NASCAR Sprint Cup – Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 for the second time in his career, on a season-opening day that featured the debut of the new Gen 6 cars, history thanks to Danica Patrick, and intense trepidation following the intense crash that injured 30 spectators during the Nationwide race on Saturday.
Johnson ran a fast race until he spotted an opening with just six laps remaining and took his Chevrolet SS to the front, holding off Dale Earnhard Jr. and Mark Martin to grab the checkered flag. Drivers stayed bunched up for almost the entire 500 miles as they tucked in to avoid wind resistance, and passing was only really possible on the top line of the track.
That allowed three drivers to lead more than 75% of the race, but all in all, with the new-look Gen 6 cars on display and Danica Patrick becoming the first woman to ever start on a Sprint Cup pole and finish in the Top 10 in the Daytona 500, the Great American Race brought plenty to the table in 2013. Sprint Cup will return with the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix on March 3. Video highlights after the jump.
NASCAR Nationwide Series – Drive4COPD 300: The big news of the weekend was the massive crash during Saturday’s Nationwide race that collected a dozen cars and sent one of them slamming into the safety fence and showered fans with debris. That sent 28 fans to the hospital, with two in critical condition after a tire flew into the stands and landed on a person, and the entire engine of rookie Kyle Larson sliced through the protective fencing.
Tony Stewart won the race, but whatever, since Sprint Cup drivers shouldn’t be in Nationwide events anyway. More importantly, many insiders and IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti called for more research into safety and protective barriers. After this weekend, that seems like the obvious next step for NASCAR. Nationwide will return with the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 in Phoenix on March 2.
Formula One – Catalunya Testing: The second preseason testing session came to a close in Spain, where it poetically rained. And rained and rained. Testing had to be stopped several times as the teams dealt with wet weather, but ultimately Lewis Hamilton topped the field with the fastest lap for his new Mercedes team. Jenson Button of McLaren went second-fastest, but after that it seemed the playing field leveled off as several small teams posted very quick times. Toro Rosso, Force India, Sauber and Caterham all pushed hard and looked fast as hell on the Catalunya circuit. This could either be a sign that the 2013 season figures to be full of parity as the cars are very similar before next year’s overhaul, or it could be a sign that the big dogs like Ferrari and Red Bull are not revealing their secrets just yet.
Road Racing – Hans Herrmann Turns 85: A very happy Motorsports Monday birthday to Porsche factory driver Hans Herrmann, who turned 85 high-octane years old over the weekend. Porsche hired Herrmann in 1953 and put him behind the wheel of a 550 Spyder in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Herrmann only took the car to a class victory – no big deal. He also drove for Mercedes and competed in Formula One, plus iconic rallies like the Mille Miglia and Carrera Panamaericana. He took home perhaps the most badass honor of all, overall Le Mans winners in a Porsche 917, in 1970 during his eleventh Le Mans. Motorsports Monday salutes you, good sir!