The 2010 Nascar Season; Slightly Larger Restrictor Plates and the Gatorade Duels Yield Some of Daytona’s Best Racing In A Long Time…


 Okay… I admit it. I just may have been wrong. The Gatorade Duels at Daytona proved to be some of the best Nascar racing we’ve seen in a long time and I expected them to be quite a bit different. I expected the racing to be good, but, the part I didn’t expect was the lack of accidents. After the way “Speed Weeks” started and has gone over the last week and a half, I never expected there not to be at least one “Big One” in one of the two “Duels”, (or possibly even in both.)
Instead of big accidents taking out large numbers of the field in one quick moment we, as Nascar fans, were treated to aggressive and close racing, bump-drafting without much incident and the end result being two of the closest finishes seen in a long time; (I think I heard someone say that the total time separating first and second in both races combined was around two- one hundredths of a second.) No matter how you look at it, the width of a splitter just isn’t that much difference.
The Ford fans should have gained a little hope that their teams may be on track to better performance in the 2010 season. The performance of the Fords was impressive and this may be a year that the Roush and Petty teams put a better fight against the Chevys than they did last year. Honestly though, I don’t think they should get their hopes to high just yet. If you recall, last year Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 and followed up with winning the next week in Fontana. That was definitely not the way the rest of the year went for him, the Roush teams, or any other Ford, Toyota or Dodge Team. The rest of the year was basically all Chevy and especially Hendrick Chevys. (Hey, just trying to keep things in perspective.)
So, what was the big difference with the Gatorade Duels? Why was the racing so good and the finish so close?
Well… it depends on who you ask? There are several opinions on the subject, any one of which are valid.
If you ask the Childers teams, it is the hard work they put in last year and gains they made in the latter part of 2009, (and they would be right.)
The Toyota teams would probably mention the fact that they ran well most of last year, they just has some bad luck, (and they would also be right.)
The Dodges… well… they had a year of building (although this fan doesn’t know what it was they were building.)
I guess if we really look at it closely, it was all of the above and some of the changes NASCAR made in the rules. The bigger restrictor plate helped, with the horsepower it added, allowing some throttle response by the drivers instead of just holding it wide open and hoping for the best. Another thing would be the relaxation of the bump-drafting rules and allowing the drivers to “be in control” and responsible for their actions, (and some say policing themselves.) There were also some other things, like changes to the set up of the suspensions for the Super Speedways that NASCAR dictates and they all played a part.
From this fan’s view, it was a little of everything and it looks like it was all good. This could very well be one of the best Daytona 500 races in a long time, if the Duels tell us anything at all about how the Sunday race will go.
So who do I think will win? I think this is one of the hardest races to actually pick a winner for. I suppose a lot of fan’s are hoping it will be the return of Dale Earnhardt Jr to victory lane and that is a very real possibility. I think Jimmy Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and the Bush brothers all have a chance.
My personal pick for the trip to Victory Lane is, Jeff Gordon. A lot has to go right for that to happen and, as I said, I think this one is anybody’s guess.
From this Nascar fan’s view, anything can happen and just about anybody in the field has a chance to win Sunday’s Daytona 500. I think the race is going to be one of the best and closest in recent history and full of surprises throughout the day… and, by the way, I’m still expecting at least one “Big One” before the checkered flag falls, but hey, that’s just this fan’s opinion and Restrictor Plate racing… What do you think will happen?
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 12, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and