DAYTONA BEACH, FL - The 2015 NASCAR season is off to a very unpredictable start. Even before the Sunday season opener, Kurt Busch’s 2015 aspirations were dashed when NASCAR imposed an indefinite suspension following allegations that Busch tried strangling his ex-girlfriend. Brother Kyle Busch is also out indefinitely following a leg injury in Saturday’s pre-season race at Daytona. Finally, under-dog Joey Logano won his first Daytona 500 under a yellow flag following an exciting green, white, yellow, checkered finish.
NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon, sat on the pole for what may be his final Daytona start, following his announcement that he will retire after this season. Jeff’s team mate Jimimie Johnson started at his side with defending Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr in the third position. Gordon looked strong through the whole race leading six-times and race-best, 87 lead laps. The four-time Cup champion commented following the race, "for some reason I'm still smiling and enjoyed every moment of it. I obviously enjoyed the first half (of the race) more than the second half. … This is an amazing week and an amazing day. I'm just in this different place that is so foreign yet so incredible, just soaking it all in.
The last several laps of the race were probably some of the most exciting in Daytona history, with the lead 18 cars within a second of each other running 3 wide all around the track. Jeff’s chances were dashed on the final lap when he got turned by Austin Dillon and wrecked causing the race to finish under a caution flag. Gordon’s comment regarding that last lap “I'm not going to miss those final laps. That was just crazy."
Jimmie Johnson made an amazing comeback following a lap-87 pass-through penalty for having a crew member over the wall too soon. Johnson, and Crew Chief Chad Knaus were perplexed by the penalty. “We don’t know what we did wrong “exclaimed a frustrated Knaus. After the penalty, Johnson fought valiantly to actually lead the race in the final laps. Johnson didn’t have quite enough at the end, and had to settle for a 5th place finish. But it was such a close race, it could easily have fallen into Jimmie’s hand.
It was actually pretty surprising that Logano was able to end up on top. The Fords did not run especially fast on Sunday, nor in the Duel races. But it is not necessarily HOW fast you are, but WHEN you are fast. And Joey was fast at the end. Getting a push from Boyer on the final restart, the 22 car sling shot to the front and was able to keep Kevin Harvick at bay as he crossed the finish line making Joey the second youngest driver to win at Daytona. "We knew what we had to do and had a really fast car and just need to make sure I didn't get snookered on the restarts," Logano explained. "I can't explain how cool this is. … It feels just like the way you dream it. This is better than Disney World in here."
You know how important a win this is when the Captain, Roger Penske, says “to me it’s pretty special.”