by pittcaleb 15510 views
A blog post for information too long for Facebook or Twitter:
I have never liked Daytona, I'll be honest, I watch it merely for "the big one" wishing to see tons of mangled metal and hurt feelings that will create some drama in the increasingly bland NASCAR for the weeks and months to come. I like that the 'new' cars are so much safer, as I now feel less guilty rooting for this carnage.
The reason I don't like Daytona is that literally anyone can win the race. Michael Waltrip won in 2001, need I say any more? Trevor Bayne won it this year. It may be 5 years before you hear his name called out in a Cup victory lane again. I love him, I truly do, but he won by being lucky to stay out of wrecks and be at the front with 10 to go. Put me in the seat at that point in the race and I might win too.
But here's the proof: Mathematically, the top 15 in Daytona has an average finish of 8. Those 15 drivers had an average finish of 20th in Phoenix last weekend. On average, the top finishers at Daytona came in 12 places worse than they did at Daytona. Need I say more?
Worse drops in performance - Bayne, Smith, Edwards, Ragan all dropping over 20 positions from week 1. 4 more drivers finished 10 slots worse than the 500. Only 3 drivers improved on their Week One showings - Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger & Tony Stewart. Kurt Busch only fell a few spots, and has 2 top 10 finishes.
Finishing well, and winning, Daytona is more about luck than anything else. Skill is required, but any driver at this level has it. Nothing, save a blown engine or two by a top builder, can be gleened from the season opener, nothing. I'm psyched for Bayne and the Wood Brothers and the winnings will help them, and this sport, tremendously. But to think Baybe, Gilliland, Elliott or either of the Labonte's is ready to challenge for the Sprint Cup or even make the chase is a fallacy.
Phoenix was an interesting race, between two drivers and one who wrecked (Gordon, Busch & Edwards). NASCAR, ratings aside, still has problems with the level of competition. I look forward to the Sunday this summer when I *don't* watch the race in FFW on my TiVo and enjoy the racing for what it used to be.