Wednesday Daytona Notebook

Cars on track during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Cars on track during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Austin Dillon learns from Panthers’ Super Bowl loss

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Super Bowl 50 didn’t end the way Austin Dillon would have liked.

An ardent Carolina Panthers fan, Dillon attended the Feb. 7 event at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., only to watch his team fall to the Denver Broncos 24-10.

But the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet learned a lot from his observations of the team. The Panthers who lost the Super Bowl, Dillon said, didn’t approach that game with the same attitude that had propelled the Panthers to a 17-1 record entering the game.

“It was definitely not the results I wanted because of my team,” Dillon said during a Daytona 500 Media Day session on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. “I watched them all year long, and it just didn’t look the same. They didn’t seem like they were loose and having fun.”

That’s something Dillon will keep in mind if he qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“I know if I’m in a championship mode, I need to remember that, because you change what you do up until that period of time that got you there,” Dillon said. “You can’t forget what got you there and how your emotions were leading up to each game. It was cool. I learned from that.”

Harvick revels in replays of 2007 Daytona 500 win

Kevin Harvick acknowledges having watched the closing laps of the 2007 Daytona 500 more than a few times.

“I’ve seen it a lot,” Harvick said on Tuesday at Daytona.

There’s good reason to enjoy that race over and over again—and not just because Harvick happened to take the checkered flag in the Great American Race for the only time in his career.

The 2007 Daytona 500 was one of the most exciting in the long history of the event, with Harvick beating Mark Martin to the finish line by .005 seconds at the end of a green-white-checkered-flag finish.

In fact, Harvick made a phenomenal all-out run around the outside in the final two laps just to get into position to win the race.

“Yeah, it still gives me goosebumps every time that I see it happen, because it’s one of those moments where you didn’t really expect to be in that position with everything that had happened 12, 15 laps before that,” Harvick said.

“I think as you see everything unfold, you see it coming to the line, then win the race.  When you go back to remembering what it was like inside of the car, how excited you were, all the things you got to do the next week, it was pretty neat.”

To Harvick, it was confirmation of just how fickle the Daytona 500 can be.

“It’s hard to put any race together, let alone this one,” he said. “There’s just so many things that have to go your way. I think that year was probably a year that you didn’t think you probably had the car to win.

“I can think of a few years where it felt like you had the car to win and you didn’t win because of something going wrong. You never know when it’s all going to line up. You have to keep trying to plug away and keep yourself in contention.”

Earnhardt, Goodyear expand relationship

Don’t be surprised to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the latest round of advertising for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, as befits his long-standing relationship with the brand.

A series of broadcast, digital and print ads will feature Earnhardt as the expert who chooses Goodyear tires on and off the race track.

“We’ve already had a relationship due to the confidence that I have in Goodyear tires on the track with the 88 car and on the street with my own personal car,” said Earnhardt, a 26-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner. “There’s a huge trust factor that we’ve had for a really long time, so this feels like a continuation of something that has been going on for a while.”

In the television spot, Earnhardt highlights Goodyear’s long-time involvement in NASCAR racing. Goodyear will amplify the creative with a robust media plan and social media support.

SHORT STROKES

Michael McDowell is one of six drivers fighting for the final two positions in the Daytona 500 starting field, and in Wednesday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, he threw down the gauntlet to the other five “go-or-go-homers.”

McDowell was the first Cup driver to top 200 mph during Speedweeks when he ran 200.173 mph in a large pack early in the session.

Trevor Bayne (199.916 mph) and Greg Biffle (199.619 mph) were second and third fastest behind McDowell, but that was the end of the good news for the Roush Fenway Racing teammates.

Mechanical issues forced both of their teams to make rear gear changes, and both Biffle and Bayne will drop to the rear for the start of Thursday night’s first Can-Am Duel 150-mile qualifying race.

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