Time to pack up and head west

The NASCAR on FOX crew preview the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The NASCAR on FOX crew preview the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.


So Daytona is behind us and we all spent many days and nights down there. The beauty of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup teams is the depth that they have. It’s not like the old days when we would have to fly back that night and immediately begin working on next weekend’s race car.


NASCAR on FOX brings live coverage of the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. The green flag drops at 1 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.

I have to believe that both the Phoenix cars and the Las Vegas cars are pretty much done, other than some finishing touches. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all out West for three out of the next four weeks and that’s a pretty big mountain to climb for anyone.

For the small teams like James Finch, Tommy Baldwin Racing or Phil Parson’s team, that mountain really gets very vertical to them. The good news for them is the incredible finishes they had Sunday in the Daytona 500. Not only do you leave Daytona really proud of your effort and how you finished better than some of the mega-teams, but those great finishes also put a lot of purse money into their budgets. It’s that purse money that helps fund getting them to other races.

I just have to say, at least from my broadcast perspective; this 2013 Daytona Speedweeks went by quick. I really can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it was because we never really had any weather issues like we’ve been prone to the last few years. I mean think about it, nothing can compare to having to stay over last year and run the Daytona 500 on a Monday night.

I guess if I was Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team, I might feel like Speedweeks this year lasted nine months and not nine days for all the problems they had every step of the way. I mean they pretty much tore up everything they had and even some of the cars twice.

But the reality is these cars won’t be used for any of our upcoming races. You won’t see these restrictor-plate cars for a couple months, not until we make our stop in Talladega the first weekend in May.

I know everyone is happy to be home and to sleep in their own beds even for a couple days before heading out West. A lot of these teams won’t even come home Sunday night after the Phoenix race. That’s because there is an open test on Thursday at Las Vegas, so it’s more cost efficient to keep everyone out there. These teams are racers. From the driver, to the crew chief and to the pit crew, they’ll do whatever is asked of them and do it the best they can.

Obviously, Sunday was the biggest race of the year in our stock car world. Everyone comes here wanting to win the Daytona 500. They want to accomplish what Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team accomplished. You also want to leave Daytona without your race car torn up. You want to leave the State of Florida with a good start to the new season.

So now we head to Phoenix this weekend and then Las Vegas next weekend. You want to work hard to get your car driving well, because as I always remind you, once you get off the restrictor-plate tracks, you really have more control of your own destiny than when you are out there pack racing.

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