The Hamilton Spectator
Words from those who didn’t win Daytona 500
We all know Sunday’s running of the Daytona 500 was the longest (distance-wise) in its history, that winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the 42nd different driver to win the NASCAR Cup’s season opener and that 17 of the 40 starters finished on the lead lap after about four hours of racing.
And we listened to, or read, what Stenhouse had to say after 52 lead changes, six unscheduled caution flags and 530 miles around the Daytona D-shaped oval.
But let’s see what some of those not as fortunate had to say.
■ Joey Logano (Shell/Pennzoil Mustang), who started third and finished second: “Second is the worst, man. You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. You think you’re racing to the checkered flag and you put yourself in the best position to try to win at the start-finish line, and just then the caution came out — you wish you could race to the end. Obviously, you can’t when they wreck that much. Congratulations to Ricky. There’s nothing like winning the Daytona 500. That’s why it stings so much finishing second.”
■ Riley Herbst (Sunny D Mustang), who started 38th and finished 10th: “It was long and a lot of riding, not really racing. I was kind of biding my time and trying to get experience. To finish top-10 was really cool. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here in the Cup.”
■ Harrison Burton (Motorcraft/ DEX Imaging Mustang), who started 19th and finished 26th: “I am just disappointed. We were leading with 18 to go and I feel like we had a shot. It just didn’t go our way. It is frustrating. I felt like we executed our race well. Just sucks not to win for sure.”
■ Jimmie Johnson (Legacy Motor Club Camaro), who started 39th and placed 31st in his 20th Daytona 500: “All in all, just a great day. I hate that we didn’t get to the finish line, but we got a lot closer than I thought.”
Garage 56 at Le Mans
Johnson, the 47-year-old, seventime Cup champion, will be one of three drivers entered in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans classic in one of NASCAR’s Next Gen Camaros.
In a collaboration between NASCAR, Goodyear, Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson, two-time Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button will drive a slightly modified (from NASCAR race trim) Camaro for the 100th running of the world-renowned endurance race. The car, known as the Garage 56 entry, has been extensively tested with 3,600 miles at six different U.S. road courses, and will feature functioning headlights and tail lights, a larger fuel cell, carbon brake discs and specially designed Goodyear race tires to comply with Le Mans regulations.
“From the beginning of this project, it was important to us that the car we bring to Le Mans is a true NASCAR stock car,” said Jim France, NASCAR chair and CEO. “While there have been some adjustments to allow the car to compete in a 24-hour endurance race, fans in Le Mans will be treated to the full NASCAR experience.”
The other Cup competitors, Ford and Toyota, were not thrilled with just a Chevy representing NASCAR at Le Mans, but have since backed off on their comments.
“We (Ford and Toyota) both definitely were outspoken and a lot of that … was because we didn’t know all the details of exactly what was going to happen with the plan. What’s good about this sport is we do work together as partners, NASCAR does listen, and from that discussion I think there’s a good plan so we are able as manufacturers to attend the test,” Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance Motorsports, said the day of the Garage 56 unveiling.
“We are able to see all the data and there are some good things that are being learned that can be shared with everybody and to help the sport, but it’s also really good for the sport to have that car competing at Le Mans. I think it makes a good statement. I know it’s a Chevy, but it’s still a good statement for the sport and, at the end of the day, it’s good for all of us,” Rushbrook continued.