Thursday, March 2, 2017
Daytona - Crashes and Crunches Come In Bunches
Well, geez, I think I may quit rooting for anyone because obviously, my support is the kiss of death! I started cheering for Jimmie and Junior. Boom! They both went out. I got behind Danica. Out. I would have been happy with Martin Truex, Jr. Out. I watched Kyle Larson leading a lot of laps with my fingers crossed. Out....of gas. I watched Chase Elliott almost pull it off at the last until...out of gas.
So, one by one, all my favorites faltered but, having said that, I was pretty all right with Kurt Busch winning. I'm sure it was the second biggest thrill of his life (after his championship) to win the Daytona 500 after coming in 2nd twice. And being able to give this much-sought-after prize - a trophy from The Great American Race - to his owners, Tony Stewart (who could never pull off a 500 win himself) and Gene Haas, and incidentally, a very nice gift for his brand new bride as well. And, honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anyone as ecstatic over a win as Tony Gibson was. I truly thought he might have a heart attack and die of pure joy. I was so glad for him, I wanted to give him a hug!
I don't think NASCAR's new rules had anything to do with all three series races resulting in crash fests. Races have their own personalities from year to year and further, I think the mood of the culture bleeds into sports, films and music. The country is in a hair-trigger mood right now and that shows itself across all these venues. Drivers are edgier and so are fans. Donald Trump thinks America in 2017 is all about carnage and we certainly saw that play out on the track.
And since we dipped a bit of a toe into politics, I have to say I'm proud of Junior for standing up for immigrants, tweeting that his own forebears were immigrants from Germany looking for peace and prosperity in America and that it was immigrants of all colors and ethnic origins who'd made America what it is. I'm not sure that's the accepted position among Dale's "base". He could have just kept his mouth shut but he didn't. Kudos to him for going out on that limb.
He looked at good as ever on the track but I sure hated to see him in a wreck. I think I will be nervous every time now. Maybe I'm starting to think like Richard Petty...that he'd be smarter to take the money and run.
I bet the folks at Ford were happy campers this week. The 2 and the 22 have excelled in the last few years but with only two really competitive teams, it was hard to match the power of all those Chevy and Toyota cars. Now, it looks like the Stewart-Haas bunch have come back without missing a beat and there is going to be more parity between the manufacturers. (Speaking of manufacturers, I wish Dodge would return - their cars were so appealing - but they'd almost have to start all over building teams at this point).
I love the Daytona 500 because it is the first real race of the year but I've said many times that restrictor plate racing is not my favorite kind. I don't like the teams sticking together like love bugs. I don't like my guy getting stuck in a line that goes nowhere with no way to escape.
So, I'll be happy to get back to every-man-for-himself racing at Atlanta.