It’s a day that always begins with a ton of pomp and circumstance. No I am not talking about the Olympic closing ceremonies- I am talking the Daytona 500 (which ended up being the Nightona 500 after the Raintona 500 and the #AirTitan 500). It was the day that Smoke fans have been looking forward to for 7 months. The Daytona 500; aka the day Tony Stewart was back racing. Okay, so yeah technically he’d been racing for about a week if you count the non-points paying Sprint Unlimited and the field setting Budweiser Duels but this was a “real” race: A points race, A full-length race; and what turning to an all day- and part of the night race.
Tony qualified 21st but was forced to start from the rear of the field (as was Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte). Don’t even get me going about that. Why? Because of an “unscheduled engine change” because he suffered an engine issue during FIRST practice…you know the practice that is BEFORE the “Front Row Qualifying day” (the old CART fan in me keeps wanting to call it Pole day) and BEFORE the Budweiser Duels. I could see penalizing him into starting at the back for his duel race- but the 500 too? Isn’t that double jeopardy- which is illegal?! Should be anyway. But I digress.
Superspeedways make me nervous anyway. Knowing Tony’s in the back did NOTHING to assauge those nerves- mostly I was just hoping that Spotter Bob had extra powerful eagle eyes up there and could navigate Tony around the wrecks that would be inevitable. Yes I know he crashed during the Unlimited and was fine but I worry, because it’s one of the things I do best. Honestly- I would worry even if he didn’t have an injury. Because the kind of wrecks that Daytona (and you too Talladega) produce are usually violent (definitely cringe worthy). Case in point: The wreck where Danica smacked the wall but hard. I mean OUCH. And did I hear right- that she hit an area that didn’t have SAFER barrier? Why is there ANY spot on ANY track that isn’t edged in SAFER Barrier by now but especially a track like Talladega. Please someone tell me I heard wrong.
After the lengthy rain delay- that had the stands at Daytona evacuated for lightning in the area as well as tornado warning (were do that many people go at once?) and a running of Air Titan it was time to go racing again. At which point I wasn’t too worried considering Tony was still towards the back of the field. Until after a pit stop he mentioned that his fuel gauge pressure was jumping all over the place…and the engine was missing. And the collected Tony Stewart fans all went ARG!!! Tony ended up having to take it to pit road a couple of times, and then to the garage (but he did make it back out- which made me yelp “Did Tony get caught in that?” after every crash) and thus ended up finishing 35th.
Tony is currently 32nd in the Spring Cup Standings. SHR teammates Kevin Harvick finished 13th and is currently 12th in points, Kurt Busch finished 21st and is 20th in points, and Danica Patrick finished 40th and is 37th in points.
That said- the race itself was exciting- especially the racing at the end! I didn’t know who to root for!
Race winner was an extremely excited and stoked Dale Earnhardt Jr:
And I have to say, I may be a Tony Stewart fan but I couldn’t help but be excited for him. Whoo hoo Dale- way to go.
Notes about the Daytona 500:
1.Dale Earnhardt Jr made good on his promise to join TwitterNation…check him out at @DaleJr.
2. This rocks: Up and coming driver (and son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliot) Chase Elliot was late for school on Monday. Here is his tardy note:
2. There was a great interview with Tony Stewart during the Pre-Race show. Here it is for those who missed it:
3. Kasey Kahne kind of got screwed during the race with a penalty. Did you see it? He was coming down to the entrance of Pit Road when someone (I don’t remember who) spun down off the track and into the entrance to pit road. Kasey Kahne reacted and sped up to avoid the car. He then got dinged for speeding on pit road. Seriously? Can NASCAR not review incidents like this? He was CLEARLY avoiding the car spinning, if he had maintained pit road speed he would have gotten hit by the car. That is definitely a catch 22 situation to be in.
4. This year sports a HUGE rookie field. It’s exciting- unless they are anywhere near Tony- at which point my inner spotter is like URG- watch for the rookie!
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:
This is the Tony I’ve missed:
Next weekend: Phoenix
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