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Sunday, February 17, 2008

NASCAR: Daytona 500: Recap

The 50th Running of the Dayton 500 ended up a lot better than it seemed it was going to. After the offseason of anticipation. The build up of all the driver and team switches. Not to mention the influx of all the open wheel drivers. I couldn't wait to see how things would play out when they dropped the green flag. It turned out I would have to wait a little longer than that.

As they rolled off to start the race, I immediately found changes I liked and changes I didn't. Rather than introduce the drivers row by row, each driver was pictured stating their name and where they are from. Kind of a cool thing they picked up from their football broadcasts. Cool to see guys take pride in their home towns. Though I do not look forward to the drivers modifying it the way football players do. I definitely could pass on Fox's other new addition. They have the new Gopher Cam which is set down into the track. It is an annoying view that provides nothing to the race view.

One of the heavily covered aspects was the fact that it is the 5oth anniversary of the race. Michael Waltrip managed to improve drastically over last years race. Last year he was penalized for a fuel additive coasting him 100 points. This year will start he started a little by leading a lap to get 5 points. He also rolled gold wheels for the first run of the race that were pulled at the first pit stop, they will be auctioned for charity.

For the first half of the race it seemed that this might be shaping up to be a very dull repeat of last season. While the Gibbs and Hendrick racing teams were running one through four through much of the first half. About the only interesting aspect of that is the fact that the Gibbs team is now running Toyotas. As that was happening I couldn't help but wonder what NASCAR would think of a foreign nameplate winning the Anniversary edition of a sport that has always been American. Those thoughts only get stronger as Kyle Busch continued to be the strongest car in the field.

All of this started to get a lot more interesting with 40 laps to go. Around that time Hendricks flag ship man Jeff Gordon went out of the race with suspension issues. Dropping that team to Jimmie Johnson, newcomer Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other(Casey Mears). Then Roush Fenway's team took a nice hit when David Ragan slid up the track, for no reason at all, at least that's how it appeared to me. On his way up he managed to take out Mr. Roboto, Matt Kenseth.

Once we got recovered from that caution we got rolling again... briefly. Just a few laps later last years Champion Jimmie Johnson got loose in the middle of the pack and took out himself and Martin Truex Jr. This ended up being a huge blow to teammate Earnhardt on two fronts. Not only had he know lost an ally in the ever important drafting game , that Daytona has become with restrictor plates. He also didn't pit, just as he hadn't on the previous caution. While the last move was strategy, this one came about because to many guys were chatting on the Radio, and Crew Chief Tony Eury, Jr. couldn't get on to tell Junior in time.

So then we got rolling again... briefly (Are you picking up a trend here). At this point we got to enjoy my least favorite aspect of NASCAR. The "Who is Juan Pablo Problem Montoya Going to Wreck This Week" game. This weeks lucky winner, Clint Boyer. Boyer, who happened to be leading at the time, ended up spinning off the track and into the infield. On the bright side he didn't end the race on his roof and on fire like he did last year.

Now with 14 laps to go we get things started for the final time... Almost final. As the green flag dropped everyone abandoned Juan Problem and he dropped like a stone. Then as they were coming through the turn Dave Blainey slid up track in front of Montoya and went into the wall. It is possible that Kevin Harvick made a brilliant move by slightly nudging Blainey, in a much more intelligent way than Montoya had done a few laps earlier(Disclosure, Harvick is my favorite driver and I can't stand Montoya) So to the caution we go.

Now to the Green-White-Checker. It turns out we will be going for the final time now for sure. In a bit of crafty driving Ryan Newman managed to work around Tony Stewart which put them about equal but then Newmans teammate Kurt Busch came in from behind and pushed both of them across the finish for a first time 1-2 finish for team owner Richard Penske.

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Les said...

I too think Montoya should be banned from all racing. Not only is he a menace to whoever happens to get in his way, he also makes me gag on his cocky "Im the greatest race car driver ever born" demeanor. Clint Boyer probably would not have won, but he deserved better than what Montoya did to him.


Anonymous said...

Montoya is a menance to the sport. Boyer(my favorite driver)should pull him aside and punch him square in the face.


Ron Dean said...

Yeah Les As we saw having the lead at that point certainly didn't secure a win. But he certainly didn't deserve to be Montoya'd

Chad I have to say I was very disappointed that my driver Harvick didn't take the opportunity last year to get a shot in when they had that dust up at Watkins Glen(I think that was the road course)