Sports

Nascar Testing at Daytona Begins Thursday

The newly paved Daytona Speedway will be used for Sprint Car testing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. About forty teams are expected.

Last year’s 500 was marred by several long delays due to potholes that opened during the race. It is expected that the new surface will drive much differently than last year.

The sessions are intended to assist the Teams in their preparations for the Daytona 500. Each team’s car setup has to be determined almost from scratch. Previous setups at Daytona will only provide a start point.

A series of tire tests were completed there in December. Tire wear is expected to be much better, and the cars should race in tighter packs.

In addition to resurfacing, Pit Road has been widened, and the size of the pit boxes has been increased. There had been many complaints that the safety of the Daytona pits has been the worst on the Nascar schedule.

This year’s 500 is on February 20th. Jamie McMurray was the 2010 winner.

Steve Wallace to Make Sprint Cup Debut at Daytona

Nationwide Series driver Steve Wallace will make his Sprint Cup debut at this year’s Daytona 500.

Rusty Wallace Racing, owned by Steve’s legendary father, is guaranteed a spot in the 500 from an arrangement with Roger Penske’s #77, driven by Sam Hornish last year.

In 2010, Wallace had 13 top 10 finishes from 35 starts with 1 top 5. He finished 9th in the Nationwide standings.

Steve is the fourth member of the Wallace family to race in the 500.

Nascar Driver Bill Elliot to Join Phoenix Racing for 18 Races

Bill Elliott will drive in at least 18 Sprint Cup races for Phoenix Racing, starting with the Daytona 500.

Elliott, 55, has driven for Wood Brothers Racing the past four years, but the Wood Brothers are working to sign Trevor Bayne for 2011, leaving Elliott to look for another Cup ride.

Elliott was the 1988 Cup champion and won the Daytona 500 in 1985 and ’87.

Rumored Nascar Points Changes Draw Quick Reaction

The rumored changed to the Nascar Sprint Cup points structure has drawn a quick reaction.

The changes are said to be:
1) Award 43 points for a win, 42 points for second, and so on to 1 point for last, and
2) The first 10 drivers in the Chase will be based on points; two drivers will be selected for the Chase based on wins.

There is generally positive reaction to basing the two Chase entries on wins. However, the points award system is being strongly criticized for placing too little emphasis on a win and too much of a penalty on a last place finish.

It is likely Nascar floated the rumors to gather press and public reaction prior to making a final decision on the approach for 2011. It is believed Nascar does not yet have a consensus on the changes.

The Daytona 500 is on February 20th; four weeks to go.

NASCAR Considering Changes in Point Structure

According to reports, NASCAR is considering significant changes to the point structure for 2011.

One idea discussed is to award 43 points for a win, 42 for second, etc. with the top ten drivers advancing to the Chase.

A second change would address the situation Jamie McMurray had in 2010. Despite winning three races including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, perhaps the two most prestigious races on the calendar, McMurray did not make the Chase.

The final two drivers to advance to the Chase would be based on wins. In 2010 Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and Matt Kenseth made the Chase in 2010 without winning a race.

The current structure awards consistency without considering that a win is much harder to achieve than a runner up position. Making a win more valuable could also improve the racing itself.

No word yet on when the final structure will be announced.

Tony Stewart’s Vacation in Australia

Tony Stewart’s off season jaunt to Australia has ended on a sour note.

The gifted but ornery Nascar driver was apparently unhappy with the track conditions at the Sydney Speedway.

He confronted track owner Brett Morris, the co-owner of the Speedway, after a ‘Sprintcar Grand National’ heat. The exchange led to Stewart throwing his helmet at Morris. According to reports, Morris, a burly guy himself, knocked Stewart down and gave him a rather large black eye.

According to Monday’s Sydney Morning herald ”Police from Rosehill central command were alerted to an altercation involving two men at a race car track about 7:30 last night,” NSW police spokeswoman Joanne Elliott said yesterday. ”A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene after a 46-year-old man was allegedly hit in the face by a racing helmet.

”The 39-year-old man was released without charge, pending further investigation.”

Tony reportedly has left Australia and is returning to the US.

Efforts to find footage of the incident on Youtube were unsuccessful.

Michael McDowell to Drive for Joe Gibbs in Nationwide Series

Joe Gibbs Racing announced Monday that Michael McDowell will join their team of drivers for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season.

McDowell is currently slated to drive in both Nationwide Series races in Iowa behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Camry with the potential to add additional races to his schedule for JGR.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to work with someone with the talent and character of Michael you are excited,” said JGR President J.D. Gibbs. “We are blessed with a great group of drivers across all three of our entries in the Nationwide Series next season.”

Pittsburgh Hands Syracuse First Loss This Season 74-66

In a game heard here on WEBO, The Syracuse University men’s basketball team lost its first game of the season 74-66 to Pittsburgh.

Syracuse had a difficult start with #5 Pitt scoring the first 19 points of the game. Coach Boeheim called two timeouts in the first five minutes to try to get the momentum turned around.

Leading scorer Kris Joseph, missed the game after sustaining a head injury when he fell and hit his head in Saturday’s win over Cincinnati. Joseph remained behind in Syracuse. He was definitely missed.

Syracuse made a 17-0 run to quiet the crowd in Pittsburgh, and Syracuse finished the half behind four points at 31-27.

With 13:49 to play, Syracuse tied at 41, but too much energy was expended overcoming their start. Pitt went on a 9-1 run and the game was essentially over.

Freshman C.J. Fair led the Orange with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Pitt entered the game with an impressive 144-11 record at the Peterson Events Center.