As the field took the white flag during the Daytona 500, I took a deep breath and then I held my breath. I watched as half the field came barreling around turn one, turn two, turn three, oh boy here we go.
Another deep breath and there goes Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Oh boy, this could be…it’s over.
Just like that it was over. No multi-car wrecks to the checkered. No, pacing worrying if the drivers were okay and after Saturday, not one fan was hurt.
Aside from a multi-car wreck after the white flag that got very little attention as NASCAR didn’t throw a caution, the end of the race was actually very good. Now you are probably thinking has she lost her mind? No, aside from the wreck early on that saw many of the contenders for the win wreck, it was tame. See video from NASCAR.com.
If you think back to the 1990’s what we saw on Sunday was very similar to what we saw then. Drivers on Sunday were conserving their cars and engines, just trying to be in position when it counted. Did it always pay off then and even Sunday? No, just ask Jeff Gordon.
I always liked tandem racing. I liked it because if you could find a partner whether it was a Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota or a Dodge; you could push or be pushed to the front of the field. Remember Kyle Busch and Gordon in 2011 at Daytona in July? He pushed Gordon to a top five finish after they were mired in traffic on the final lap.
There was no single file racing around the top. Still, fans hated tandem racing. You wanted the pack style racing back. So NASCAR along with the manufacturers went to work. The new Generation 6 race car eliminated tandem racing totally.
We saw throughout all of Speed weeks this sports best drivers learning how to work the draft with these new cars. Sometimes it was successful and other times it ended badly (see Carl Edwards and his four wrecks).
Fans grumbled throughout the race yesterday that it was “boring” and it felt like a “three hour nap”. This was what you all wanted. You didn’t like when two guys who were maybe mid-pack hooked up and drive to the front battling the leaders for lead.
You didn’t like that with two to go unlike what we saw yesterday that realistically that a guy 10th on back had a shot at the win with tandem racing.
So fans you got exactly what you wanted. Drivers played conservative for much of the race. Nobody was willing to step out of line and risk, track position. Yes, at a plate track it was track position that was the biggest factor and not who you go with when it mattered.
Nobody wanted to be on the bottom and when they tried nobody stayed in line long enough to gain momentum. When they did Johnson led the pack and see where he ended up?
Fans asked for changes and until the right package is figured out on plate tracks with this new car this will be what we will see. Drivers are not willing to risk their cars early on in the race and with limited parts available.
Will the racing get better on plate tracks? Yes, but fans are impatient and NASCAR is once again in an lose—lose situation. They did what the fans wanted and yet the fans are still unhappy.