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Because of top-35 rule, why run the risk of losing primary car in Thursday races?

By admin | February 21, 2012

By Richard Allen


After watching the Bud Shootout on Saturday night and considering that virtually all the 43 cars that will race in the Daytona 500 are already locked in, the objective for most teams going into Thursday’s Gatorade Duels at the Daytona International Speedway ought to be clear. Keeping the primary car in one piece and the backup car on the truck should be considered somewhat of a victory in those races that will establish the starting positions for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Obviously, teams and drivers want to find out what their cars are capable of going into the biggest race on the NASCAR schedule, but with all the practice time available to teams during SpeedWeeks, the risk/reward of “going for it” on Thursday may not be in favor of those who make daring moves.

While it’s always good to find out exactly where the limits for man and machine are, it’s also important to remember that primary cars are primary cars for a reason. That’s the one that that has likely received the most massaging during the off season in preparation for ‘The Great American Race’ and that primary car can’t win if it’s loaded on the truck before the main event even gets started on Sunday.

The Gatorade Duels used to be among the best events of all SpeedWeeks because drivers had to race hard in order to assure themselves a spot in the Daytona 500. Now, these two races have turned into little more than test sessions with so many cars already locked into the race due to the top-35 rule.

We would all love to see great racing on Thursday, and we may very well. But to be honest, any driver already locked into Sunday’s race would be crazy to risk losing his primary car in what is now a meaningless preliminary.

The main objective for most every team in the Gatorade Duels ought to be keeping the backup car on the truck. It may not be exciting, but it’s smart.

I will be giving away $50 to one of my twitter followers who correctly picks the winner of the Daytona 500. You must follow @RacingWithRich on twitter to participate in the contest.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “Because of top-35 rule, why run the risk of losing primary car in Thursday races?”

  1. Chris Fiegler Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Who do you think will not Qualify for the Daytona 500 By Friday Morning?

  2. Bill B Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Good call Rich. That would be the way I would approach it if I were an owner or a crewchief. It might be a little more difficult for the drivers to accept that strategy.

  3. Offkilter Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Nascar would probably make life harder on a team that chose not to run.

  4. djones Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    If there wasn’t the top 35 rule, the Duels would make sense. Now it’s just a race to see who doesn’t wreck their car. If I were a crew chief, I’d just make sure my back up car was just as good as my primary car. Or, do they just do this anyway?