Cup Teams Take It To The Daytona Road Course Again

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The NASCAR Cup teams take it to the Daytona Road Course this weekend but, wait a minute. You already knew that. “So what,” some are saying, while others can’t wait for the green flag to drop in the second scheduled race at Daytona in the 2021 Season. I don’t know what you think about this second week in a row at Daytona but, considering some of the weather elsewhere in the country, it appears NASCAR made some really good scheduling decisions for this season. Well, at lest from this fan’s view they did.

Now, before I go too far into this weekend’s race, I want to take a few moments to talk about Michael McDowell and his Daytona 500 victory last weekend. All I can say to begin with is, it’s about time. I can think of no one more deserving than him to be the surprise winner for the Daytona 500. I mean, think about it. He hasn’t really ever been in the best equipment. He hasn’t really ever been with the strongest team and, for sure, he hasn’t always been in position to win the biggest race in NASCAR like he was this last weekend. That’s not to say he’s not a talented driver because he is. I’m just saying things just haven’t happened for him until this year’s 500.

I remember when we all thought his career might be over when he crashed in qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway those many years ago in April of 2008. In fact, we never thought we would see him climb out of his wrecked car and walk to the ambulance under his own power. I remember it like it was yesterday and I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when he had that terrible crash he walked away from. I remember it like the terrible crash Ricky Rudd had at Daytona in 1984 and the one that took the life of Dale Earnhardt twenty years ago. Those were all days to remember, some with great relief and gladness and another with great sadness.

I guess you can tell, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen a lot of NASCAR races. I can’t say a “Big One” at a Super Speedway happening on the last lap is that surprising because they happen all the time. Michael McDowell coming away with the win was a big surprise this year and (yes, I know I’m repeating myself) I can think of no one more deserving than Michael. He has stuck it out, worked hard and, from many that know him and have or are racing with him, he is a great leader and role model for those he is around. I congratulate him on this first, and big win for him in his NASCAR Cup career.

So… what about the Daytona road course this weekend? Is it going to be the same old same old? Do you think there will be a shakeup in which driver will win?

Chase Elliott is the most obvious driver to possibly take the win on Sunday afternoon. After all, he has shown plenty of ability to move to the front even from the back of the field. He’s done it more than once, even more than once in a race. After the Clash, there just may be a question mark about winning “again” this weekend. As it stands right now, he is the most likely, but, will he? I guess that’s one question that won’t be answered until the checkered flag drops when it is all over on Sunday.

From this fan’s view, there are several that have made strong showings in the past, especially at this road course at Daytona and they could be taking the trophy with them when they leave the track. Since so many talk about momentum being a key factor in winning in NASCAR, I would first offer the name of Michael McDowell. He is a strong road course racer and could pull off his second NASCAR Cup win on Sunday. Now I’m not saying he is going to or that he is a favorite but, I am saying it is a possibility and it could happen. In many people’s eyes, he may be a long shot, but no one can really argue with the fact that he is a good road course racer.

Another that has shown strength at the Daytona road course is Ryan Blaney. He ran right down to the wire with Chase Elliott in the Clash and, if they hadn’t gotten together in the last turn, he may well have beaten Chased to the line. Of course, that didn’t happen, but it could have and that’s why I mention it here as another possibility. It’s not the first time he has run up front at this place.

If you want to talk about obvious possible winners, there are many to choose from, but this fan can’t ignore at least two of the Toyota drivers. Martin Truex and Kyle Bush seem to always be in the mix as long as they can stay out of trouble and not make any stupid mistakes. (Wow! Did I just say these two Cup Champs might do something stupid that could cost them a win? Yeah… I think I just did.) Both have been strong contenders on road courses and both have ample talent to win this one. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see one of them taking the win.

These days, there are many drivers that could win, it’s just a question of whether they can weather the competition all the way to the end and take the checkered flag and trophy. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time as Kyle Bush proved in the Busch Clash when Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott basically handed him the win at the very last moments of the Clash.

So, will someone completely unexpected win this one or will it be one of the expected ones? With the way things have been going, that, my friends, is a very good question…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 20, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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