The Daytona 500
It’s Daytona 500 weekend! One of the best times of the year. It’s nothing but beauty. Have something to be excited for on Sunday afternoons for the first time in a month and a half (at least if you’re a Browns, Bills, or Lions fan). Spring time is right around the corner. With that said, nobody is more anxious than Junior Nation.
I always admire Junior fans. They’re tortured for all but the four restrictor plate races each year, yet they stick with him year after year. There’s that glimmer of hope that with Steve Letarte in the box, Junior will become competitive again. Although as I mentioned in my Top 20 drivers of 2011 article (which can be found to the right), I seriously doubt that’ll happen.
He’ll clearly be a favorite tomorrow though. They should be pumped. He’s still a stud at Daytona. I don’t anticipate the “two-car tango” style of driving to hurt his chances either. It hasn’t hurt him at Talladega the last couple years where this style’s already taken affect. He could definetly win.
It doesn’t stop the mainstream media from kicking Junior fans and the sport of NASCAR while they’re down. As you’ve probably stumbled across, Tony Kornheiser of ESPN’s Pardon the Interuption argued that Junior getting the pole came off as rigged.
Obviously, I don’t need to go into details into why it’s not, but briefly: 1. Having the pole at Daytona is about as useless as they come. The record of lead changes for Daytona will likely be broken. Over half the field will lead a lap. Being up front for the first 2.5 miles won’t help any. 2. You can’t give the car much of an advantage at a restrictor plate anyway. Too much strategy, and especially now, the need for help up to the front from another driver.
But his comment does show how the sport is perceived, from fans and non-fans alike. Many fans will complain about the Chase and the CoT. People will say how they miss old days of racing. Non-fans will always say how it’s a bunch of rednecks watching a bunch of rednecks go in circles.
The way I see it, it is what it is. NASCAR’s still one of the best sports to watch. In my opinion, it’s as good as it’s ever been. As for outsiders trashing the sport, whether it’s a claim that it’s rigged. It like the old line, “haters’ gonna hate.”
It’s one of the best weekends of year. There should be nothing but excitement for Sunday. To top it off, you don’t have to worry about flipping through the channels to find such an awful show like PTI on either.
Winner: #83 Brian Vickers
1st: Brian Vickers: Why not live a little? One of my favorite drivers. It would make an amazing comeback story. Picking Daytona is mostly luck anyway. This would be awesome.
2nd: Jeff Burton: Has looked ridiculously good at the Shootout and Duel. Expect Harvick to be right there pushing him the way.
3rd: Kevin Harvick: Has been the top restrictor plate racer the past few years.
4th. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: A restrictor plate stud. Read above.
5th: Denny Hamlin: Gut pick. Almost won the Shootout though.
Also like these guys’ odds:
Mark Martin, Tony Stewart
Don’t like this week:
Jeff Gordon: Still struggling with restarts. There will almost certainly be a caution within the last ten laps. Probably more than one. He hasn’t been too good at restrictor plate tracks since ’07. Of course I hope I’m wrong.
Jimmie Johnson: He’s not that good at Daytona.
About the Author
Written by Joseph Hopkins
I write on here for the Cleveland Browns and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Favorite sports teams: Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Michigan Wolverines, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Red Bull, and Jeff Gordon and the #24 Drive to End Hunger Team.