Well there were rain delays, wreck delays and even a diesel fuel and jet fuel spill/fire delay but they finally finished the Daytona 500 around 1 A.M. early on Tuesday. This was a fun one to watch even though it ran a day late and had a massive delay after 400 miles. Here are the stories that stood out…
Monday Night NASCAR: I have a feeling that there are plenty of fans out there that want more of it. One of the laws of NASCAR says that everything is better under the lights. The Daytona 500 was certainly better under the lights. We started out with a massive wreck that served as an attention getter for not only the fans but the drivers. The drivers realized that they were all a bit uneasy after the nearly day and a half delay and settled down for a long green flag stretch (outside of Ryan Newman’s flat tire that caused a spin). The unfortunate part of that wreck is that it took out several big names with big storylines, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and Jimmie Johnson. More on that later though. NASCAR has been pretty lucky when it comes to attention coming their way by mistake, just like in the fight in 1979. In 2012, it was no different. Many should be glad the rain came and gave us the gift of Monday Night NASCAR (MNN). While I’m sure the racing would have still been great whenever they raced, it was much better than the race going up against the Oscars on Sunday night or even competing with everyone’s work schedules on Monday afternoon. I know this much, after my first taste of MNN, I want more!
Fast Fords: They were good and we knew they would be. I just wrote about it on Friday. For some reason, I ignored it. Biffle and Kenseth were dominant all race. It looked as if either Dale, Jr. or Denny Hamlin may have had something for those guys but neither could never hook up with anyone to get up there. I believe I’ll be a little more favorable to the Fords when I pick the next Super Speedway event. Congratulations to Kenseth, who overcame some water pump issues, on his win. Greg Biffle has to be happy about his start to the season with a third place finish, as he missed the Chase last season.
Jet Dryer Fire: It’s not possible to talk about this race with anyone without mentioning the Jet Dryer incident. Juan Pablo Montoya had some horrendous luck when something broke on his car and he spun going into turn 3. Since JPM has been caught up in a ton of wrecks and received a lot of criticism from media, fans and drivers, there were plenty of jokes to go around on Twitter and even Jumbo got in on the action Days of Thunder-style. Thankfully everyone, including the driver of the truck, was OK after the freak accident. No reason to linger on this one for too long and it certainly wasn’t JPM’s fault. I have to applaud NASCAR’s efforts in getting everything cleaned up and repaired through the use of a special pavement bonding, speedy dry, firehoses and good ‘ol Tide Detergent.
Danica: This was not the Speedweeks she wanted or the one I think most of us wanted to see for her. A hard wreck in the Duels left her without valuable pack racing practice. Winning the pole for the Nationwide race was positive and she was hoping to build on that with a solid run in the race only to be spun out by her teammate. It got worse in the Sprint Cup race when she was collected in the melee on lap 2. There really wasn’t a lot she could have done to avoid the wreck at that point. I’ve seen a lot of criticism thrown on her but go back and look at the replays, including from her view. We’ll have to wait until May at Darlington to see her again in the Cup but she’ll be around in Phoenix for the Nationwide race.
Spoiled Expectations: It was supposed to be the first race to show Jimmie Johnson’s return to dominance after not winning the title for the first time in 5 years. Instead, we will have to wait until Phoenix to see what the 48 team has. Kurt Busch also had his Phoenix Racing Team debut spoiled in that same wreck, however, he was positive about it publicly and still got back out there with a wrecked ride to get some points. A.J. Allmendinger, who seemed to be one of the most excited new face in a new place, also found trouble early as he hit Ryan Newman on pit road after Newman’s wheel came off unexpectedly. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Trevor Bayne and Brad Keselowski all showed promise before getting caught up in wrecks or in Gordon’s case, engine failure.
- Dale Jr. had a good run. I still feel at times that he doesn’t take racing seriously enough, just from the comments he makes during races. But I also suppose that it is possible to kid around and act like a fan sometimes too. Good to see Jr. get close, yet again, to a victory. If only Greg Biffle would have tried harder!
- Speaking of Biffle, I know he came out and said he had nothing for Kenseth, but there is no way he was trying. He never moved out from behind Kenseth to attempt to make a run with Dale and that tells me he was just protecting his teammate’s lead.
- Jumbo picked Dale to win and he finished second. The rest of the Sports Dump team did not do well in picking a winner.
- Pack Racing made us remember why we love AND hate it. Tell me how many 48 fans considered turning off the race after lap 2? It was more exciting throughout than Tandem racing though. I was very surprised at the lack of separation in the front pack. No one could break off from the pack as they did a few years ago.
- Interesting strategy was used early by drivers like McMurray, Montoya and Harvick. They dropped back and formed their own single file pack behind the chaos up front. It is assumed they did this to stay out of trouble. It worked for those guys as they avoided trouble for most of the race.
- Brad Keselowski tweeting during the red flag was awesome. He gained tens of thousands of followers and provided some fan interaction you won’t find in any other sport. Follow him at @keselowski (feel free to follow me @phileyoung too!).
I’ll be back on Friday with a brief Phoenix preview. It’s not too late to join our fantasy league! Here is the link to the front page. Our Group ID is 21792 and Password is “sportsdump”. Thanks for reading!