I went into this year’s Daytona 500 with more anticipation and excitement than I have had in recent years. I was not expecting to see the greatest race ever or even the greatest Daytona 500 ever. I was expecting to see passing and side-by-side racing throughout the 200 lap event. Unfortunately the race fell short of my expectations, far short.
I have watched NASCAR racing my entire life of 29 years and I can safely say without a hint of hyperbole that Sunday’s 500 was the worst race I have ever witnessed. It was worse than the 2008 fiasco at the Brickyard and the 2001 event at New Hampshire. At least there was actual racing/passing through the field 15 laps after a restart in those races.
The only real racing that occurred in this year’s 500 came directly after restarts. After 10 or so laps, the field settled in and ran almost completely single-file throughout most of the race. Several drivers tried to use the bottom of the track at various points throughout the race but almost always they ended up losing positions and falling back in line.
Not surprisingly the final 20 laps featured the best action of the day. However, it felt as though the ability for Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson to duel for the lead between was aided by damage done to Keselowski’s car in two previous incidents earlier in the race. Given that the high line was the fast way around the track all race long, had Keselowski’s car been in the state it started in, I feel certain in believing that he would have been able to withstand Johnson’s challenge for the lead.
The lack of action on the track was made worse by Fox’s commentators in the booth and in the pits. The coverage of Danica Patrick was completely overbearing all week long but particularly in Sunday’s race. I am not naïve to the fact that she was going to get talked about a lot, especially since she was the pole sitter for the race. However the coverage was just too much.
I don’t think NASCAR’s new Gen 6 car could have put on a worse show than what occurred on Sunday but thankfully what happens at Daytona does not dictate what happens for a majority of the rest of the season. Hopefully the next event at Phoenix will prove to be a more exciting and more competitive race than the Daytona 500 was.