Recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Ken Griffey Jr. will be the honorary starter for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Griffey, who lives in Central Florida, received a record-breaking 99.32 percent of the vote (437 of 440) by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He played 22 seasons - 13 with the Seattle Mariners, nine with the Cincinnati Reds and less than one season with the Chicago White Sox. In his 22 seasons, Griffey was a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner and 1997 American League MVP; he is also ranked sixth on the career home run list (630).
“We’re honored to welcome baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. as the honorary starter for the Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said. “We’re looking forward to having such a legendary athlete wave the green flag on the first Great American Race in the world’s first motorsports stadium.”
Perhaps Stewart-Haas Racing needs a good group cleanse to get rid of the bad juju involving the No. 14 team.
Brian Vickers, the replacement driver for Tony Stewart, lasted 24 laps in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited before he was taken out in a multi-car accident.
“It was a hard hit,” said Vickers, who was treated at the infield care center at Daytona International Speedway and released. “They are never fun. You blow a right-rear tire, you hit driver-side at 200 mph, but that is part of racing. That is all the risk we take. I’m fine. I feel fine. I was having fun. I was having a blast actually.
”It was just so much fun to get out there with those guys and rub fenders again and race hard. It’s such a fun race. I hate we are not going to be able to put this Mobil 1 Chevy in Victory Lane. I think we really had a shot at it. I’m back racing, I’m having fun and the Daytona 500 is next week. I don’t have a lot to complain about.“
Then it got worse on Sunday: Vickers and teammate Kevin Harvick were ruled to have non-compliant track bars and had their qualifying times disallowed. They will start at the rear of the field during Thursday’s qualifying duel races.
Stewart, who is set to compete in his final Cup season, injured his back while on an ATV in Phoenix recently and is out indefinitely.
NASCAR’s new overtime rules don’t seem much different than the old overtime rules, based on the small sample size of the Sprint Unlimited.
”Nothing different because we took the white flag under green, so if it was last year’s green-white-checkered policy it would have been the same,“ Daytona 500 defending champion Joey Logano said. ”It never came into play. The only way it would have is if the caution came out before we got to the white flag, so the rule didn’t come into play to be any different this time.“
Under the new format, if drivers pass the overtime line in the middle of the backstretch on the first lap of a green-white-checkered re-start, the race ends immediately if a caution comes out. But the overtime line wasn’t a factor Saturday because a multi-car crash involving Casey Mears, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards occurred on the second lap of the white-flag lap. Denny Hamlin won the race.