When the green flag fell on NASCAR’s Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series’ events at Daytona, there was one thing evident to those of us at home watching on television: the first two thirds of these races were going to be like watching paint dry, but the final one third was going to be exciting and loaded with drama.
[media-credit id=22 align=”alignright” width=”238″][/media-credit]However, during the conclusion of these two races, the Sprint Cup’s Coke Zero 400 treated us to the drama and exhilaration of a first time Daytona winner for the second time this year. The Nationwide Series’ Subway Jalapeno 250 treated us to a dramatic finish that wasn’t resolved until the final one half lap of the race and, on yes, Danica was there is a very big way.
Hoorah to David Ragan for scoring his first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup win, in the Coke Zero 400, after 163 efforts to get there. That win moves Ragan to 17th in the championship points standings and could line him up for a starting berth in the Sprint Cup Chase’s wild card program.
Hoorah for Ragan’s sweet redemption. Last February he was in line to win the Daytona 500 when he was penalized by NASCAR for changing race lanes, following a restart, prior to crossing the start finish line. After that experience he had to feel like the speedway owed him one and collecting that debt had to be sweet.
The Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver seriously needed this first win and the timing of that visit to victory lane could not be better. It comes at a time when his primary sponsor’s, United Parcel Service, contract is up for renewal and Ragan’s Daytona performance could greatly help that renewal cause. Hoorah to UPS for getting their first win as a primary sponsor since Dale Jarrett invited them to victory lane back in 2005. All year long the famed delivery company has been promoting the marketing slogan “we love logistics.” One has to believe that UPS was thrilled with the logistics behind Ragan’s first Cup win.
Hoorah to the winner’s Roush Fenway team mate Matt Kenseth who was pushing Ragan to the checkers in the two car draft tandem. Kenseth’s strong Daytona performance is also timely. In recent days it was announced that his primary sponsor, Crown Royal, would not be returning to the team next year. His strong Daytona finish, combined with a good year as a Chase contender, could go along way towards landing another sponsor.
Wazzup with Crown Royal waiting so long in the season to announce this decision to withdraw from racing? The timing here is terrible. Having to spend the final few months of the 2011 season trying to locate a replacement sponsor is not going to be easy.
On the topic of Roush Fenway Racing teams, Wazzup with Carl Edwards’ misfortunes during the Coke Zero 400? Working towards lap 23 of the race, Edwards was hooked up in the two car draft with team mate Greg Biffle. In an effort to avoid potential contact with the duo of Kurt Busch and Regan Smith, Edwards accidentally nudged Biffle’s front bumper. The result was a spin and a hard hit into the fourth turn wall. The impact led to broken crush panels on Edwards’ Ford which in turn allowed carbon monoxide to infiltrate the car’s cockpit causing a feeling of illness for the driver. The result was a 37th place finish and a fall to second in the points standings. Edwards is now five points behind new leader Kevin Harvick.
Wazzup with Ford driver Trevor Bayne setting a new NASCAR record he absolutely didn’t want to create? Last February Bayne stunned us all by becoming the youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500. Filled with anticipation regarding the Coke Zero 400, Bayne was spun and sent nose first into the wall only five laps into the race. He accidentally set a new series’ record for the worst finish in Daytona’s July race by that season’s Daytona 500 winner.
The old record was set by Hall Of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough who won the 1983 Daytona 500 only to suffer an engine failure, after five laps, in the July race.
Hoorah to Jeff Gordon for an amazing display of driving after being spun on lap 157. Gordon was charging towards the front of the pack when he was accidentally clipped by Kasey Kahne. Gordon spun in traffic and did an amazing job of saving his car in what appeared to be the making of a restrictor plate racing “big one.” That recovery led to a sixth place finish. Hoorah to the traffic behind him, and the spotters who guided their drivers, for taking quick thinking evasive action.
Wazzup with the “big one” arriving during the first green-white-checker attempt? On lap 163 there was contact between Mark Martin and Joey Logano. Martin’s car went around and slammed hard into the backstretch. By the time the melee was over, there were no fewer than 12 wadded up race cars being hooked to wreckers following the massive clean up.
Wazzup with the second multi car accident that occurred a matter of feet from the checkers at the conclusion of the second green-white-checker attempt?
Hoorah to Joey Logano for winning the Nationwide Series’ Subway Jalapeno 250 as well as his first ever win at Daytona. The double duty Sprint Cup driver only led the last half of the final lap but, in restrictor plate style racing, sometimes that’s all you need.
Logano had to accomplish this feat by charging his way back through the field. On lap 26 the eventual race winner found himself spinning through turn three after getting tapped by Brian Scott, his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate.
Hoorah to Turner Motorsports driver Reed Sorenson who had a very good Saturday night at Daytona. First off, there was the matter of the Nationwide Insurance Dash For Cash program which paid a $100,000 bonus to the highest finishing driver of the four who were eligible for the program. Sorenson’s third place finish locked the bonus down. Adding the $44,000 plus he earned for his race finish, he had a very lucrative night. All of this was sweetened by the fact that he left Daytona on top of the championship points standings.
Hoorah to driver Danica Patrick for a very strong performance during the Nationwide Series race. Any pre race doubt that she might have difficulty dealing with the two car draft procedure was quickly erased. If there are any critics left who question if she’s ready to move to NASCAR full time, they were also silenced. She spent much of the race drafting with her Junior Motorsports team mate, Aric Almirola, and handled the tricky maneuver with the greatest of ease. She even led a total of 13 laps in the race and, during the late stages of the event, had many of us thinking that she might become the next Daytona victory lane surprise visitor.
Unfortunately, Patrick got caught up in that multi car wreck on the final lap, just a matter of yards from the checkered flag, but still managed to limp across the finish line in tenth.
By the way, Wazzup with that final lap crash on the front stretch. According to the video replays, the car driven by Mike Wallace got incredibly loose and all of a sudden there was a major crash festival. Patrick later commented “Wallace was loose like a fish out of water and then all of a sudden it turned into a cluster.”
Hoorah to Kevin Harvick Inc for fielding four teams in the Subway Jalapeno 250 and having them start first through fourth after qualifying. It marked the first time that any one racing organization has accomplished this feat.
Unfortunately, the outcome was not what KHI was hoping for. Clint Bowyer finished 34th following a crash that was triggered by a two car draft hit from Kevin Harvick himself who finished 18th in the race. Tony Stewart was strong during this event only to have to settle for 13th after getting caught up in the aforementioned last lap “big one.” The KHI bright spot was Elliot Sadler who ran strong all night and finished eighth.
In some final thoughts: Hoorah to King Richard Petty who celebrated his 74th birthday on July 2nd. Sprint driver Jeff Burton gets a Hoorah for celebrating his 44th birthday as well as making his official 600th series start.
Wazzup with the radio communication problem Carl Edwards had during the practice session prior to the Coke Zero 400? Edwards was running the two car draft with his Roush Fenway Racing team mate Greg Biffle but they were unable to talk to each other on their in car radios. A quick trip to the garage area, to have the situation looked at, turned up the solution: the volume on Edwards’ radio was turned down.
Hoorah to TNT Network analysts Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach for their in car demonstration on how the two car draft system works during a NASCAR restrictor plate race. Instead of sitting behind a desk and giving us a lecture, they climbed inside of race cars and presented a visual aide on exactly how intense this form of racing can get. It was a job well done.
Wazzup with the on air timing of a Viagra commercial during the TNT broadcast of the Sprint Cup race? During their “wide open coverage” of the race, the network presented sponsor commercials on a separate box located on the lower right hand corner of our TV screens while continuing to show us the live action from the race track.
On lap 77, TNT aired a Viagra commercial at the same time they were showing driver Joe Nemechek taking the race lead. Nemechek’s car was sponsored by Extenze, that other male enhancement product and a direct competitor of Viagra. We know how the Extenze situation turned out. Nemechek finished 30th, one lap down, in the final standings. It’s not exactly clear how things turned out for the middle aged couple in the Viagra ad.