Nascar Racing

The 2014 Daytona 500


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The Daytona 500 kicks off the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup series and is the beginning of another season of changes for the drivers, teams and owners. Along with all of those comes a lot of changes for the fan’s as well and all of us have to adapt to the newest rule changes and the changed faces of teams that have new or different drivers. It all adds up to business as usual in our favorite sport.

If the last couple of weeks tell us anything, it would be that the Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs run very well in the draft. Denny Hamlin in particular, has had an outstanding Speed Weeks thus far. I would say, at least from this fan’s view, that he should be looked at as a contender for winning this Sunday afternoon at Daytona. Even he would probably say that (and I think he already has) and unfortunately, I can’t disagree.

In typical fashion, this year started off much the same as years past with one team or another experiencing difficulties with engines, cars or any number of detail items. It looked like there might be concerns for the Hendrick engines and several of them did fail, but so far since those failures early on, we haven’t heard any more talk of the Hendrick engines. From this fan’s view, that could either be a good or bad thing and should it turn out to be a bad thing Sunday afternoon could very well be a disappointment for several.

It has been interesting to see the way things are shaping up for the new look of some teams with new or younger drivers. It has also been interesting to see, at least from this fan’s view, how happy the drivers are with the cars this year at Daytona. I don’t know about you but there is always a little bit of suspicion when the drivers are as happy as they been for the last couple of weeks.

In watching the duels I noticed that the racing was not quite what the drivers predicted it would be (especially in many of the prerace interviews I heard.) There is no doubt the cars are much more stable than they were last year at the Super Speedways but, this fan doesn’t know whether or not that will translate into really good racing. After all, this is a restrictor plate track and lately they’ve usually resulted in a lot of single file, follow the leader type of racing as we all watch the laps click off until about the last 50 miles or so.

Speaking of the single file, follow the leader type racing, it seems that we saw a lot of that during the duels and not much in the way of excitement happened until about the last 20 miles or so. In fact, in this fan’s opinion, had it not been for the multicar pileup in the second one, there may not have been very much to talk about at all.

As usual, strategy will play a big part in the race Sunday afternoon. Fuel mileage, the amount of time spent in the pits and possible mistakes on pit road will either make or break someone’s race as Jimmie Johnson can attest to. One thing I don’t think anyone wants to do is what he did when he ran out of gas. In typical fashion, with the cars running close together either nose to tail or door handle to door handle, any mistake can, and likely will, affect more than the person that starts it all.

Personally, I am a big fan of plate racing but I am not a big fan of single file racing on the Super Speedways. I was very happy to see the return of pack racing last year and was hopeful that it would be even better this year. Judging from what I’ve seen over the last week and a half, it could go either way. The hope is that we’ll see many laps of two and three wide, side-by-side racing lap after lap. Anything less just may not be as exciting as we all hope it could be.

Putting all of my concerns aside, I do expect the Daytona 500 to be an exciting race and start off the 2014 season in grand fashion. There is always something special when the cup teams take to the track for the Daytona 500 and I don’t expect this year to be any different. In fact, it is highly likely any of the concerns I have raised will be put to rest by one of the most exciting Daytona 500 races ever.

As is the usual case for a restrictor plate race at Daytona or Talladega, anything can happen and anyone can win. What remains to be seen and cannot be foretold, at least at the time of this writing, is whether or not we see the “Big One” and when it will happen during the race. If it happens early, it may make for a very unexciting finish to the race and if it happens late… Well, let’s just say staying with it to the end was well worth the wait…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 22, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.