Race Review: The Daytona 500

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is the Super Bowl of racing. Taking place at Daytona International Speedway, this race is the biggest one of the year. To make it more exciting, qualifying only locks in the top two positions. Mark Martin in his #5 HMS Chevy is on the pole with a speed of 191.188, followed by team mate, #88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The way the drivers finished in the Gatorade Duels determined the rest of the field. The winners of those races were 48 Jimmy Johnson and 9 Kasey Kahne.

There are new faces and new numbers this year. Let me run them down for you. 1 is now Jamie McMurray. 56 is Martin Truex, Jr. A. J. Allmendinger moved into the 43 RPM car. 12 is Brad Keselowski, who ran in that car the last few races in 2009. 36 this year is Mike Bliss, former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion. 55 is Michael McDowell in the old Michael Waltrip ride. Michael will be racing in only a few races this year in the 51 car. 26 is now Boris Said. 37 is Travis Kvapil, also a former Truck champion. 71 is now former Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte.

21 Bill Elliott, 99 Carl Edwards and 43 Almendinger changed their engines and will start from the rear. 24 Jeff Gordon and 51 Waltrip are in back up cars and will also start the race from the rear. This may be Waltrip’s last Daytona 500. Junior Johnson starts the engines. A Mustang GT is the pace car. Carl’s first baby is due in four days.

NASCAR relaxed some of the rules and will allow bump drafting. Hoping that the drivers will police themselves as they have done in the past. A great call, in my opinion. So, here we go!

5 and 88 lead the pack side by side. 48 pushes 5 into the lead. And 48 pulls in front of 88. 19 Elliott Sadler pushes 42 Juan Pablo Montoya past 18 Kyle Busch. 9 Kahne challenges for the lead, but 88 pushes 5 back into the lead. 14 Tony Stewart pushes 9. 5 goes low, ahead of 9.

And the first caution comes out on lap 8. 12 Keselowski gets loose and gets into 78 Regan Smith. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. gets into the wall, collecting 13 Max Papis, 36 Bliss, 24 Gordon and 26 Said. 5, 88 and 42 stay out. 29 Kevin Harvick comes out of the pits first. And there is a double file restart. 88 and 29 get by 5. 88 pulls up infront of 42 and 5 is stuck in the middle. Here comes Harvick! 29 takes the lead. 11 Denny Hamlin and 31 Jeff Burton race door to door.

14 gets by 88 to lead at the line. 19 gets around 29. 9 gets stuck on the inside by himself. 2 Kurt Busch gets ahead of 29 and 19 to take the lead. The three that stayed out are falling back and pit together. 43 gets by 19 and 29. 88 is at the tale end of the lead lap, ahead of leader 2. 12 is back on the track. 29 falls back. 43 takes the lead. 2 takes the lead back. And Green Flag Pitting starts up for the rest of the field. 20 Joey Logano leads. His brakes are on fire when he pits. After all the pitting, 2 is back in the lead.

The second caution comes out when 87 Joe Nemechek gets loose in front of 77. Everyone pits. 18 slides out of his pit box and has to back up to get serviced. 2 comes out of the pits first. 29 on the top and 43 on the bottom race side by side lap after lap. 43 dives in front of 2.

The third caution comes out during the commercial. 36 Bliss spun all by himself. 39 Ryan Newman misses his pit stall and has to drive around again to get to his pit. 2 comes out of the pits as 5 gets into his pit stall. 2 and 16 Greg Biffle are on the front row. 16 takes the lead. 2 takes it back. 88 gets stuck in the middle. 16 takes the lead. 18 jumps in front of 24 and takes the lead. 18 drops to the bottom and 24 takes the lead. 16 pushes 33 Clint Bowyer into the lead, with 6 David Ragan moving up to second. 6 takes the lead.

48 gets a flat tire and has to pit as the fourth caution comes out. 34 John Andretti cuts a tire and gets into the wall. 26 Said and 37 Kvapil each stay out to lead a lap. Before they can get going again, there is a Red Flag to fix the track! There is a pot hole that has to be filled, with 78 laps to go. It takes one hour and 41 minutes to fix to their liking.

Everyone gets out of their cars and there are lots of interviews. I’m wondering if, when they broadcast the replay, will they televise this long delay? When the Yellow comes back out, 17 Matt Kenseth, the defending race champion is in the pits with the hood up. 14 is also doing something to make the car better.

33 chooses the inside for the restart with 9 pushing him. 19 pushes 9 into the lead. 83 Brian Vickers is stuck in the middle, but not moving back. 33 takes the lead back. 6 bumps 9 ahead. 33 and 19 battle for the lead. 29 pushes 19 into the lead. 29 pushes 19, 9 pushes 33 and 19 gets stuck in the middle, dropping back. 56 bumps 29 back into the lead.

The fifth caution comes out when 43 gets loose and spins. Somehow he manages to not hit anything. 24 has trouble getting out of the pits with 37 in ahead of him. 19 leads. 24 leaves 9 on the outside by himself. 56 moves up. 19 moves up the track and is left up there. 18 gets stuck in the middle. 9 and 7 Robby Gordon jump in front of 19. 29 takes the lead with help from team mate 33. 42 jumps ahead of 33.

The sixth caution comes out, again to repair the track with 39 laps to go. The track has not been paved in 36 years. Now there is a large patch on the track. 14 moves to his pit stall when Yellow comes back out, even though pit road is closed for adjustments. 82 Scott Speed stays out  to lead and chooses the inside. They are working on 17 again. 51 is pitting again.

The Green Flag comes back out with 32 laps to go. 16 pulls ahead of 82 to take the lead. 11 Denny Hamlin drives up the middle and gets stuck there. 18 blocks 83. 82 is hanging in there on old tires.11 goes high. 9 gets loose into 19, but gets back into line. 29 is stuck in the middle. 82 is back in the lead. They are three wide. 99 bumps 16 into the lead. 48 gets another flat tire and can’t make it back to pit road. 82 is moved to the middle. 33 takes the lead without any help. 29 is “coming, baby”. 48 is out of the race.

The seventh caution comes out with seven laps to go. 19 got loose and got into 39. 37 goes through the grass and back on the track, into the wall. 37 pits and continues, but 39 is too smashed up to continue. AJ Almendinger is the Lucky Dog and gets his lap back.

33 chooses the outside so that team mate 29 is behind him. The Green Flag is delayed for debris. So now it will be Green, White, Checkers. NASCAR is allowing three of these in a race if the caution comes out before the White Flag is thrown. 16 takes the lead. Caution comes out for the eighth time before the White Flag came out. 21 gets a flat and gets into 20 and they both end up in the wall. They both pit and come back out. 26 was behind them, but stops and goes around them.

The second GWC restart has 16 in the lead, with 56 beside him. 29 goes to the bottom and 56 tries to block. 29 rubs 56 and then 16. They continue with 1 getting behind 29. The ninth caution comes out again before the White Flag comes out. 24 bumps 9 in the corner, getting him into 5. 38 Robert Richardson, Jr. couldn’t get by.

This will be the final GWC. They are three wide with 88 pushing 33. 16 jumps ahead of 33.  33 goes to the outside. 88 pushes 1 up the middle. 88 went from tenth place to second in one lap. And 1 Jamie McMurray wins the Daytona 500. 24 and 7, the two Gordons, get together when 24 spins into 7 and they both crash. But the race is over.

There were 52 lead changes among 21 drives. NASCAR racing is back! Jamie McMurray wins his first Daytona 500 and is in tears in Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick led the most laps. What a great way to start the 2010 NASCAR season!

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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