Monday, February 21, 2011

View From The Flagstand

I'll be the first to admit... I am the most cynical NASCAR fan that most of you know. I always find the gas tank half empty when dealing with the internal politics at NASCAR. However, once in a blue moon, NASCAR stumbles onto a feel-good, story for the ages. The ending of Sunday's Daytona 500 was one of those instances.

Trevor Bayne, a clean cut, good looking, respectful, polite driver who, after turning 20 on Saturday, was making his second Sprint Cup Start in the hallowed #21 Wood Brothers Ford. The yellow stripes on his back bumper were very misleading as he survived 16 caution flags and two GWC restarts to win the Great American Race, the Daytona 500.


Bayne made all the right moves in route to the biggest prize in American auto racing. Afterwards, he was humble, excited, surprised, and poised as his enthusiasm and charm overwhelmed even us old curmudgeons. This kid could be just what NASCAR needs to infuse some new fans into the sport.


Strange bedfellows were created by the tandem drafts at Daytona. This led to some strangers to the top-10 having great finishes. Like David Gilliland in 3rd, Bobby Labonte in 4th, and Regan Smith had a strong 7th place run. Ex-series champs Bill Elliott (12th), and Terry Labonte (15th) both had much needed good finishes. Special (and, I do mean 'special') shout out to Steven Wallace for missing a sitting duck on the track, and for his lead lap finish.


Where to begin? How about a new track record of 16 cautions? Is there such a thing as a 'single car incident' anymore? It wasn't just the two car drafts, either. There are still the two, or three, drivers going for the same piece of real estate... in a big pack... for 22nd place... on lap 29. Some things never change.


Fox TV's 'heat cam'. I think it was supposed to show infra-red images of the heat on the front end of the pushing car in a two car draft. They may want to test the gimmicks before rolling them out... nah.


The Waltrips. Mike was busy wrecking anything with numbers on the side of it; while Darrell was busy ignoring just who was creating that multi-million dollar junk yard in the garage area. Shameful showing by both.


  1. What a great race! The whole day was just fantastic, and what a great deal for Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers. I never thought I would see them win another race.

  2. I felt the same yesterday as I did when Vettel won his first F1 race on that wet day at Monza in 2008.

    Yeah, the story of a young rookie in a team that hasn't been at the front recently showing brilliant pace makes for great reading, but you just *know* the big guns will blow past them come race time....I always love it when the fairytale plays out perfectly like it did yesterday :D

  3. potentially stupid question; that shot of the car...why is the American flag backwards next to Bayne's name?

  4. Hi Gene!

    Fairy Tale really fits. Given all the fan rivalry over drivers probably the only one everybody could agree on if their driver didn't come through would have been a just turned twenty year old rookie. At least where we were, everybody loudly cheered for Trevor.

    I think a green flag should go to Carl Edwards (and you know I'm not a fan). He literally came out of nowhere to challenge at the end. I guess he was in the stealth Ford!

    I've got another black flag... Travis Kvapil. Everytime we looked up this guy was slamming the wall. I'm thinking he was personally responsible for at least 4 cautions right up until late in the race when he drove past the garage access lane and pulled into his pit (number 4 or 5) with the right front tire crushed into the body of the car and not spinning. Once stopped and his crew started attempting to remove the bad tire it caught on fire. Everybody cheered!

    Thanks Gene!

  5. Gene, I really strongly agree with the checkered flag, and with Dwindy. If my driver couldn't win, I surely didn't mind seeing young Trevor in Victory lane.

    I have to disagree with most of the rest of the flags this week.

    Green- Surely the finishes of the drivers you mention, were all due to the style of racing and the lap 29 crash, that hurt some big players. I doubt that any of those guys, with Bobby Labonte being the exception, will sniff the top ten again this year, unless on another plate track.

    Yellow and Black- I will combine these, because they run together. Most, if not all, of the multiple car cautions were products of the new style of drafting and the closing speeds. The "big one" was caused by just that, not anyone fighting for 22nd. The 00 was closing on another car, and was unable to indicate via radio to the 15 in time, causing the 15 to spin him in front of alot of cars.
    In all three races, Mikey was involved in maybe three incidents, 2 were he was the spinner and one were he was spun. Both Kyle Busch and Reutimann both radioed or said in interviews that Waltrip didn't do anything wrong, that the spins were products of the new racing. People give Mikey alot of grief, but I think he showed in the truck race, along with a top 10 in the NNS race that he can still turn a wheel on a plate track.

    Red- I agree with you on the infrared cam. Although I think with some tweaks, in could be a cool addition.

    Also, great to see you give Steven Wallace at least a little credit. I thought he had a good Speedweek. He was respectful, asked questions of the more experienced drivers (Harvick mentioned that)and more importantly, showed Jeff Gluck, why he is behind a computer and why Steven is on the track.

    Hopefully I will have my Random Thoughts up later today or tom.

  6. JM.... David Pearson was my first hero, when I was a kid. So the Woods have always been special to me. I was at Bristol when E Sad won their last race, 10 years ago. But, I also thought they would never win again.

    It was great to see them back in VL... even if they are a RFR satellite, and Richard Petty is listed as the 21's owner.

  7. Tez... It was great to see the fairy tale come true!

    I bet the flag is designed to be viewed while the car is moving... that is the direction the wind would be blowing it. (;

  8. Hey Dwindy.... looking forward to your posts and pics from the track!

    Kvapil deserved a black flag, also.

    Sounds like you're hooked on the live events now!

  9. Stork.... Of course, my flags are merely subjective, and I always love the feedback on who, or what, I missed.

    So, a Green Flag is okay for S Wallace, but not for Regan Smith who ran up front ALL day? Precisely why I listed those guys in the Green Flags was because they probably won't be back there too often this year. I love underdogs. Why should I mention Carl Edwards when he didn't lead a lap, and he'll have plenty of other top-5s this year? Viva la difference!

    I question some veterans' driving ability in regards to the 'new style of drafting', and closing rates. Bayne led 6 laps, so he was probably pushing for over 200 laps.... without running over anyone in front of him! The closing rate didn't affect a green rookie... just veterans?

    I noticed after every incident, throughout Speedweeks, that NO ONE blamed anyone for anything. Not once! A kinder, gentler NASCAR? lol

    C'mon, bro, you know I like to poke fun at certain teams and drivers. Sometimes my ratings are skewed a tad to fit the agenda. I'm just trying to write something different than the average race review which shouts out the top 5 finishers every week.

  10. Hey Gene! I wholeheartedly agree with your blackflagging the Waltrips. DW is DW and Mikey was causing every accident in NE Florida. I especially liked that you gave green flags to Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte. But why is it that the non-RCR teams with ECR horsepower under the hood (Ganassi, Furniture Row) did much better than the RCR teams? Harvick blew an engine VERY early. Burton blew his a bit later. BUT, Jamie Mac was running on seven cylinders at the end of the race; he limped it back home. If not for all those cautions at the end, he'd have blown an engine as well. Seems to me they went for horsepower and RPMs and didn't figure on it being a hot day, which it was.

  11. Jon.... they mentioned that, after Burton's blew, ECR's engine guys told the drivers to keep the accelerator down. That when they were cracking the throttle, the engine was fluttering... leading to problems.

  12. Gene, you know me and you agree so much, I just thought it would be fun to not!! I know you like to give grief, I was just backing up Mikey! He takes so much s*&% from alot of fans, that I really don't think he deserves. Now DW on the other hand. Well notice I didn't really comment on him. LOL

    You were correct in Green flagging those drivers, especially Regan Smith. He was impressive all week, especially pushing the 22.
    It just seemed that from the 150's that this type of racing availed itself to inferior equipment. I mean Brian Keselowksi had a 2006 Everham car and finished top 5 in a duel? Hell, he only brought 1 set of tires, even he thought he wouldn't make it in!

    I also didn't think Steven Wallace deserved a green flag, I was just happy that you gave him a little credit for not wrecking anyone. For me, he did just what a guy in his first Cup race should do. Stay out of trouble and make it to the end.

    I did notice the kinder gentler Nascar also. Early in the week I chalked it up to trying not to piss guys off, whose help you may need. After Sunday though, I think they all realized that the second car really couldn't be blamed for moves the front car had to make in a split second. I am sure all that nicey, nicey stuff will be out the window as we head to Phoenix and later Bristol.

  13. Good read. DW needs to think of something more insightful to say during the broadcast than telling me that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the lead. He just gets worse by the year...

  14. Stork... I heard that Brian K was driving a 2006 car. I thought they made major changes to the cars since then?

  15. Brent... I wish someone would keep track of all his self confident predictions during a race, and then play them back... as they don't happen!

  16. I am just now watching the broadcast and am flipping thru to avoid all DW's annoying comments thanks to the heads up by you guys. Gotta say I was impressed to see Joy pick Trevor in the prerace! Havent seen the heat cam in action yet...sounds like horrible idea!

    Had Montoya stayed on our bumper we wouldda be right there...I was freaking out that last lap in the pits! Amazing experience and by far the best racing I've seen live save Dega.

  17. HEY KLV! ..... You picked a great time to visit Daytona! What a finish! it was great to see you made it to Victory Lane... finally. lol

    All the races were great on TV... I didn't catch the Duels, but heard they were not as good as the rest.

    I'm still looking forward to meeting up with you and the Lugs at a race track.

  18. Yep is certainly a fairy tale finish and to see a young un assuming rookie win it all for the Woods Brothers at the dancing with the stars 500. Huh! It wasn't dancing with the stars? OK. It just seemed that way. Would pick your partner sound better?