Biffle, Bayne win bulldozer race to kick off Daytona rebuild

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Yesterday, Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne earned the honor of officially breaking ground on Daytona International Speedway’s $400 million renovation project after winning a bulldozer race around an obstacle course outside the 2.5-mile oval.

It seemed only fitting to begin the transformation of NASCAR’s most storied track with a race, which saw Biffle and Bayne team up to defeat the combos of Ryan Newman and Jeff Burton and TV announcers Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip. The event, which saw the three teams get around in 42,000-pound Caterpillar front-end loaders, carried multiple customs of a true Sprint Cup race, including a mock Victory Lane celebration (pictured).

The Daytona Rising project is slated to be complete by January 2016 and will modernize the grandstands at the “World Center of Racing” with added amenities such as wider seats and more concession options. Track president Joie Chitwood III is also hopeful that the new Daytona will attract non-racing events such as football, rugby and soccer games that could be played on the infield tri-oval grass.

Burton believes that Daytona’s rebuild is important in regards to creating a better at-track experience for fans, especially in the moments leading up to the races themselves.

“When you go to a baseball game, the entire thing is the baseball game,” Burton told the Associated Press. “When you go to a NASCAR race, there’s all the pre-race stuff, there’s things going on before the race – hours before the race you get here – so you have to entertain the fans in other ways other than just the race because they’ve come to expect it.

“In many ways, it requires more effort from our racetrack owners than baseball or football.”

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”