I’m not sure what race fans are expecting, but after The Budweiser Duels were in the books on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, I know I am impressed with the new car and the direction NASCAR is taking. I saw some discontent on the Internet during the race, and the thing fans need to keep in mind, this is Daytona. This is how the racing was, at the restrictor plate tracks in the late nineties, and it is totally unique. You will NOT see this at the 1.5 D-Ovals, and short tracks.
Drivers in the first race were running very cautious, especially ones close to the front because they had the same problem we the fans had, they weren’t sure how Danica Patrick would be able to handle the pressure of running out front in the Sprint Cup Series. The racing began after she and Tony Stewart went to the rear, and out of harms way. I thought she handled the lead very well, and faded to the rear at the right time.
She learned early on, that letting up on the throttle when running on the bottom was not a good idea. Early in the race, due to the temperature of the track, anyone on the bottom was having to let up to keep from easing up the track into traffic. That was the big reason the outside was where the racing groove was located. With the restrictor plate, the engine takes a longer time to get back up to speed.Most of the drivers never lift unless they have to, for some reason.
Even after the temperature cooled the track somewhat, the groove remained higher on the track, making it difficult to pass on the bottom.
The Duel 150′s have never been exciting if you came to watch the big names, especially the ones with exemptions for the 500. The real racing is always around the transfer spots, and that proved to be the case on Thursday. That’s where the cars got two and three wide around the track, and where you could actually judge the racing. The big names are too good, and know if they can run in single file, or two wide, there isn’t much danger of wrecking their cars unless someone has a problem. That proved true in the first race when Denny Hamlin got squirrely and took out a couple of cars.
One of the things that was apparent. The drivers can not get nose to tail, and draft in that format. In some of the pre-race interviews, drivers were saying that if they sucked up too close, they were susceptible to getting spun out from the air exiting the front car. So until they get that aspect of the car figured out, there will be no close drafting, or Bump Drafting. That was what caused the Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards crash during practice on Wednesday.
So let’s let Daytona be Daytona, and I promise you when we get to Phoenix, and Las Vegas, you will see the real Gen 6 car in action. These are the tracks that needed some changes so we could get away from where gas mileage, and tire wear decides most of the races. After-all, there are only four plate races a year.
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