The Final Word – The Great American Demolition Derby sure was not boring to watch

So, you want a car just like the one that won the Daytona 500, eh? Well, you get yourself a sparkling new Ford Fusion. Splash it up with some red on the hood, and basic black the rest of the way around. Polish it up so it is real shiny and pretty. Then take a Louisville Slugger and beat on that beauty from stem to stern. Just to make it more authentic, squeeze it up tight against the right door frame of the garage as you put it to bed. Now…splash beer and some Monster Energy drink all over the sucker, and you will be living the Kurt Busch Daytona experience.

One lap is all he led in a car that was among 35 that had suffered some damage in some wreck over the course of the day. In the end, Ryan Blaney wanted a piece of him, but the gap only got wider as they came to the line. Chase Elliott wanted it bad, but a car does not run so good when it is out of fuel on the final lap. Kyle Larson’s entry coughed and sputtered, and that allowed the Busch ship to set sail for Victory Lane. For the newly married former Cup champ, this marked his first win on the sport’s biggest stage.

Things did not go so well for his younger brother. Kyle Busch was among a crew that pitted early, then tucked back in at the tail of the lead lap, just in front of leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. When a rear tire blew, Busch went for a spin and while Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth then piled up into him, Earnhardt clipped the wreckage to remove his front right fender to end the day for the quartet.

Next week, you might notice some pulled threads that once held the logo on a certain driver’s fire suit, the logo just above the big M&M endorsement. They might be a sponsor for now, but post-wreck Kyle had an observation he wished to share with the world.

“Obviously Goodyear tires are not very good holding air,” he remarked. “So, it’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here.” A ringing endorsement if I ever heard one.

Fifteen cars were left on the lead lap. Ten others were still running. Fifteen more were parked in the garage. Under the new rules, if you could not return to pit road and make repairs using original parts and racing tape in five minutes, your race is over. Along with Busch, Jones, Kenseth, and Earnhardt, there was Junior’s nephew Jeffrey Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, the couple of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher, and D.J. Kennington. Make that thirteen Americans, a Mexican, and a Canadian.

Might I suggest that NASCAR introduce a new experience for their fans? They pay to watch the race from a suite, and all drivers out of the race then join them. That would have been one hell of a room at Daytona, but I wonder if they had a venue large enough.

One complaint. No, it is not about the stages, which were won by Rowdy Busch and Kevin Harvick. I did not really mind the format, to be honest. However, as I am intelligent enough to remember what series I am watching, maybe return the names of the drivers to the windshield instead of “Monster Energy.” I thought doing so a few years back was a nice gesture to help fans identify who was who even if the car number was not visible. I wonder whose idea it was to rescind that nice gesture in favor of extra splash for the sponsor?

For Monster Energy, it was a good beginning for them. Even the car they sponsor won the race. Now, there are some who do not think this was racing. Maybe they are right. However, it was damned entertaining television. Let us hope that Sunday in Atlanta is just as memorable, if not a little kinder on the folks who have to deal with the carnage back at the shop.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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