2008 Daytona 500 Race Review

2008 Daytona 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

I was wrong. Dead wrong. I hate to admit that, but I don’t think that
there WAS anyone who made a correct prediction about Sunday’s race. In
fact, I don’t think that anyone would’ve predicted any of what happened
on Sunday with the exception of the Gibbs cars being up front. It was a
definite surprise to see who ended up in victory lane with a race that
wasn’t as tumultuous as I think most of us were expecting.

To be honest, it was a quiet race for it being the Daytona 500 and as
much as I hate to say it, I don’t think it lived up to the hype
surrounding it. The new cars proved that they are much safer than the
old ones, being noted in the lack of wrecks. With only a few cautions,
it was much tamer than any previous race that I remember watching. The
end of the race was the most exciting part as with Saturday’s Nationwide
race. We saw a gaggle of cars towards the end because of the cautions
that happened. As Darrel Waltrip says, “Cautions breed cautions” and
they certainly did in the last 15 laps of the race. There was Tony
Stewart and Kyle Busch fighting for the lead, but no one could’ve
predicted that the Penske cars of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman could
outrun the Toyotas.


It seemed as though from the beginning it was going to be a dominating
day for Toyota. Busch and Stewart drove away early in the race with the
only person able to even maintain a run with them being Jeff Gordon.
Even when Gordon could run with them, he couldn’t pass them. Gibbs must
have taught them a crash course in teamwork because there was no passing
Busch and Stewart. Having such great cars never hurts but neither does
having drivers with the motivation that both of them have. That
combination is going to be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Hendrick had probably the worst day in years yesterday. Gordon was the
first casualty, which was surprising as he was the only one who could
run in the front from Hendricks it seemed. He had suspension system
issues and took his car to the garage. He completed only 186 laps after
coming back out trying to make some rounds and gather as many points as
he could.

Jimmie Johnson became the next casualty by no fault of his
own but got caught up in a wreck with Martin Truex Jr. Johnson was
running in mid-pack for much of the race because pit problems on lap 74
when the jack man didn’t get the jack up on the left side of the car.

Casey Mears has no one to blame but himself for his poor finish and a
wrecked race car. Mears was running strong, especially with no help
from teammates as two were out of the race at this point, but then
decided to jump in front of Stewart. It looked like a good move, but it
was a good move that Mears took too long to make. He moved up to the
high side right in front of Stewart and Stewart had a run with Busch
pushing from behind. Because of this, Stewart had no idea that Mears
was moving up and had no way to stop from clipping his back bumper and
spinning him. After the race, Stewart even acted apologetic towards the
situation and said that he just did not want to be the individual to
cause the “big one”.

Speaking of the “big one”, we never saw it. Despite all predictions to
the contrary, it never happened, and I think that it is a great credit
to the new car and the safety measures taken to protect the drivers.

With three of the four Hendrick drivers virtually in no contention for
the win, Earnhardt Jr. was the only hope. The problem is that within
the last three cautions, Jr. failed to pit, and we all know how
important those fresh tires are at Daytona when you get an opportunity
to get them. On the last caution, Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt Jr.’s crew
chief, came on the radio and said that he was going to tell Jr. to pit
but there was too much radio traffic to get through with the spotters
and others on the team blocking his transmission. It was obviously a
point the Eury Jr. was trying to make about teamwork and how important
it is.

It was the first time in history that we’ve seen Penske come through
with teamwork, though, and definitely in the race that mattered. This
was Penske’s first ever Daytona 500 win and also his first ever 1-2
finish with Newman winning and Busch pushing him across the line.
Stewart came in a close third, but the disappointment in his voice was
clear as he knew that he had an opportunity to win and was unable to
follow through with it. Kyle Busch finished a notable fourth but
certainly not where anyone expected him to be after leading the most
laps and clearly having the dominating car all day.

Your top ten finishers for race are as follows:

1. Ryan Newman
2. Kurt Busch
3. Tony Stewart
4. Kyle Busch
5. Reed Sorenson
6. Elliot Sadler
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Robby Gordon
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Greg Biffle

These are also your top ten in points as this is the first points event
for the season. Its hard to believe that Robby Gordon is 31 positions
ahead of Jeff Gordon. This 500 proved that even the experts’
predictions can not always predict any part of the outcome.

While Gibbs
ended up performing well, no one would’ve thought that Dodges would
prevail the way that they did, since so many struggled during speed
weeks and various practice sessions. Despite this, it was a good
showing for Toyota, and also a good indication that Hendrick is not

Everyone is a contender these days from the Toyotas to the
Dodges. Teams are learning to work together, as this was the only way
that anyone was going to win yesterday. Hendrick may have dominated
last year, but every other team was certainly taking notes.