Racing gets under way at Daytona | NevadaAppeal.com

Racing gets under way at Daytona

Roger Diez

Racing fans, start your televisions! Today is the start of the oval track program at Daytona, following last weekend’s Rolex 24 on the combined oval/road course at the Speedway.

The green flag will fly for the ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at 1:30 p.m., telecast on SPEEDTV. The ARCA race is getting considerably more press attention this year than normal, because it is Danica Patrick’s stock car debut. Patrick will start 12th spot. She is the fastest of five female drivers in the field, ahead of Alli Owens in 19th, Leilani Munter in 25th, Milka Duno in 36th, and Jennifer Jo Cobb in 39th starting position. Also in the field, qualifying seventh, is ex-Formula 1 pilot Nelson Piquet Jr.

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Earlier in the day, FOX will air pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 beginning at 10 a.m. and at 5 p.m. the Bud Shootout will take to the track, also televised on FOX.

Carl Edwards will lead 24 drivers to the green flag for what promises to be a real thriller. Six of the drivers will start in backup cars after two crashes in practice damaged their primary cars beyond immediate repair.

Of course, today’s racing program at Daytona is dependent on weather, which halted Cup practice early and washed out ARCA practice on Friday.

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On Thursday, racing resumes at Daytona with the Gatorade Duel twin 150-mile races which will set the field for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14. Both races will be aired on SPEEDTV, with Race 1 starting at 11 a.m. with the second race following immediately.

The finish of these races will set the field (with the exception of the front row, which is locked in by today’s qualifying results) for the 500. Since only 43 cars will start the 500 and there are 54 official entries, 11 teams will be packing up and going home on Thursday evening. With that many drivers trying to race their way into the 500, it should make for two very interesting races.

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It seems 2010 will be the year of the woman in stock car racing.

In addition to the five women starting today’s ARCA race, Chrissy Wallace will make her first Nationwide start Feb. 13, and Jennifer Jo Cobb recently announced her intention of running the entire 36-race Camping World Truck series.

And lest we forget our own budding female stock car racer, I spotted Carson City’s Mackena Bell on TV last Saturday at the Toyota All-Star Shootout at Irwindale, Calif., congratulating fellow Drive for Diversity driver Sergio Pena on his stellar performance in the K&N Pro series race. Read the Nevada Appeal on Wednesday for a big announcement concerning Mackena’s 2010 racing plans.

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I probably don’t give as much coverage as I could to drag racing in this space, but I was moved to do so by a chance encounter with Richard Langson a couple of weeks ago.

If you don’t recognize the name, Langson is a long-time Carson City native and multi-time drag racing champion. He drove his “Texas Ranger” A Altered dragster to countless wins over the years until he retired to turn his hand to inventing things.

He founded Electratherm, a company that builds the “Green Machine,” a device that turns waste heat into electricity.

He told me that he now has some time on his hands and is going to the NHRA season opener, the Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals at Pomona next weekend.

When I asked him if he was racing, he said he hadn’t been to a race in years, and was just going to watch. When I pressed him a little further, he alluded to a possibly getting back into the sport, given the right incentive.

“Everybody tells me I’d be crazy to do it,” he told me.

Have you ever known a racer that wasn’t at least a little bit crazy?

Langson told me that if he did decide to get back into racing, he would let me know so I could tell all his local, loyal fans. So watch this space for a possible drag racing announcement in the future.