Dec 17 | Rolex Series, ARCA shake down new Daytona racing surface

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Following the tire tracks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards got their first taste of the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway on Friday.

No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Following the tire tracks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards got their first taste of the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway on Friday.

Two Rolex Series teams participated in the morning session turning laps on the 3.56-mile road course. Five-time Rolex 24 champion Hurley Haywood and Andrew Davis were behind the wheel of the No. 59 Brumos Porsche GT3 while Paul Edwards drove the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet Coyote.

“It felt great,” Haywood said. “I’ve been battering around these bankings for over 40 years. You get use to every single bump and ripple out there. It’s now completely free of bumps. It’s absolutely smooth as silk. There’s no bump in (Turn) 4. There are no bumps out of (Turn) 2. It’s really nice.

“A big plus is that they made the transitions going from the infield back out to the banking really smooth so there’s not an abruptness in doing that. It’s a huge improvement.”

After announcing that the 2010 Rolex 24 would be his final one, Haywood is coming out of retirement and will compete in the twice-around-the-clock challenge on Jan. 29-30. He will share driving duties on the Porsche with Davis and Leh Keen as Brumos Racing makes its return to the GT class.

“It just wouldn’t be right with a GT car painted in the Brumos colors without the Haywood (name) on the roof,” Haywood said. “I’m going to sneak out for a couple of stints in the car for the (Rolex) 24. We’ve got a strong team.”

In the afternoon session, the course changed for stock cars as Steve Arpin and Hal Martin tested for Venturini Motorsports.

“For me, it was an honor to be one of the first stock cars on the track since the repaving,” Martin said. “The track is nice, it’s smooth out there. I’m glad to be able to get out there and get some time on the track and get a better understanding of what it’s going to be like when we come back to race.”

Martin, who will race with Venturini Motorsports in the 2011 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 12, competed in the 2010 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 with Mark Gibson Racing and finished 35th. He was amazed by the difference between the old and new surfaces.

“It’s a night day and difference,” Martin said. “The old surface, you had the big bump in (Turns) 1 and 2 and you had the big bump in (Turn) 4 that really upset the cars. Right now, this surface is smooth as ice. There are no bumps out there. The grip level is up and it’s going to lend for some nice racing come February. We’re going to be three wide most of the race.”

Arpin, who has two Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 starts and a 10th-place finish in the 2010 event, echoed Martin’s comments.

“I’ve been pumped just to be here all day,” Arpin said. “We were talking on the radio that it’s cool to be sitting here and it’s almost Christmas and we’re cruising around Daytona on a perfect Friday afternoon.

“(The race track) is fast, there’s a lot more grip. It’s going to be interesting to see how it races when we get 40 cars out there. I think you’re going to see a lot more three-wide racing here than what you have seen in the past.”

Arpin, who competed for JR Motorsports in the July Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race and finished 10th, enjoyed the unique test where stock cars and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series shared the “World Center of Racing” for the day.

“I wanted to go over there and try and swap out with those guys and give them a couple of laps in an ARCA car,” Arpin said. “Those GRAND-AM cars get going. It’s pretty cool to be here testing the same day with a series that’s as distinguished as them. For us just to be here, it’s pretty cool.”

Tickets for the Rolex 24, the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 as well as the rest of the Speedweeks 2011 events are on sale now at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway)

Dec 16 | Goodyear wraps up successful two-day tire test of the new Daytona racing surface

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The two-day Goodyear tire test in advance of the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20 wrapped up on Thursday and the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway continued to receive positive reviews from the drivers.

Goodyear tire testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The two-day Goodyear tire test in advance of the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20 wrapped up on Thursday and the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway continued to receive positive reviews from the drivers.

Eighteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers took part in the historic test, which was the first time race cars turned laps on the new asphalt of Daytona International Speedway. The entire 2.5-mile tri-oval, pit road, skid pad and apron was repaved for only the second time following the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola in July.

2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte as well as DIS President Joie Chitwood III, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton and Goodyear Director of Racing Greg Stucker gave an update on the progress of the test during the lunch break on Thursday.

“It's much smoother, has a tremendous amount of grip, but it's still Daytona,” said Burton, who wheels the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. “They didn't try to change the banking from the bottom to the top. They just kept Daytona and put pavement on it. I'm glad that's what they did.

“Daytona is a track (that) has its own history, its own heritage. It's entrenched in what our sport is all about. So keeping Daytona Daytona was 100 percent the right thing to do but it has a whole lot more grip.”

And Burton says the fresh asphalt will likely produce another classic Daytona 500 finish.

“I think it's going to be a helluva race,” Burton said. “We've had some great Daytona 500 finishes the last several years. The end of the race has been great. We've seen separation of cars because of the handling issues during the race. You're not going to see that this time. There's going to be a constant pack. I don't know how you could get separated.”

Said Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch: “It's an impressive surface. There's been a lot of hard work done. Everybody should be proud of what they've accomplished to resurface it, give it a new look. 

“It's just a new attitude. This is what 2011 will bring to start off our Sprint Cup season -- big, exciting time. I'm proud to be able to say I got a chance to race on the surface when it was redone.”

Besides being impressed by the new smooth surface, drivers were also pleased by pit road, which was widened by 10 feet and is now 60 feet wide.

“They did a really good job, not only on the racetrack, but widening pit road,” McMurray said. “It's really nice to get that little bit of extra room on pit road. Pit road speeds are really fast when you come to plate tracks. Typically we have the smallest brakes on the car that we run all year long, so pit road is also trouble. So the fact they widened that 10 or 12 feet is really nice.”

“Pit road is awesome,” Labonte said. “I always said this is one of the hardest pit roads we would come through at any race because it was too narrow, never any grip with the concrete pad. And then asphalt widening, that's definitely a plus.”

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events including the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Dec 15 | The roar of engines returns to DIS: Goodyear kicks off two-day tire test

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For the first time since Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on July 3, race cars were back on track at Daytona International Speedway.

Goodyear tire testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For the first time since Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on July 3, race cars were back on track at Daytona International Speedway.

Eighteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers kicked off the first day of a two-day Goodyear tire test on the new racing surface in advance of the 53rd annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 20.

The test was the first time race cars turned laps on the new asphalt of Daytona International Speedway, which was repaved for only the second time in its history.

Among the drivers in attendance included:

• Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Mark Martin

• Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch

• Roush Fenway’s Matt Kenseth and David Ragan

• Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton and Paul Menard

• Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya

• JTG Daugherty Racing’s Bobby Labonte

“It’s amazing the job that they did here,” said Gordon, a three-time Daytona 500 champion. “It’s really smooth. It’s got a lot of grip. I think we learned a tremendous amount by being here. Not only did we get a chance to really see what we’re going to be dealing with here in February for the Daytona 500, but it gets us prepared for the test coming up in January.”

“They smoothed out all the bumps,” said Earnhardt Jr., the 2004 Daytona 500 champion. “The track is real smooth. It’s got a lot of grip. The track reminds me a lot like Talladega was like when they first finished it.

“The racing during the drafting was exciting and I think it is going to be a good show, a more exciting show for the fans because the cars are going to stay real tight on each other throughout entire runs.”

Drivers turned laps on the storied 2.5-mile-tri-oval in both single car and drafting sessions.

"The sound of cars on the racetrack today was music to my ears," said Daytona Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. "We are glad to have this project completed ahead of schedule so Goodyear can have a good opportunity to develop a tire for our events in 2011. We were also thrilled to see so many fans come out to watch the race cars turn the first laps on the new pavement. We can't wait for Speedweeks 2011 and the Daytona 500."

Said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton: “It was a very good day. The teams came well prepared. Goodyear came well prepared. The race track has a lot of grip. The surface is very smooth. It appears in drafting practice they immediately went three wide.”

The Goodyear tire test will wrap up on Thursday and is open to the public with free access to the Oldfield Grandstands through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office.

On Thursday at noon, fans will also be able to watch the Goodyear tire testing press conference via a web stream at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/tiretest.

Four drivers –McMurray, Burton, Busch and Labonte – as well as Pemberton, Goodyear Director of Racing Greg Stucker and Chitwood will provide attending media an update on the two-day test.

The timing of the press conference may be adjusted to accommodate on-track delays.

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Dec 14 | Goodyear tire testing press conference to be streamed live over the web

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The Goodyear tire testing press conference at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday at noon will be streamed live on the web at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/tiretest

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Goodyear tire testing press conference at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday at noon will be streamed live on the web at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/tiretest.

Fans will be able to watch as four drivers – 2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte – as well as NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, Goodyear Director of Racing Greg Stucker and DIS President Joie Chitwood III provide attending media an update on the two-day test.

At least 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will participate in the two-day Goodyear tire test on the new racing surface in advance of the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 20. The test will be the first time race cars will turn laps on the new asphalt of Daytona International Speedway, which was repaved for only the second time in its history.

The Goodyear tire test will be open to the public with free access to the Oldfield Grandstands through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office.

The timing of the press conference may be adjusted to accommodate on-track delays.

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Dec 14 | U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to perform fly-over for 53rd running of the Daytona 500

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The world-renowned U.S. Air Force “Thunderbirds” will provide race fans with the flyover during the National Anthem for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 – the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway.

USAF Thunderbirds
DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. – The world-renowned U.S. Air Force “Thunderbirds” will provide race fans with the flyover during the National Anthem for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 – the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway.
 
“It’s an honor to have the Thunderbirds return to Daytona International Speedway and take part in the pre-race festivities for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500,” said track President Joie Chitwood III. “The USAF Thunderbirds are known around the world for their aerobatic flying, and race fans at the ‘The Great American Race’ will witness what will surely be an exhilarating flyover.”

It’s the second time the flying squadron will perform the flyover at the historic “World Center of Racing.” The Thunderbirds previously provided the flyover for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008.
 
"We are excited to fly over an event as prestigious as the Daytona 500 and make the Air Force a part of this day," said Lt. Col. Case Cunningham, Thunderbirds commander and leader. "As the race crowd hears the final notes of our National Anthem, our formation will showcase the absolute pride and precision with which the United Sates Air Force delivers Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power with unmatched effectiveness. Without a doubt, ‘The Great American Race’ is an awesome opportunity for us to humbly represent the nearly 35,000 Airmen supporting combatant commanders from deployed locations around the world, providing combat power for America."

The Thunderbird flyover will feature six Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons buzzing the famed Speedway before landing at nearby Daytona Beach International Airport.
 
The Thunderbirds, comprising twelve officers and more than 130 enlisted members, perform precision aerial maneuvers in approximately 70 shows a year at 35 different locations from the middle of March to the middle of November.
 
Since the unit's inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in 61 countries and all 50 states have witnessed the red, white and blue jets in more than 4,123 official aerial demonstrations.
 
Tickets for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks 2011 events are available online to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Dec 10 | Week 23 Daytona Repave update: Final paving wraps up

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On Friday, the checkered flag waved for the paving crew of Lane Construction as they finished the final paving of Daytona International Speedway.

Checkered flag
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – On Friday, the checkered flag waved for the paving crew of Lane Construction as they finished the final paving of Daytona International Speedway.

The paving crew wrapped up the final pass on the apron in Turns 1 and 2 in the late afternoon, following some inclement weather in the morning.  While all the paving is complete on the racing surface, skid pad, pit road and the apron, there’s still a punch-list of items being worked on during the 23rd week of repaving of Daytona International Speedway:

• Installation of the lights is complete but finishing touches such as connectivity and adjustments of the lights still need to be made

• The striping of the track has begun and is ongoing.

• The process of hanging the eight caution lights around the track is ongoing

• Installation of the scoring loops is ongoing

• Finishes touches are being put on the catch fence in Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4

• At least 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are expected to participate in a Goodyear tire test on Wednesday, Dec. 15 and Thursday, Dec. 16

About the Daytona Repave: Lane Construction, which repaved other ISC race tracks including Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Raceway, used an estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt to repave more than 1.4 million square feet of Daytona International Speedway.

Speedweeks 2011 will kick off with the 49th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race on Jan. 29-30 and conclude with the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, the prestigious season-opening event to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Daytona International Speedway is posting updates on the project at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/repave and on its social sites on Twitter (www.twitter.com/DISUpdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/daytonainternationalspeedway). For fans interested in purchasing pieces of asphalt, they can visit www.jostens.com/Daytona

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

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