Daytona 500 Recap: Jamie McMurray wins the Great American Race
After introductions, entertainment by Tim McGraw, a classy Anthem sung by Harry Connick Jr. and even some unique interviews by the FOX team, the race got underway, with Mark Martin and Dale Jr leading them to the green flag. NASCAR Legend, Richard Petty, actually did the leading, being honored by driving in the Pace Car. It was a great moment, given that Richard Petty Motorsports seems to be somewhat rejuvenated. In fact, three of his four drivers had managed to lead one or more laps by a quarter of the way through the race.
Surprisingly, the racing wasn't a freight train today, and with a lot of green flag laps, some really good cars ended up a lap down. The cars were not bunched up, rather there seemed to be a few packs of 10 or 12 cars. Although it is somewhat expected that Kevin Harvick will be up near the front, along with the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt, and others, the average fan wouldn't have expected to see AJ Allmendinger up front and leading, however, he did have a third place finish at Daytona, his highest in the series to date. In the second quarter of the race, "The Dinger" seemed to be the car to beat. That is, until the next set of pit stops. Unfortunately, his pit crew had a misstep with lug nuts and AJ fell back. Ryan Newman had problems as well, missing his pit completely and having to go all the way around the track and come back in.
Pit strategies had been a story for the day. Mark, Dale Jr and Juan Pablo Montoya had not pitted under the first caution, only a handful of laps into the race, but all had managed to stay out of trouble and were running up near the front when the crossed flags were displayed. Front runners at the halfway point also included Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Elliott Sadler and Martin Truex Jr. In fact, Clint Bowyer had moved out to lead the pack.
As is normal in the "Super Bowl", be it football or racing, there are commercials. The commercials catching this fan's attention were the Toyota and Coke commercials. After seeing and hearing the Coke commercial, with the drivers singing the "I'd like to buy the world a coke" song, all I can say is, don't quit your day jobs boys. I won't post the video of the making of commercial, which is equally hilarious, but if you want to see it, click here
The Toyota commercial, on the other hand, still has me giggling. We've seen the design your own Toyota car with Denny Hamlin - the Love car - a few times now, but the Kyle Busch commercial is hilarious.
At lap 122 the red flag was displayed so the track crews could repair a hole in the track in turn 2, said to measure about 8 inches by 6 inches. Repairs were completed quickly, but the compound used to make the repairs takes 15-20 minutes to cure. And just like cautions breed cautions, it seems track damage breeds the same. A second hole in the track was found and the red flag extended while it, too, was repaired. In the break, the television audience was treated to a series of "DW chats with the drivers". Kyle Busch was awakened from a power nap and commented that perhaps Lowe's or Home Depot had the stuff needed to repair the track. Dale Jr spent his break playing MLB trivia and commented that perhaps placing a cone over the hole for them to dodge would be the answer. Of course, he was kidding, but the drivers were doing whatever they could to pass the time.
Half an hour after the red flag had first been displayed, NASCAR allowed the drivers to get out of the cars. The FOX crew interviewed the NASCAR officials who promised the race would be completed tonight. Three different remedies were tried, with the third time being the charm. And an hour and 37 minutes after the red flag was displayed, the drivers were once again ordered back to their cars.
With 77 laps to go, the racing got back underway and Clint Bowyer carried on where he'd left off, battling with Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler. Bowyer's teammate Kevin Harvick was right there with him. With 65 to go, the RPM cars of Kahne and Sadler were doing battle with the RCR cars of Bowyer and Harvick. The jugging of positions was all taking place behind the leaders, but a bump from Harvick got Sadler loose and when he let off to recover, he went backwards fast, finally tucking in at the 16th position.
With 50 laps to go, AJ Allmendinger had gone for a slide, and up front it was still all about RCR and RPM, but Martin Truex Jr in his new Michael Waltrip Racing ride had moved into top spot.
Elliott Sadler had only taken on two right side tires in the last pit stop and could not control his car, it was so loose. He'd taken to waving out his window to try to tell everyone to get away from him as the way his car was handling he certainly looked like a wreck trying to happen. Everyone had stepped up their efforts to get to the front, however, and the slicing and dicing and beating and banging was worse than it had been all race. It didn't much matter thought, for only a handful of laps later, the yellow flew, again for the asphalt.