Daytona Debrief: A Dystopian Dud

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Penske Racing’s Joey Logano won NASCAR‘s “Super Bowl of Racing” yesterday at Daytona International Speedway. The nicest item we’ve to report? At least the audience wasn’t subjected to Katy Perry parading around on a giant tiger. Also, America learned how many female soccer players it takes to start a NASCAR race. It’s three.

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The Indy 500 it clearly wasn’t, although admittedly the three wide racing in the last quarter of the race was enjoyable to watch. With the Captain in victory circle again for a fleeting moment – after several hours of drinking, mind you – we were almost fooled. Happily, Joey Logano didn’t climb the fence and we quickly regained our senses.

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Like a Lifetime movie – though that could simply be the “Busch effect” –  the ending was painful, anti-climactic and left us wanting. The green/white/checkered finish of the Daytona 507.5  was typical NASCAR manufactured drama, just as we predicted. Disturbingly, the red flag featured embarrassingly poor parking on track during the delay, as drivers pulled their cars willy-nilly all over the raceway. Clearly some painted parking lines need to be in place before the next race at DIS – along with an adequate safer barrier. This is the track AJ and Mario won at, for God’s sakes.

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Logano was a surprise first time winner and appeared to be about nineteen years old – he’s actually twenty four – but maybe that’s due to the way he acted after taking the checkered flag. Before pulling into victory circle he screamed into his radio, “We’re like, we’re bad asses, man!” That’s not exactly up to the Captain’s standards of Penske perfection now, is it? Immature exuberance notwithstanding, on the whole the racing was better off without Busch.

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At nearly four hours the Daytona 507.5 lasted way too long, including seven cautions plus the asinine red flag race stoppage at the end. After all that manipulation, the race still ended under caution as the “rubbin’s racin'” boys just couldn’t keep it clean. By comparison, last year’s Indianapolis 500 took two hours and forty minutes with a margin of .06 seconds. If the races were flights Indy is non-stop, while Daytona’s got a couple of layovers and connecting flights through Charlotte. Which one’s the Super Bowl of racing again?

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At times laughable, the FOX coverage was far from stellar. Not fans of Darrell Waltrip’s commentating, we were repeatedly reminded why. Waltrip uttered such beauties as “you change your set up according to the conditions,” and “it’s teammate out the window.” During the pre race as FOX returned from commercial break he was caught on mic saying, “I’m on top of it.” It was typical of his performance all afternoon – unhelpful remarks delivered with impeccably poor timing. Mike Joy acquitted himself better however, making good use of the term “bottom feeders” and saying at one point “Danica, three abreast.” For some reason the prostitute from “Total Recall” immediately leapt to mind.

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Of course there were way too many commercials as we foolishly chose to watch it live, and like the Super Bowl few of them were of any note. On the bright side, at least those Sprint ads will be going away soon along with their sponsorship of NASCAR. Equally annoying, the side by side view is either a lot smaller on FOX or the cars are a whole lot bigger in NASCAR. Perhaps it’s both.

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More diva than driver Danica started her two hundred and tenth big league race Sunday and still has only one win to show for it. A non-factor, she finished a disappointing twenty first. Speaking of the beautiful back marker, it seemed strangely fitting that there’s an open wheel car atop the Daytona 500 trophy and at the same time troubling that it’s more open wheel than today’s IndyCars. When it’d all finally concluded we wept, realizing the IndyCar season opener’s still over a month away and NASCAR’s back at Atlanta next weekend.

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5 thoughts on “Daytona Debrief: A Dystopian Dud

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