The Rains Came and the Game Changed at Daytona


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Well, the Daytona 500 started off pretty much the way I thought it would but, the game changed when the rains came and everything including the competition and excitement level picked up. Before the rains came we saw a lot of single file racing lap after lap and, at least from this fan’s view, a general feel in attitude of, “Hey, this is a long race. Let’s just take our time, feel it out and see what happens later on.” Sure, I know that’s my take on it as a fan but, anybody that was paying attention to the first 30 some laps and the laps after the restart saw two different races.


Of course we all know that Junior Nation was completely ecstatic with the end result of the night and it really was good to see Dale Junior win his second Daytona 500 in 10 years. It was also good to see Steve Letarte get his first Daytona 500 win as a crew chief in his last year working for Hendrick Motorsports.


When it came to the race being interrupted by rain, it appeared that it would not be long before it restarted. Even NASCAR thought that the light shower would be short-lived and they immediately began drying the track as the rain let up. It was then that the skies over Daytona decided to open up and it rained and rained and rained again and they even had severe weather warnings in the area. Finally, after over a six-hour delay, the race restarted but there was a new intensity because there was no guarantee that it was not going to rain again. All they had to do was make it to halfway and the race could have legally been called a race by NASCAR and everyone would’ve gone home.


Fortunately, for all NASCAR fans, the weather did hold and what could have been a relatively humdrum Daytona 500 turned into one of the more exciting Daytona 500s in recent history. Even more important than Dale Junior winning the race was the intensity that all of the drivers brought into the restart because none of them knew when the race might be called because of bad weather. All they had to do was be in the right place at the right time should it have been called early.


There is no doubt that the Hendrick cars flexed their restrictor plate muscles once again and Dale Junior’s Hendrick Chevy proved to be stronger than the rest and the driver proved he was up to the task even though at times near the end it appeared he might not take the win, especially after his grill picked up that big piece of black tape…


Denny Hamlin almost pulled off a sweep of Speed Weeks. After winning twice before the Daytona 500 actually started it was easy to see he did have a fast car and just might be making the trip to Victory Lane after the 500. Throughout Speed Weeks it was obvious he was driving one the fastest cars on the track and very well could have taken the victory from Dale Junior if given the proper opportunity. As it turned out, he did manage to muster a second-place finish behind Dale Junior but in this fan’s opinion, no one was going to pass Jr, not even Hamlin.


Well, next week even more changes take place in the Cup series and, from this fan’s view, it should prove to be a very interesting weekend, too. I reckon we’ll know more when the Cup teams take to the track at Phoenix…


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 25, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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