With the Daytona International Speedway track repaved into three-wide, the frequent use of the two-car tandem and with Dale Earnhard Jr. relying on his backup car, and Junior starting in the back despite qualifying for the pole position, this race should be one of the best NASCAR races of this season. Dale Earnhardt, “The Intimidator,” will be remembered on the third lap of this race in commemoration of his death a decade previous, and this driver has not been forgotten nor ever will be. After all the drama, festivities and tailgating, it’s time to go racing, boys, and this was one heck of a race.
Now to the post-race analysis:
- Regan Smith pushed Kurt Busch for Busch’s lead in the first lap of the Great American Race.
- Michael Waltrip incidently pushed Kyle Busch, and Busch slid out in lap 5. Fortunately, for him and the rest of the field, he didn’t collide with anyone else.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s spotter could have possibly caused a collision after J.J. Yeley’s car brought out the caution flag in lap 11. Typical Junior drama and karma, and it began again as he pushed into the head of the pack.
- Kevin Harvick blew an engine in lap 22 and officially out of the race. Bad luck for him after 152 races without a blown motor.
- Michael Waltrip again pushed into David Reutimann and caused a train wreck on lap 29 into a 17-car train wreck. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Mark Martin, all Hendrick Motosports cars, were brought into the garage for repair of heavy damage to their cars. Not good news for these Hendrick drivers or for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he was without his teammates for a major portion of the race.
- Robert Richardson, Jr. spun out into lap 47, and he officially got his ticket into the garage.
- Brian Vickers out on lap 56, and his engine had officially stalled. Barely into lap 60, nearly one-third of the field had disappeared.
- Some cars returned in lap 92 that were involved in earlier wrecks. Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson were some of the notable drivers to make their return.
- Kurt Busch led lap 92 with Regan Smith in their two-car tandem again.
- And yet another Richard Childress engine blew with Jeff Burton in the garage on lap 94. Childress Racing didn’t have much luck this race, as with Hendrick Motorsports. However, theirs was an engineering problem which should be resolved by next week’s race and not created by the big one caused by Michael Waltrip.
- Juan Pablo Montoya spun out in lap 107 with no disaster on the track. The two-car tandems still remained the theme up to this point of the race. Interestingly, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have paired together — for a short time only.
- Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have paired up in lap 110. This pairing should be beneficial to both of these veterans, but it was short-lived.
- Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard tandem have maintained the lead for five laps since lap 127. Matt Kenseth, who had fallen a lap down, crashed into the outer wall in lap 134.
- Juan Pablo Montoya spun out and collided with Greg Biffle on lap 143. And now the 11th caution flag had been dropped. This race hasn’t been without excitement.
- Regan Smith and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hook up in lap 147 and pushed Junior to the lead. This is one potent combination since Regan Smith established himself in the lead pack after the big wreck of lap 29.
- Travis Kavapil wrecked on lap 158 and brought out the 12th caution flag, a race record. The final push begun for the drivers and their respective pit crews.
- Brad Keselowski crashed into the wall on lap 167, and the 13th yellow flag was brought out.
- Kasey Kahne blew a tire out in lap 182, and Jamie McMurray had to resign himself out of the race with an engine issue. Now this race had its 14th yellow flag…
- Soon enough, another caution flag…Regan Smith got turned by Kurt Busch caused by Tony Stewart on lap 196.
- On lap 204, A.J. Allmendinger spun into Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman clipped Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and another caution flag. Junior was taken out of the race, as his karma followed again.
Trevor Bayne of Wood Brothers won the Daytona 500. He had one of the faster cars on the field, but nobody expected this win in NASCAR or their fantasy cohorts. Overall, a very entertaining race — with bookend wrecks, but the big one caused by Michael Waltrip changed the field early in lap 29. The average speed of the Daytona 500 was 132 mp, with the top speed of 201 mph. Most of the cars raced from 170 to 200 mph. Perhaps, like in the football season beforehand, this may be a season of surprises. Certainly, NASCAR began with one. Now onto Phoenix…