This was the weirdest Daytona 500 I have ever seen. It was filled with a lot of firsts in the 54 year history of the race.
First of all the race that was scheduled to start on Sunday at 12:00, was delayed by rain and postponed until Monday. This would be the first time in the history of the 500 it would be postponed due to rain. Monday brought even a further delay for the race. Instead of starting it at the 12:00 (EST) as announced on Sunday, NASCAR moved the start time to 7:00 pm (EST). I have to give some props to NASCAR for moving the race time to an evening start time. This would give track officials to get the track ready and to keep fans from having to sit for hours in the stands waiting for the race to start. This would mean the 500 would be run in prime time under the lights–a first for the 500.
But the delay was just the beginning…lap 2…Elliott turns Jimmie Johnson and well, the melee ensued. Lap 2 people…this is a 200 lap race. This wreck dashed the hopes of Trevor Bayne to be a repeat winner. There has been a repeat winner in 10 years. This crash also ruined the debut of Danica Patrick. She became the third women in NASCAR history to start the Daytona 500. Janet Guthrie was the first when she started back in 1977 and then again in 1980. Followed by Shawna Robinson in 2002. Jimmie took quite a hit during this crash. It was interesting to see how Jimmie prepared himself for impact. I always assumed the drivers put themselves in crash position, but how they did it was a mysterious. I am still on the fence about seeing what drivers go through during their crashes.
After another early caution the drivers seemed to settle into the race. Unlike the last couple of years, the drivers did not pair up in the two-car tango. I wasn’t a big fan of the two-car tandem because it took away some of the fun that I enjoyed about the race. I loved to see who was going to pair up with who during the race. I liked the pack racing. It made for some exciting racing. It kept you on the edge of your set. Pack racing does have a higher chance of big crashes, but I think it allows the drivers to be in control of their fate. I think last night was a little bit of a hybrid–not quite two car tandem and full pack racing. There were times when two drivers would hook up in the pack to make their way to the front. Either way it was fun to watch.
Just when you thought this was going to be a normal race (well…after all the delays), you were wrong. After coming back from commercial after David Stremme brought out the caution, I see a Juan Pablo’s wrecked car in the infield and Juan climbing out of his destroyed car. Juan Pablo was coming around to catch up with the rest of the pack after his pitstop. After something apparently broke on his car, he slammed into a safety truck. Next thing you see is the huge fire back in turn 3. The jet dryer on the back of the safety truck began to leak 200 gallons of jet/diesel fuel and caught fire. Yes, I said fire! It was one of the craziest sights I had seen during a NASCAR race. Major props to the track and safety workers in battling the fire and getting the track ready for the final 40 laps of the race. I had to giggle when I saw them bringing out several boxes of Tide detergent. But that wasn’t the funniest sight to see during this delay. It was the fact that Brad Keslowski was tweeting from his phone during the entire delay. Once again another first for NASCAR. Both the driver of the safety truck and Juan Pablo walked away from the accident. After an almost 2 hour delay, the boys and girl got back in their cars and started racing.
I have to admit the racing after this delay was anticlimactic. I was hoping there would have been more door to door, edge of your seat racing, but from my recliner it didn’t happen. It may have been the fact that I was tired, sick and wanted this race to end. I thought Biffle and Junior were going to make a run at Kenseth, but Matt had a fast car and I don’t think they were going to catch him. Matt Kenseth took his 2nd Daytona 500 win in the last 3 years. It was 11:55 pm (CST) on my clock when Matt took the checkered. I, along with NASCAR Nation, were very grateful the “hostage crisis” known as the Daytona 500 was over.
Other tidbits from the race
- Tony Stewart who won his dual race on Thursday, however this didn’t translate over to last night. He finished 16th after a late race crash. His 14th attempt to win the Daytona 500 wasn’t in the cards last night. He has won everything at Daytona. This is the one race that has eluded him.
- Martin Truex won the midway bonus. That is a cool $200,ooo for Mr. Truex
- Danica finished 38th
- Only one Hendrick car survived the race–Dale finished 2nd. Jimmie crashed on lap 2, Jeff lost an engine, and Kasey got caught up in a late race crash. Looks like Mr. Hendrick will be writing some checks for some sheet metal.
- Possible penalties and fines ahead for Chad Knaus after Jimmie’s car failed inspection due to an illegal C-post on the #48?
- Congratulations to Kevin and Delana Harvick on the announcement they are expecting a boy later this year.
- Congratulations to Ryan and Krissie Newman and big sis Brooklyn on the announcment they are expecting a little girl.
- Condolescences and prayers to the Chris Myers and his family as they deal with the loss of their son Christopher.
Well…this closes out 2012 Speedweeks. The boys are headed to Phoenix this week and I for one can’t wait to see what will happen next.