2009 Daytona 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
This weekend’s opening points race for the 2009 Sprint Cup season surely did not disappoint. The drivers were at the top of their game as they rounded every corner. Daytona is a great race to watch because of the unpredictable nature of the wrecks that occur. No one knows when or where this is going to occur or who is going to be the doomed driver to cause the “big one”.
That being said, Jr., by far NASCAR’s most beloved driver was the one to cause that infamous wreck on Sunday. Jr. was a lap down racing behind Brian Vickers for the Lucky Dog spot. Vickers pulled down to the double yellow lines in a legal block, but Jr. saw things a little differently. Jr. felt as though he was forced below the yellow lines and tried to get back in line, clipping Vickers left rear fender. Vickers felt as though Jr. came back up the track and intentionally knocked him out. Needless to say, Jr. caused a heck of wreck and took out the top contenders of the day including Kyle Busch, who had led the most laps.
Surprisingly, the guys that were involved in this wreck and later interviewed were not as hot as I though they would be. Busch, of all drivers, chalked it up to being a racing incident between two guys who shouldn’t be racing that hard to begin with. I understand Busch’s argument, but I also understand the urgency of the lap-down guys to get their spot back as quickly as possible. Regardless, Jr. made a big mistake and NASCAR was unfair in not penalizing him in my opinion. In the Nationwide race on Saturday, another driver was held for 5 laps for doing the same exact thing. NASCAR must be scared of Jr. Nation. That’s the only logic that I can come up with.
Besides the incident that Jr caused, collecting other drivers like both Busch brothers, Carl Edwards, Scott Speed, Robby Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson, Jr. struggled on pit road as he did during the Shootout as well. During one stop, Jr. drove right past his pit stall. In the second incident, Jr. had a right front tire on the white line in his pit box, leading NASCAR officials to penalize Jr., who inevitably went a lap down. This certainly wasn’t the way that Jr. expected nor wanted to start off his year.
I was surprised also at the lack of communication and teamwork between Jr. and his teammates. There was little to no communication it seemed like. While the Roush drivers and the Gibbs drivers made good use of their teammates to get them to the front and stay there, the Hendrick guys were all over the track. It was a very uncharacteristic day for those guys.
One call that I strongly disliked was NASCAR calling the race after only 20 minutes of rain. Usually, during any other race, we have an hour or two at least before NASCAR will call a race. I certainly didn’t expect NASCAR to call it so quickly and so nonchalantly. Had this race not been shortened by rain, I seriously doubt that Matt Kenseth would have been our winner. But we all know in NASCAR that being in the right place at the right time is critical. I mean, Jeff Gordon has won plenty of times due to rain and has never apologized for it. Who would?
Here are your top ten finishers as well as your top ten in points right now:
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kevin Harvick
3. A.J. Allmendinger
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Elliot Sadler
6. David Ragan
7. Michael Waltrip
8. tony Stewart
9. Reed Sorenson
10. Martin Truex Jr.
I would bet that there will only be 4 or 5 of these same guys in the top 12 after this weekend. We’re heading to California for the Auto Club 500 where anything can happen. Look for the Roush guys to remain strong, but also keep your eyes peeled for that Old Spice Hendrick powered machine of Tony Stewart.