Daytona, Danica and the Duels from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty NormanSpeed Weeks at Daytona really picks up steam from now through Sunday afternoon and evening. Starting on Thursday afternoon with the Duels, there will be no lack of action over the next four days. Friday night will be the Camping World Truck Race and Saturday afternoon will see the Nationwide cars hit the track and then Sunday afternoon the Cup teams hit the track again for the Daytona 500.

Yeah, we all know there is a lot going on at Daytona right now and along with all of the action there are still a few unknowns. It still remains to be seen how the cars will handle in the packs and how the drivers will utilize the Two Car Tandem.

I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone that hasn’t taken some sort of interest in how Danica will do now that she’s full-time in NASCAR and shouldn’t have very many distractions other than making the laps. Personally, I am willing to give her time to learn as much as she can about these cars and racing stock cars at this level on a regular basis. I expect she will surprise a few and disappoint others but overall, I think she’s going to be a marvelous addition to 2012 NASCAR season.

As I wrote a few articles ago, the more NASCAR changes the more it stays the same. Even though this is going to be a year of many changes I expect the racing to be as good or better than it has ever been. With EF I (electronic fuel injection) now on the Cup cars and other changes and improvements that have been made over the last three months, I don’t see how it could be anything but better. Sure I know there will be those that disagree with me but, I think that the racing that we witness over the next 26 weeks in particular, will be very interesting and probably some of the closest competition we’ve seen yet.

Honestly folks, there’s a lot going on at Daytona and Daytona is only the first race track the NASCAR teams face. There are still a lot of unknowns ahead at the tracks they visit in the future. It is the hope of many that the Shootout wasn’t a fluke and that the competition and racing for the Duels and the 500 will see a lot of pack racing and of course, some of that Two Car Tandem stuff.

Once again, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I think the changes that NASCAR has made to break up the Two Car Tandem and return Super Speedway racing more to that two and three wide pack racing is one of the best things they’ve done in two years. I know that maybe a little bit of an overstatement because they have done a lot of things over the last couple of years that have been very good for the sport. I don’t know how you feel about it, but there is something to be said for “pack racing” over the “Two Car Tandem” and it will make the race more exciting as long as they don’t run a lot of single file laps.

Personally, I can’t wait for the drop of the green flag and see where the rest of the season takes us. I’m looking forward to the Duels if for no other reason than to see what Sunday’s race might be like. I’m relatively sure the drivers will be a tad bit more cautious during the Duels than they were during the Shootout, but from what I can tell from listening to them, they’re gonna go out and be competitive and some are going to press the envelope more than others. Does that mean we might see a Big One in each of the duels Thursday afternoon? Well, that is a very real possibility and along with that possibility there could be some teams that tear up some more cars.

Each one of the Duels is 60 laps of differing agendas. Some will be trying to race their way into the 500 while others are just racing and putting in the laps hoping to learn something that will help them on Sunday afternoon. The ones that are trying to get into the race will probably take more chances than the others and could very possibly cause something to happen that may take out someone’s favorite car for the 500 and cause them to have to go to a backup. Of course you know, this is all pure speculation from this fan’s view and there is the possibility that there could be 120 laps of racing take place without a Big One happening. From what we’ve witnessed in the practice sessions and the Shootout on Saturday night, I think there’s more of a chance there is going to be more wrecked cars than there is a chance of them all coming away unscathed.

There is no doubt that everyone is going to have to make at least one pit stop for fuel and probably tires. I think most will take four tires but, I imagine there will be a few that take two. As to who might win in each of the Duels, I don’t even want to venture a guess – there are just too many variables.

The only thing I hope doesn’t happen is that the cars all line up in single file and play follow the leader for most of the 60 laps in each of the races. I don’t think it’s going to happen that way simply because everyone seems to be feeling really good about their cars and how competitive they’re going to be. When it comes down to it, I really think we’re going to see a fair amount of what we witnessed during the Shootout and that would be two and three wide pack racing and maybe a couple of breakaways at times but, no matter what, I intend to be watching to see what does happen…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 22, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and
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