After completely repaving the huge tri-oval in Daytona, NASCAR gave us a surprising Shootout Saturday night. The drivers figured out that two cars, lined up in a tight draft, were much faster than three or more together. Ten to twenty MPH faster! The closing rates were ridiculous! As I write this, early Sunday afternoon, NASCAR is already looking at various ways to break up the two car guided missiles. So, who knows what will happen next week during the Daytona 500.
Dodge had never won a Shootout in Daytona, until Saturday night. Kurt Busch, with Jamie McMurray supplying the horsepower, picked up the win after Denny Hamlin was penalized for going out of bounds coming to the flag. It was Busch's first restrictor plate win of any kind, and also gave his new sponsor, Pennzoil, their third straight win in the Shootout.
Ryan Newman and Jeff Burton led over half of the 75 laps during the race. Not that their cars were that much faster, they had powerful pushing partners behind them. Jamie McMurray (2nd) and Kevin Harvick (7th) both had strong cars, though neither led a lap. Look for those two to dominate the plate tracks again, as they did last year. Bobby Labonte had the highest finishing Toyota in 10th.
The Shootout entrants, mostly, are the best NASCAR has to offer, and they don't really have a handle on the tandem draft system yet. What happens when twenty less talented drivers, and 125 more laps, are added to the mix next Sunday? Poor judgement by veterans, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart, led to them turning around the cars they were pushing going into a turn.
I'm sorry, I couldn't even make it to the regular season before becoming ill over the TV 'experts'. On Speed TV's pre-race show, Kenny Wallace actually claimed that he wasn't kissing NASCAR's butt, while doing exactly that. Somehow, DW was an analyst during Speed TV's ARCA coverage on Saturday. What a pro! He didn't know most of the drivers, so he identified them by car number only... all race long! It's going to be a loooong season.
The TV experts were falling all over themselves to exonerate Martin and Stewart for taking out Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip, and I'm sure the two vets didn't mean to do it. But, I have to wonder if the fans would have accepted the no-fault theory if the wreckers and the wreckees had been reversed? If Busch had spun Martin, and Mikey had done the same to Smoke, would the fans have been so accepting of the 'expert' analysis?