DAYTONA BEACH, FL – This year’s Daytona 500 looked like it was going to be different. With Danica Patrick achieving what no woman has achieved before, placing on the pole at the 500, and the introduction of the new sixth generation cars, we were looking for something different….
But, it turned out not to be that different at all. As is the norm on the superspeedways, the strategy of the day was single file drafting, minimal passing and try to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jimmie Johnson managed to be at the right place at the right time - at the front of the pack at the end of the race. With some help from Denny Hamlin, Johnson took the lead with 10 laps to go and remained in front for the rest of the race. Hamlin finished second followed ever-so-closely by Brad Keselowski.
Danica started strong from the front row along with Jeff Gordon. Danica’s team owner, Tony Stewart was right behind her giving her the moral support she needed. She really did a splendid job finishing in 8th place. I think Danica showed the fans, and the other drivers, what she is capable of and she won’t just be a pretty face in a bikini (though I hope she doesn’t stop wearing them!). The face of NASCAR will forever be different.
The C6 cars did not overwhelm us in their performance. Though a superspeedway restrictor plate race doesn’t lend itself to showing off a cars attributes, Mark Martin thinks they are a strong step forward. “The racing was OK. The car is actually less stable in a big pack than what we've had. We had to keep ourselves separated a little bit more for good measure until it came down to the end -- and then nobody cared. When we get in these things next week (at Phoenix) they'll be stuck like glue and we'll be breaking track records. Kudos to the Gen 6 car.” (Read
Other big news of the weekend was the crash at the Nationwide race on Saturday during which Kyle Larson’s 32 car flew into the fence separating the fans from the cars. Unfortunately, some debris, including a wheel, from his car landed in the grandstand. 28-33 fans were injured, with 14 requiring a trip to the hospital.