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SPEED Analysts Break Down Daytona & Phoenix
Q:  What will be different about the Gen-6 car at Phoenix versus the COT? What are you expecting at Phoenix?

“Just like at Daytona, they’ll be about 150 pounds lighter than the COT, which certainly will help the grip of these race cars, but that rear spoiler has so much more downforce than last year’s car.  They’ve been working on this car for two years and so much effort has been put into the downforce tracks like Phoenix and Las Vegas.  I think they’re going to be very fast.  When you give drivers that much downforce, they don’t have any problem running side-by-side with each other.”
--Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to be saying ‘that’s a new track record.’ This car is light; it’s fast.  The racing is going to be furious in this car because every driver tells me they love this car and they love how it’s gripping the race track, so we’re going to see a fantastic race on that little mile track.”
--Darrell Waltrip, SPEED analyst

Q:  Many of the drivers involved in the Nationwide wreck at Daytona were young.  Will they be able to put that accident behind them when they get to Phoenix?

“That will always be a part of who they are.  A lot of these 19- and 20-year-olds will look at this and grow up from it. Drivers have a massive DNA flaw in them where they’re able to take tragedy and fear and put it in a box somewhere and put it out of their minds. The place they feel most comfortable and most at home is in that race car.  After (son) Adam’s accident, there was nothing I wanted to do but sit on the couch and watch TV, but when I could sit in his race car and drive his race car, I felt close to him.  That’s where I felt safe and felt at home and where I felt I knew what I was doing.  These drivers will react the same way when they go to Phoenix.  They’ll take that doubt, that fear and put it in a box and go out and do what they do, which is race.”
--Kyle Petty, SPEED analyst

Q:  The Daytona 500 was a bit of déjà vu for Joe Gibbs Racing with engine failures.  Should that camp be concerned they’ll see a repeat of Kyle Busch’s 2012 multiple engine failures again this season?

“They were very upset about it, but I think they realized they had the speed and all they have to do is build the durability in it.  It is a concern as far as Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD are concerned.  They’ve got to get these engines to where they’ll run 500 miles when put under this kind of load.  The big Achilles heel for Kyle Busch last year was the engine program.  Every time it looked like they were going to win, they had an engine problem, so they’ve got to get hold of this soon or else it’s going to be a very long and miserable season for anybody from Joe Gibbs Racing -- especially Busch.”
--Jeff Hammond, SPEED analyst

“Might this affect Phoenix and Las Vegas? That’s questionable because it’s a different engine package at the mile and mile-and-a-half tracks versus what they run at restrictor-plate tracks.  What I did hear is that Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch had different problems, although they both had engine issues.  You might say is it a JGR problem, although it is a TRD motor, but keep in mind Martin Truex Jr. also had an engine issue and he drives for MWR.”
--Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst 

Q: What do you think NASCAR and the tracks should or will do to address fan safety?

“We can’t make a knee-jerk reaction but I promise you there will be a sense of urgency.  We have to protect our fans.  NASCAR will look deep into why Kyle Larson’s car came apart like it did.  They had just replaced the catchfence in 2009 because once we had that wreck at Talladega with Carl Edwards’ car hitting the catchfence, a lot of the other tracks redid their catchfences. The Daytona catchfence is only about three years or so old.  But I think we have a bit of a weak link with the crossover gate, and I think that’s something that’s going to be addressed.  But the great thing about Daytona is they’re going to redo the entire front grandstands.  Everything on that frontstretch will be brand new over the next three years, so they have a great opportunity to work with some experts and maybe research even more so what they can do for the protection of our fans.”
--Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

“NASCAR has done an incredible job over the last 50 years to continue to make our drivers and fans safer and safer. What I’m looking for now is NASCAR to do something like they did with the COT – the Car of Tomorrow.  I’m looking for the FOT – the ‘fence of tomorrow.’  I’m thinking it needs to be square holes where we can contain everything.  They’ve done an incredible job but now we need to look at the fence.  As a driver, I sign up for danger and know there can be danger around every corner, but fans don’t sign up to get hurt.”
--Kenny Wallace, SPEED analyst and Nationwide Series driver

Q:  Did Danica Patrick live up to the hype during Daytona Speedweeks?

“I’ll use an analogy.  Was I confident Alabama would beat Notre Dame for the national championship back in January? Yes.  Was I surprised it was that lopsided? Yes.  Was I confident in the car Danica had and with the experience she had there? Yes. But was I surprised she stayed up front all day long? I’m not sure she even fell outside the top 10, so I think she exceeded everyone’s expectations, and I’m glad she did.”
--Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

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