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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Old Dominion Speedway 6-25-11

Military Appreciation 150 Race- view article and photos at
The Military Appreciation race was a 150 lap race.  This would be the first time you would compete in such an event.  How did you feel before and after the race?
Truth being told I thought I was going to puke my guts out before the race. I really didn’t know what to expect with an event that long and I didn’t know if I was physically ready for it. That all goes out the window when you strap on the helmet, you just focus. It doesn’t matter if it’s 150 laps or 15; you got a job to do, like the Nike slogan says, “just do it”.
How exciting was it to start from 10th and finish 4th?
That was highly exciting because that was the first race this year that we’ve had a car capable of moving through the field like that. I was more proud of the work we had done on the car and it being successful than anything. I won’t take all the credit though; Dave Moon and Jordan Irving of Moon Racing helped me out tremendously with the setup. "I feel like the race was a showcase" a showcase for us as a team and what we’re capable of. It may have taken us awhile to come this far, but primarily it’s just a two man operation and we do the best we can. We’re not done improving yet either, the work and effort to be the best doesn’t end with one good run. The season’s still young in our eyes.
What has contributed to your focus and finishes this season thus far?
I don’t know about the focus part. I guess all the work on the car during the week, and the work involved on Saturday night just keeps me going, keeps me into it. If it wasn’t for an occasional great run like Saturday I really don’t know where my mind would be. This is a sport of disappointment and heartbreak with occasional dazzling beams of success. It’s the good nights that keep the fire lit, and keep you digging for more in the face of defeat.

How important is a Rookie season to a driver, and how would you like to be remembered this season?
I guess it all depends on the rookie and what he decides he wants to accomplish. I don’t want to be remembered as a failure that’s for sure. Not a “one hit wonder” or a kid who couldn’t hack it. I want people to know that I did all I could to be the best racer possible week in and week out. That I never gave up. I showed up to compete, if everyone knows that I couldn’t ask for more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can you please explain the bumper rule?  Some fans do not understand why you were asked to go to the back of the field after you were spun out in the last race. 
Apparently, anyone involved in an incident whether it be the wrecked or the wrecker will be sent to the back.

We are two races into the season and so far it’s been a tough road to hoe!  What are your expectations for the next event?
I hate to sell anyone short but with the stakes being as high as they are for the next event I foresee quite an action packed race. Everyone’s going to be going for the cash and things will get hectic in a hurry. We need the money as a team, and a win would certainly be great right about now, but I think finishing with a clean car will be a minor miracle and the only goal for this race.
What type of fan participation does your team engage in?
Back in 2005 we started racing in the INEX Legends Division at Old Dominion Speedway.  We were normally the last team at the track due to fan participation.  Many teams would load-up and go after the night’s event.  We felt it necessary to accommodate the fans who attended by showing our appreciation.  We conversed with them and provided handouts with coupons from local companies.  We always took the time to recognize the kids by giving away goodie bags with a variety of stuff inside.  The kids enjoyed sitting in my car and having their photos taken to be posted on our website.  We’ve noticed that other teams are starting to do the same.  Simply put, it’s good for the sport and shows a different aspect of the driver. 
For anyone interested in becoming a driver, what words of advice can you offer?
That’s a tough one. I don’t feel like I’m in a good position to answer that question right now. I’ve helped a lot of kids that are already involved in racing get better, but I’ve never encountered anyone just getting into the sport so it’s hard for me to think of what I would say without ever being put in that position. You could approach an aspiring driver one of two ways; you can either be brutally honest about the difficulty of this sport and what it takes to be successful or you can give them the good old eat your vegetables, listen to your parents, and don’t do drugs speech. I guess it would depend on the kid as to which response they get. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

#34 wins Pole position in first Late Model Race at ODS

How did it feel to grab the pole position in your very first Late Model race?
I think Billy Ingle summed it up best when he said, “You jumped out of a four cylinder class and qualified on the pole for your first late model race, what else is there to say?” Yeah I was excited, but along with grabbing the pole came the responsibility of starting the race. A few minutes of happiness were washed away with the stress of the main event.

What was the most important thing you learned in your first Late Model race?
I learned that I should not have thought that we were alone. When the sparks flew after the altercation on the first lap, friends, racers, and car owners diverged onto my car, working frantically to get me back into the race. That was the greatest and most humbling feeling I’ve ever had at the track. I felt helpless, just sitting there watching them work, but I was overjoyed that they were there, for me. I can’t pinpoint everyone who was there but to name a few… Mike and Anne Carte, Keith Riley, Dave Moon, Steve Smith, Tyler, Vange, Stevie, and Steve Cypher, and one who I’ll just call Eddie because I regretfully cant recall his last name.

How did it feel to be able to go back out and compete after the wreck?
I felt pretty calm, I mean at that point any shot at a good finish was ruined so to me the goal at that point was to get as many laps back as I could, and most importantly finish.

At the end of the night, when all was said and done, what were your thoughts?

 I wasn’t at all happy about the wreck on the first lap. I didn't have time to be mad about it inside the car, a) because I really didn't know what happened, b) I was just so focused on getting the car back out there I wasn't trying to relive the incident at the moment. I've had an opportunity to view a video taken by a friend and have a clearer view of what happened.  Let’s just say after viewing it and studying the damage to the car I've regained my confidence a bit and understand now that I had a little help in the incident and it wasn't from behind me. That's all I'll say. I'm not mad at anyone I'm just mad at the situation. I've already learned and moved on from the wreck and we'll try it again in two weeks.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opening Day - Mother Nature had plans of her own!

How disappointed were you that opening day at Old Dominion Speedway was 

For me not in the least, but I did feel bad for my crew who had to come from Maryland and for all of the fans who attempted to brave the weather. Shortly after the mist began to fall I personally did not feel the track conditions were favorable for the race that night and had almost put myself in “go home” mode in anticipation of the cancellation. I wasn't disappointed because that’s just life. I prepare myself every day for obstacles that come up to meet me. Once you beat down enough of those in your life you learn it’s dumb to shake your fist at something beyond your control like Mother Nature. Some guys labeled the night a complete failure, after working diligently all day and not being able to race. I call it a sour success. No I didn't get to race. But… I showed up, I practiced with the group, I qualified, and I took my car home in one piece. There are more ways to win than simply falling below the checkered flag first.

Leo and Sam Farber are now a part of Dave Daniels Racing.   How different will your season be with their experience?

The biggest change for me is actually having other people on the team besides me, my mom, and my dad. Along the way we have enlisted the help of various friends, family members, and other racers but never have we had what I would call “official crew members”. When we asked Leo and Sam to be a part of the organization I had no clue it would have grown into the relationship that it did and I’m very excited about working with the two of them this year. Leo was slated to be my spotter after we saw how well he worked with Johnny Benson in last year’s Youth for Tomorrow race. He very quickly took on two roles when he showed up Saturday: spotter and driver coach. His son Sam is an excellent mechanic who’s been around racing his whole life (thanks to his father) and does a great job of helping us get things done. Nothing really changes as far as my father’s racing game plan is concerned just having them makes it a lot easier on us to execute it.

Besides being the driver of the #34 Daniels Auto Care, Ashcraft Associates racecar, what other duties do you perform on the car?

My dad and I do absolutely everything. After a date with the race track, the #34 comes back to Daniels Auto Care where laundry lists of things are done in a timely yet hectic fashion. Trying to find time in the day to dedicate to the car is like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles. We do get it done though, although it involves many early mornings and numerous late nights we’re both willing to do what it takes to make it out there on Saturday night. Everybody thinks we’re insane but we know we’re not. We both just found the one thing in life that we enjoy and we’re good at, and we’ve practically dedicated our lives in the pursuit of perfection.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Waiting for opening day at Old Dominion Speedway

Now that you have had the opportunity to shake down the car and run a few practice runs, how does the car feel and how close are you to getting it ready for race day?

The car right now feels really good; its performance is just a testament to the time and effort that my father and I put into it during the off season. We can’t take all the credit though I owe huge thanks to Herman Gantt for all that he’s done for us. He was so patient with me and helped us tremendously as far as properly setting up the car is concerned. From what we saw in practice the speed is there we just really need to work on getting me comfortable inside the car. I’m pretty programmed from 30 lap races because that’s what I’ve been competing in my whole career so trying to make myself comfortable and increasing my endurance for much longer races is definitely a priority at this point.
Practice photos can be viewed here - http://www.dancoracing.com/2011_LM_Practice/main.html

How different is it to run a Late Model compared to the Mini Modified?

Bobby Labonte said it best during last year’s 24 hour race at Daytona “It’s just a race car, and I’m a race car driver”. There are very distinct differences between the two no doubt. The late model is a bigger, faster, rocket ship of a machine compared to the mini; but at the end of the day it’s just another race car. All the same principles apply they’re just on a larger scale with greater speeds. Does a 15 second lap time feel different than a 17 second one? Absolutely. I don’t drive based off of lap times; I drive whatever car I’m in as hard as I possibly can to the loss of grip. A 15 second controlled lap is no harder than a 17 second lap with your hands full. The challenge in this division isn’t the car or the speed, it’s the competition.

Any jitters while awaiting opening day?

More like sleepless nights. When you’re like me and you consume yourself with this sport you carry it with you at all times. I wake up thinking of ways to be a better racer and a better athlete, then I’ll go to sleep thinking not only how to do both of the things but also a laundry list of other things like… What can I do to improve my car? How can I be faster? How can I get sponsors? How do I beat these guys? How do I keep these guys from beating me? It never ends! Jitters for opening day? No, not really because for me racing season never ends. I work so hard during the winter months in preparation for the upcoming season that my mind never fully leaves the track. I’ll probably have a slightly different response to that question say a day or two before the first race, but for now, I’m overwhelmed with trying to perfect myself and my race team that I really don’t have time to be nervous or have jitters.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dave answers two important questions.

Dave answers two important questions.

Will it be difficult going from a two time track champion in the Mini Modified Division, back to a rookie in the Late Model Division?

I relate the late model division to AAA baseball. For me, it’s the highest division I can race at self funded, so naturally it becomes a big deal for me and my crew. It will be tough, the cars are more technologically advanced, the competition is way stiffer, the races are longer and more grueling, and everything just gets harder. But, at the end of the day, it’s still a race car, and I am a race car driver. The biggest challenge isn’t dealing with pressure from outside sources (whether it is sponsors, competitors, or fans) but trying to control the pressure and the expectations to perform within myself. I am a two time Mini Modified champion that stat can never be taken away from me but this is a different year, and expectations based off of my past success are no longer valid. I’m going to be like a small worm on a really big hook until me and my father figure this division out a little better. It may take half a season, or it may take two. The time in which it takes to become a competitive and wining driver in the late model division is irrelevant; the fact that I do it the proper and respectful way is what is truly important.

What are your expectations for 2011?

I could probably answer this question a little better after the first race. I don’t want to be accused of dreaming either too big or too small but as of now I have not formed any black and white expectations.  I will say that I simply want to finish races and bring my car home in one piece. Giving the team something to work on for the next week is the most important thing, and we can’t accomplish that with a tore up race car (that and I haven’t shoveled enough snow to cover the repair bills.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

My name is Dave Daniels.  I currently race at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, VA.

I will be updating this blog after each race to give you an insiders view of the evenings events.

I am currently the 2009 and 2010 NASCAR Mini Modified Champion and will be moving up into the Late Model Division.

For photos, video's and articles, please visit http://www.davedanielsracing.com