Speeds over 200 mph. Three wide racing to the end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had time at the front. So did Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Excellent announcing on FOX. Nice weather. What was there not to love about the Daytona 500?
Okay, if you were not a fan of Joey Logano and saw that caution come out as they were wrecking behind them on that final lap, maybe you were upset. Especially so as Kevin Harvick and Junior were trying to challenge at the end. Yet, they kept wrecking back there so NASCAR decided to err on the side of safety.
Gordon was involved in the melee, and was ranked 33rd, the final car on the lead lap of a race that went to green-white-checkers. If you were a fan of Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth, early damage left them non-factors the rest of the day, with Smoke finishing 42nd. With 40 laps to go, Brad Keselowski went up in smoke to sit 41st. Danica Patrick was 21st, but rarely to be seen on the day.
If you are a Busch fan, any Busch, you were left cheering for Matt Crafton, who was 18th in his Cup debut, while Regan Smith was 16th. Neither picked up drivers’ points with each being registered in one of the other two national series. Both Casey Mears and Martin Truex Jr. each earned a Top Ten, with David Gilliland, Sam Hornish Jr., and Michael Annett all in the Top Fifteen. Now if they can only follow that up with solid results next week in Atlanta.
Still, not a Busch to be found in Georgia, either. I have always thought that by running an average of 25 races in the junior circuit, Kyle Busch was taking a seat away from an up and comer. That has been solved for the time being, but not in a fashion any of us wanted. That was a damn scary hit last Saturday, on a regular concrete wall, causing Busch a broken right leg and left foot. If there is a need for a wall, it is due to the possibility a car might hit it, and if the possibility exists, so does the need for a safer barrier to exist. I dislike Kyle driving so much in the Xfinity Series, but I dislike even more him having to be in hospital.
A Daytona 500 with neither Busch brother. At least Kyle’s situation is straight forward, which is more than one can say about that of Kurt. From my understanding, a despondent Busch texted his former girlfriend who then sent these along to his coach driver who encouraged her to visit. This she did, out of either compassion or to get Kurt to tell her son the relationship was over, I am no longer sure as to which. Kurt was naked the entire time of the visit, an image I am trying to keep out of my head. He tried to get her to leave by either cupping her face aggressively or choked her and slammed her head into a wall. No charges have yet been laid and a judge says he believed more of her story than that of the driver yet stated she lied during her testimony. In the end, he gave her a protection order to keep Busch away, causing NASCAR to react with the suspension. I find this whole situation a train wreck with more drama than most of us can be bothered to dwell upon. I wish them both well.
For most others, the season opened well, especially for the fans. While Junior had a strong car, Logano had the one that could challenge him. Sometimes luck decides how things work out, but Sunday at Daytona the car that was the stoutest when it counted, won. Sure, he was helped when Junior made a lane change that cost him too much for too long too late into the event, but Joey was the one guy who could, and did, take full advantage. Now it is off to Atlanta for 500 miles, the scene of Kasey Kahne’s lone victory of 2014. If you loved Daytona, you might as well stick around to see how Atlanta might measure up.