear bumpers lined up squarely.

But with redesigned parts in low supply as vendors try to keep up with demands, many teams came to Daytona without backup cars. Drivers took a cautious approach to the test, trying to gain information about speed and handling while hoping to avoid the kind of huge wrecks typically associated with racing in tight-knit packs at nearly 200 mph.

NASCAR asked teams to simulate race conditions Friday by forming the large drafting packs, and there were 18 cars on the track when Earnhardt triggered the big one.

" You can't push, which I think is a good thing," Gordon said. "The bad thing is you can still get to the guy's bumper, but the cars just don't line up very well. ... It's something that is going to have to be dealt with very carefully. You are going to have to be cautious when you do it and do it with the right guys, but most of the time you're going to need to stay away from it. That is certainly something we learned."

Backing up Gordon's sentiments, Earnhardt said the nose of his Chevrolet slid under the rear bumper of Ambrose's Ford.

"It's going to take a lot more care and concentration and just knowing kind of what is at stake," Earnhardt said. "Certain cars you line up OK with and can push fine and for whatever reason mine and Marcus' car didn't line up good. We got our bumpers together and it hooked him. For whatever reason, you've got to be careful who you are working with."

One driver who avoided the melee was five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. He and crew chief Chad Knaus decided before the session to stay.

"It doesn't make any sense to go out there and draft," Johnson said before the crash. "You don't learn anything. You're just taking a chance of ruining your best race car."

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0114web.jpg SOCCER: JV Lady Zebras edge Verdigris, 2-1

    Claremore sophomore forward Brylee Brasher may have felt a little out of position Monday night during the junior varsity game against Verdigris.
    Normally, starting in the goal for the Lady Zebras varsity team, Brasher came out of her comfort zone to start at forward for the Claremore JV.
    The position switch proved to be a great decision for head coach Robin Sutherland, as Brasher showed a tenacity on offense that led to Claremore’s 2-1 win over Verdigris.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hart: Vols hoops job still 'extremely attractive'

    Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart believes the criticism former men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin encountered this season won't hinder the Volunteers' search for a successor.

    April 17, 2014

  • BIG 12 MBB: Kansas State gives Weber 1-year contract extension

    Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber has received a one-year contract extension through the 2018-19 school year after leading the Wildcats to 47 wins in his first two seasons, the most victories by any coach in his first two years in school history.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Manning completes Wake Forest coaching staff

    New Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning is bringing three members of his Tulsa coaching staff with him.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Duke's Parker declares for NBA Draft

    Duke freshman Jabari Parker is entering the NBA draft.
    Coach Mike Krzyzewski says in a statement Thursday it was ''an honor for us to have him in our program.'' In an essay posted on SI.com, Parker says the NBA offers him the best chance to develop both as a player and off the court.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA: Blake Griffin's 16th technical triggers 1-game suspension

    Blake Griffin has picked up his 16th technical foul of the season, triggering a league-mandated one-game suspension.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA CAPSULES: Wizards top Celtics, clinch playoff berth

    Bradley Beal scored 27 points and Washington clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 118-102 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
    The Wizards will be facing Chicago in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

    April 17, 2014

  • Let the (real) games begin: It's NBA playoff time

    Finally, the NBA playoffs are set.
    It took the entire season to fill out those brackets.
    Overtime thrillers in Memphis and Charlotte, a go-ahead dunk in Oklahoma City to win a game and cap another scoring title for Kevin Durant, plus some good old-fashioned disinterest by Brooklyn ... all that, and more, on the final night of the season was needed before the eight conference-quarterfinal matchups in this season's NBA playoffs could be decided.

    April 17, 2014

  • Hopes high Negro Leagues stadium makes comeback

    The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium.
    Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro Leagues teams is getting another chance at bat as baseball's first National Historic Landmark.

    April 17, 2014

AP Video