Daytona Speedweeks 2019 notes and quotes

Episode 252

February 17, 2019

Mixed feelings prevail

The 61st Annual Daytona 500 has come and gone leaving me with mixed feelings about not only the race, but the whole week. I was unable to view most of the races since I have country cable (antenna on roof), however, I did get to listen to part of the Clash, the Duels, truck series race and view the whole Daytona 500.

I also had a first hand account from Kevin Grass, Mars Hill, who was viewing his first Duels race. Grass has been to many races at Daytona but never the Thursday night fare.

“The race was boring,” said Grass from his car in post race traffic. “Follow the leader till three to go. Chase Elliott tried on his own throughout the second duel. However, no one would go with him. Overall Fords looked strong in packs and by themselves.”

Kevin Grass view of the pit in area from his seat near the re-start zone on the frontstretch before the start of the Duels on Thursday evening. (Kevin Grass photo)

“Sunday should bring side by side racing with 40 cars in the field. I realize that guys were protecting their 500 car so they didn’t push it.
I wish I could have gone to the truck race tonight. That’s one of the best races at Daytona.”
I was very disappointed that Austin missed qualifying by only 2 hundredths of a second. Friday evening I was getting settled in for some Austin magic at the truck race when I heard the news that he would not be in the field that evening. Maybe it was just as well since thousands of dollars of equipment was torn up in a multitude of crashes.
Following are Austin’s words about the disappointment of not qualifying. He certainly maintained his composure despite what had to be tough. Next for Austin in NASCAR will be short track truck racing at Martinsville Saturday March 23 for the Gander Outdoors 250.

Talk during the first of the week centered around Kevin Harvick’s questioning the format of the Clash. Was it relevant? Did the prize money alone provide incentive to race? Were the fans looking forward to the race?

After the Duels many wondered if those races meant much anymore. They did result in Brendan Gaughan getting in the race while Joey Gase was left on the outside looking in. The races seemed to be glorified practice sessions.

I enjoyed the 500. Maybe that was because I could watch it live on Fox with my brother who came to my house (Race Central in Westmanland). Yes the same brother who won the Daytona 500; at least in one of his very vivid and memorable dreams.

The body and frame repair technicians in Charlotte area will be working overtime to get the dozens of cars and trucks repaired or scrapped before needed for the next race(s). The super speedway races seem to promote serious job security.

One advantage I enjoyed was being at Daytona for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona just three weeks ago. Multiple times I pointed out to my brother Bob places where our brother Bill and I were during the Rolex race. In fact my Florida based brother called during the race to comment about some of those places we were during the races in January.

I hoped for some time that Matt Dibenedetto would pull off the upset. Once he was out of the race, I cheered for Michael McDowell to provide the upset win. Heck, even rookie Ryan Preece could have potentially won that race.

In the end, I was cheering for my personal favorite team owner, Joe Gibbs, whose son JD Gibbs died in January at 49 years of age due to neurological disorder. Joe Gibbs Racing ended up sweeping the first three places with Hamlin first, Kyle Busch second, and Eric Jones third.

Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team provided a podium sweep at the 61st Annual Daytona 500. Hamlin in the #11 won the race with Kyle Busch in the #18 placed second and Eric Jones in the #19 finished third. Martin Truexx Junior finished 35th after getting caught up in a wreck. (Toyota Racing photo)

Two time Daytona 500 winner and driver of the Fed Ex #11 Toyota, Denny Hamlin expressed his win, “This one’s for J.D.,” said Hamlin – also the DAYTONA 500 champion in 2016 – who was brought into the Gibbs organization by J.D. Gibbs.

JD Gibbs on left clowning around in Victory Circle with his driver Denny Hamlin after one of Hamlin’s four wins at Pocono Raceway. (Toyota Racing photo)

In the process, he delivered a special ending to a special day for Joe Gibbs Racing. The organization honored Joe Gibbs’ late son J.D. Gibbs on Lap 11, as crew members stood on pit wall as a tribute. J.D. Gibbs, who passed away last month due to a neurological disease, wore No. 11 as a high school football player and later, as a race car driver himself. Hamlin’s car number: 11.

“What happened here tonight is really unreal. I’m just thrilled and I think J.D. had the best view of everything,” Joe Gibbs added. “It’s emotional for all of us. It’s the most emotional win I’ve ever had in my life, in anything.”

And what do you do post-race if you are the winners? In 1993 when JGR won the Daytona 500 they went to the nearest Steak and Shake in Daytona beginning their tradition. Here is a brief clip of this year’s venture to Daytona Steak and Shake with the trophy:

Cold Hard Art makes his mark at Daytona with UNOH

One cannot help but notice that the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) has a huge presence at Daytona International Speedway with their sponsorship of the Fanzone area in the infield. Their photos and logos dominate the center of the track.

Cold Hard Art owner/master fabricator Tom Patsis on the tri-oval at Daytona International Speedway. Patsis was part of the UNOH hands on demonstrations during the later part of Speedweek. (Cold Hard Art photo)

This year one UNOH graduate, Tom Patsis, owner of Cold Hard Art, was invited to be part of the hands on demonstration held at the UNOH stage area in the Fanzone.

Aluminum keepsake boxes made by Tom Patsis at the UNOH Fanzone display. (Cold Hard Art photo)

Patsis explained his UNOH experience saying, “I do tell people my art business that I do now was accidentally by-product of practice welding but my schooling at University of Northwestern Ohio that help get me here was all on purpose.”

“I’m one to look back on positive things on how I got to certain places in my life. My education at University of Northwestern Ohio did help me get my job at Don Schumacher Racing that lead me to my #coldhardart business.”

Not every moment at the speedway was dedicated to the UNOH presentation. Patsis, who is very curious took time to tour many parts of the infield including the Monster Energy garage area. (Cold Hard Art photo)

“I learned a lot that I do use each day. From business , welding, the automotive side and racing side, and confidence in the ability to know I can do things I haven’t learned yet. So I thank you very much for having me back this week. What an absolute joy to be back with the @unohracers @ Daytona International Speedway.”

Tom Patsis on left on stage with UNOH celebrity guest host/spokesman, Kenny Wallace. Wallace used his announcing prowess and star power at the UNOH booth strategically located in the Fanzone area.

Spud Speedway Firecracker 200 Winner takes the Orange Blossom 100 in Florida

New Hampshire’s Derek Griffith dominated the Orange Blossom 100, the final race of the New Smyrna World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing 2019. Bubba Pollard with three wins during the week clinched the overall title by placing second. (Brian Schmitt photo)

PASS Opener next weekend, WAR and Griffith will be there

The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) national title season opener will be the 14th Annual Winter Meltdown 200 at Dillon Motor Speedway, Dillon, South Carolina Saturday February 23, 2019. Derek Griffith will likely be there fresh off his New Smyrna win Saturday evening in Florida.

The new look for WAR 2019 from their display at Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show in Indianapolis, Indiana December 2018. (Racing Talk Magazine photo)

Wyatt Alexander Racing (WAR) will be making their 2019 debut in their Valvoline CRF SLM. Alexander practiced early in the month and has crew chief/grandfather Bob Alexander on hand to prepare for the race.

Alexander explained his role this week saying,”I am planning to do some tuning on the car. Not changing much. Wyatt feels pretty confident about the setup after last Friday’s test session.”

“Need to get the trailer organized, fill the water tank and fuel jugs, charge up all the batteries and electric tools in preparation for the weekend after it sat since December.”

What about Dillon Motor Speedway? “I’ve never been there but it looks fast from the pictures of it, lots of banking unlike Oxford. Probably more similar to Wiscasset. Wyatt said it was fairly smooth and fast.”

The PASS race will also mark the debut of the agreement between Austin Theriault and Crazy Horse Racing (CHR). Theriault signed on to help prepare CHR cars and customers for success in short track races.

I plan to be at the 2019 Racing Review at the Portland Expo next Saturday morning with my son-in-law Marc Cole. Hope to meet some new racing folks as well as reconnect with some of my southern Maine friends. Show hours are Friday February 22 from 4-9:30 pm and Saturday February 23 from 9-8:30 pm. 

Northern Maine racer and historian turns 60

Local racing historian, Joe Chamberlain, Woodland, displays his Vintage t-shirt at his 60th birthday party attended by local and regional racers as well as friends at Lakeview Restaurant, St. Agatha. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Joe Chamberlain center sharing a light-hearted moment with County Sports Polaris dealer Dave Moreau on left and Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame member Tom Peters on right. They were in attendance to honor Chamberlain. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:13-16)

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine