Denny Hamlin wins third Daytona 500 in photo finish

Ryan Newman (6) lands on his roof after crashing and crossed the finish line that way at the NASCAR Daytona 500. / Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Another year, another Denny Hamlin win in the Daytona 500.

And Joe Gibbs still has the team to beat in NASCAR.

Hamlin won his third Daytona 500 on Monday, becoming the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win “The Great American Race” in consecutive seasons. His win last year was a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing and kicked off a yearlong company celebration in which Gibbs drivers won a record 19 races and the Cup championship.

Hamlin joined six Hall of Fame drivers as winners of three or more Daytona 500s. He tied Dale Jarrett — who gave JGR its first Daytona 500 win in 1993 — Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison. Hamlin trails Cale Yarborough’s four wins and the record seven by Richard Petty.

This victory came after just the second rain postponement in 62 years, a visit from President Donald Trump, a pair of red flag stoppages and two overtimes. As he went door-to-door with Ryan Blaney for the finish — the 0.014 margin of victory was the second closest in race history — Ryan Newman took a wild ride along the track when he was crashed trying to hold onto the lead.

Newman’s car flipped several times and crossed the finish line on its roof, engulfed in flames.


More AP auto racing


Jeep Gladiator dominates the truck sector by being named North American Truck of the Year for 2020

Transcript: The truck of the year is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Fifty automotive journalists from Canada and the United States voted the Jeep Gladiator North American Truck of the Year for 2020. The Gladiator has the iconic Wrangler look with fully removable roof panels and doors and the windshield even folds down. But the Gladiator has a unique frame that’s 31” longer than the Wrangler Unlimited. The standard 3.6-liter V6 engine makes 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and it has the best towing capacity among midsize pickups. It has a 1,600-lbs payload and a 5-foot pickup bed.


Dale Jr. dives into the details to get over fear of flying after jet crash

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent decades taking risks on the track and in the air.

He’s trying to minimize both these days.

Earnhardt said Sunday before the Daytona 500 that he’s changed his approach to flying following a harrowing crash landing near Bristol Motor Speedway last August. Earnhardt, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, dog and two pilots escaped the fiery wreckage of the executive jet in east Tennessee.

Earnhardt was physically unscathed, but emotionally scarred.

“It’s really tough on me getting back in the plane, and it will never be the same now that you know the real realities and dangers,” he said during a wide-ranging interview. “It will never, ever be the same again.

“Something you will never be able to forget and never block out no matter how many flights you take. … For me to be able to get back in there and go and do and travel like I want, the only way I can do it is really was to get into the details.”

Earnhardt has tried to learn everything he can short of becoming a pilot. He did a deep dive into his jet’s capabilities, specifically regarding how long it needs runways to be for takeoffs and landings. And he’s checking detailed weather reports days before stepping on the plane.

“I’m diving into the deep end trying to learn everything I can about the plane’s ability and the decisions they make and why they make them,” he said. “It’s been extremely educational, as you could imagine.

“I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. It’s kind of empowered me and given me more confidence in what we’re doing and that we are safe and that I am going to be safe as opposed to … I don’t want to just quit flying; I don’t want to just quit getting into an airplane. I need to get over that fear and work hard to get through it.”

He spoke to a number of people about his experience, and the advice he heard repeatedly: Keep getting back on the plane and in the air.

“I just sort of have to figure this out on my own, and it’s working out pretty good so far,” he said.

Earnhardt retired from full-time racing following the 2017 season and is now working as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports. He got back in the car at Richmond for the second-tier Xfinity Series in 2018 and drove at Darlington last year. He’s scheduled to race at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.

He said he misses racing and “it’s getting worse.”

“I thought as I got out of the car, and the further I got from my full-time career, the less that would bother me,” he said. “But it actually is getting worse for some reason. I really look forward to getting some seat time and smelling the smells and hearing the noises and just enjoying being in the car.”

But he has no plans to expand beyond one race a year for his JR Motorsports team, an annual ride that eases his angst and pleases his sponsors.

“It’s a healthy thing to miss it, to want to do it,” he said. “I think it helps me in the booth to have that energy as a fan. I think one’s plenty, probably one’s more than I should be doing. I got my wife and Ilya and all that. I should devote as much as I can to them. One’s just perfect. I think it really helps me remember what drivers are thinking about.”

He does hope to get behind the wheel during test sessions just to get a feel for NASCAR’S new aerodynamics package.

“I’d love to be able to speak on that a little better than I can in the booth,” he said. “I may seek out those opportunities, but no more official races.”

Earnhardt was at Daytona in an official capacity for the third consecutive year for the Daytona 500. He was the grand marshal in 2018, the pace truck driver in 2019 and now the honorary starter. He will wave the green flag to start “The Great American Race.”

“I was flag man at Pevely dirt track once, so a little experience,” he quipped. “I skipped a few steps along the way to get up to the big time and here today for the biggest race in the stock-car season. I’m excited, should be a lot of fun.”

As for next year, he wants to be involved and insists track president Chip Wile has something in store for him.

“I’m not singing the anthem,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t think y’all want me to do that. That’ll probably be my last time at any sporting event if I ever did that.”


More AP auto racing


Cadillac electric crossover will be revealed in April

Cadillac will unveil a midsize electric crossover in April, brand President Steve Carlisle told dealers at the National Auto Dealer Association (NADA) Convention Monday. The new crossover will be Cadillac’s first all-electric vehicle. 

The New York Auto Show is April 10-19, with press days April 8-9. It’s unclear whether the Cadillac reveal would happen there, or as a standalone event before or after.

Per Automotive News, Carlisle told the assembled representatives that Cadillac has big plans for transitioning from an all internal-combustion lineup to one anchored in electric cars. 

“We enter this decade as an internal combustion engine brand. We want to position ourselves to exit as a battery-electric brand, so we have to manage both at the same time,” he said. 

Early last year, Cadillac teased the new midsized crossover, telling us to expect it to come in two- and four-wheel-drive flavors and to be offered as a global model.

The last we heard of GM’s plans to electrify its luxury brand came in December, when Carlisle laid out an aggressive plan to switch over its entire lineup by 2030. 

Just a week later, parent company GM canceled its plans to appear at CES earlier this year because the model it planned to showcase was not ready to be unveiled due to delays introduced by the UAW strike last fall. 

Not even two weeks after the tech show concluded, GM introduced of the self-driving Cruise Origin at a private event in San Francisco, prompting speculation that it was the original subject of GM’s CES plans.

Whether the Cruise Origin or Cadillac’s new mystery midsizer was to bow at CES, there’s only one left to reveal now. 

Cadillac has been keeping news of its future EV offerings largely on the back burner. The brand has been busy effectively re-launching its entire lineup — an effort that will culminate with the rollout of the new Escalade SUV later this year. 

In Carlisle’s NADA remarks, he indicated that Cadillac dealers will learn more about the company’s plans at a meeting in September. 


Porsche 911 appearance and aerodynamic packages now offered

If you own the latest generation of the Porsche 911 but don’t want to wait for (or can’t afford) a GT3 or Turbo variants to pimp your Carrera, Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur may have a solution for you. The division has announced the availability of new SportDesign appearance and Aerokit performance packages.

Both are based on the SportDesign package, which adds a lip spoiler to a revised front apron, plus a new bumper section that moves the license plate higher to accommodate a new air vent located between the oval-shaped exhaust pipes. You can also combine the package with SportDesign side skirts.

Porsche says it spent months tweaking the design and function of the Aerokit at its development center in Weissach, including time spent in the wind tunnel, hot- and cold-climate testing covering the rough equivalent of 56,000 real-world miles, and another 34,000 miles of testing on a race track in Nardo, Italy. The package is based on the SportDesign and adds a front spoiler, fixed rear spoiler and a rather generous fixed rear wing in the most obvious nod to the GT3. The additions are said to reduce uplift forces over both the front and rear axles.

Both packages are available now in either your 992-series 911’s exterior color or in partial black high-gloss. The SportDesign runs $4,890 and the Aerokit costs $6,910.

The upcoming Turbo and Turbo S variants of the 992 generation are expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month and pack as much as 641 horsepower.

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2021 Kia Sorento officially revealed with crisp new duds

Following an unofficial reveal in spy shots, the 2021 Kia Sorento crossover has just been shown officially by the automaker. The company released images of its chiseled exterior and rugged but upscale interior.

On the outside, the Sorento picks up many of the cues established by the upcoming Optima/K5, including the broad and angular grille. The front and rear fascias have loads of creases and geometric openings, while the rest of the body is a bit more subtle. The profile is less upright than that of the Telluride, but the chrome window trim has a little dorsal fin on the lower section like the bigger crossover, as well as some of Kia’s overseas wagons. The overall profile looks like the Sorento will still have room for an optional third row of seats like the current one.

These official photos give us our best look yet at the Sorento’s interior. It builds on the low and wide dashboard design of the Telluride, but gives a more aggressive, angled look, particularly with the center stack and climate controls. The stack and vents look as though they were folded forward, which angles the controls up and out toward the occupants. The vents are shaped like trapezoids, and the door handles have a beveled square design. You can also make out a diamond grid pattern in the aluminum-look trim on the dashboard, along with accent lights in the doors that mirror them. The Sorento is available with a 10.25-inch infotainment display and a 12.3-inch instrument screen.

There are still a number of details left to learn about the Sorento, such as its powertrain, features and pricing. We should get more of that when it makes its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show on March 3. The current Sorento is available with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine, and front- or all-wheel drive. The options for drive wheels will likely continue, though it’s unclear what engine options will be available, since it’s possible a V6, like the Telluride’s 3.8-liter, could be used, or perhaps a turbocharged four-cylinder from the Optima/K5 and Sonata.


Daytona 500 postponed until Monday at 4 p.m. due to rain

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.  — The Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain for the first time since 2012, dampening NASCAR’s season opener that started with a ballyhooed visit from President Donald Trump.

The race was postponed after two lengthy delays totaling more than three hours. The race will now begin at 4 p.m. Monday and be broadcast live on Fox.

It’s the second time in 62 years that “The Great American Race” will finish on a Monday.

The first delay of the day came moments after the presidential motorcade completed a ceremonial parade lap around the 2 1/2-mile track. Trump’s armored limousine nicknamed “The Beast” exited Daytona International Speedway, and the sky opened for a brief shower that forced drivers back to pit road.

The start already had been pushed back 13 minutes to accommodate Trump’s trip. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. eventually led the field to the green flag and was out front for the first 20 laps before heavier rain soaked a racing surface that takes hours to dry.

NASCAR called drivers back to their cars around 6:40 p.m. EST, hoping to get more laps in before more showers hit again. Some drivers showed, but the heaviest rain of the day forced a postponement.

It no doubt choked some of the excitement out of an event that had been a raucous celebration for hours, some of it prompted by Trump’s dramatic entrance. Thousands cheered as Air Force One performed a flyover and landed at Daytona International Airport a few hundred yards behind the track. Trump’s motorcade arrived a few minutes later, eliciting another loud ovation. Both entrances were broadcast on giant video boards around the superspeedway.

At least a dozen drivers were escorted from the pre-race meeting to a private introduction with Trump.

“I got to meet the president! How cool is that?” driver Aric Almirola said.

Trump served as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 and gave the command for drivers to start their engines. Trump, with first lady Melania Trump by his side, addressed the crowd and called the opener “a legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years.”

“For 500 heart-pounding miles, these fierce competitors will chase the checkered flag, fight for the Harley J. Earl trophy and make their play for pure American glory,” Trump said. “That’s what it is: pure, American glory.”

Trump and his wife then got in the limousine and turned a lap. They avoided the high-banked turns at Daytona and stayed on the apron through the corners.

The president’s visit was widely welcomed by NASCAR fans. Trump 2020 flags flooded the infield, and some fans wore them as capes in the garage area.

His presence also created huge lines at entrances, with many fans complaining while waiting hours to get through security.

Former NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, who was replaced following his August 2018 arrest on DUI charges, was on Air Force One with the president and first lady. They traveled from West Palm Beach.

Among those who met them at the airport: current NASCAR chairman Jim France and fellow top executives Lesa France Kennedy and Ben Kennedy.


2021 Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 First Drive Review | Speed meets sauve

ESTORIL, Portugal — Estoril’s front straight is over half a mile long, and by the start/finish line the 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is begging for fifth gear. At 7,800 rpm, its rev limiter interrupts the howl of its 4.0-liter flat-six. At 145 mph I give it the gear change, going back to full throttle as quickly and smoothly as possible, before jumping on its massive ceramic brakes and grabbing downshifts. This multi-limb dance proves that everything about this car – its clutch action, shifter, steering and brakes – works with a sublime, linear precision. But it’s the 718’s balance that impresses the most. The mid-engine sports car enters the course’s first turn cleanly, with just a touch of understeer, and exits the downhill second gear right-hander in a slight drift, which I’m able to carry out to the curbing.

It’s our third lap around the former home of the Portuguese Grand Prix and the Cayman feels right at home on the wide, 2.7-mile-long circuit, which includes several double apex corners, a tight uphill chicane and a third-gear 100-mph kink that the GTS takes foot-to-the-floor flat. Not once does the Cayman feel darty, twitchy or skiddish.

And it’s the same story out in the real world. Earlier we spent a few hours driving the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 on the twisty coastal roads near the circuit, and returned equally impressed with its comfort, drivability and response.

GTS stands for Gran Turismo Sport, and the three letters have proliferated through the brand’s lineup over the years, offering increased performance combined with daily livability. Since 2007 there have also been GTS versions of the 911, Cayenne, Panamera and Macan.

Mechanical twins, the new Cayman GTS 4.0 and Boxster GTS 4.0 borrow bits from the Cayman GT4, 718 Spyder and 911 GT3. They slot just above the Cayman S and Boxster S models and should cost right around $90,000, although final pricing will be released in the summer.

Like the 911 GT3 RS, they’re powered by a naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed six-cylinder, the same found in the 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4. It weighs 22 pounds more than the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder used from 2018-2019, but makes considerably more power. It’s also a better sports car engine, revving higher and quicker.

It isn’t a detuned version of the engine used in the 911 GT3 or GT3 RS, however. That 4.0-liter was deemed too exotic and too expensive for the 718, plus packaging its external dry sump oiling system in the mid-engine car was an issue. Instead, it’s a bored and stroked version of the turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six found in lesser 911s.

With 13:1 compression, variable camshaft timing and the Sport Exhaust System from the 718 GT4 and Spyder, it’s rated 394 hp at 7,000 rpm and 309 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm. That’s down 20 hp from the other applications, but we suspect there may be some dyno tomfoolery going on here.

In the GTS, the engine’s peak horsepower is reported at 7,000 rpm, not 7,600 rpm where it is recorded in the GT4 and Spyder. Plus, the two engines make the same torque. Out on the road, power doesn’t seem to diminish over 7,000 rpm. In fact, the 4.0-liter continues to pull strongly. Hmmmmm.

Either way, those stats suggest a peaky engine with little bottom-end torque, but the GTS draws cleanly off idle in third gear, so it’s easy to drive around town. Throttle response is also impressive and there’s a satisfying mechanical whirl from the 4.0-liter and a guttural growl above 5,000 rpm. This is partially due to the two resonance flaps in the intake manifold that open to add plenum volume and deliver more air into the combustion chambers. A small valve opens first at 4,600 rpm and then closes when the larger valve opens at 5,000 rpm. Both flaps are open above 7,000 rpm.

The six-cylinder idles with an entertaining BRRRRRRRR, but it doesn’t drone despite spinning above 3,000 rpm in top gear at 80 mph. On the highway, to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, one of the engine’s cylinder banks shuts down. There’s a catalytic converter for each bank, so the computer alternates the inactivity from one side of the engine to the other so the cats retain the heat they need to work. Everything operates with silken smoothness.

A six-speed manual is the only transmission. It’s mounted with Porsche’s clever liquid-filled Active Drivetrain Mounts (PADM), which reduce vibration around town but firm up for more visceral feedback when you’re driving hard. The GTS also uses a dual-mass flywheel from the 911 GT3 to further reduce reverberation. Like the GT4, the GTS models gets Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), which improves cornering with selective application of the rear brakes, and a mechanical limited-slip differential.

There’s no launch control, not with the manual, but Porsche says the GTS, which weighs about 3,160 lbs, can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds. That’s just a tenth slower than the GT4 and the Spyder, which weigh about 40 lbs more. Porsche also claims a Nurburgring lap of 7:40, which is the same as the turbocharged 2019 model. It’s also 12 seconds slower than the GT4 and 10 seconds slower than Chevy’s C8 Corvette. At 7:25, the new 911 S with PDK smokes them all.

As it does in the GT4, the drivetrain matches revs for you, so there’s no need to heel and toe on the downshifts. Rev-matching is active by default in Sport and Sport Plus, but can be switched off by deactivating PSM. If you don’t want to shift for yourself, wait a year, as PDK is coming for 2022. This is predictable since 80% of 718s sold in the U.S.A. are PDK and the number is over 90% in Europe.

Although the Boxster’s body is stiffer than a 911 convertible’s, the Cayman, with its closed roof, is considerably more rigid. It also has a slightly different balance with 44/56-percent weight distribution compared to the Boxster’s 45/55. Despite those differences, the two GTS models get the exact same suspension setups. Sport Suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is standard and lowers the car 0.75 inch compared to the standard suspension on a 718 S model. The GT4 and Spyder are dropped another 0.4 inch.

Spring rates and damping rates are increased about 5% over the S, but remain about 20% softer than the GT4s. Its bushings also remain rubber, while the GT4’s are stiffer urethane, and its damping rates are adjusted constantly and independently at all four wheels.

The result is a shockingly smooth ride, with no wasted motion in the suspension, but it doesn’t have a brittle feel either. Pirelli P Zeros sized 235/35R20 front and 265/35R20 rear are standard. If you want an even smoother ride there’s an optional suspension that lowers the car less than 0.5 inch, with slightly less aggressive spring rates.

Then there are the Porsche’s brakes. Cross-drilled and steel, its rotors measure a massive 13.8-inch front with six-piston front calipers and 13-inches in the rear with four-piston units. The optional ceramic rotors measure 13.8-inch front and rear, but weigh about 50% less. They feature yellow calipers, cost over $8,000 and delivered a firm consistent pedal, even after four hard laps.

There’s less to note about the aesthetics. GTS models always get the blackout treatment. Here Porsche has added Satin black wheels, the Sport Design front fascia with blacked out air intakes and tinted headlights and taillights. There’s also a GTS 4.0 sticker on each door. The rear view is more distinctive, with a redesigned lower rear fascia – black of course, with about a foot between its tailpipes. On the more pedestrian 718 models, the pipes are squeezed together like the barrels of a shotgun. Inside there’s the usual Alcantara-covered steering wheel and shifter, and a smattering of carbon fiber trim. 

Complaints? Two. The engine’s start/stop function could be smoother. Also, the optional carbon fiber seats are perfect for the track, but too hard for everyday use. Moreover, you’ll get tired of climbing over their bolsters. Unfortunately, the standard seats don’t have quite enough bolstering for track duty. Porsche should offer something in between.

Porsche will start taking orders in the summer, but the first batch of cars won’t reach the states until the end of the year, maybe even early 2021. Get in line. Offering more power, speed and visceral thrills than their predecessors, the new 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 and 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 are unquestionably the best GTS version of the Boxster/Cayman that Porsche has ever cooked up.


Trump takes Daytona 500 warmup lap in presidential limousine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.  — President Donald Trump gave an election-year embrace to NASCAR and its fans Sunday when he became the second president ever to attend the Daytona 500. The presidential motorcade took to the track to join in a warm-up lap after he had told the crowd that the racers and their teams were competing “for pure American glory.”

Following a recitation of the opening command, “Gentleman, start your engines,” Trump got into his black limousine for a ceremonial spin around Daytona International Speedway. He had joked moments earlier in a Fox interview that while as president, he was not allowed to drive his own car, ” I’m going to hop into one of these cars and I’m going to get into this race if possible. I love the idea.’’

Given the honor of grand marshal for the race, Trump gave thousands of fans a flyover of Air Force One and then rode onto the track in the presidential motorcade as the audience roared with delight. The motorcade took roughly a quarter lap before pulling aside in an infield staging area.

Asked what it was about NASCAR that he most enjoyed, the president said, “I think it’s really the bravery of these people. … it takes great courage.’’

President George W. Bush appeared at the race during his reelection year.

“For 500 heart-pounding miles these fierce competitors will chase the checkered flag … and make their play for pure American glory, and that’s what it is, pure American glory,’’ Trump said before the race.

He said the Daytona 500 was “a legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years. The tens of thousands of patriots here today have come for the fast cars and the world-class motorsports. But NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country.’’

Trump’s reelection campaign planned to run an ad during the Fox broadcast of the race and fly an aerial banner near the speedway. About 100,000 people were expected to attend this year’s race while millions more watched on television. About 9 million people took in last year’s race on television.

Trump tweeted Sunday morning: “Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!”

After his scheduled return Sunday evening to Washington, Trump will embark later this coming week on a Western state swing that will take him to rallies in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The trip is another demonstration of Trump’s willingness to campaign not just in conservative strongholds but in states that lean Democratic, particularly Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner faces a tough reelection battle. Arizona is expected to be a key swing state in the presidential election with its growing population of Hispanic voters.


7 tips for veteran Uber and Lyft drivers to stay motivated and make more money

Are you a veteran Uber and Lyft driver? If so, have you been letting your game slip?

Rideshare drivers, like all other workers, have a tendency to get lax after they’ve been in the same job for some time. At first the job is all new and fun, but over time the newness wears off as the grind sets in.

At first, drivers are full of energy and enthusiasm and determined to be the best driver there ever was. They keep their cars spotless, they’re kind and polite to every passenger, they load up on water and snacks for their passengers, and they may even open the door for riders.

But over time, once drivers have been taken advantage of a few times or become aware of how unfairly they can be treated by Uber and Lyft, the desire to do a great job tends to fade away. Plus, there are the little mistakes we start to make as laziness kicks in and we get lax about certain things.

If you’re going to drive, though, you may as well do things right, as the things you become lax about will probably end up costing you a lot of money. If you’re going to do the job you may as well do it well even though you know you won’t always be fairly treated or compensated for your efforts. But over time, you’ll be treated better and compensated better if you continue to do the same sterling job you did when you first began.

Top 7 things veteran rideshare drivers should think about

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can cause untold numbers of problems. Just some of the problems that can affect your earning ability are clumsiness, lack of motivation and forgetfulness. If you lose your motivation, you’re not going to get out there as much.

    If you’re clumsy and/or forgetful you’re going to miss those turns, leading to lower ratings and smaller tips. Lack of sleep also causes you to have slower response times, which can lead to accidents.

  • Have a schedule: Veteran drivers really need a schedule because they’ve done the job long enough to be a little weary of it. Without a schedule, suddenly every little thing becomes the perfect excuse not to go drive today. If you’re not driving, you’re not earning. Make a schedule and stick to it. It will provide the discipline you need to get out there and work. Even when you have a hundred better things to do.
  • Set specific goals: This is key. You have to have goals to know what you’re shooting for. If you don’t have goals you’ll go out to drive, earn $50, decide that’s enough for the day and you’ll head home. But if you had a goal of, say, earning $150 a day, then you’ll have a reason to stay out even when you don’t feel like it. In this scenario you would have earned three times as much if you had set a $150 goal and stuck to it.
  • Have rideshare insurance: A lot of veteran rideshare drivers haven’t kept up with the ever-changing insurance requirements since they started and don’t realize how much things have changed over the last few years. A few years ago, there was no such thing as rideshare insurance.

    But today there is, and it’s required if drivers expect to be paid for damages to their vehicles and their person in the event of an accident. Most drivers don’t have this insurance, often because many are simply not aware that they need it.

    If you don’t have a rideshare addendum on your personal auto insurance policy, you will not have comprehensive protection for your car or personal injury protection for yourself. If you’re in an accident and need to access Uber or Lyft’s policies for liability coverage, you’ll have to first file a claim with your own insurance company.

    If you don’t have the extra required rideshare insurance, they will promptly deny your claim and cancel your policy.

    This additional insurance is a must, and it is now widely available nationwide. A few years ago, it was unheard of and it wasn’t offered by any major auto insurance carriers. Today, most carriers do offer it, and they require it if you are to be covered while you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes, such as rideshare driving.

  • Take an Uber trip once a month: This advice may sound strange, but it’s really important for veteran drivers to use Uber every now and then just to remember how it works from the passenger’s point of view. Two things will happen if you do this that will help you.

    One, you’ll get to see things from the rider’s point of view. When you take an Uber you may get a driver who does things the same way you do — but as a rider you might suddenly realize something he does is really annoying. That’ll be a good way for you to see things you should stop doing yourself. Believe me, your ratings and your tips will improve.

    The other reason it’s good to use the services yourself from time to time is it keeps you familiar with how the passenger apps work. This will help you understand why a passenger might have been frustrated when they got in your car, and it will help you be better able to answer rider questions that they might have about the apps. If you can answer their questions, it improves their satisfaction with your service and will lead to better ratings and better tips.

  • Take breaks and get exercise: Ridester recommends drivers should get out of their cars every couple of hours and just walk for a bit. Sitting in your car all day, or night, is not good for your health.

    We need to be up and moving around. But we understand when you get busy and you’re struggling just to make ends meet you don’t want to waste any time off the road. But you have to do this for your health.

    Just get out every two hours at a minimum and spend at least 15 minutes walking around. It’ll do your body a world of good.

  • Respect your passengers: I know by now, as a veteran driver, you’ve had plenty of terrible passengers who have left a bad taste in your mouth. You can’t let these negative experiences affect the way you treat each new passenger.

    Believe me, this will help your ratings and earnings more than anything else. Treat each new passenger as if they were your first. Remember your first passenger? If you don’t remember them specifically, you probably do remember how well you treated them. Well, treat the 10,000th the same way. Remember, they’re paying you to take them somewhere.

    So even if they ask you to go a different way than your GPS is directing you — and you know it’ll take longer — just go that way. That’s the way they want to go, and the longer you have them in your vehicle the more you’ll make.

Rookie mistakes

Each veteran driver makes newbie mistakes. We get careless, we get tired, we get lax. Remember to always keep your brain engaged and don’t operate on automatic pilot.

Don’t forget the fundamentals that you once knew, like not chasing the surge and not keeping your car in motion when you’re in between trips. And don’t forget or skip the basics like keeping your car clean and having bottled water available for passengers. It costs next to nothing because very few passengers will ever take a bottle, but it creates goodwill between you and the passengers and will help improve your tips and ratings.

It’s easy to feel tired and beaten down by this job after a few years and lose your motivation, but as long as you’re doing it, you may as well stay great at it so you can earn top dollar.