After The 2017 Daytona 500 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

I know what you’re saying… why are you talking about the Daytona 500 after it’s already over?” Well… to be honest I just didn’t have a whole lot to say that hadn’t already been said leading up to it so I opted to have my say after it was in the rearview mirror.

Does that make sense to you? Well, this year it does to me and the biggest reason is because there is a whole lot more for this fan to talk about after it’s over. I mean, I started this thing to express my opinion of the races and this year I just may continue to make this the way these article podcasts go as the year goes by. Hey look, I’ve been doing this for a lot of years now and I think it’s time for a little change in direction and I’m ready. I mean, anyone can talk about a race before it happens and express their opinion of how they think it will go but this year I want to express my opinion of how I think it went. I’m not saying I won’t be talking about the races before they happen, but for now, this is the way I choose to approach the 2017 season. Hope you don’t mind and I do hope you enjoy this slight change in direction.

Now on to Daytona 2017… First of all, it was really good to see Dale Jr. back in the driver’s seat again and it appears he hasn’t lost any of his abilities, especially when it comes to restrictor plate racing and in particular at Daytona. Until his unfortunate run-in with the front of Kyle Bush’s spinning Toyota, he looked like he was going to be a contender when it came down to crunch time. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to see if his luck changes at Atlanta.

Overall, the 2017 Daytona 500 was a very interesting race and was filled with the usual intensity and drama of restrictor plate racing. To me, there is nothing like door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper tight pack racing. It was also interesting to see really aggressive racing from a lot of the younger drivers and several of the not so old veterans even though at times their actions were somewhat questionable. In this fan’s opinion there was no need for some of their early aggressive moves with so much of the race left to run. At least a few of the accidents could have been avoided had they not forced their way into situations where a little patience could have prevented a lot of the bent up sheet metal and unrepairable damage that put many out of the race early.

This fan was probably most impressed by the performance of 21 year old Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney over probably all of the others. Both proved they have what it takes to run in the Cup Series. Had Chase had just a little more fuel he just might have come away with a big win in what many consider the most important race in racing, the Daytona 500. He also proved that his win in the first duel was no fluke and the likelihood he will soon be following in his dad’s footsteps and the previous driver of the Hendrick #24, Jeff Gordon with wins and Championships. I was impressed with Chase’s performance last season and I do believe he definitely has a great future ahead of him. One question though… Since Chase wasn’t the only one having fuel issues in the final lap or two, is this going to be another year where fuel mileage plays a great part in the finishes like it seemed to so many times last season? Well… I guess that remains to be seen.

I do have to admit that I am just beginning to understand the new “stages” they run in a race and how it all figures into the mix of the new season. I do have a few questions about some of the new rules and how repairs have to be performed in a certain time limit without going to the garage area or they have to retire from the race. If things continue as they did this last weekend at Daytona, there may not be that many cars running at the end of a race, especially if it is a larger, faster track like the two Super Speedways or Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis and others.

In this fan’s opinion, I do have concerns that this last weekend may have shown the possibility of another strategy that could be used by someone, or several someones, to help their cause when it comes to finishing better in a race. It may never happen and I am sure NASCAR has thought about it also but I do wonder if they have fully considered what could happen. This race proved, at least in some ways to this fan, that aggressive driving can result in taking out real contenders and open the door for those not quite as capable of winning to have a better finish. Of course the aggressors will be putting themselves in harm’s way to pull it off but they may be willing to take the chance considering the possible benefits. If this does begin to happen with any regularity at all, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR handles it. I’m sure they will, or do, have a plan just in case but none of us knows how they will handle it until it actually happens and whether or not happens on that regular basis.

I know that sounds like a real black helicopter moment and that it will probably not happen the way I just said but I would remind you that in the past, when it came down to making the Chase, anyone within a point or two of making it into the Chase would take out the ones ahead of them in some fashion of aggressive driving to make up those points. So you see, the possibility I mention isn’t so far fetched – it could happen… (but probably won’t. Don’t forget after all, this IS NASCAR.)

Well, that’s enough of my ranting for now. I do congratulate Kurt Bush, his crew chief, Tony Gibson, and the entire Stewart/Haas 41 team for their first Daytona win. It does appear Stewart/Haas Racing will be good for Ford and they are ready to make things happen as the season progresses. It may be a bit too early to say but considering all they had to do coming into this year, they are definitely starting out on the right foot…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 28, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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