The Helmet Heads Watch Daytona 500

Episode 94

February 21, 2016

"Helmet Headed" Hale Brothers watching the Daytona 500. Yours truly on the left and brother Bob on the right. Photo by Fred Fletcher for HTF Motorsports

“Helmet Headed” Hale Brothers watching the Daytona 500. Yours truly on the left and brother Bob on the right. Photo by Fred Fletcher for HTF Motorsports

I Won the Daytona 500! I Won the Daytona 500!

“It was the Daytona 500 and I was beating and banging fenders down the back stretch on the last lap. A salty sweat stung my eyes as the pack of snarling stock cars approached turn four. No way was I  going let that distraction bother me since I was in the lead now. I could see the start finish line ahead on the tri-oval.”

“In a moment it was over. I jumped from my still hot car which was on the front stretch after doing donuts. The tire smoke wafted around me as I got down on my knees on the track saying’Thank you Jesus! Thank you Lord! I won the Daytona 500.”

That was my brother Bob reminding me of a dream he had several years ago that he had won the Daytona 500. I was in the presence of a stock car legend in his own mind.

I spent three of the last four days glued to the big screen TV in Friday Night Fred’s apartment as Speed Weeks 2016 from Daytona unfolded.

For the most part I was not disappointed. The twin Can Am races on Thursday evening were kind of meaningless with the new Charter system guaranteeing 36 teams will make the 40 car field.

My suggestions for improving those races is simple. Make the races worth points probably half the points of a full race. The winner will not qualify for the Chase but will sit on the pole or outside pole.

Forget qualifying, that’s a joke since the speeds are from a single car running alone on the track. Not indicative of reality at all.

Require a four tire and fuel stop to help sell some Goodyear tires and make the pit crews strut their stuff. Anyone coming in for a pitstop nearest the fuel window gets a bunch of bonus points.

Friday night was the Austin Theriault show. He started the best of any of the Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) team, fourth. And lead many more laps than either of his two team mates.

Once the race started Theriault stayed near the front until somewhere around lap 70 when he had to take what looked like evasive action to avoid hitting a truck moving into his lane. A mistake which shuffled him back to 17th place.

A wreck at the front of the pack scrambled everyone from third place back as truck after truck spun or took evasive action. I thought Theriault had made it through the melee when a white truck spun up out of the infield a thumped him putting the #2 into the wall and spinning into the infield where he was hit again.

In a post race interview the Fort Kent native did an excellent job telling it like it is and thanked NASCAR for SAFER barriers. He said he was racing for the win proven by his having led the most laps with 31.

I have said it again and again, “Would someone step up and give this talented driver the financial support!” He will not disappoint.

Think about a one foot ruler like we used in elementary school growing up. This familiar ruler is longer than the distance between first place Denny Hamlin and second place Martin Truex ,Jr. It is the closest finish in the history of the Daytona 500 0.010 seconds eclipsing the Mark Martin loss to Kevin Harvick by 0.020 seconds in 2007.

I was sure that Truex in the #78 Toyota had it until the scoring chart rang up Denny Hamlin. This was after 500 miles of racing. Imagine driving to Portland then back to Caribou and getting home less than one foot in front of a friend who may have done the same drive. Wow!

I was pleased that there was no huge wreckfest to decide the winner. In its place was a tight pack (less than 2 seconds from first to twentieth). Kevin Harvick bump draft of Hamlin gave Hamlin that tiny bit more speed than Truex at the line.

I am impressed with Carl Edwards fifth place finish. After getting the left front bashed by a

Daytona International Speedway groundskeeper and Woodland native, Jason Griffeth’s beautiful grass DAYTONA took a beating the last few days. All will be well and good since the stadium area will be torn up to make a moto cross course for Motorcycle Week the first of March.

All that top soil will be stored away for re-use once the motorcycles leave town. A new covering of turf will be either re-sodded or sprigged for the July race.

High Performance Humans Compete in the County

Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic sweeps all three of her events at the World Cup Biathlon held in Presque isle, Maine 10 days ago. HTF Motorsports photo

Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic, the Women’s Biathlon leader sweeps all three of her events, the Sprint, Pursuit, and Relay at the World Cup Biathlon held in Presque Isle, Maine 10 days ago. HTF Motorsports photo

France's Martin Fourcade still held onto the #1 yellow bib after winning the Men's 12 K Pursuit and finishing third in the 10K Sprint at the World Cup Biathlon in Presque Isle. HTF Motorsports photo

France’s Martin Fourcade still held onto the #1 yellow bib after winning the Men’s 12 K Pursuit and finishing third in the 10K Sprint at the World Cup Biathlon in Presque Isle. HTF Motorsports photo

What in the world are you showing Biathlon photos in a motorsports blog for? Listen when a World Class race comes to Aroostook County I will make an effort to see the event. Over 160 skiers and crew descended on Presque Isle a couple weeks ago bringing with it an international flavor that reminded me of the 24 Hours of Daytona where I was in January.

Anyone who can cross country sky and hit those teeny, tiny targets with a small bore rifle in sub-zero conditions while your heart is beating like a four cylinder turbo engine deserves mention in this column.

Congratulations to the organizing committee, volunteers, sponsors, competitors, and fans for making this event happen in Northern Maine.

I have often told visitors or people who I am explaining where I live is half-way between two world class biathlon venues (Fort Kent and Presque Isle) which have hosted many Olympic athletes. I pinch myself when I think this is right here in my back yard. Of course I am going to see these races and racers. Cannot wait until they return again.

100 Years At Indy

Helio Castroneves on left and Rick Mears at the Pennzoil Penske display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. This display of the classic Mears car and Castroneves' 2016 Dallara Chevrolet will remain at the Museum until this fall. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Helio Castroneves on left and Rick Mears at the Pennzoil Penske display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. This display of the classic Mears car and Castroneves’ 2016 Dallara Chevrolet will remain at the Museum until this fall. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway

I would love to cover the action at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 May 29th. I have covered the NASCAR race at the historic speedway six times yet have never had the opportunity to cover the Indy Car side of things.

If anyone has oversize bags that will fit me in or wants to sponsor my way make sure you contact me. I am still paying for the Daytona 24 Hours event. Do not take that wrong I have zero regrets about coverage costs of the race. I am truly blessed.

A Friend Moves Up at Ganassi

Grant Weaver on right in this 2009 Photo taken the the Ganassi Racing lobby in Indianapolis. Caribou FFA Ag Mechanics team members on left Zac Gorence, Colby Johnson, Lance Cormier, Green and Shawn Holmquist

Grant Weaver on right in this 2009 photo taken at the Ganassi Racing lobby in Indianapolis. Touring the facility were Caribou FFA Ag Mechanics team members on left l to r  Zac Gorence, Colby Johnson, Lance Cormier, Dustin Green and Shawn Holmqvist. HTF Motorsports photo

I was pleased to read that a friend of mine who works at Chip Ganassi’s Indianapolis race shop has been promoted. Grant Weaver is now in charge of co-ordinating all the shop work schedules to enable the four LeMans bound Ford GT’s and the team’s two Indy Cars housed within the huge shop to meet competition and practice schedules. I hope to hear more from Grant soon.

Next…

Why in the world would a British motorcycle supply company move to Loring and the inside scoop in Tom Peter’s racing Ski Doo restoration.

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.