NASCAR at Daytona After Thoughts from A Fans View

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There was plenty of fireworks Saturday night at Daytona, both during the race and after, and like I said before the race, the end of the race proved to be one of the most exciting in recent times. The two car draft was the only way to get around the track fast and everyone used it to their advantage (and some to their disadvantage) the whole night. Not only did they team up on the track, but they also teamed up as best they could on the pit stops. It is proving to be a whole new way of racing the restrictor plate tracks and, honestly, it is constantly changing the way they do everything at them.

The drivers historically don’t like the restrictor plates because it restricts their ability to break away from the others, but they do like the super speedways. Although they don’t particularly like the two car draft, they can’t argue with the increased speed it offers. So what do they do? They find more and better ways to use it to the fullest extent.

The evolving of the process of this type of racing has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years and, now, they almost have to include their drafting partner in every aspect of the race or risk losing their partner and any chance of winning. I find it interesting that just about everything they do, including having to return to the pits in case of a miscue by one of them, means they both have to come back in or one or the other of them has to find a new drafting partner. The strategy involved has reached new heights and has opened up a whole new can of worms for some and whole new possibilities for others.

Racing in the two car draft has its hazards and it depends on which car they’re driving in the draft what effect it has. The car in the front generally has the visibility and the one in the back is often driving blind. The car in the back has a very limited view of the track ahead and that can often lead to problems. If you noticed Saturday night, the first one to experience the the effect of the limited view was Carl Edwards. His drafting partner, Greg Biffle couldn’t see all that Carl could see and kept pushing when he possibly should have been slowing up a bit.

Was it Biffle’s fault? In a sense, yes, but it was a matter of the circumstances they faced and those circumstances happened faster than they could be communicated. From this fan’s view, this is the biggest drawback to the two car draft and it is most evident when timing is critical. If both drivers have time to react, things usually work out. If not, one, or both of them pays a price. Sometimes that price is very high in the sense that it usually puts one of them out of contention for the rest of the night. The other usually has to look for a new drafting partner and then they have to figure out how they can best work together with that other person.

David Ragan and his partner, Matt Kenseth, definitely had things work out in their favor and the late race cautions didn’t hurt them either. When it came down to it, David and Matt decided they were going to hook up and go until they finished or were passed. If they had tried to split up, (or split up so one or the other could win in the last several hundred feet), the result may have been completely different. Taking the white flag and then having another caution come out didn’t hurt them at all. It was pretty obvious to this fan, Kyle Bush and Jeff Gordon were coming with quite a head of steam back in fifth and sixth when the caution did come out.

There was plenty going on in the last part of that last lap and this fan thinks it was going to be a big pile up anyway. It’s my opinion it was going to happen right at the finish line instead of where it did, but as it was, it just moved the finish line closer to where they were.

Now, had all of the first eight finishers been able to continue under full power to the finish line instead of the caution coming out, I wonder how things would have looked as they all took the checkers. I think it is possible we could have seen an even closer finish than the one at Talladega. As it was, we saw a great finish anyway, (and I know David Ragan isn’t complaining at all about the finish…)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 4, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and
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