I’m sure I’ll be the only one to write that the 58th edition of the “Great American Race,” the Daytona 500, was for the most part, a snooze-fest with restricted (no pun intended) passing, highlighted by mind-numbing follow the leader plate racing and the closest finish in the race’s history. The current restrictor plate package is a swing in the wrong direction.
I also know I wasn’t the only member of the audience watching at home that was frustrated by the anticlimactic final laps of a 500-miler that somehow was saved from being a forgettable race by the ballsy move from race winner Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin’s win in the sport’s biggest event is long overdue. After all, he won his very first outing, a preliminary event on the legendary 2.5-mile speedway, back in 2006. Nearly every year since, coming into NASCAR Speedweeks, he’s been one of the favorites to win but for one reason or another, the Virginia boy just couldn’t close the deal. On Sunday, he finally did.
Some thoughts, observations and a few questions:
- Toyota spent an obscene amount of money to win its first Sprint Cup title. Apparently the deal also included a win at Daytona. The Toyotas dominated the race and their only real competition was the 88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Once Junior fell out, it was only a matter of which JGR car would win.
- Once again O Fortuna from Carmina Burana was used as the backdrop to driver introductions. Not only is it cliched, but it becomes boring and repetitive after the first minute or so. I can think of about 25 other pieces of music that would work better. Why not have one of NASCAR’s hot shot L.A. – based executives assigned to work with the entertainment business find a suitable contemporary composer to write a piece of music specific to the event? You know, like NBC does with the Sunday Night Football theme?
- If the Daytona 500 is truly the “Super Bowl of stock car racing” as it is often referred to, then why aren’t there more Super Bowl caliber television commercials being seen during the broadcast? There were few good, new commercials as nearly all had been seen before. FOX repeated all of them just enough times to force you to either change the channel during a commercial break or just leave the room. The occasional side-by-side presentation didn’t keep you glued to the screen either because there just wasn’t much going on in the race.
- Isn’t this new Colonel Sanders the worst of the lot? Norm MacDonald (#2) was so much better.
- The Jeff Gordon “Through the Years” promo was good for the first 5-6 times you watched it then it too became annoying.
- The pre-race grid walk on the FOX broadcast is a good idea that continues to be poorly executed. I can think of two things that would make it 100% better. Get rid of Waltrip and keep Jamie Little and tell those who are on the grid how important it is to the broadcast. Right now it comes off as more of an annoyance than good television. And it doesn’t come close to capturing the electricity you feel when you’re on the grid prior to the race.
- I hope you were paying attention when the 48 team made a rare pit road miscue. It will be the only time it does so all season.
- Mike Joy credited the late, great Chris Economaki with penning the phrase “Calamity Corner” for Turn 4 at Daytona International Speedway. I’ll take his word for it. No matter who came up with the monicker, it provided the only drama all afternoon. The tricky surface gave many of the best in the business (Junior, Harvick, Vickers and even the kid in the 24 car) a reason to pucker up.
- I hope Tony Stewart gets asked to call into every race broadcast until he comes back. It was a treat. He was the first to point out that the reason why everyone was having handling issues was because the race was the first time all week that the drivers were able to experience authentic race conditions. Limited daytime practice sessions and night time racing made even the best crew chiefs have to dig deep to figure out how to get more mechanical grip as the race wore on and the track loosened up.
- Get well, Smoke!
- I know its tradition to have the sport’s biggest event as the season opener but try and explain that to someone who knows little about NASCAR. It doesn’t make sense to most people. I happen to think the Homestead finale is far more important to the sport than bragging rights for winning the Daytona. I know…that’s sacrilege. So be it!
Thanks for stopping by!