Monday, February 18, 2008


In the modern day science fiction/horror classic "Alien." the space-suited investigators are exploring the wreckage of what appears to be an ancient spacecraft. They find the remains of a huge alien being, still strapped into the pilot's seat. Further investigation reveals a chamber full of egg-like objects. One of the explorers gets closer to one of the objects to get a better look when suddenly....
Ryan Newman wins the Daytona 500!
It was Roger Penske's first ever restrictor-plate victory, and his first Daytona 500 victory in his 36 year history as a NASCAR Cup team owner.It was Ryan Newman's first Cup victory in over two years, and his first Daytona 500 victory. For only the ninth time in the 50 year history of the Daytona 500, the winner came from a last lap lead change, this one brought about through the co-operation of no less than six Dodge Chargers working together. Talk about teamwork!
We have been speculating that it would take a lot of teamwork to stop the Hendrick Juggernaut, but the Hendrick Juggernaut hardly got out of the box. After a very long calm before the storm Jeff Gordon developed a fatal suspension failure and had to retire from the race. Later, during the storm of the closing laps, reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and pole sitter Jimmie Johnson got tangled up with DEI rookie Ragan Smith, in an accident that finished the end of his day, which had not been that good from the drop of the green flag.
With a little over six laps to go, Casey Mears, who had been running in the middle line, decided that he wanted to be the leader of the line that Tony Stewart and dedicated drafting buddy Dale Earnhardt, Jr were running. However, he made his move a bit too late, and got clipped by Stewart, who really had no choice, as Earnhardt was less than inches from his rear bumper.
A sidenote: If Tony Stewart had lifted a bit to avoid hitting Mears, and Earnhardt had run into the back of him as a result, would it be possible for Smoke to be more unpopular than he is now?
That left Dale Earnhardt, Jr pretty much on his own for the final run, which was not a very good situation to be in when it came down to the every man for himself portion of the race. Still, he managed to finish in eighth place, the best finishing position among the Chevrolets.
The expected (by some) conflicts among the volitile Joe Gibbs Racing team mates was something else that never happened. Nor did a continuation of the Tony Stewart/Kurt Busch conflict. In fact, Stewart and Dirty Kurty worked quite well together at different points during the race to move up throught the traffic, and in the end, raced each other very cleanly.
Tony Stewart said, after the race, that he may have made a mistake in making the decision to give up the lead to help team mate Kyle Busch on the last lap, but he had had the apprehension that if he had stayed in front of the charging Chargers on the last lap he could have been wrecked. So he opted to move out of their way in hopes that the alledgedly superior horsepower of his and Kyle Busch's Toyotas would be sufficient to get back in front of the Dodges. It wasn't, but the surprise here was that Smoke gave up a nearly certain win in favor of helping his team mate get a better finish. It may be surprising as well to those who know little about My Man Smoke that he admitted to making a mistake.
In the end, six Dodges finished in the top ten, the Toyotas of Stewart and Busch finished third and fourth, respectively, while the Ford of Greg Biffle, who finished tenth, and the Chevy of Dale, Jr. filled out the top ten.
Teamwork didn't work out for Roush-Fenway's David Regan and Matt Kenseth. Regan apparently misjudged the closing rate of the new Formula N car, and made a move toward Kenseth, lost control and wrecked both cars.
RCR had a similar incident between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton. Burton had a chance to win the race, being in the proximity of team mates Kevin Harvick and Bowyer, But Bowyer also decided to move into line, and in doing so may have moved too soon, or too late, as he was clipped first by Harvick, then by John Pablo Montoya, who had meen moving up inside of Burton, and was sent careening into the side of Burton's car. After the incident, Burton expressed his displeasure with Bowyer, surprising many by showing that he can get angry.
Debunking the Myths (The "" section)
From various comments around the Web:
"Brian France and NASCAR are recieving bribes from Rick Hendrick to make sure that NASCAR policy is biased toward Hendrick Motorsports.
"Deals have been made to make sure Dale Earnhardt, Jr wins the Daytona 500"
"Toyota has paid off Brian France to make sure they dominate the field, and end the competition from the Chevy, Dodge, and Ford teams."
Either NASCAR does a terrible job at meeting their behind-the-scenes obligations or none of the above accusations are true. In the end, neither Hendrick nor Jr. came close to being given the win, and Toyota was clearly outraced by Dodge. The race itself should be enough to debunk the above myths.
But wait, the conspiracy theorists who have come up with these ridiculous accusations claim that they do not watch NASCAR any more, so they will be stuck with their own silly little beliefs forever, having seen no evidence to prove them wrong. We should not pity them, because their predicament is of their own making, and they will never know what they are missing in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and exciting NASCAR racing season to date.
Granted, the Daytona 500, being unique in both qualifying and in car set-up rules, and is not a true barometer of what is to come the rest of the season, but we saw an indication of the level of competition that we can look forward to. As the teams find ways to make the car handle better, and to preserve the tires better, the racing will become better. Thus we will be likely to see some of the best racing ever in the coming weeks and months.


ZuDfunck said...

You know your stuff dontcha Rev?

Good writing

a great post!

I agree these guys are figuring out the Car and I am excited to watch it evolve...


Cheyenne said...

Glad that race is over. Now for the rest of the season...
I, too, enjoyed reading your post. Very informative.

Trixie said...

Tony was a sitting duck. I think if he stayed on the outside it would have been ugly. And of course when he went to get little bro' Busch, he came in third.

I think the new car created more racing. It's put the racing back into the hands of the driver.

Well...Smoke can get them next year!

Mike said...

Thanks for your writing Rev. I enjoyed your comments and have to agree with it all. Not the most exciting Daytona on record, but an exciting ending. Thanks for your efforts. I will be back.

Ryan Newman Fan said...

Great article. Still can't believe Newman did it. Great effort on all Penske and Dodge drivers.

Thanks for the link to the article too.

Racefan57 said...

Good job Jim...yeah..I know...I probably caught Ryan at a bad time. But it was a strange thing to witness nonetheless.

Babs said...

Never know who will take it over on that last lap.
And I'd like to kick David Ragan's ass. Matt had a good car. HAD.
Ok... on to Cali.