The Autos are coming! Auto GP, Europe’s
spec open-wheel series featuring 550hp
Zytek V8-powered Lolas, will make its
U.S. debut together with World Touring
Cars at Infineon Raceway on Sept. 22-23.
Horrifying as it looked, the collision that he 2012 Daytona 500 will be most remembered for caused neither serious injuries nor race-ending track damage.
NASCAR’S LIGHT RELIEF
It wasn’t just Juan Pablo Montoya and truck driver
Duane Barnes who dodged bullets in the Daytona 500
AND NOW FOR
A race driver apologizing
for a high-profile mistake
Racers – and not least NASCAR racers
– are more renowned for pointing fingers
and harboring lingering grudges than for
accepting blame for incidents on the
racetrack. Which made Elliott Sadler’s
immediate owning up for the lap two
crash in the Daytona 500 that
eliminated Jimmie Johnson – and ruined
the races of several other key players – a
refreshing way to start the season.
“I just kind of got into the back of
Jimmie, it was 100 percent my fault,”
Sadler said. “We were kind of bogged
down, everyone was side by side and I
didn’t check up in time, and I got into the
left-rear quarter (panel) of Jimmie. It
was just a little bit, but that is usually all
it takes at these types of speeds.”
Sadler phoned Johnson – whose car
was damaged too severely to continue
– to apologize, and the five-time Sprint
Cup champ made his appreciation
known via Twitter: “You’re a good man
Elliott_Sadler, thanks for the call.”
It gained a lot of “hang time” on SportsCenter, but Juan
Pablo Montoya’s dramatic collision with a jet-dryer
truck during the Daytona 500 could easily have been a
catastrophe. And not just for Montoya, who escaped with
minor bruises to his foot when his Target Chevy suffered a
suspension failure and slid into the jet. The impact ignited the
truck’s fuel tanks, sending large quantities of flaming jet fuel
down the banking.
The track surface held up to the intense conflagration quite
well, although it required a 2hr05min delay for course workers
to contain the fire and clean up the mess. Unlike Daytona’s
pothole incidents of 2010, the fix – which included lots of
laundry detergent to remove the fuel’s slippery residue – worked
the first time, allowing the remaining 40 laps to be run.
“I’ve hit a lot of things, but a truck?”
said the bemused Montoya, who admitted
that his helmet was slightly singed. “For
as big a hit as that was, I’m pretty good,
to be honest.” He was more concerned
about the truck’s driver, Duane Barnes,
but he also escaped uninjured – and
seemed embarrassed by the attention.
“I appreciate everyone for taking the
time to write, call and ask how I am,”
said Barnes. “I am OK and I am amazed
at how many people have wished me
well. I am also glad Juan Montoya is OK,
and thank him for his concern.”
12 APRIL 2012 rAcer.com
FORD’S COOLNESS FACTOR
Do new restrictor plate rules favor Fusions?
The rain delay that turned the Daytona
500 into a night race subdued – but
didn’t eliminate – concerns about
unusually high engine temperatures
during Speedweeks. Rule changes
designed to limit the tandem-racing
that prevailed at restrictor plate tracks
last year made engine cooling more
critical than ever – although Ford teams
were pleased to note that they seemed
less affected than their Chevrolet,
Dodge and Toyota rivals.
With a smaller, higher opening for the
radiator, lower pressure on its relief valve
and a lower rear bumper, cars were
unable to push each other for as long
– particularly in the heat of the day.
“Even without pushing, we’re right
there on edge,” said Jimmie Johnson.
“And that’s a fine design by NASCAR.
They don’t want us to be able to stay
connected for long. But it keeps me
worried all day long to see my gauges
flash at me.”