Daytona Has Come and Gone - Part 2
Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts and observations. Normally I do not offer statistics, although at times I may reference what different broadcasters, among others, have said or alluded to.
Finally, Daytona 500 day had arrived. The date was February 18th, which is a very poignant date, as that is the day, 17 years ago, that we lost Dale Earnhardt. For some of us, those memories will never fade.
Driver introductions were nice. I really like it when they take time to do that. I was disappointed that they did not mention that we still have an Earnhardt running in this great race, when they showed Jeffrey. In fact, they did not even announce him by name.
Before the pre-race ceremonies, there was a short mention of the Parkland, Florida School tragedy by Chris Myers, and then again during the prayer. The National Anthem was very nicely performed by Navy Band Southeast and many of us fans really appreciated that.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr who was Grand Marshall delivered a fantastic "Drivers, start your engines" as he put fervor into it. The green flag flew shortly after they talked on the radio with Peyton Manning who was honorary pace car driver.
Although I had my favorite drivers in this race, my anticipation was more about how our new crop of young drivers would be doing. I am very excited about the future of these young competitors.
During the caution when Corey LaJoie lost his engine on lap 9, several cars were penalized during pit stops. We were at commercial and had the side by side shot for 2 laps of caution before we went back to race and found out what happened. Sometimes I wonder if it is best not to have the side by side views with commercials, so we won't be left waiting to see and hear what had happened. The other choice would be to come back from commercial breaks to discover there is a caution without seeing one had been called in a smaller side by side window.
During stage 1, there were quite a few lead changes and close, tight racing. It seemed the cars were handling better than they did in either the Clash or the Duels. With 10 laps to go in stage 1, we saw a caution come out for an incident and we watched 2 laps in side by side window while commercials ran, before we found out that Kyle Busch crashed due to cut tire. Several other cars apparently were involved, but they were not talked about by the broadcast crew. We were told caution came out with 8 laps to go, but the small window was showing us that the caution light was on with 10 laps to go.
On final lap of stage 1, there was major crash involving 6 cars. It appeared that blocking, which was prevalent throughout the race caused this incident. Kurt Busch took the win in stage 1 but then he overshot his pit stall when he came in for fueling his car. That was very unusual for him. Later, Larry McReynolds said the JGR cars were overshooting their pit because of the dragging rear ends on the cars.
During stage 2, the racing seemed a bit calmer and drivers seemed to be more cautious and were racing less urgently. Even as I was typing that, the #9 started to block the #2 and was clipped, which in turn sent him into the wall. Then as the #2 went down the track, he got loose and then went back up track which caused several other cars to be damaged in the ensuing incident. The #4 suffered damage along with several other cars. We finally found out who the ones involved were after they were released from the medical center and were okay.
Young Ryan Blaney in the #12 took the stage 2 win. He had been very impressive so far in this race. Although he did a great job, it again appears that blocking played a big part in the stage finishing order.
The last and final stage of the race started and it looked like single file time was on the schedule for a while. But this only lasted for a short while as the adrenalin took over and for a few laps they thought about bunching up again. Then they decided perhaps it best to stay single file so all was calm once again.
With 45 laps to go, Mike Joy advised us again that there is no longer an overtime line and there is no limit on how many green, white, checkers we can have at end of race. We all saw that fiasco during the Xfinity race on Saturday with 5 restarts of the green, white, checkers.
Green flag pit stops started and everyone was still pretty much single file on the track. Very few of the drivers were taking tires when they did pit. Due to less team members allowed over the wall for pit stops, the stops are now taking longer. With 29 laps to go, more drivers started coming in for green flag pit stops. Joey Logano got penalized for being too fast on pit road, plus they dropped the jack in error so that put him a lap down.
With 10 laps to go, due to another caution, Joey got the free pass and that put him back on the lead lap. They restarted with 7 laps to go. Then with only 2 laps to go, there was a major crash when Hamlin got into Kurt Busch.
During the replays, for some unknown reason, D. W. started laughing at something he heard on the radio of one of the drivers. He then chuckled again when Mike Joy mentioned only 12 lead lap cars got through the melee. Meanwhile, most of us were just hoping everyone was okay and he is sitting/standing there laughing at times. For some strange reason, he continued laughing at different things during the caution. Although they did mention most of the drivers involved, I don't remember hearing any of the broadcast booth crew mention concern about the drivers.
Now, I must apologize for the above remarks as I always ask for no bashing in the comments after my article, and those remarks may come across as bashing when you read what I have written in reference to Darrell Waltrip and his laughing or chuckling.
After the restart, it appeared that Austin Dillon hit the #10 car, Aric Almirola, which resulted in Aric spinning and crashing. But, unlike in the Xfinity race on Saturday, NASCAR chose not to throw the caution. Dillon went on to win the race, and although he said he did what he had to do for the Earnhardt fans, this Earnhardt fan received no pleasure from that type of win. I have a feeling other fans feel the same way.
All in all, even with the unstable cars at times, it seemed to be a typical Daytona race and the outcome was not what most fans predicted.
Thank you for reading and commenting here. Your thoughts, ideas on the subject and opinions are very welcome. I remind you to keep them clean and no bashing, please. You may also email comments to me.