Nascar at Daytona February 2010: Once Again, Daytona Doesn’t Disappoint

The always highly anticipated beginning to the Nascar season, “Speed Weeks” at Daytona, once again lived up to all the usual expectations and a whole lot more. The racing was exceptional in all series (including the ARCA series) and I don’t see how anyone could have asked for more.
I just don’t know what else Nascar could have done to improve things anymore than what they did. Now, I know there will be those that disagree with me, but I think this is one of the best Speed Weeks I remember in recent history. Yes, there were several changes made to the rules and the track did have a problem during Sunday’s 500, but no one can say that Nascar didn’t do everything they could to put on the best show over the last two weeks they could. I think they should be congratulated on all fronts, (and we won’t even try to hold the track coming up against them.)
Danica Patrick made her first appearances in both the ARCA series and the Nationwide and, for those that really didn’t think she would be able to compete … well… I think maybe they should reconsider. She showed she is more than a pretty face and that she can handle a race car. I think there was more marketing hype than there would have been with just another “one of the guys” showing up in the series, but this fan thinks she is a great addition to our sport and is looking forward to seeing how she does this coming weekend at Fontana.
Adding to the feel good atmosphere in Daytona it was great to see a not-so-familiar face and team in Victory Lane. In his first outing (for the second time) as he rejoined Chip Ganassi and the EGR organization after four years with Roush, Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 with Dale Earnhardt Jr finishing second. The only thing that would have made more people happy would have been to see Dale Jr finishing at the front of the pack and taking the checkered flag. I can think of no one who I thought was less likely to win than Jamie McMurray and I can think of no better ending than the one we had this year. Two really deserving people in Nascar are Chip Ganassi and Jamie McMurray and it was good to see them win.
Personally, (and this is not criticism, just an observation), but it is my opinion the best move Chip Ganassi made was to switch to Chevrolets last year. After that move, I noticed that Juan Pablo Montoya began to perform better. Some would say it was just he was better accustomed to racing in Cup but I beg to differ. He already had a year of Cup under his belt and it seemed that when they made the move to Chevys, teamed up with Earnhardt Racing and had the Earnhardt/Childers power under the hood, things began to move in a completely different direction for them. Of course I’m a Chevy guy from a long time ago, but, I observed this not-so-sudden turn around right away. Of course, all of those moves were good ones for Ganassi Racing, wouldn’t you agree?
If Dale Jr wins a few races, makes the Chase and finishes high in the standings or even takes his first Championship in Cup, many will probably say NASCAR is saved from oblivion, (I say this since last year many of the media critics and doomsayers often repeated the phrase, “If only Dale Jr would do better, NASCAR would be better off.)
Now, don’t get me wrong… I like Dale Jr even though I have a different “favorite”. I do not, however, think that all of NASCAR revolves around the single person of Dale Earnhardt Jr. He is a great talent and lives in the shadow of his dad, Dale Sr, one of the all time greats in NASCAR. That is a lot of pressure in itself, but he is a great talent and a great individual in his own right. His popularity comes not only from being the son of Dale Earnhardt Sr., but from being WHO he is, himself. I hope he has a great year just because he is a great racer, along with a lot of others that show up every weekend.
Well, if the rest of the 2010 NASCAR Racing season turns out anything like the last two weeks in Daytona, Look out! This could absolutely be one of the most exciting years NASCAR fans have enjoyed in a while. I am looking forward to it with even more enthusiasm than I did last year, (and that was a lot.)
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 17, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and